How To Conduct Primary Research For Dissertations

Most dissertations require the conducting of primary research. Primary research is different from secondary research because it is information or data, collected specifically for the purposes of your research project, and is data which has not been published before. It is a challenging process, because it involves the understanding of academic research methods, their implementation, and it also involves a lot of planning, and sometimes even field work.

Therefore primary research can be time-consuming, and is often cited by students as the most difficult part of their projects. This article aims to give several simple suggestions on how to make your primary research efficient, and less demanding.

Research Books

The research tools

Most dissertation writing service websites recommend that you choose your research tools very carefully. Make sure your research methods match the aims of the dissertation, and your goals are achievable. Do not aim for a large sample if your time is limited, and make sure your participants will be easy to reach.

Before you begin with the actual research, make sure you create the questionnaire scripts, or the interview scripts, if you will be using any of those two techniques. Your academic supervisor needs to revise the scripts you have created, to make sure they match your research topic, and that they comply with ethical and confidentiality standards.

Make sure you have sufficient understanding of research methods, and their applicability for different research studies. Before you set out to choose the methods for your research, make sure you consult a variety of academic resources, as well as your supervisor.

The data collection stage

When the data collection stage has come, make sure your sample is reachable. If you are interviewing members of organisations, or public figures, make sure you have gained accessed to them, and that you have secured some type of previous communication. Keep note of everything you observe.

If you are conducting interviews, make sure you record them (if allowed) and you have enough time to transcribe them. You will have to present their full transcripts at the end of the dissertation. For questionnaires, make sure you divide them by portions. Distribute a certain amount of questionnaires every day, to make sure you achieve the response rate desired.

If you are conducting online questionnaires, make sure you have started your campaign earlier on, and that the participants know about the survey. Make it popular and use social media, or even You Tube to attract sufficient number of people. If your research has practical sides such as conducting an experiment, or field work and focus groups, make sure you have available facilities and equipment at your disposal.

Regardless of your chosen research design, you have to make sure you create a timetable to follow during the data collection stage. Stick to your schedule and in this way you will not lose track of time.

The data analysis stage

The data analysis stage is where most students feel challenged. The reason is because it often requires specific technical skills, such as work with SPSS, or conducting statistical analysis. If you are conducting quantitative study, you will most surely have to use SPPS (if the sample is large enough) or other statistical techniques.

If your study is qualitative, and you have used interviews for example, the analysis can be done manually, by clustering the participants’ responses around similarities, and thus detecting trends I your research. During the data analysis stage you will have to make sure your results are clearly presented in tables, charts or diagrams (this applies for quantitative studies mostly but you might also want to consider it for longer interviews).

 The presentation of results stage

After you have analysed the data, it is important to present the results in a consistent and accessible way. If you have used more than one research technique, make sure you separate the results you have obtained through the different techniques. Present the results around the main themes, which you have observed, and which relate to your research question.

Make sure you include only the results which are interesting, and relevant. Use the themes as a guideline on how to structure your results presentation, and provide explanation, as well as tables and charts (this applies for the quantitative studies).

Potential problems

While conducting your primary research is important to take into consideration several potential problems, which might arise. The first one is the timeframe – make sure you stick to your schedule, so that you have enough time for the write up and revisions. Another potential problem can be the response rate.

Sometimes it can be hard to recruit participants willing to take part in a research study. In this case you can think of some incentives, like small prizes or a competition, in order to recruit more people. Always set a target, higher than chosen your sample – in this way you will have a back up if people are not particularly enthusiastic about your project.

Finally, many projects stumble across issues related to access of participants. If you have to interview members of government or non-government organisations, or public figures for example – make sure you have secured access to their establishments. Some organisations have very strict data protection policies, and often researchers are denied access to their officials. Therefore you need to begin working on this right after you have submitted your dissertation proposal.

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Simon Rogers is a research assistant for and freelance blogger in the field of education. Born in Australia, he has published a variety of articles on how to improve your academic performance in class, and how to improve our study skills. Mr. Rogers has a joint degree in Sociology and Education, and has worked as a study skills coach for several years now.

Currently he is based in London and works as an online and classroom tutor for several educational institutions.