Conducting Educational Research
Step 16: Collect Data

The Research Methods outlined in Chapter 3 is a guidebook for collecting data. The Participants section outlines exactly who should participate in the study. The Method for Data Collection section describes exactly what the researchers should do with the participants. The instrument that was developed for the Instrument section is exactly what the participants should complete. Therefore, this step of collecting data consists of following those guidelines exactly.

It is important to understand that Chapter 3 must report the research methods exactly as they were done in the actual study. In most cases, a procedure that was outlined in the planning stages of developing the research methods will turn out to be difficult or impossible to implement for practical reasons - perhaps not all of the participants returned the questionnaire, maybe the questionnaire needed small changes, or logistical constraints required changes in how the questionnaire was administered. In the final project, the research methods section must report the actual research methods that were used, not the proposed methods or ideal methods. For journal articles, it is best to change the report in the research methods section. For theses, speak to your supervisor about whether they would prefer the amendments to be made in the research methods section or in another location.

Writing one set of research methods and then actually doing different methods misrepresents the data that was collected and is irresponsible at best, dishonest at worst. This is very important and deserves a repetition: if the research methods used on the field differ from what was described in the research report, then the report has been falsified. This is dishonest and deceitful. Misrepresenting the research methods in a research report is highly unethical and must be avoided at all costs.

Note also that the Instrument that is attached in the Appendix must reflect the actual instrument that participants completed. Sometimes a student will get feedback on a questionnaire from their supervisor after it has been administered to the participants. There are two things that the student can do at this point: ignore the feedback or revise the questionnaire and re-administer the revised questionnaire to a different set of participants. (Giving a revised version of the questionnaire to the same participants would bias the results.) The instrument in the Appendix must look identical to the one that participants completed so that supervisors and other interested readers will be able to evaluate the quality of the data based on the actual instrument that the participants completed. Fixing the questionnaire in the Appendix after administering it to the participants misrepresents the data that was collected and therefore is irresponsible at best, dishonest at worst.


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