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Primary Research


What is Primary Research?

Def: Research collected firsthand rather than found in a
book, database, or journal. (154)
Purpose? To learn about something new that can be
confirmed by others and to eliminate our own biases in the
process. (154)
4 Stages of Primary Research:

Most common ways: Observations, Interviews, and Surveys

The Ethical Approach

Voluntary Participation (155)
At the very least, ask permission if you are doing a survey or

Confidentiality and Anonymity (156)

Anonymous identities or use pseudonyms

Researcher Bias (156)

Be cautious of how/what you ask or choose to include in notes and
final paper.
I already know the answer to this Trap this can lead you to ask questions
that only give you the results you expect.

Developing Questions
Write a list of questions you would like your interview,
observation, or survey to answer: What are you looking to
Questions should relate directly to your thesis: How will this
help you to prove your thesis?
Make sure your questions are focused:
Not focused: What do college students think of fast food?
Focused: What food choices do college students at EMU make on a
weekly basis?

Participant Observations
The researcher may interact with participants and become part of
their community (160)

Unobtrusive Observations
Do not interact, simply record behavior (160)

Locations are important (Public vs Private)

Public: usually unobtrusive (dont need consent)
Private: can be either (need consent)

Observations cont.
Observations- record exactly what you see (161)
He walks over to the weight rack and begins his exercise.

Interpretations- making assumptions and judgments about what you

see (161)
He slowly walks over to the dirty weight rack, contemplating which weight
will impress the girls.

Use Research Journal

When taking notes, you can divide your page between observations and

Your observations are a source of information, so represent them

Be sure that your readers are clear on what were your actual observations
versus your thoughts or interpretations of those observations (168)

Why an Interview?
Unlike observations, it is an explicit way to get information
from a member of a community.
Can gather information about peoples beliefs or behaviors.
Can gather information that is not readily available.
Interviews can gain details from a single or few people (try
to limit it to 1-3 interviews and 1-3 interviewees)

Interview Basics
Face-to-Face vs Virtual
Face-to-Face allows you to read their body language and may be more
Virtual can be anything from Skype to e-mail and instant message

Should you find a place they are comfortable with? Your comfort?
Quiet? Public?

Should you record?

Makes it a lot easier to accurately transcribe the interview.
You will need to transcribe the interview (write it out) in order to
analyze it for your paper.

How do you know what to ask?

Ask one thing at a time (163)
Dont ask Double-Barreled questions (What kind of fast food do you eat and how
often do you eat it?)

Avoid Leading Questions (163-2)

Fast food is unhealthy, wouldnt you agree?

Use a variety of Open and Closed questions (164)

Open-Allows for a reflective answer or the ability to elaborate.
Closed-Usually a simple yes or no or quantify (1-5) (good for warming up/surveys)

Choose the right person

Will they answer the questions you have?
Do they have the authority to speak to what you want to know?
Are they knowledgeable about the material?

Same general concepts of interview question creation/sampling but
Survey Creation
Should be short and focused (no more than 5-10 minutes to complete)
Y or N, scale from 1-5, or do you want to include Neutral/N/a or Other?
Maybe one or two open-ended questions to get fuller responses.

Survey Testing
Good to pilot with yourself and friends

Survey Sampling
Who should you survey? Who would make up the best sampling? Whole dorm?

How to distribute
Paper, online, both?

Research Timelines
You are to create
your own timeline
for this unit. It can
be as detailed as the
top figure, or as
simple as the bottom
one. I have the rest
of the unit scheduled
out on the
homework page.

Possible Time Frame

2/9 Have interview/survey/observation questions written
Email possible interviewees asking if they are willing

2/11 Set up interviews / create survey / plan observation

2/16 Complete interviews / conduct survey / do observation
2/23 Analyze your results
Summarize findings for yourself
Write draft of method, results, your conclusions on findings
Finalize your 1-2 pages for paper

Analyzing your Data

Summarize and paraphrase what was said or observed in a
few paragraphs, so you can get a feel for what you learned
You may want to create a graph or some type of visual
analysis to help you see your results.
Visual data (chart, graph, etc.) can be included in your
paper if you think it will help communicate your findings.

Writing about your Results

This will be at least one full page of your research paper.
Begin by explaining your methods (what you did) p. 170
Describe your findings by giving specific details (quotes,
numbers, etc) p. 170
Interpret your findings by discussing them. What are your
conclusions about them? How do you interpret what you
learned? p. 172
Be sure to include your interviews in the Works Cited page
of your paper. See Writing in Action p. 479

If you are conducting your research on campus, make sure
you do it before you leave for break (by Feb. 19 at the
Over break, analyze your findings and write up your
methods and results.
One two full pages, typed on your research is due on Tues,
March 3 (the first class after break).
This page will be included in your research paper.