Various research techniques

Last week, Clare asked us to consider some sample questions and suggest possible methods we might use to answer these. Calre set us the following challenge:


  1. Which of these two laptops gives the best performance?
  2. Are virtual worlds like Second Life useful for teaching?
  3. Why don’t many school students (16-18yrs old) choose to study IT at Polytechnic or University?
  4. Which ISP in NZ gives the best value for money?
  5. How do I feel about trying to work with slow internet speeds?
  6. What are the main security issues associated with ‘cloud computing’
Over the next week and following on from the discussions we have in class, I would like you to do the following:

for each of these 6 questions, I want you (on your blog) to describe

  • what kind of evidence/knowledge would you need to answer the question
  • what kind of research approach/method could you take to find that knowledge

(Identifying the Right Approach,

In beginning to grapple with this challenge, I began to think about the type of information that we might like to obtain. Loosely, I would identify a number of key types of information:

  • quantitative:    is measurable. Often the result of some form of measurable experimentation
  • qualitative:      is observable and generalised. For example, you could say that “the fabric is blue”, which would be a qualitative observation. To quantify this, you might say “the fabric reflects light of 460 nm”.
  • unsubstantiated:    result without good grounds. For example, it may be generally considered that Doritoes are the best chips ever! If a big enough proportion of the population have this view, then it would be accurate to say: “it is generally accepted that Doritoes are the best chips ever!”. I am differentiating here from qualitative information, which can often be measured.

In a future blog, I will consider the types of research techniques that might be applied in each of these areas.

# to be continued…


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