Chapter 3 – Methodology This research is concerned with understanding women’s’ thoughts around breastfeeding and how they chose to feed their infant. It also hopes to discover whether or not the mothers received support and information regarding breastfeeding, which could have influenced their decision. While it was established in the previous chapter the numerous benefits of breastfeeding, this study aims to understand why the rates of breastfeeding are low Ireland. This chapter focuses on what methods of data collection were used to receive the most suitable information for this study. It will explain how participants for this research were selected, such as who and how many people were involved in order for the appropriate data to be received. Ethical considerations will also be explored such as ensuring informed consent was received from all participants. The reliability and validity of this research will also be discussed and what limitations this study was faced with. Finally it will consider how the data established was analysed. These factors were taking into consideration when looking at the nature of this study. Method of Data Collection As a result of understanding the aims and objective of this study and exploring previous research similar to this topic, I feel using a Quantitative Method of data collection would be most suitable. Quantitative Research refers to research doing numbers and is the collection of facts and the study of the relationship between these groups of facts, (Thomas, 2009 and Bell, 2010). From this information, this method of data collection would be suitable for this study as it hopes to discover why rates of breastfeeding are low in Ireland. For example it will provide information relating to the percentage of mothers who have breastfed, in the area of choice. Once these figures have been gathered, it will then allow opportunities for comparing the differences and similarities between the number of mothers who have breastfed and their economic status or personal characteristics such as their age. Overall, the use of numbers and percentages is most useful for obtaining information for this topic as it relates to rates in Ireland. The method of Quantitative Research this study focused on, in order to collect its data, was questionnaires. Questionnaires are a quick written procedure of questioning (Kumar, 2011, Thomas, 2009, Bell, 2010 and Walliman & Buckler, 2008). According to Creswell (2009) it also allows the researcher to explore and understand an individual or groups view towards a social or human problem, which in relation to this study are the low rates of breastfeeding in Ireland. The questionnaire involved various types of questions such as dichotomous, attribute, multiple choice and Likert scale questions. However, it also included some open ended questions, which yielded a qualitative component, to allow an in-depth insight into mother’s opinions and recommendations around breastfeeding. This added richness and depth to the study and provided a context for numerical data. In order to ensure there were no leading questions and that personal questions were asked in a suitable way such as the mother’s age, questionnaires were changed and reworded by the researcher with the help of their supervisor. Sampling This research topic concentrates on breastfeeding and how woman in a town in the South East of Ireland, decided to feed their infants. Vogt (2007) states, when you are representing the population in a study, the group can be very big. Therefore you must choose and study a small group of a population in order to aid data collection. As a result of this it will use purposive, non-probability sampling. Research will be carried out through questionnaires and will be focused towards mothers with children attending early childhood settings. One reason for this was, the population of mothers is quite large and this study required a smaller sample. 160 questionnaires were distributed among 6 early years’ settings. The manager was first contacted by phone and invited to take part in the study. If they agreed to, they received a consent letter explaining what was required of them. They were then given a number of questionnaires, consent letters and consent forms, which they distributed to mothers of children attending their setting. When mothers finished filling out the questionnaire and signing the consent form they returned it to the setting, where it was kept in a concealed box, provided by the researcher. The researcher then returned to the setting the end of that week to collect the questionnaires. Ethics Ethical considerations are necessary for research projects as all participants have moral and legal rights. For this study, the researcher ensured they interacted with the participants in a personal way, that they did not invade their privacy without consent from them, that the research did not hurt their feelings and that all information received from them was acknowledge and accurately represented. These are important features according to Greetham (2009) and Walliman and Buckler (2008). Some ethical considerations this study insured for the participants was: Privacy and Confidentiality: Guaranteeing that information provided will be unidentifiable by anybody other than by the researcher. The particular town in the South East the questionnaires were dispensed was anonymous. Ensuring they were knowledgeable that if any of the information resulting from the research is to be used for presentations or reports, all identifying information will be changed to maintain privacy and confidentiality. Confirming that they were well-informed that the results will be presented in the thesis and they will be seen by the researcher’s supervisor, a second marker and the external examiner. Ensuring that they understood that the thesis may be read by future students on the course and may be published in a research journal but anyone reading this thesis won’t know who they are. Guaranteeing that all data will be stored in a password encrypted laptop for 5 years and will then destroyed. Safety: Eliminating any risk elements Ensuring safety will be consistent overtime. Confirming that the research is not harmful for participants and certifies proper use of information. Autonomy: The researcher ensured that the participant’s contribution is completely voluntary and that they may withdraw from the research at any time. From here there will be no further collection or analysis of data and all existing date will be removed. Any unreturned questionnaires and any mothers who refuse to take part in the project will be counted in the research. Dignity: All participants had the freedom to make their own fully informed decisions. All participants were treated with great respect. Informed Consent: Each participant received a consent letter explaining some of the key elements of this study and what is expected of them as the participant and the researcher. A consent form was also supplied with the letter which participants signed if they agree to take part and understood their participant in the research. Validity and Reliability Research validity is related to the accuracy and credibility of the findings. Validity according to Ary, Jacobs, Sorensen and Walker (2013) is the extent to which theory and evidence support the proposed interpretations. This study is valid as: It has more than one data source. 1. Literature Review 2. Quantitative questions in questionnaire. 3. Qualitative questions in questionnaire. It compares contrasts and combines themes that arise within these sources, (Jarvis, Newman, Holland and George, 2012). It drew these themes from several perspectives of participants, (Creswell, 2009) 59 out of the 160 questionnaires handed out. It used direct quotations to describe participant’s outlooks. It precisely represents the voices and real life experiences of the participants and drew upon these in order to understand their attitudes and opinions. (RobertsHolmes, 2011). It reported on discrepant information and these diverse opinions were discussed. (Creswell, 2009) It ensured there was no bias by guaranteeing there were no leading questions in the questionnaire. Data analysis Deductive data analysis will be used to analyse the quantitative questions and answers. This will be achieved by using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). This program is very beneficial for Quantitative data as it allows you to score and analyse information very quickly and in various ways, (Bryman & Cramer, 2011). Firstly each questionnaire will be identified by a code such as Questionnaire 1, Questionnaire 2 which will later be abbreviated as Q1, Q2 etc. depending on the number of questionnaires. Each question and answer will also be coded and then inputted into this program. However, the qualitative answers required a different method of data analysis, which is inductive data analysis. This method allows you to collect, categorise, compare, synthesise and compare the qualitative data. This information was coded and the most common trends were extracted from them in order to compare this to previous research. This method of coding is a form of linking and directs the researcher from the data to all the data pertaining to that idea/concept (Richards & Morse, 2007). Inductive data analysis was used in order to obtain information about the mother’s recommendations around increasing rates of breastfeeding in Ireland. Limitations This research encompassed numerous limitations. These include: The time constraint as it was necessary to complete this study within 12 weeks. Only a small sample was gathered which cannot generalise to the population at large. Students were only allowed to use one method of data collection. Purposely choosing the settings didn’t allow for equal representation of the various socio-economic classes, geographical locations, ages etc. Not meeting the participants face-to-face did not allow the researcher to extend on the participants answers. Some mothers didn’t fill out all the questions or some did not fill it out properly. Only received 59 (37%) out of the 160 questionnaires. The research question was adjusted in the consent letter and the word breastfeeding was changed to feeding method. This ensured mothers answers weren’t influenced and mothers that did not breastfeeding were also encouraged to take part. To conclude, in order for the data of this research to be analysed a lot of considerations have been made. This study hopes to discover more about breastfeeding rates in Ireland and in order to compare this study with these rates it was necessary to acquire Quantitative research. Questionnaires allow you to gather information in the form of percentages and statistics through the SPSS program which can then be compared with data discovered in Chapter 2. Ethical factors were also taken into consideration and the importance of them for not only the participants but also the researcher. The validity of this research was also recognised in many ways along with the limitations this research showed for the researcher. Many issues were deliberated to ensure the relevant data was gathered. These findings will now be discussed in Chapter 4 through various graphs and written discussions.