Throughout this research project I used both primary and secondary research methodologies. The survey was very beneficial as it allowed for the collection of quick statistical data; I communicated the survey to participants mainly through Twitter using the BCM212 hashtag. The focus group was also very beneficial, it was held in class in a causal and supportive environment. In order to communicate progress with participants, I posted updates on my blog. Research values have also had a large role in ensuring this research project was carried out ethically and successfully.
Within my research project, I had to critically judge sources and myself when researching. It is very important to notice tiny details and look critically at authors and the context of articles. I also had to critically evaluate my own understanding of sources to ensure I had an in-depth understanding of the articles.
The sources I have looked at whilst doing background research have all come from the Internet, so it was important to remember to carefully analyse sources. According to Lupton (2016) the credibility of scholarly articles can be compromised by a range of factors such as bias, falsified findings, plagiarism, hoax and corruption. Information on the Internet can be published by anyone, so I had to ensure articles were coming from legitimate sources before including them in my research whilst ensuring I was aware of factors such as the ones mentioned by Lupton (2016).
As my research involved other people, it was important that I remained respectful during the entire research project.
One of my research methodologies was a survey. Within this survey I wrote an introductory paragraph stating who I am and where the information in the survey will be used, I also included a link to my blog where I posted updates in order to keep participants informed on the process. In some more personal questions I also included the option to not answer the question (although it is anonymous) if they do not feel comfortable doing so – I have done this to be respectful of participants privacy and to allow individuals to feel comfortable answering questions honestly and in detail.
I also adopted tips from Harrison (2007) to ensure my survey design was clear and respectful. I ensured my questionnaire was short in order to keep participants interested and have also been mindful of the order of the questions; both open ended and close-ended questions were included. According to Tilley (1998, p.320) the concept of informed consent is very important as it allows participants to be fully aware of the implications that their involvement may include. Before participants engaged in my survey I included an agreement statement: *By participating in this survey, you agree to have this material included in Nicola Flynn’s research*.
I also ensured that I gained consent within the focus group to record and publish their words and opinions. To be respectful of the participants, I ensured that I expressed to them that if they did not feel comfortable with the questions they did not need to answer.
It is also extremely important to conduct my research with integrity. According to the University Of Wollongong (2017) academic integrity “involves acting with the principles of honesty, fairness, trust and responsibility and requires respect for knowledge and its development”.
I was honest when approaching survey participants in the opening paragraph by stating my full name, intentions, how to keep up to date with my research and where the information given will be published. It was important for me to uphold the value of integrity during my focus group to ensure participants were at ease in an accepting environment (Elliot & Associates 2005). According to Elliot & Associates (2005) a well-run focus group should feel natural and requires a lot of planning, using their checklist I aimed to create a well thought out focus group and provided honest and truthful information to participants before asking my questions.
This project has greatly influenced my future research practices, especially when doing research that involves communication with participants. The research values and the importance of in-depth research that I have learnt throughout this process will be utilised in future studies and also eventually in my professional career. The findings from this project have also allowed me to understand issues of food affordability within society further. If I were to undergo this process again, I would potentially have another focus group with a different audience to broaden the scope of answers and opinions. The importance food affordability and localisation is a topic I’m very interested in and this assignment has helped me to understand other students opinions and experiences in this area.