Research Methods in Social
Introducing Research
• Students are increasingly required to
undertake their own research.
• This may take the form of a 'live' project,
where students work in partnership with
industry on an agreed project, or an
extended research project.
• As preparation for their research project,
students may have engaged in fieldwork that has
provided an opportunity to develop and extend
their research skills in data collection and
• In addition, a carefully structured programme of
research methods is usually provided for
students as an essential foundation for
individual research work.
What is research?
• Authors define research as 'a systematic and
organised effort to investigate a specific
problem that needs a solution'.
• This is elaborated upon by saying that the
processes of research inquiry have to be
carried out actively, critically, objectively and
logically with the desired end to 'discover new
facts that will help us to deal with the problem
What is research?
Before starting a research, students should
ask the following questins;
Which style of research to use?
How will the research design be
How will the data be collected?
What type of data is appropriate?
How will I analyse the data?
Types of research
• Many texts on research methods make the
distinction between two different types of
research: pure and applied research.
• Pure research is 'concerned with the
development, examination, verification and
refinement of research methods, procedures,
techniques and tools that form the body of
research methodology'.
Types of research
• For some researchers pure research is
about expanding the limits of knowledge
by adding to theory.
• Applied research is conducted to analyse
and find a solution to a problem that has
direct relevance to the recreation and
travel industry, for example.
Research styles
• There are essentially three main styles of research
in the social sciences that researchers
• in leisure and tourism can draw upon. They include
 survey method
 experimental method
 ethnographic method
• The survey requires a sample of respondents to
reply to a number of questions that have been
previously determined as relevant to the research.
Research styles
• By using the same questions for the selected
sample of respondents, individuals in the sample
may be compailed.
• Data may be collected through an interviewer
administered questionnaire or a self-completion
• Surveys have the chief advantage of collecting a
lot of information in a relatively short period of
Research styles
• Experimental research is less common in leisure and tourism
• The experiment involves testing variables under controlled
circumstances to measure the effect of one variable on
• In the experimental research design, the independent
variable is manipulated to find out its impact on the
dependent variable.
• With a well-designed experiment, all other variables that
could affect the outcome of the research are controlled for
and eliminated, to make it easier to connect a cause
(independent variable) with an effect (dependent variable).
Research styles
• Ethnographic research involves a method of
investigation where a culture is observed in its
natural setting.
• Ethnographers study the complexity of social
interaction as expressed in daily life.
• Focus is on the meanings the participants
themselves attribute to these interactions.
• It is also time-consuming process...
• Although tourism and leisure researchers rarely
use the experimental style of research, it is
important to appreciate its strengths.
Research styles
• The survey may also aim to carry out a causal
analysis by collecting data on a range of
respondents, and attempt to control for
external sources by statistical techniques.
• This is an important difference between these
two styles of research.
• Whereas the ethnographic style of research
studies the totality of the culture in greater
depth, to gain an understanding of the point of
view of participants in the research.
Research Structure
1. Introduction
7. Secondary data
2. Approaches
8. Observation
3. Starting out
9. Qualitative
15. Qualitative
4. Research ethics
10. Questionnaires
16. Survey data
5. Range of methods
11. Experimental
17. Statistical
6. Reviewing literature
12. Case studies
13. Sampling
14. Secondary
18. Research report
Objective or Research Aim
‘The aim, as far as I can see, is the same in
all sciences. Put simply and cursorily, the
aim is to make known something previously
unknown to human beings. It is to advance
human knowledge, to make it more certain or
better fitting ... The aim is Discovery’.
— Norbert Elias (1897-1990)
(German Sociologist)
Scientific research
• Research conducted within the rules of
• Based on:
–Systematic examination of evidence
• Ideally can be replicated (increased)
• Knowledge is cumulative
Social science research
• Deals with people
• Uses methods and traditions of social
• People are less predictable than non-human
• The social world is constantly changing
• People can be aware of research being
conducted on them
Three types of research
• Descriptive – finding out, describing what
• Explanatory – explaining how or why
things are as they are (and using this to
• Evaluative – evaluation of policies and
Descriptive research
• Because the social world is constantly
changing, descriptive research is
continuously needed
– e.g. Periodic data on tourist flows, leisure
• Descriptive research needed for:
– Market profiles
– Needs assessment, etc.
Explanatory research
• Involves: why and how?
• Causality: A is caused by B
• Prediction: a change in A will result in a
change in B
• Biological and social science – A causes
B to a predictable extent
Evaluative research
• To what extent has a programme achieved its
Who does research?
• Academics
– Part of the job description. Knowledge for its own sake
= some engagement with industry/professions
• Students
– Coursework projects + Theses
• Government and commercial organisations
– To inform/evaluate ‘evidence-based policy’
• Managers
– To inform practice. Monitor performance, aid decisionmaking
• Consultants
– Under contract to government and industry
Who pays?
• Unfunded
• University internal funds
• Government - funded research councils
• Private trusts
• Industry – public, commercial or nonprofit
Research outputs
Academic journal articles
Professional journal articles
Conference presentations/papers
Policy/planning/management reports
Position statements
Market profiles
Market research
Feasibility studies
Leisure/recreation needs studies
Tourism strategies / marketing plans
Forecasting studies
Quantitative or qualitative research?
• At one level it is very easy to distinguish betvveen
quantitative and qualitative research.
• quantitative research defined as “empirical research
where the data are in the form of numbers”, and
“qualitative research where the data are not in the
form of numbers”.
• Here, rather than emphasising differences between
quantitative and qualitative approaches, it is better
to view the characteristics of each as defined in
relation to each other.
• These two different approaches are summarised in
Table 1.1.
Table 1.1: Quantitative and qualitative approaches to
Combining methods
• There seems to be a strong association in the
minds of students undertaking research that
quantitative research is associated with the
method of theory testing and qualitative data
with seeking patterns in the data to inductively
generate theory.
• Evidence from leisure and tourism research
would tend to support these, as there is a
relationship between the purpose of the
research and the method of data collection.
Combining methods
• The student must not see one approach to
research as superior to the other.
• Some research questions may demand
qualitative data, others quantitative or a
combination of the two.
• It is highly likely that a researcher using
quantitative methods will mix quantitative
methods by using a questionnaire survey and
published statistics.
Combining methods
• The assumption here is that quantitative and
qualitative methods are complementary
rather competing approaches.
• To explore further this idea of combining
methods Bryman explores a range of
different ways of combining qualitative
and quantitative methods;
Combining methods
1. Either quantitative research helps facilitate
qualitative research, or qualitative research
helps facilitate quantitative research.
2. Quantitative research can explore large-scale
macro structures whereas qualitative research
can focus on small-scale micro aspects of the
3. At different points in the study quantitative
methods might be more appropriate than
qualitative methods, or vice versa.
Combining methods
• Where qualitative and quantitative methods
are used in combination in the same study,
findings of one investigation can be checked
against the findings from the other type.
• This is what is meant by 'triangulation'.
• Combining methods seems to be a strategy
that will enhance the research findings.
Combining methods
• From the previous discussion, positivists and
phenomenologists are not opposed to
combining data collection methods within the
same paradigm.
• Moreover, a pragmatic researcher can see the
value of using two different methods to act as
counterchecks to strengthen the validity of the
End of Slides

What is research?