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 Capacity building resources

Resources from RCBN and Journal: data collection and analysis

Chris Taylor

Chris is a senior lecturer at the School of Social Sciences at the University of Cardff and co-director of the NCRM node Qualiti in Cardiff

How to reference this page

This guide, draws heavily on resources developed by the Research Capacity Building Network (RCBN) and its journal, Building Research Capacity, between 2000 and 2005, supplemented with other material.
The resources are varied and not presented here in any particular order.

Archiving Data
The ESRC-funded Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) UK Data Archive put together four MS PowerPoint presentations for the TLRP RCBN that provide background information on the Economic and Social Data Service and how to deposit and archive both 'quantitative' and 'qualitative' data. These are very useful for all ESRC-funded research projects. You can download or access these PowerPoint slides below. There are four presentations altogether, all listed below with more detail about their content:

* These PowerPoint presentations were first presented at the RCBN workshop 'Using Archive Data Sources for Teaching and Learning Research' at Essex University on 4 June 2003.

This brief paper by Stephen Gorard (University of Birmingham ) and Chris Taylor ( Cardiff University ) considers the metaphor/analogy of triangulation in education research. It offers a very simple way of considering the potential benefits of triangulation in social science research and suggests that a complementary notion of triangulation is very useful when trying to combine qualitative and quantitative data.

Gorard, S. and Taylor, C. (2004) What is ‘triangulation'? Building Research Capacity, 7, 7-9

ICT in Qualitative Research
With the development of new technologies the repertoire of methods and tools available to undertake qualitative research is growing rapidly. An example of this is the use of video in research, and video ethnography in particular. This MS PowerPoint presentation by Sarah Pink (University of Loughborough ), commissioned by the TLRP RCBN provides an overview of the role and use of video in ethnographic research. It introduces a historical context of film-making in ethnography, ethical considerations in the use of video and video as part of a wider interest in visual research methods. There are external website links provided, that lead to relevant examples of research using video and other visual methods.

Video in research: introducing the video ethnography process (Sarah Pink 2004)

Another important development in the use of ICT has been in the analysis of qualitative data through Computer Aided Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS). Such technological and software developments are ongoing, but this short article usefully reviews a number of recent software packages in order to help researchers choose the most appropriate tool. The useful article first distinguishes between three main methods of analysis before discussing three sets of software packages: Atlas.ti; NUDIST and NVivo; and Hypertext.

Williams, M., Mason, B. and Renold, E. (2004) Using computers in qualitative research: a review of software packages, Building Research Capacity , 7, 4-7

Discourse Analysis Discourse analysis is often referred to as the detailed analysis of language-in-use and is a developing method in education qualitative research. This approach and technique has largely emerged from social linguistics, social psychology and cultural studies. Martyn Hammersley (The Open University) has produced a very helpful guide, commissioned by the TLRP RCBN, on discourse analysis; introducing the method, its many foci, the knowledge claims that discourse analysis attempts to provide, and the different techniques that can be employed. This 12-page guide, that can be viewed in MS Word, includes an extensive bibliography on discourse analysis from various fields and origins.

Discourse Analysis: A Bibliographic Guide (Martyn Hammersley, 2002)

Vignettes have been used by researchers from a wide range of disciplines, yet very few methodological papers examine the use of the technique, particularly its application in qualitative research. This short article by Emma Renold ( Cardiff University ) outlines what vignettes are, how they are used, and considers their advantages and disadvantages for qualitative research studies. A reference to a more detailed consideration of vignettes is also given.

Renold, E. (2002) Using Vignettes in Qualitative Research, Building Research Capacity , 3, 3-5

A further short article by Nick Jenkins (Glasgow University) briefly discusses the creation of an interactive form of vignette by hyperlinking Microsoft PowerPoint slides together. The use of interactive vignettes was employed in a project studying young people's injury-risking behaviour in leisure settings.

Jenkins, N. (2006) Developing interactive vignettes in a study of young people's injury-risking behaviour, Building Research Capacity , 11, 9-11
[hyperlink required]

Meta-analysis and Qualitative Research
The following short article by Ray Godfrey (Canterbury Christ Church University) considers the place of meta-analysis for qualitative research by drawing on historical debates about probability. The objective of combining (qualitative and/or quantitative) research studies faces no different challenges, Godfrey argues, than those faced in the field of statistics.

Godfrey, R. (2004) Meta-analysis and qualitative data: Insights from the history of probability, Building Research Capacity , 7, 9-11

Significance Testing
There has been considerable debate recently into the use and application of significance testing in quantitative data analysis. Concerns have been raised that significance testing is often used in many social statistical analyses inappropriately or without due attention to its properties and meaning. Rob Coe (University of Durham) usefully provides a brief and succinct outline to the main criticisms of significance testing, before highlighting alternative ways of interpreting empirical results and allowing for their sampling variability. Coe's guide also includes useful references on significance testing. This overview provides a very helpful introduction to the use and debates on significance testing in social science and education research.

The Significance of Significance (Rob Coe 1998, reproduced for the TLRP RCBN in 2004)

Stephen Gorard (University of Birmingham) provides further discussion on the limitations of statistical significance testing.

Gorard, S. (2002) What do statistical tests signify? Building Research Capacity , 2, 4-5

Karen Roberts takes forward the limitations of significance testing and introduces the use of Bayesian theory to decision-making in educational research.

Roberts, K (2002) Belief and subjectivity in research: an introduction to Bayesian theory, Building Research Capacity, 3, pp.5-7

Another alternative to the use of significance testing that has had growing popularity, is the use of effect sizes. An effect size is simply a way of quantifying the size of difference between two groups. It is easy to calculate, readily understood, and can be applied to any measured outcome in education. Effect sizes are particularly used in experimental trials and meta-analyses.

Coe, R. (2002) What is an effect size? Building Research Capacity, 4, 6-8

Here are some further recommended references from colleagues within the education research community on the issue of significance testing:

In this short article by Stephen Gorard (University of Birmingham) offers a cautionary note in the use and interpretation of simple regression analysis. In particular, this article is useful for those researchers who are not that familiar with regression analyses but who are often reading research that has employed such a statistical technique.

Gorard, S. (2005) Is regression the way forward? Building Research Capacity , 10, 7-8
[hyperlink required]

Multi-Level Modelling
Multi-level modelling (MLM) is being increasingly employed in statistical analyses of education research data. But as with any developing method it is important to consider its applicability and limitations. The following paper by Stephen Gorard (University of Birmingham) offers a critical view of MLM and questions its purported superiority over other more common statistical analyses.

Gorard, S. (2002) When should we use multi-level modelling?  Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Occasional Paper 46

This paper formed the basis of an article published in the following year.

Gorard, S. (2003) What is multi-level modelling for? British Journal of Educational Studies , 51, 1, 46-63

Collecting Occupational Information
Education researchers regularly collect information on occupation, but are often apparently unaware how to utilise such information in an efficient and consistent way. The following short article by Paul Lambert (University of Stirling) discusses three practical issues in handling occupation data. The article also includes links to various internet resources to help researchers manage occupational information.

Lambert, P. (2002) Handling occupational information, Building Research Capacity, 4, 9-11

How to reference this page: Taylor, C. (2007) Resources from the Research Capacity Building Network and Journal. London: TLRP. Online at (accessed )

Creative Commons License TLRP Resources for Research in Education by Teaching and Learning Research Programme is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License




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