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Data collection and analysis

The ESRC guidelines for postgraduate research training indicate that educational researchers should:

Concerning data collection: ‘have the opportunity to gain familiarity with and hands-on experience of using a range of methods, including, as appropriate: the use of questionnaires and other structured approaches such as attitude scales and repertory grids; interviews; participant and structured observation; and methods of educational assessment. Students should become familiar with the use of the Internet and email for data collection; the use of official and other textual, audio and visual documentation, data sets and historical archives. Students should also understand issues concerning the choice, effective use and validity of data collection procedures and the use and limitations of triangulation methods. They should be able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of data, including consideration of the social, cultural and economic locations of respondents.’

Concerning data analysis: ‘understand the principles underlying, and be able to use, both qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis for creating and testing educational theories. In addition to generic research methods, training in quantitative analysis should include techniques for modelling and familiarity with when and how to access expert statistical advice. Training in qualitative analysis should include an understanding of the principles underlying and practical experience of using a range of approaches including manual and computer software-based techniques for organising data.


In this section, we are collecting accounts from experienced researchers of specific methods of data collection and analysis they have used and the issues that arise. As with other sections of this resource, we expect to expand this collection over time.

The sociocultural analysis of classroom dialogue by N Mercer

Resources from RCBN and Journal: data collection and analysis by C.Taylor

The use of large scale data-sets in educational research by K. Hansen and A. Vignoles

British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) data analysis by P. Lambe

Technology-enhanced research: Educational ICT systems as research instruments by Richard Cox

Additional Resources

All TLRP research projects reported on aspects of their data collection and analysis, so please use the search facility to explore further, but here are a selection of resources in this area drawn from the TLRP database:

Osborne, J; Ratcliffe, M; Collins, S; Millar, R; Duschl, R (2001) What should we teach about science? a Delphi study (Evidence-based Practice in Science Education (EPSE) Report)
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Odena, O; in association with the CPAL team (2007) Using specialist software for qualitative data analysis - invited closing seminar
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Biesta, G; Hodkinson, P; Goodson, I (2005) Combining life history and life-course approaches in researching lifelong learning: some methodological observations from the Learning Lives Project
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James, M; Pedder, D (2006) Beyond method: assessment and learning practices and values
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Newman, M (2001) Research methodology working paper 5: procedures for allocation of participants, and timing of data collection
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Macleod, F; Lambe, P (2006) Meeting the challenge of mapping the life course and integrating quantitative and qualitative datasets.
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Macleod, F; Lambe, P (2006) Who amongst initial phase leavers in England is least likely to return to adult learning? Evidence from the BHPS cohort 1997 leavers
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