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A time-saving guide
Author: Helen Kara

Research doesn’t exist in a bubble but co-exists with a multitude of other tasks and commitments, yet there is more need for people to save time than ever before. Brilliantly attuned to the demands placed on researchers, this book considers how students, academics and professionals alike can save time and stress without compromising the quality of their research or its outcomes.

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A practical guide
Author: Helen Kara

With foreword by Kenneth J. Gergen and Mary M. Gergen.

Creative research methods can help to answer complex contemporary questions, which are hard to answer using traditional methods alone. Creative methods can also be more ethical, helping researchers to address social injustice.

This accessible book is the first to identify and examine the four areas of creative research methods: arts-based research, research using technology, mixed-method research and transformative research frameworks. Written in a practical and jargon-free style, with over 100 boxed examples, it offers numerous examples of creative methods in practice, from the social sciences, arts, and humanities around the world. Spanning the gulf between academia and practice, this useful book will inform and inspire researchers by showing readers why, when, and how to use creative methods in their research.

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Euro-Western and Indigenous perspectives
Author: Helen Kara

Research ethics and integrity are growing in importance as academics face increasing pressure to win grants and publish, and universities promote themselves in the competitive HE market. Research Ethics in the Real World is the first book to highlight the links between research ethics and individual, social, professional, institutional, and political ethics. Drawing on Indigenous and Euro-Western research traditions, Helen Kara considers all stages of the research process, from the formulation of a research question to aftercare for participants, data and findings. She argues that knowledge of both ethical approaches is helpful for researchers working in either paradigm.

Students, academics, and research ethics experts from around the world contribute real-world perspectives on navigating and managing ethics in practice. Research Ethics in the Real World provides guidance for quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods researchers from all disciplines about how to act ethically throughout your research work. This book is invaluable in supporting teachers of research ethics to design and deliver effective courses.

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A Practical Guide
Author: Helen Kara

Creative research methods can help to answer complex contemporary questions which are hard to answer using conventional methods alone. Creative methods can also be more ethical, helping researchers to address social injustice.

This bestselling book, now in its second edition, is the first to identify and examine the five areas of creative research methods:

• arts-based research

• embodied research

• research using technology

• multi-modal research

• transformative research frameworks.

Written in an accessible, practical and jargon-free style, with reflective questions, boxed text and a companion website to guide student learning, it offers numerous examples of creative methods in practice from around the world. This new edition includes a wealth of new material, with five extra chapters and over 200 new references. Spanning the gulf between academia and practice, this useful book will inform and inspire researchers by showing readers why, when, and how to use creative methods in their research.

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A Practical Guide

This groundbreaking book brings creative writing to social research. Its innovative format includes creatively written contributions by researchers from a range of disciplines, modelling the techniques outlined by the authors. The book is user-friendly and shows readers:

• how to write creatively as a social researcher;

• how creative writing can help researchers to work with participants and generate data;

• how researchers can use creative writing to analyse data and communicate findings.

Inviting beginners and more experienced researchers to explore new ways of writing, this book introduces readers to creatively written research in a variety of formats including plays and poems, videos and comics. It not only gives social researchers permission to write creatively but also shows them how to do so.

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Author: Helen Kara

Whatever kind of research or evaluation you’re doing, some background research is always helpful. This can range from just a few project documents and perhaps one or two pieces of national policy, for a small evaluation, to several hundred items of published and ‘grey’ literature for a full-scale literature review.

When you’re dealing with material that you can engage with and understand, the bit where it’s exciting, firing off all sorts, the thrill of it, it’s the bit that’s pleasurable.

The main point of background research is to provide the context for your own research or evaluation. As a result, much of the work on this is best done early in the research process – although it may also be necessary to include any legislation, policy, and/or key articles or books that are published as you do your research. Also, you may decide to do more background research at a later stage, such as if your data analysis reveals something unexpected and you want to put that finding into context for your readers.

If you’re doing research for postgraduate academic study, you will be required to do a formal literature review. This is covered later in the chapter. If you’re doing research in and for your workplace, you will need to do a document review.a So what is the difference?

In conducting a literature review for academic research, you start from the literature and work towards your research topic, using the literature to help you develop your research questions.

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Author: Helen Kara

When you have collected all your data, you need to analyse it; to find a way to understand what it can tell you. This is both one of the most challenging and one of the most rewarding parts of the research or evaluation process.

One of the people I interviewed for this book said that they found data analysis to be the easiest part of the research process. Another said quantitative data analysis was the easiest. On the other hand, four said that for them, data analysis was the hardest part of the research process. Also, two of the interviewees who teach novice researchers commented that new researchers often find data analysis to be one of the most difficult parts of the process.

Starting to work with your data can feel quite daunting.

You’ve got it all, you’ve got this great mountain of stuff and then it’s ‘OK, what do I do with it now?’ This is all very interesting, but what do you do with it? I didn’t have a computer program or anything like that, so it was your highlighter pen and your cut-and-paste to get things into categories. How was I deciding how to get things into categories? Was it what people said? If some of them said ‘integrated working’, did they all mean the same thing or something different?

Even if your own data is mostly quantitative or mostly qualitative, you need to understand the principles of data analysis for both types of research. This chapter will cover each approach separately before looking at how to cross-analyse and synthesise different datasets.

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Author: Helen Kara

The collection of data is often the first thing people think of in connection with research or evaluation. A common misconception is that more data always leads to better research. As we saw in Chapter Four, this is not the case.

There’s a danger of people burying themselves in data. Don’t ask too many research questions. Set the agenda firmly at the beginning and find out only what you need to know, or you will be drowning in numbers and information which is nice to have but not necessary.

Too much data, particularly qualitative data or data in a variety of formats, can become unwieldy and difficult to analyse.

When it came to analysing data I think I dumped about a third of the questions that were asked which weren’t relevant to what we were doing.

Collecting data that you don’t use is unethical because it places an unnecessary burden on participants. However, insufficient data will definitely lead to poorer quality research. It isn’t always easy to figure out how much data you need.

You don’t have to collect data using one method alone. In fact, using more than one method can be helpful, and this is known as ‘triangulation’. The term has its origins in physical sciences, such as land surveying and water navigation, where two known points are used to find the location of a third.

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Author: Helen Kara

Although writing has a chapter all to itself in the second half of this book, it is not a discrete activity which happens late in the research or evaluation process. Writing begins at the very beginning, with notes and plans and lists and, more formally, your written research proposal or plan. It continues throughout as you make records of literature and documents that you read, write a research journal (see Chapter Five), take notes, and code data. And it doesn’t finish when your report, dissertation or thesis is complete, because you will continue to write your research as part of presenting your findings at a meeting, conference, viva or other event, or in a newsletter or journal article, or on a web page.

This chapter aims to debunk some of the main myths about writing. The first myth is that writing happens in the same sequence as reading, that is, you start with the words ‘Chapter 1’, carry on until you get to ‘The End’, and then stop. Actually, there is plenty of reading which doesn’t happen like that either; I’ll bet most of the people who use this book don’t read from the first page all the way through to the last. But some books are read as linear narratives, particularly fiction, and that is probably where the myth developed.

A second myth is that writing is easy and anyone can write if they feel in the mood. In fact, writing is hard graft.

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