Doing the project
How to develop research instruments
Before the group can collect any data, the young researchers will need to design research instruments (the tools they will use to collect the data).
If the group is planning to carry out interviews or focus groups, the young researchers will need to design an interview schedule or topic guide. This is a list of questions or topic areas that all the interviewers will use. Asking everyone the same questions means that the data you collect will be much more focused and easier to analyse.
If the group wants to carry out a survey, the young researchers will need to design a questionnaire. This could be on paper or online (using free software such as Survey Monkey). Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages.
|Paper surveys||People may be more likely to fill in paper surveys than online surveys.||Have to print, hand out and collect the questionnaires.|
|If posting out surveys, need to bear in mind the costs of postages and providing SAEs for people completing the survey to use.|
|Collating and analysing the data takes time.|
|Online surveys||People may find it easier to understand any routing (i.e. if not all questions are designed to be answered by everyone).||Have to get used to the software and set up the survey online.|
|No postage or printing costs.||If you want to email out links to the survey, you will need to have people's email addresses.|
|Collates the data for you, which saves time and makes analysis easier.||Only people who have internet access will be able to fill in the survey.|
If the group is collecting data from more than one ‘type’ of person (such as young people and teachers, for example), it may well need to design more than one interview schedule or questionnaire. This should not be too difficult as the young researchers can adapt additional schedules or questionnaires from the original.
When designing the research instruments ensure that:
they start with a statement about:
the focus and aims of the research project
how the person’s data will be used (to feed into a report?)
confidentiality – will the report name them or will their data be anonymised? Who will have access to their data (the research team only?)
how long the interview or survey will take to complete.
they use age-appropriate language
every question helps the group to answer its research question – take out those that don’t
any questionnaires use appropriate scales. For young people ‘smiley face’ scales can work well
any questionnaires ask people for any relevant information about themselves, such as their gender or age, if relevant. Don’t ask for so much detail that it would be possible to identify individuals though, if you have said that the survey will be anonymous.
If the young researchers are planning to carry out observations, they will need to agree what to look for. You could consider designing an observation form.
If the group if planning to use photographs, drawings or video, they will need to specify the activity for research participants. For example, the group might want primary school children to take up to five photographs showing the things they like most about school, or to draw a picture of how they feel when they a) come to school, b) are on lunchbreak, and c) are doing their homework.