I’ve been fortunate to have been spending a few days on the other side of the planet – Maui, to be precise. As tempting as it was, my notes and books didn’t stay at home in rainy Derby and have accompanied me on the trip. After all, if you’re going to be a distance learner, then there aren’t too many other places you can travel to that are this far away from the University. Let no-one suggest that I go in for half measures …
One of the books that accompanied me out here was Colin Robson’s “Real World Research”(*). I’m just over a hundred pages in and it’s quite the best book that I’ve read on the topic of social science research. I really wish I’d known about it when I was taking my undergraduate psychology degree – it would have saved me a lot of effort.
The clarity with which he discusses the various different approaches to social research, their histories and how the question that you’re trying to answer influences the best design to use has probably been the most useful aspect of the book so far. However, I can already see that it’s going to be indispensable in helping me through the jungle of obtaining ethical approval, providing encouragement when the research isn’t working out quite as I’d hoped and with the all-important aspect of data analysis. The book gives equal treatment to quantitative and qualitative methods and (speak it softly, particularly if you’re stood next to a committed methodologist of one persuasion or another) suggests that sometimes the right approach is to use both – multi-strategy research.
The book hasn’t helped me to finally decide on a topic for my research of course, but it has given me the confidence that provided I follow its recommendations, whatever I choose will be achievable.
It’s time to get back to my sun-lounger before I have to set off on the 27 hour journey to home later on this evening. It hasn’t been all work (or study!) while I’ve been out here and instead of leaving you with the rather uninspiring book jacket of what is an incredibly well written book, here’s a picture of the sea turtle I met a few days ago. Aloha!
(*) Robson, C. (2011). Real World Research. Chichester: Wiley.