Choosing Research Methods
Data collection for development workers
Development workers often need to carry out specific research in order to obtain answers to specific questions about projects and programmes. Choosing Research Methods discusses the various ways in which such research can be carried out and how to select the most appropriate method for particular circumstances. The advantages and disadvantages of a wide range of research methods are assessed, and guidance given on how to decide exactly what information is necessary and how to obtain it, given the resources of time, personnel, and money available. Illustrated with actual examples from the experience of Oxfam and other development agencies, the book is an attempt to demystify research and to explain how it can be effectively incorporated into the development project cycle, even in small-scale, low-cost development programmes. A companion volume to Social Survey Methods, this book considers the broader theoretical issues behind social research and explains and evaluates the different methods of collection in use.
|1. Starting research: some basic issues;|
|* Identifying a research need;|
|* The level of participation;|
|* Expectations aroused by research;|
|* Constraints on conducting research;|
|* Government attitudes;|
|* Conflicts and emergencies;|
|* Cultural factors: gender relations and power structures;|
|2. Strategic issues in planning and sound research;|
|* The unit of analysis;|
|* Questions of time;|
|* The research timetable;|
|* Continuous research or a snapshot?;|
|* Objectivity; subjectivity and the control of bias;|
|* Representative results;|
|* Some pitfalls to be avoided;|
|* Choosing the researchers;|
|* Local participation and experts;|
|* Training the field team;|
|* Styles of research;|
|3. The range of research methods;|
|* Making the most of existing resources;|
|* Asking questions and interviewing;|
|* Group interviews;|
|* Oral testimonies oral histories and life-histories;|
|* The pros and cons of a survey;|
|* Participant observation;|
|* Rapid rural appraisal;|
|* The variety of RRA techniques;|
|* Collating and presenting RRA findings;|
|* Limitations of RRA;|
|* An example of RRA;|
|* Participatory Rural Appraisal;|
|4. General issues affecting most research methods;|
|* The use of appropriate indicators;|
|* After research: some crucial questions;|
|* Appendix 1 Checking for questions;|
|* Appendix 2 Questionnaire design;|
|* Appendix 3 Some high-tech; high cost research methods;|
|* Appendix 4 Logical Framework Analysis;|
|* Appendix 5 Women and evaluation;|
|* Appendix 6 Action Research Programme: the methods and approach;|
Brian Pratt is one of the founding members of INTRAC and is the Executive Director. He has worked in many countries as a consultant and researcher for NGOs, and multi- and bilateral agencies. The primary focus of his publications and consultancies is on strategic policy issues for NGOs and Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E).
Peter Loizos is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Crisis States Programme, Development Studies Institute, LSE, and Professor of Sociology in Intercollege, Nicosia.
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