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Research Process Worksheet: Data Collection

3 pages
594 words
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
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The authors data collection strategy was a multi-method approach. It consisted of a large sample population of more than 10, 000 children born in the year 2001. Recruitment of the infant respondents was done through a form of probability sampling known as systematic sampling where n=100. The multipronged data collection strategy primarily comprised survey which included self-reports and interviews. The interviewers conducted home visits, where, using a questionnaire, they completed a set of questions. For higher reliability, these questions were adapted from the inventory of Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME). For improved validity of the measures, the study design also incorporated videotaped mother/infant interactions. It is important to note that mothers took place in the study, but not as primary respondents. The analytic strategy entailed separate analysis of three primary sources. The exploratory factor analysis was followed by an eventual confirmatory factor analysis aimed at increasing the reliability of the findings.

I think the above multipronged strategy contributes to the robustness of the study in a variety of ways given the strengths of the individual methods. The length of the sample population was large enough for robust findings. The self-reported surveys yielded data from the point of view of the parents in their home settings. In this manner, the researcher gets first-hand information which is highly accurate, and whose relevance to the research can be ascertained. Similarly, interviewer observation produces first-hand information based on what the interviewer perceives of the respondents response. This ensures that the information is focused and highly relevant as the interviewer will record only the information they need for the research. Self-reported surveys and interviewer observations are collectively known to be less time consuming compared to cases where questionnaires are used and the respondents required to note down their opinions. Videotaping of the mother/infant interactions ensure that the data is saved for future reference besides the fact that such data is highly accurate as they are footages of events that took place in real time.

While the data collection technique has a myriad of strengths, it has certain weaknesses that detract from the robustness of the study. Self-reported interviews maybe less reliable. Since the researcher cannot ascertain the truth in the statements that the respondents make, the respondents may lie and the ripple effect will reflect throughout the findings and affect the eventual conclusions. Interviews may also be biased. In cases where an interviewer wishes to get a predetermined conclusion, they may manipulate the results of the observation, or make assumptions that lower the reliability of the research. These biases cumulatively detract the technique from the robustness of the study. Finally, videotapes may also be edited or tempered with if a predetermined conclusion has been set. The videos can be edited and certain parts removed, and others inserted, to suit a particular condition earlier set by the researchers.

I think qualitative questionnaires could have been better that self-reported survey and interviews. While the method used leaves a room for manipulation, it is difficult to alter the hard copies of the questionnaires. Once the respondents note down their answers, any alterations to the papers can easily be detected. This eliminates any chances that the data may be used to support certain predetermined variables and conclusion. However, compiling data from questionnaires can be somewhat cumbersome as it has to be done manually. In this manner, data analysis will be time consuming, and may affect time scheduling of the research. Regardless, questionnaires may eliminate majority of the biases in the data, and promise a higher validity and reliability of the findings.

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