Tuesday, October 26, 2010

research methods in anthropology

You mean you had to GO to the library to do research?

Understanding Research Types:
Basic: Seeks to create new knowledge and is not directly related to technical or practical problems. Example: analyze the types of information systems used by people with disabilities.

Applied: Seeks to solve problems. Example: A study conducted on how information systems can be used to improve communication with people with disabilities.

Research Terminology:
There are many types of research and each type of research can utilize different methods for collecting information. This glossary can be utilized to clarify the research terms you may come across during your search. In addition, this glossary is a good resource for refining questions you may have of your professor regarding the assignment.

Case Studies: Examines in-depth the practices or trends of a single or limited number of groups. According to the Second Edition of the Dictionary of Sociology edited by Gordon Marshal, case studies include "descriptive reports on typical, illustrative, or deviant examples; descriptions of good practices in policy research; evaluations of policies after implementation in an organization; studies that focus on extreme or strategic cases; the rigorous test of a well-defined hypothesis through the carefully selected contrasting cases; and studies of natural experiments."

Empirical Studies: Research based on critical evaluation through observation or experimentation.

Experimental Research: Examines the relationship between two variables. This type of research conducts experiments on test and control groups to test a hypothesis about the relationship between two variables.

Historical or Interpretive Research Studies: By examining past events and procedures, this type of study attempts to predict future events or make suggestions for future actions. Types of historical or interpretive research studies include: biographical; histories of institutions and organizations; investigation of sources and influences; editing and translating historical documents; studying the history of ideas; or compiling bibliographies.

Qualitative Research: Observes the experiences of a particular group and attempts to understand the actions and reactions of the group. Field studies and ethnographic techniques are examples of this type of research.

Survey Research Studies: Examines small groups of the population in order to learn about the larger population. Observation of the smaller group produces data about the larger population. This data is used to predict future actions or results.

User Studies: Research that evaluates the way in which systems or institutions are utilized and how the needs of users can be addressed.

Identifying Research Articles:
Listed below are some clues to help identify research articles. However, it should be noted that numerous exceptions occur for all of the points listed below. Therefore, the following information should be used as a guideline when looking for research articles

Topic: Research articles tend to be highly specific in nature, relate to a particular field, or specialty within a field, and are written by authors who have done research in the field.

Audience: The target audience is other researchers, colleagues, students and specialists in the same field. Research articles are written for the scholarly community, rather than a general audience.

Language: The language of research articles is formal, generally does not use the first person, and includes jargon used in the field. Research articles are written to contribute to the knowledge base of the discipline.

Length: research articles can vary in length, but are typically five to fifty pages long.

Authors: Research articles may have numerous authors. The organization, institute or professional society the authors belong to will be listed.

Content: Generally the article is written at a sophisticated enough level that the reader will need to read the article more than once in order to understand and evaluate the article.

Identifying Refereed Journals:
Listed below are some clues to help identify refereed journals. However, it should be noted that numerous exceptions occur for any and all of the points listed below. Therefore, the following information should be used as a guideline when looking for refereed journals

Issue identification: Each issue has a publishing date, volume number and issue number. Generally a volume number is consistent throughout the calendar year, with each issue assigned a corresponding number e.g. vol. 55, issue 4.

Length: A refereed journal may have one to fifty articles, with most having eight to eighteen.

Advertising and graphics: Very little, if any, advertising is included in refereed journals. Any advertising that is included will directly relate to the field. Generally journals of this nature do not have photographs and use black print on white paper. The size of the journal may vary in size from a small paperback size to a large magazine format.

Table of contents: In addition to research articles, refereed journals may contain book reviews, literature reviews, and essays. Therefore, just because an article is published in a refereed journal, it does not necessarily mean that it is a research article!

Publishing: Refereed journals are usually published regularly - once a week, once a month, every quarter, or annually. The majority of journals are published four to six times per year and are often published by a professional society, organization or research institution.

Editorial board: Refereed journals have a peer review process. The editorial board is listed (generally at the beginning of the journal) along with the organizations they are affiliated with. Information about what types of papers are chosen for publication, the selection process, the length of papers accepted, and how to submit a paper is also provided.

Indexing: A listing of where the refereed journal is indexed is often provided.

Title: The title of a refereed journal usually has an "academic" sounding name.

Availability: The location, call number, and availability of the journal can be determined by using the online catalog.

Refereed Materials:
Refereed materials are publications reviewed by "expert readers" or referees prior to the publication of the material. After reading and evaluating the material, the referee informs the publisher if the document should be published or if any changes should be made prior to publication. Refereed materials are also referred to as Peer Reviewed. Refereed materials are significant to the research and the literature of library and information science because they assure readers that the information conveyed is reliable and timely.

Non-Refereed Materials:
Non-refereed materials such as Trade Journals or Magazines use less rigorous standards of screening prior to publication. In some publications, each article may be only screened by the publication's editor. While knowledgeable, no editor can be an authority on all the subject matter printed in a journal. Other non-refereed materials accept almost anything submitted in order to have something to print. The term "scholarly materials" is often used to describe refereed materials, but this term is not exclusive to refereed material. Non-refereed materials may not by scrutinized as intensely as refereed materials, but they can still be considered scholarly.

Locating Materials:
Databases are repositories of article information from journals, magazines, conferences, and sometimes books and newspapers. Databases cover a wide range of topics. Some databases offer a full text feature that links you directly to an article, so you can download and print it directly off the Internet. Explore databases that you use regularly to determine if they have this feature (usually denoted by an "FT" next to the article citation).

Evaluating On-line sources:
Online sources can be a valuable tool if you know how to accurately assess the value and validity of the online information source. In trying to determine the validity of a webpage, it is useful to see what type of organization publishes the page. Sites ending in .edu or .gov are generally more accurate and trustworthy than most, since they emanate from academic and governmental organizations. It is important to verify that you are not looking at a student page located on an academic server, which may or may not be as trustworthy as a page produced by the school. Another element to be cautious of when evaluating your potential source is bias. For example, if you are looking at a commercial site, are they accurately portraying information, or bending the truth to fit their needs? The next criterion to evaluate is accuracy. Begin by looking for spelling mistakes, poor grammar, and typos. Next, look at the sources quoted within the page. Are they well-known, trusted sources and people with expertise in the field at hand? If the page is valid, accurate, and published by a trusted source, then it is generally considered acceptable for research purposes.

Search Strategies:
Your search strategy will vary depending upon which database you are using. Research articles' abstracts & include terms that most non-research articles' abstracts do not. Some examples of these terms are methodology, hypothesis, research, experiment, etc. You can search the field "Words Anywhere" for these terms while simultaneously searching for the keywords of your topic. If you retrieve too many or too few hits, narrow or expand your search by adding or dropping search terms.

Reference research: finance research and health research and travel research and recent update

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1 comment:

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