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The purpose of this document is to examine and review the progress I have made in the duration of this module. The module was on the different kinds of research methods, their usage and the methods in which research can be done using these methods. This was done using a variety of leaning outcomes and assignments which tested how much was learnt in the duration of the module.
A significant part of my experience studying this module was when I could connect what I had learnt in class and through the study materials to the data and interview material I interpreted. The assignment where I had to make a thematic analysis of the interviews of two patients was an excellent opportunity for me to do that. When studying the data for compilation, I felt like I was connecting at a primal level with the respondents and realised that the researcher plays a very important role in understanding the individual problems of the people.
Additionally, the module helped me understand how to spot weakness in research methodology or tools. The assignment which required me to write about job satisfaction and its relation with the general satisfaction with life made me look at data critically and understand what are the fallacies that come with relying on human beings for data. The usage of qualitative data has its own weaknesses which was evident in the study, like the problem of language which forms an important hindrance in interview based research (Silverman, 2020), but quantitative methods also presented with certain problems. An important thing I learnt about sampling was that unless one had the time and resources to conduct a full-scale research, one should not undertake research projects which were seeking to explain general theories, as the lack of viable sample sizes could be a significant deterrent to the relevance of the project.
Doing this module has made me understand that research work is nuanced and it is only after one undertakes field research does one understand the pitfalls of the research methods they have chosen. Some areas where I feel I could improve, based on the feedback I have received and from my personal judgement, is mastering the usage of interpretative software like SPSS and R. I plan on learning and perfecting the usage of these softwares in the future, when I will do field research myself. Additionally, I believe that I need to gain an in-depth knowledge of whichever area I plan to base my research on. The most important lesson I have learnt in this module is approaching facts and figures with an interpretative eye and looking at raw data with the purpose of making connections and understanding causation. Also, looking at both quantitative and qualitative forms of research and understanding the merits and demerits of both have prompted me to seek out understanding mixed-methods research as well, which combines the merits of both these methods but not the demerits.
The first thing I learnt was how to sort through and analyse what appeared to be a mountain of data. The first assignment on air pollution presented an opportunity to comb through vast quantities of literature available on the subject. As the assignment progressed, I could innately feel not only did my knowledge on the specific subject matter evolve with time, but also my ability to efficiently sift through the literature to not only find credible sources of information, but also to connect different data from different authors to gain a holistic view and understanding of the topic.
Another thing I have learnt regarding research is that is the different kinds of research methodologies that exist, with its own merits and demerits respectively. The stark difference in the data generated by qualitative and quantitative research was laid bare, especially while working on the assignment regarding exploring the association of job satisfaction with general satisfaction. I believe I have yet to further my understanding of the role a combination of qualitative and quantitative data will play on evolving research methodologies, and understanding what methodology is best suited to answering what question, taking into account the available resources at my disposal.
While working on the patch 3 assignment, where I was instructed to is to insightfully look at many interviews provided and isolate themes and patterns from the data that was generated, I realised that I had a potential shortcoming as a prospective researcher. Modern research also requires the use of software’s to process and analyse the data. I believe it is a weakness of mine that I need to address. I intend to master the use of these software’s, to become a better rounded researcher. I have to come to realise that a lot of research that I embark upon will be constrained by a less than ideal sample size. The use of software’s such as SPSS and R will enable me not only to use small samples and still feel confident about the results but also to predict trends and develop forecasts quickly and accurately, without needing advanced and intimate knowledge of statistics.
It is said some things can only be learnt when doing the work hands on. I believe that is true for my research journey as well, as only with time and practice did I learn to understand the research questions deeply, understand how to formulate hypothesis, select the appropriate research methodology and analyse the data, and perhaps equally important, how to succinctly and accurately present the data and the subsequent findings.
To that effect, I have formulated some objectives I would like to fulfill, which are divided into short term objectives, spanning the course of a couple of months and more long term objectives, spanning 6 months to a year.
Short term goals:
Master the use of software’s like SPSS and R.
Further learn how to combine the best aspects of qualitative and quantitative research data.
Long term goals:
Identify and further study about my field of interest.
This course has given me a glimpse into the world of research, and in particular the role that a researcher performs in the quest for furthering the existing body of knowledge and understanding. This course has strengthened my resolve to take up research in the future, and I feel more equipped to follow my dreams. To that end, I have formulated an action plan designed to help me achieve my goals. The salient features of the plan include:
Take a further course into research software’s including, but not limited to SPSS and R. I intend look for courses in Cardiff Met or look for e-courses to that end.
Take a further course/e-course into statistical analysis as I feel it is a critical component of analysing data generated from modern research.
I intend to take the help of my supervisors, and ask them for guidance regarding what would be the areas that I should work on, and for guidance regarding future prospects.
The ultimate aim of course is to find a core specialty that interests me, and I would like to delve deep into the intricacies of the subject, because I have realized that only with a deep understanding of the subject matter can one fully comprehend the nuances of research, and armed with this knowledge and resolve, I look forward to the future.
1. Silverman, D. ed., 2020. Qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited.
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