The Good Research Guide: for small-scale social research by Martyn Denscombe

By Martyn Denscombe

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The costs are perhaps more predictable than is the case with other strategies. Added to this, the results, though they are not instant, can be obtained over a fairly short period of time. The researcher can set a finite time-span for this, which is very useful when it comes to planning the research and delivering the end-product. Internet surveys, in particular, help with reducing the turnaround time between sending out a questionnaire and receiving a completed response. Page 31 Page 32 32 SURVEYS The researcher gets the replies more quickly not just because of the delivery time but also because people get round to answering the questions sooner than with conventional surveys.

This requires a distinction to be made between dependent and independent variables. It is vital that the researcher has a clear vision of which is which, and sets up the experiment in a way which produces results that show the distinction between the two.

The case study approach works well here because it offers more chance than the survey approach of going into sufficient detail to unravel the complexities of a given situation. It can deal with the case as a whole, in its entirety, and thus have some chance of being able to discover how the many parts affect one another. In this respect, case studies tend to be ‘holistic’ rather than deal with ‘isolated factors’. It follows from this that within case studies there is a tendency to emphasize the detailed workings of the relationships and social processes, rather than to restrict attention to the outcomes from these.

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