Doing the project

select a sample | develop research instruments | collect data | carry out a literature review

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.

  Advantages 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:

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.