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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Social Research:Data Collection,Processing Analysis and Report Writing

The search for answers to research questions calls of collection of data. Data are facts, figures and other relevant materials, past and present, serving as bases for study and analysis. Data collection is the systematic recording of information; data analysis involves working to uncover patterns and trends in data sets; data interpretation involves explaining those patterns and trends.
Types of Data
The data needed for a social science research may be broadly classified into (a) Data pertaining to human beings, (b) Data relating to organisations, and (c) Data pertaining to territorial areas.
Personal data or data related to human beings consist of Demographic and socio-economic characteristics of individuals like age, sex, race, social class, religion, marital status, education, occupation, income, family size, location of the household, life style, etc. and Behavioural variables like attitudes, opinions, awareness, knowledge, practice, intentions, etc.
Organisational data consist of data relating to an organisation’s origin, ownership, objectives, resources, functions, performance and growth.
Territorial data are related to geophysical characteristics, resources endowment, population, occupational pattern, infrastructure, economic structure, degree of development, etc. of spatial divisions like villages, cities, Tabias, Woredas, state/ regions and the nation.
Importance of data
The data serve as the bases or raw materials for analysis. Without an analysis of factual data, no specific inferences can be drawn on the ques-tions under study. Inferences based on imagination or guesswork cannot provide correct answers to research questions. The relevance, adequacy and reliability of data determine the quality of the findings of a study.
Data form the basis for testing the hypotheses formulated in a Study. Data also provide the facts and figures required for constructing measure-ment scales and tables, which are analysed with statistical techniques. Inferences on the results of statistical, analysis and tests of significance provide the answers to research questions. Thus the scientific process of measurement, analysis, testing and inferences depends on the availability of relevant data and their accuracy. Hence the importance of data for any research studies.
The sources of data may be classified into (a) primary sources and (b) secondary sources.
Primary Sources
Primary sources are original sources from which the researcher directly collects data that have not been previously collected, e.g., collection of data directly by the researcher on brand awareness, brand preference, brand loyalty and other aspects of consumer behaviour from a sample of consumers by interviewing them. Primary data are first-hand information collected through various methods such as observation, interviewing, mailing etc.
Secondary Sources
These are sources containing data that have been collected and compiled for another purpose. The secondary sources consist of readily available compendia and already compiled statistical statements and reports whose data may be used by researches for their studies, e.g., census reports, annual reports and financial statements of companies, Statistical statements, Reports of Government Departments, Annual Reports on currency and finance published by the National Bank for Ethiopia, Statistical Statements relating to Cooperatives, Federal Cooperative Commission, Commercial Banks and Micro Finance Credit Institutions published by the National Bank for Ethiopia, Reports of the National Sample Survey Organisation, Reports of trade associations, publications of international organisations such as UNO, IMF, World Bank, ILO, WHO, etc., Trade and Financial Journals, newspapers, etc.
Secondary sources consist of not only published records and reports, but also unpublished records. The latter category includes various records and registers maintained by firms and organisations, e.g., accounting and financial records, personnel records, register of members, minutes of meetings, inventory records, etc.
Features of Secondary Sources: Though secondary sources are diverse and consist of all sorts of materials, they have certain common charac-teristics.
First, they are readymade and readily available, and do not require the trouble of constructing tools and administering them.
Second, they consist of data over which a researcher has no original control over collection and classification. Others shape both the form and the content of secondary sources. Clearly, this is a feature, which can limit the research value of secondary sources.
Finally, secondary sources are not limited in time and space. That is, the researcher using them need not have been present when and where they were gathered.
The secondary data may be used in three ways by a researcher. First, some specific information from secondary sources may be used for refer-ence purposes.
Second, secondary data may be used as bench marks against which the findings of a research may be tested.
Finally, secondary data may be used as the sole source of information for a research project. Such studies as Securities Market Behaviour, Financial Analysis of Companies, and Trends in credit allocation in commercial banks, Sociological Studies on crimes, historical studies, and the like depend primarily on secondary data. Year books, Statistical reports of government departments, reports of public organisations like Bureau of Public Enterprises, Census Reports etc. serve as major data sources for such research studies.
  1. Secondary data, if available, can be secured quickly and cheaply.
  2. Wider geographical area and longer reference period may be covered without much cost. Thus the use of secondary data extends the researcher's space and time reach.
  3. The use of secondary data broadens the database from which scientific generalizations can be made.
  4. The use of secondary data enables a researcher to verify the findings based on primary data.
  1. The most important limitation is the available data may not meet, our specific research needs.
  2. The available data may not be as accurate as desired.
  3. The secondary data are not up-to-date and become obsolete when they appear in print, because of time lag in producing them.
  4. Finally information about the whereabouts of sources may not be available to all social scientists.
The researcher directly collects primary data from their original sources. In this case, the researcher can collect the required data precisely according to his research needs, he can collect them when he wants them and in the form he needs them. But the collection of Primary data is costly and time consuming. Yet, for several types of social science research such as socio-economic surveys, social anthropological studies of rural communities and tribal communities, sociological studies of social problems and social institutions, marketing research, leadership studies, opinion polls, attitudinal surveys, readership, radio listening and T.V. viewing surveys, knowledge-awareness practice (KAP) studies, farm management studies, business management studies, etc., required data are not available from secondary sources and they have to be directly gathered from the primary sources.
In all cases where the available data are inappropriate, inadequate or obsolete, primary data have to be gathered. .
Methods of Primary Data Collection
There are various methods of data collection. A ‘Method’ is different from a ‘Tool’. While a method refers to the way or mode of gathering data, a tool is an instrument used for the method. For example, a schedule is used for interviewing. The important methods are (a) observation, (b) interviewing, (c) mail survey, (d) experimentation, (e) simulation, and (f) projective technique.
Observation involves gathering of data relating to the selected research by viewing and/or listening. Interviewing involves face-to-face con-versation between the investigator and the respondent. Mailing is used for collecting data by getting questionnaires completed by respondents. Ex-perimentation involves a study of independent variables under controlled conditions. Experiment may be conducted in a laboratory or in field in a natural setting. Simulation involves creation of an artificial situation similar to the actual life situation. Projective methods aim at drawing inferences on the characteristics of respondents by presenting to them stimuli. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages.
Choice of Methods of Data Collection
Which of the above methods of data collection should be selected for a proposed research project? This is one of the questions to be considered while designing the research plan. One or More methods has/have to be chosen. No method is universal. Each method's unique features should be compared with the needs and conditions of the study and thus the choice of the methods should be decided.
Meaning and Importance
Observation means viewing or seeing. We go on observing some thing or other while we are awake. Most of such observations are just casual and have no specific purpose. But observation as a method of data collection is different from such casual viewing.
Observation may be defined as a systematic viewing of a specific phenomenon in its proper setting or the specific purpose of gathering data for a particular study. Observation as a method includes both 'seeing' and 'hearing.' It is accompanied by perceiving as well.
Observation also plays a major role in formulating and testing hypothesis in social sciences. Behavioural scientists observe interactions in small groups; anthropologists observe simple societies, and small com-munities; political scientists observe the behaviour of political leaders and political institutions.
Types of Observation
Observation may be classified in different ways. With reference to the investigator’s role, it may be classified into (a) participant observation, and (b) non-participant observation. In terms of mode of observation, it may be classified into (c) direct observation, and (d) indirect observation. With reference to the rigour of the system adopted, observation is classified into (e) controlled observation, and (f) uncontrolled observation
Experimentation is a research ‘process’ used to study the causal relationships between variables. It aims at studying the effect of an inde-pendent variable on a dependent variable, by keeping the other inde-pendent variables constant through some type of control. For example, a -social scientist may use experimentation for studying the effect of a method of family planning publicity on people's awareness of family plan-ning techniques.
Why Experiment?
Experimentation requires special efforts. It is often extremely difficult to design, and it is also a time consuming process. Why should then one take such trouble? Why not simply observe/survey the phenomenon? The fundamental weakness of any non-experimental study is its inability to specify causes and effect. It can show only correlations between variables, but correlations alone never prow causation. The experiment is the only method, which can show the effect of an independent variable on dependent variable. In experimentation, the researcher can manipulate the independent variable and measure its effect on the dependent variable. For example, the effect of various types of promotional strategies on the sale of a given product can be studies by using different advertising media such as T.V., radio and Newspapers. Moreover, experiment provides “the opportunity to vary the treatment (experimental variable) in a systematic manner, thus allowing for the isolation and precise specification of important differences.”
The applications of experimental method are ‘Laboratory Experiment’, and ‘Field Experiment’.
Simulation is one of the forms of observational methods. It is a process of conducting experiments on a symbolic model representing a phenomenon. Abelson defines simulation as “the exercise of a flexible imitation of processes and outcomes for the purpose of clarifying or explaining the underlying mechanisms involved.” It is a symbolic abstrac-tion, simplification and substitution for some referent system. In other words, simulation is a theoretical model of the elements, relations and processes which symbolize some referent system, e.g., the flow of money in the economic system may be simulated in a operating model consisting of a set of pipes through which liquid moves. Simulation is thus a techni-que of performing sampling experiments on the model of the systems. The experiments are done on the model instead of on the real system, because the latter would be too inconvenient and expensive.
Simulation is a recent research technique; but it has deep roots in history. Chess has often been considered a simulation of medieval warfare.
Interviewing is one of the major methods of data collection. It may be defined as two-way systematic conversation between an investigator and an informant, initiated for obtaining information relevant to as a specific study.
It involves not only conversation, but also learning from the respondents’ gestures, facial expressions and pauses, and his environment. Interviewing requires face-to-face contact or contact over telephone and calls for interviewing skills. It is done by using a structured schedule or an unstructured guide.
Interviewing may be us either as a main method or as a supplemen-tary one in studies of persons. Interviewing is the only suitable method for gathering information from illiterate or less educated respondents. It is useful for collecting a wide range of data from factual demographic data to highly personal and intimate information relating to a person's opinions, attitudes, values, beliefs, past experience and future intentions. When qualitative information is required or probing is necessary to draw out fully, then interviewing is required. Where the area covered for the survey is a compact, or when a sufficient number of qualified interviewers are available, personal interview is feasible.
Interview is often superior to other data-gathering methods. People are usually more willing to talk than to write. Once rapport is established, even confidential information may be obtained. It permits probing into the context and reasons for answers to questions.
Interview can add flesh to statistical information. It enables the inves-tigator to grasp the behavioural context of the data furnished by the respondents. It permits the investigator to seek clarifications and brings to the forefront those questions, that, for one reason or another, respondents do not want to answer.
Types of Interviews
The interviews may be classified into: (a) structured or directive interview, (b) unstructured or non-directive interview, (c) focused inter-view, and (d) clinical interview and (e) depth interview.
Telephone Interviewing
Telephone interviewing is a non-personal method of data collection.
Group Interviews
Group interview may be defined as a method of collecting primary data in which a number of individuals with a common interest interact with each other. In a personal interview, the flow of information is multidimensional.
Interviewing Process
The interviewing process consists of the following stages:
  • Preparation.
  • Introduction
  • Developing rapport
  • Carrying the interview forward
  • Recording the interview, and
  • Closing the interview
The panel method is a method of data collection, by which data is collected from the same sample respondents at intervals either by mail or by personal interview. This is used for longitudinal studies on economic conditions, expenditure pattern; consumer behaviour, recreational pattern, effectiveness of advertising, voting behaviour, and so on. The period, over which the panel members are contacted for information may spread over several months or years. The time interval at which they are contacted repeatedly may be 10 or 15 days, or one or two months depending on the nature of the study and the memory span of the respondents.
The basic characteristic of the panel method is successive collection of data on the same items from the same persons over a period of time. The type of information to be collected should be such facts that can be accurately and completely furnished by the respondent without any reservation. The number of item should be as few as possible so that they could be furnished within a few minutes, especially when mail survey is adopted. The average amount of time that a panel member has to spend each time for reporting can be determined in a pilot study. The panel method requires carefully selected and well-trained field workers and effective supervision over their work.-
Types of Panels
The panel may be static or dynamic. A static or continuous panel is one in which the membership remains the same throughout the life of the panel, except for the members who drop out. The dropouts are not replaced.
The mail survey is another method of collecting primary data. This method involves sending questionnaires to the respondents with a request to complete them and return them by post. This can be used in the case of educated respondents only. The mail questionnaire should be simple so that the respondents can easily understand the questions and answer them. It should preferably contain mostly closed-end and multiple-choice questions so that it could be completed within a few Minutes.
The distinctive feature of the mail survey is that the questionnaire is self-administered by the respondents themselves and the responses are recorded by them, and not by the investigator as in the case of personal interview method. It does not involve face-to-face conversation between the investigator and the respondent. Communication is carried out only in writing and this requires more cooperation from the respondents than does verbal communication.
Alternative modes of sending questionnaires
There are some alternative methods of distributing questionnaires to the respondents. They are: (1) personal delivery, (2) attaching question-naire to a, product, (3) advertising questionnaire in a newspaper or magazine, and (4) newsstand inserts.
The direct methods of data collection, viz., personal interview, telephone interview and mail survey rely on respondents' own report of their behaviour, beliefs, attitudes, etc. But respondents may be unwilling to discuss controversial issues or to reveal intimate information about themselves or may be reluctant to express their true views fearing that they are generally disapproved. In order to overcome these limitations, indirect methods have been developed. Projective Techniques are such indirect methods. They become popular during 1950s as a part of motivation research.
Projective techniques involve presentation of ambitious stimuli to the respondents for interpretation. In doing so, the respondents reveal their inner characteristics. The stimuli may be a picture, a photograph, an inkblot or an incomplete sentence. The basic assumption of projective techniques is that a person projects his own thoughts, ideas and attributes when he perceives and responds to ambiguous or unstructured stimulus materials. Thus a person's unconscious operations of the mind are brought to a conscious level in a disguised and projected form, and the person projects his inner characteristics.
Types of Projective Techniques
Projective Techniques may be divided into three broad categories: (a) visual projective techniques (b) verbal projective techniques, and (c) Expressive techniques.
Sociometry is “a method for discovering, describing and evaluating social status, structure, and development through measuring the extent of acceptance or rejection between individuals in groups.” Franz defines sociometry as “a method used for the discovery and manipulation of social configurations by measuring the attractions and repulsions between in-dividuals in a group.” It is a means for studying the choice, communication and interaction patterns of individuals in a group. It is concerned with attractions and repulsions between individuals in a group. In this method, a person is asked to choose one or more persons according to specified criteria, in order to find out the person or persons with whom he will like to associate.
Sociometry Test
The basic technique in sociometry is the “sociometric test.” This is a test under which each member of a group is asked to choose from all other members those with whom he prefers to associate in a specific situation. The situation must be a real one to the group under study, e.g., 'group study', 'play', 'class room seating' for students of a public school.
A specific number of choices, say two or three to be allowed is determined with reference to the size of the group, and different levels of preferences are designated for each choice.
Suppose we desire to find out the likings and disliking of persons in a work group consisting of 8 persons. Each person is asked to select 3 persons in order or preference with whom he will like to work on a group assignment. The levels of choices are designated as: the first choice by the' number 1, the second by 2, and the third by 3.

The various methods of data gathering involve the use of appropriate recording forms. These are called tools or instruments of data collection. They consist of
  • Observation schedule
  • Interview guide
  • Interview schedule
  • Mailed questionnaire
  • Rating scale
  • Checklist
  • Document schedule/data sheet
  • Schedule for institutions
Each of the above tools is used for a specific method of data gathering: Observation schedule for observation method, interview schedule and interview guide for interviewing, questionnaire for mail survey, and so on.
The tools of data collection translate the research objectives into specific questions/ items, the responses to which will provide the data required to achieve the research objectives. In order to achieve this pur-pose, each question/item must convey to the respondent the idea or group of ideas required by the research objectives, and each item must obtain a response which can be analysed for fulfilling the research objectives.
Information gathered through the tools provides descriptions of char-acteristics of individuals, institutions or other phenomena under study. It is useful for measuring the various variables pertaining to the study. The variables and their interrelationships are analysed for testing the hypothesis or for exploring the content areas set by the research objec-tives.
A brief description of the various tools of data collection is given below.
Observation schedule
This is a form on which observations of an object or a phenomenon are recorded. The items to be observed are determined with reference to the nature and objectives of the study. They are grouped into appropriate categories and listed in the schedule in the order in which the observer would observe them.
The schedule must be so devised as to provide the required verifiable and quantifiable data and to avoid selective bias and misinterpretation of observed items. The units of observation must be simple, and meticulously worded so as to facilitate precise and uniform recording.
Interview guide
This is used for non-directive and depth interviews. It does not contain a complete list of items on which information has to be elicited from a respondent: it just contains only the broad topics or areas to be covered in the interview.
Interview guide serves as a suggestive reference or prompter during interview. It aids in focussing attention on salient points relating to the study and in securing comparable data in different interviews by the same or different interviewers.
Interview schedule and mailed Questionnaire
Both these tools are widely used in surveys.
Both are complete lists of questions on which information is elicited from the respondents. The basic difference between them lies in recording responses. While the interviewer fills out a schedule, the respondent completes a questionnaire.
Rating Scale
This is a recording form used for measuring individual's attitudes, aspirations and other psychological and behavioural aspects, and group behaviour.
This is the simplest of all the devices. It consists of a prepared list of items pertinent to an object or a particular task. The presence or absence of each item may be indicated by checking 'yes' or 'no' or multipoint scale. The use of a checklist ensures a more complete consideration of all aspects of the object, act or task. Checklists contain terms, which the respondent understands, and which more briefly and succinctly express his views than answers to open-ended question. It is a crude device, but careful pre-test can make it less so. It is at best when used to test specific hypothesis. It may be used as an independent tool or as a part of a schedule/question-naire.
Document Schedule/Data Sheet.
This is a list of items of information to be obtained from documents, records and other materials. In order to secure measurable data, the items included in the schedule are limited to those that can be uniformly secured from a large number of case histories or other records.
Schedule for Institutions
This is used for survey of organisations like business enterprises, educational institutions, social or cultural organisations and the like. It will include various categories of data relating to their profile, functions and performance. These data are gathered from their records, annual reports and financial statements.
Schedule v. Questionnaire
Schedules and questionnaires are the most common instruments of data collection. These two types of tools have much in common. Both of them contain a set of questions logically related to a problem under study; both aim at eliciting responses from the respondents; in both cases the content, response structure, the wordings of questions, question sequence, etc. are the same for all respondents. Then why should they be denoted by the different terms: 'schedule' and 'questionnaires'? This is because the methods for which they are used are different. While a schedule is used as a tool for interviewing, a questionnaire is used for mailing.
This difference in usage gives rise to a subtle difference between these two recording forms. That is, the interviewer in a face-to-face interviewing fills a schedule, whereas the respondent himself fills in a questionnaire. Hence the need for using two different terms.
The tool is referred to as a schedule when it is used for interviewing; and it is called a questionnaire when it is sent to a respondent for completion and return.
The process of construction
The process of construction of a schedule and a questionnaire is almost same, except some minor differences in mechanics. This process is not a matter of simply listing questions that comes to researchers mind. It is a rational process involving much time, effort and thought. It consists of the following major steps:
  1. Data need determination: As an interview schedule or a mailed questionnaire is an instrument for gathering data for a specific study, its construction should flow logically from the data required for the given study.
  2. Preparation of “Dummy” tables: The best way to ensure the requirements of information is to develop “dummy” tables in which to display the data to be gathered.
  3. Determination of the respondents’ level: Who are our respondents? Are they persons with specialized knowledge relating to the problem under study? Or are they lay people? What is their level of knowledge and understanding? The choice of words and concepts depends upon the level of the respondents' knowledge.
  4. Data gathering method decision: Which communication mode is most appropriate - face-to-face interview or mailing? The choice of ques-tion structure depends largely on the communication mode chosen.
  5. Instrument drafting: After determining the data required for the study, first, a broad outline of the instrument may be drafted, listing the various broad categories of data. Second, the sequence of these groupings must be decided. Third, the questions to be asked under each group heading must be listed. All conceivable items relevant to the 'data need' should be compiled.
  6. Evaluation of the draft instrument: In consultation with other qualified persons, the researcher must rigorously examine each question in the draft instrument.
  7. Pre-testing: The revised draft must be pre-tested in order to identify the weaknesses of the instrument and to make the required further revisions to rectify them.
  8. Specification of procedures/instructions: After the instruction is finalised after pre-tests, the procedures or instructions, relating to its use must be specified.
  9. Designing the format: The format should be suited to the needs of the research. The instrument should be divided into different sections relating to the different aspects of the problem.
Question Construction
A survey instrument - interview schedules or questionnaire - is useful for collecting various types of information, viz., (a) factual information - facts about the respondents: sex, age, marital status, education, religion, caste or social class, income and occupation; and facts about events and circumstances, (b) psychological information such as attitudes, opinions, beliefs, and expectations, and (c) behavioural information, like social participation, and so on.
Once the information need is determined as explained in the previous topic, we can begin question construction. This involves four major decision areas. They are: (a) question relevance and content, (b) question wording, (c) response form, and (d) question order or sequence.
Question relevance and content
My question to be included in the. instrument should pass certain tests. Is it relevant to the research objectives? Can it yield significant information for answering an investigative question? If not, it should note be included in the instrument.
Question wording
This is a difficult task. The function of a question in a schedule/ques-tionnaire is to elicit particular information without distortion. “Questioning people”, says Oppenheim, “is more like trying to catch a particular elusive fish, by hopefully casting different kinds of bait at different depths, without knowing what goes on beneath the surface.” As the meaning of words differs from person to person, the question designer should choose words which have the following characteristics:
  1. Shared vocabulary.
  2. Uniformity of meaning.
  3. Exactness.
  4. Simplicity.
  5. Neutrality. The words to be used must be neutral ones, i.e., free from the distorting influence of fear, prestige, bias or emotion.
Certain other problem areas of question wording are
  1. Unwarranted assumptions,
  2. Personalization,
  3. Presumptions,
  4. Hypothetical question,
  5. Questions in embarrassing matters.
Some of the approaches to deal with this problem are:
  1. to express the question in the third person; instead of asking the respondent for his views, he is asked about the views of others:
  2. to use a drawing of two persons in a certain setting with 'balloons' containing speech coming from their mouths, as in a cartoon - leaving one person's balloon empty and asking the respondent to put himself in the position of that person and to fill in the missing words; and
  3. to use sentence completion tests.
Response form or types of Questions
The third major area in question construction is the types of questions to be included in the instrument. They may be classified into open questions and closed questions. Closed questions may be dichotomous, multiple choice or declarative ones.
Types of questions to be avoided
The question designer should avoid the following types of questions: (a) Leading questions, (b) 'Loaded' questions, (c) Ambiguous questions, (d) Double-barrelled, (e) Long questions, (t) Avoid double negative.
Question order or Sequence
The order in which questions are arranged in a schedule/questionnaire is as important as question wording. It has two major implications. First, an appropriate sequence can ease the respondent's task in answering. Second, the sequence can either create or avoid biases due to context effects, i.e., the effects of preceding questions on the response to later questions.
Mechanics of the Schedule and Questionnaire
In addition to question wording and question construction, the mechanics of the form should also be considered in the design of a schedule/questionnaire. The mechanics of the form has several aspects: items of the form, instruction, pre-coding, sectionalisation, spacing, paper, printing, margins, etc.
Items of the form: The following items are mandatory for schedules and questionnaires.
  1. The name of the organization collecting the data should appear at the top of front -page. The name of the sponsor, of the study, if any should also be shown.
  2. The title of the study should appear in large print next to the name of the organization on the first page. Below this title, the title of the tool - e.g., 'Schedule for-consumers; - may be noted. .
  3. The confidentialness of the data should be made cleat.
  4. A place for writing the date of filling in the form should be provided.
  5. A serial number to each copy of the tool may be assigned.
  6. The pages of the instrument should be numbered.
Instructions: In the face sheet below the title of the questionnaire, a brief statement of the objective of the study, the confidentialness of the data, and instructions relating to answering the questions may be provided. .
Pre-coding: Items in the tool should be pre-coded so as to facilitate transcription of data.
Sectionalisation: There should be a separate section for each topical area.
Spacing: For each open-ended question, an adequate space should be provided for answer. There should, indeed more space than seems necessary, for some interviewers/ respondents may write in a large script for legibility. Moreover, liberal spacing is a stimulus for the questionnaire respondent to write more fully. Even short-answer questions should be spaced, so that the interviewer/respondent will not easily confuse the line, from which he is reading.
Paper: The paper used for mimeographing/printing should be of good quality.
Printing: Mailed questionnaire should necessarily be printed in order to make it attractive and to minimise the postal expenditure.
Margins: One inch margin on the left side of the sheet and one-half inch margin on other sides may be provided. If the instrument is to be bound, left-side margin should conform to the type of binding used.
Indentation: This is required for 'yes' or 'no' questions. If the respondent's answer is 'yes', then a series of questions is offered. If the answer is 'no' a different series of questions is offered.
Note of thanks: A final note or comment of thanks for the cooperation of the respondent should be included at the end of the instrument.
Concluding remarks
Question designing remains primarily a matter of common sense and experience and of avoiding known pitfalls, as there arc no hard and fast rules relating to it. Hence alternative versions of questions must be rigorously tested in pre-tests. Test-revision-retests play a crucial role in questionnaire construction.
Scales are devised for measuring variables in social science research. During the past few decades thousands of scales have been designed by researchers in sociology, psychology, education, psychiatry, ethics, be-havioural science, economics, administration and other fields.
Indices and scales are often used interchangeably to refer to all sorts of measures, absolute or relative, single or composite, simple or elaborate. “Scaling” refers to the procedure by which numbers or scores assigned to the various degrees of opinions, attitude and other concepts.
Pilot Study
The need for Pilot Study
It is difficult to plan a major study or project without adequate knowledge of its subject matter, the population it is to cover, their level of knowledge and understanding and the like. What are the issues involved? What are the concepts associated with the subject matter? How can they be operationalised? What method of study is appropriate? How long the study will take? How much money it will cost? These and other related questions call for a good deal of knowledge of the subject matter of the study and its dimensions. In order to gain such pre-knowledge of the subject matter of an extensive study, a preliminary investigation is con-ducted. This is called a pilot study.
While a pilot study is a full-fledged miniature study of a problem, pre-test is a trial test of a specific aspect of the study such as method of data collection or data collection instrument - interview schedule, mailed questionnaire or measurement scale.
Need for Pre-testing
An instrument of data collection is designed with reference to the data requirements of the study. But it cannot be perfected purely on the basis of a critical scrutiny by the designer and other researchers. It should he empirically tested. As emphatically pointed by Goode and Hatt, “no amount of thinking, no matter how logical the mind or brilliant the insight, is likely to take the place of careful empirical checking”. Hence pre-testing of a draft instrument is indispensable. Pre-testing-means trial administration of the instrument to a sample of respondents before finalising it.
Purposes of Pre-testing
Pre-testing has several purposes: (1) to test whether the instrument would elicit responses required to achieve the research objectives, (2) to test whether the content of the instrument is relevant and adequate, (3) to test whether wording of questions is clear and suited to the understanding of the respondents, (4) to test the other qualitative aspects of the instrument like question structure and question sequence, and (5) to develop appropriate procedure for administering the instrument with reference to field conditions.

Data processing is an intermediary stage of work between data collection and data analysis. The completed instruments of data collection, viz., interview schedules/ questionnaires/ data sheets/field notes contain. a vast mass of data. They cannot straightaway provide answers to research questions. They, like raw materials, need processing. Data processing involves classification and summarisal1on of data in order to make them amenable to analysis
Processing of data requires advance planning at the stage of planning the research design. This advance planning may covey such aspects as categorization of variables and preparation of dummy tables. This should be done with reference to the requirements of testing hypotheses/inves-tigative questions. This type of preplanning ensures better identification of data needs and their adequate coverage in the tools for collection of data. Data processing consists of a number of closely related operations, viz., (1) editing, (2) classification and coding, (3) transcription and (4) tabulation.
The first step in processing of data is editing of complete schedules/questionnaires. Editing is a process of checking to detect and or correct errors and omissions. Editing is done at two stages: first at the fieldwork stage and second at office.
Field editing
During the stress of interviewing the interviewer cannot always record responses completely and legibly. Therefore after each interview is over, he should review the schedule to complete abbreviated responses, rewrite illegible responses and correct omissions.
Office editing
All completed schedules/questionnaires should be thoroughly checked in the office for Completeness, accuracy and. Uniformity
Categorisation and classification
The edited data are classified and coded. The responses are classified into meaningful categories so as to bring out essential pattern. By this method, several hundred responses are reduced to five or six appropriate categories containing critical information needed for analysis.
When to classify: Classification can be done at any phase prior to the tabulation. Certain items like sex, age, type of house, and the like are structured and pre classified in the data collection form itself. The respon-ses to open-ended questions are classified at the processing stage.
Categorization Rules: A classification system should meet certain requirements or be guided by certain rules.
First, classification should be linked to the theory and the aim of the particular study.
Second, the scheme should be exhaustive. That is, there must be a category for every response.
Third, the categories must also be mutually exclusive, so that each case is classified only once.
Number of categories: How many categories should a scheme include? It is preferable to include many categories rather than a few, since reducing the number later is easier than splitting an already classified group of responses. However, the number of categories is-limited by the number of cases and the anticipated statistical analysis.
Coding means assigning numerals or other symbols to the categories or responses. For each question a coding scheme is designed on the basis of the con med categories. The coding schemes with their assigned symbols together with specific coding instructions may be assembled in a book. The codebook will identify a specific item of variable/observation and the code number assigned to each category of that item. If the data are to be transferred to machine punch cards, the codebook will also identify the column in which it is entered.
When only a few schedules are processed and hand-tabulated, tabulation can directly be made from the schedules. On the other hand, direct tabulation from the edited schedules/ questionnaires is difficult if the number of the schedules and the number of responses in them are large/ suppose an interview schedule contains 180 responses requiring tabulation and 210 simple and cross tables are to be constructed, each schedule has to be handled at least 210 for tabulation. This will result in mutilation of the schedule, and. omissions and commissions may easily occur in tabulation. In order to avoid these drawbacks, data contained in schedules/questionnaires are transferred to another material for the pur-pose of tabulation. This intermediary process is called 'transcription.’
Methods of Transaction
The material to be used for transaction depends on the method of tabulation - manual or mechanical. Long work sheets, sorting cards or sorting strips are used for transcription when tabulation is done manually, and punch cards or magnetic tape (or disks) are used in a system of machine sorting and tabulation.
After the transcription of data is over, data are summarised and arranged in a compact form for further analysis. This process is called tabulation. Thus, tabulation is the process of summarising raw data and displaying them on compact statistical tables for further analysis. It invol-ves counting of the number of cases falling into each of several categories.
Tabulation can be done by hand or by mechanical or electronic devices. The choice depends upon the size and type of study, cost con-siderations, time pressures and the availability of tabulating machines or computers. Hand tabulation is suitable for small and simple studies. Electronic or mechanical tabulation is more appropriate for large and complex studies.
Electronic Computers
The uses of electronic computers have revolutionized data analysis. They can perform all the specialized functions at a much higher speed. The use of computers has facilitated large-scale studies and above all the use of complex techniques of analysis such as multivariate analysis, factor analysis and the like. The operating speed of computers is fantastic. The time required for computers to perform such basic operations as adding and subtracting is less than a billionth of a second. The large computers can perform many million operations in a second. In addition to being very fast, computers are very accurate.
Construction of Tables
After the data have been tabulated, they are arranged in statistical tables in vertical columns and horizontal rows according to some clas-sification. Tables provide a “shorthand” summary of data. The importance of presenting statistical data in tabular form needs no emphasis. Tables facilitate comprehending masses of data at a glance; they conserve space and reduce explanations and descriptions to a minimum; they give a visual picture of relationships between variables and categories; they facilitate summation of items and the detection of errors and omissions; and they provide a basis for computations.
It is important to make a distinction between the general-purpose tables and the special tables. The general-purpose tables are primary or reference tables designed to include large amounts of source data in convenient and accessible form. The special purpose tables are analytical or derivative ones, which demonstrate significant relationships in the data or the results of statistical analysis. Tables in reports of government on population, vital statistics, agriculture, industries etc. are of general-purpose type. They represent extensive repositories of statistical information. Special purpose tables are found in monographs, research reports and articles, and are used as instruments of analysis. In research we are primarily concerned with special purpose tables.
Components of a Table
The major components of a table are:
A. Heading
  1. Table Number
  2. Title of the table
  3. Designation of units
B. Body
  1. Stub-head - heading of all rows or blocks of stub items.
  2. Boxhead - headings of all columns or main captions and their sub captions
  3. Field or body - the cells in rows and columns
C. Notations
  1. Footnotes, if necessary
  2. Source
Principles of Table construction:
There are certain generally accepted principles of rules relating to construction of tables. They are:
  1. Every table should have a title.
  2. Every table should be identified by a number to facilitate easy reference
  3. The captions (or column headings) should be clear and brief.
  4. The units of measurement under each heading must always be indicated.
  5. Any explanatory footnotes concerning the table itself are placed directly beneath the table and in order to obviate any possible confusion with the textual footnotes such reference symbols as the asterisk (*) dagger (+) and the like may be used.
  6. If the data in a series of tables have been obtained from different sources, it is ordinarily advisable to indicate the specific sources in a place just below the table.
  7. Usually columns are separated from one another by lines. Lines are always drawn at the top and bottom of the table and below the captions.
  8. The columns may be numbered to facilitate reference.
  9. All column figures should be properly aligned. Decimal points and 'plus' or 'minus' signs should be in perfect alignment.
  10. Columns and rows which are to be compared with one another should be brought close together.
  11. Totals of rows should be placed at the extreme right column and totals of columns at the bottom.
  12. In order to emphasize the relative significance of certain categories, different kinds of type, spacing and indentations can be used.
  13. The arrangement of the categories in a table may be chronological, geographical, alphabetical or according to magnitude. Numerical categories are usually arranged in descending order of magnitude.
  14. Miscellaneous and exceptional items are generally placed in the last row of the table.
  15. Usually the larger number of items are listed vertically. This means that a table's length is more than its width.
  16. Abbreviations should be avoided whenever possible and ditto marks should not be used in a table.
  17. The table should be made as logical, clear, accurate and simple as possible.
Frequency Distribution and Class-intervals
Variables that are classified according to magnitude or size are often arranged in the form of a frequency table. In constructing this table it is necessary to determine the number of class-intervals to be used and the size of the class-intervals.
A distinction is usually made between continuous and discrete vari-ables. A continuous variable has an unlimited number of possible values racing between the lowest and the highest, with no gaps or breaks, e.g., Age, Weight and Temperature. A Discrete variable can have a series of specified values with no possibility of values between those points. Each value of a discrete variable is distinct and separate, e.g., persons, houses, books.
In practice, all variables are treated as discrete units, the continuous variables being stated in some discrete unit size according to the needs of a particular situation. For example, length is described in discrete units of millimetres or tenth of an inch.
Class-intervals: Ordinarily the number of class-intervals may not be less than 5 and not more than 15, depending on the nature of the data and the number of cases being studied. After noting the highest and lowest values and the features of the data, the number of intervals can be easily determined.
One-way tables: Frequency tables present the distribution of cases on only a single dimension or variable. For example, distribution of respondents by sex, distribution of respondents by religion, socio-economic status of respondents and the like are shown in one-way tables.
Two-way tables: Distribution in terms of two or more variables and the relationship between two variables are shown in two-way tables. The categories of one variable are presented, one below another, on the left margin of the table and those of another variable at the upper part of the table, one by the side of another. The cells represent particular combinations of both variables. To compare the distribution of cases raw numbers are converted into percentages based on the number of cases in each category.
Analysis and Interpretation of Data
Data analysis involves critical thinking. This is done only after collecting all the data and always focused on the research problems and the hypothesis and questions rose in the statement of the problem. Here the research compiles or summarizes the results in a logical order usually in relation to the hypotheses and objectives of the study. After a brief introduction on the main results or features of the findings of the study, the data are described and interpreted in sufficient detail leading to the ultimate conclusion. Tables, graphs and illustrations are used to present the data more clearly and economically.
In brief, analysis involves examination and evaluation of some phenomenon by dividing it into some constituent parts and identifying the relationships among the parts in the context of the whole. You then interpret the relationships to explain or make some intended generalization governing the behaviour of the phenomenon.
Drawing Conclusions and Recommendations
The researcher summarizes the main findings of his study and the implications. Conclusions summarize the main results of the research and describe what they mean for the general field. Briefly describe what you did, consider suggesting future research to follow up where your research ended.
Meaning and importance
Graphic presentation involves use of graphics, charts and other pictorial devices. These forms and devices reduce large masses of statistical data to a form that can be quickly understood at a glance. The meaning of figures in tabular form may be difficult for the mind to grasp or retain. “Properly constructed graphs and charts relieve the mind of burdensome details by portraying facts concisely, logically and simply.” They, by emphasizing new and significant relationships, are also useful in discovering new facts and in developing hypotheses.
The device of graphic representation is particularly useful when the prospective readers are non-technical people or general public. It is useful to even technical people for dramatizing certain points about the data, for important points can be more effective captured in pictures than in tables. However, graphic forms are not substitutes for tables, but are additional devices.
Types and General Rules
The most commonly used graphic forms may be grouped into the following categories:
  1. Line graphs or charts
  2. Bar Charts
  3. Segmental representations
  4. Pictographs.
Line Graphs
The line graph is useful for showing changes in data relationships over a period of time. In this graph, figures are plotted in relation to two interesting lines or axes. The horizontal line is called the abscissa or X-axis and the vertical, the ordinal or Y-axis. The point at which the two axes, interest is zero for both X and Y. The '0' is the origin of coordinates. The two lines divide the region of the plane into four sections known as quadrants, which are numbered anti-clockwise. Measurements to the right and above '0' are positive (plus), and measurements to the left and below '0' are negative (minus). Any point in the plane of the two axes is plotted in terms of the two axes reading from the origin '0'. Scale intervals in both the axes should he equal. If a part of the scale is omitted, a set of parallel jagged lines should be used to indicate the break in the scale. The time dimension or independent variable is represented by the X-axis and the other variable by Y-axis.
This is another form of line chart used for presenting a frequency distribution. It is constructed by erecting vertical lines on the limits of the class intervals marked on the base line. The vertical lines so drawn from a series of contiguous rectangles or columns. The Width of each rectangle represents its class interval, and the height represents the class frequency.
Frequency Polygons
It is often more convenient to draw a frequency polygon instead of drawing a histogram of a distribution. In laying out a frequency polygon, the frequency of each class is located at the midpoint of the interval and the plotted points are then connected by straight lines. If two or more series are shown on the same graph, the curves can be made with different kinds of ruling. If the total number of cases in the two series is of different size, the frequencies are often reduced to percentages. The frequency polygon is particularly appropriate for portraying continuous series. It is sometimes desirable to portray the data by a smoothed curve. The chart is then called a frequency curve.
The ogive is a line chart plotted on arithmetic graph paper from a cumulative frequency distribution, which may be cumulated downward or upward. It is useful in representing population, per capita income, per capita earnings etc. Two or more distributions may be compared by converting the data of the distributions to percentages of the total, then cumulating the percentages and plotting the ogives on the same grid. The differences in steepness and shape of the ogives facilitate comparative observations.
Lorenz Curve
The Lorenz Curve is a line chart used to compare the proportionality in two quantitative variables. It is commonly used to show the degree by which the distribution of income per family departs from the distribution' of the number of families; it shows that it disparate proportion of the income goes to a few families.
Bar Charts
These charts consist of either vertical or horizontal bars to represent variables. The length of the bars varies corresponding to the values of the variable. Bar charts are the most effective pictorial device for comparing data. The bars may be depicted in solid blocks or in patterns of dots, dishes etc. They may be of different forms: (1) linear or one-dimensional, (2) areal or two-dimensional, and (3) cubic or three-dimensional. The actual numerical values may be shown on the X-axis or Y-axis, as the case may be, or at the immediate ends of the bars.
Pie or Circle Charts
The circle or pie chart is a component parts chart. The component parts form the segments of the circle. The circle chart is usually a percentage chart. The data are converted to percentage of the total; and the proportional segments, therefore, give a clear picture of the relationship among the component parts.
A pictogram is a variation of the bar chart. In it the values are represented by identical symbol or pictures. Each one representing a fixed size of the variable. The symbols used may be appropriate to the type of data.
Preparing research report and scientific papers

Preparing a Research Report
Research has little value if it is not put together into some form of report. We have said that research represents a scientific method of establishing knowledge that is cumulative. And therefore, scientific findings must be properly documented and reported through appropriate media. Effective communication of research findings, both to scientist and to the general audiences, is a very important component of the research process. Decisions on writing style and method of presentation must depend on the intended purposes and prospective readers. Any researcher who hopes to do an effective report should have some idea of his probable readers or audience, some understanding of the needs, interests and capability will help him decide which points to stress in his presentation.
Effective writing is a tool that helps to insure understanding and use of the results of the study. It is helpful to have an outline to work with in preparing a research report. It will assure order in the finished work and it will help to hold down repetition and guard against omissions. The various points to be included should be given careful thought before actual writing is started.
Findings should be reported in terms of the objectives and/or hypotheses of the study. Whenever results are not conclusive, some explanation should be made. When a researcher feels he should express a personal opinion, he should say so. A researcher has the obligation to make some comments as to what the findings mean. Data do not “speak for themselves” but must be analyzed and interpreted. The researcher must draw conclusions from the analysis and in the end make recommendations. Conclusions and recommendations must be made on the basis of the data at hand because that is the best information that is available within the resource restrictions. The researcher must assume that his knowledge is vital and that he knows more about the subject studied than anyone else. The limitations of the study should also be pointed out, in all fairness to the reader.
Most research reports require a certain amount of substantiation from sources other than the research findings at hand. Some times, the researcher may want to make comparisons of the results with those obtained from other sources. These other sources should be identified by footnotes. All of the sources are assembled in a bibliography to accompany the report. The style and form of a research report are based upon clarity of organization and presentation as practiced in academic circles.
The significance of a research report
As noted above, research findings must be communicated in one way or another. First and foremost, reports are necessary to account to the funding body the expenditure of the funds allocated, manpower and other resources. Even more importantly, research reports make scientific information more accessible to people and social groups or organizations interested in particular research data. In doing so, the researcher must have some understanding of the needs, interests and capability of the target audience. This will help him decide the format and points he needs to elaborate and stress in his report. If the audience constitutes the scientific community, his emphasis would be the results, methods, and scientific tools he employed to analyse, interpret, and conclude from the findings of his study. His work may be published as an article in a journal, or bulletin. If the target audience is made up of extension agents, development workers, policy makers, etc. his emphasis will be the conclusion and recommendations drawn from the study.
The nature of scientific writing
Writing is first and foremost analysing, revising, and polishing the text. It is unusual for one to produce ready-made text right away. Assess your results before starting to write. In the process of writing, the researcher learns from his mistakes and comments/ advices he gets from peers, reviewers, or supervisor. These are very essential during the writing process. Nevertheless, the writer must assume responsibility and keep his confidence in his own experience and knowledge about the problem he studied. No one else can know better than himself about the work he did accomplish.
Also writing a research report is not something left to the end of the research work. Rather, it is a continuous process. So, you should start writing whenever you have something to write. The list of contents need to be prepared at an early stage and continually revised as need be. It will assure order in the finished work and it will help to hold down repetition and guard against omissions. The various points to be included should be given careful thought when preparing the table of contents.
The key to scientific writing is clarity. Scientists are required to write in clear and simple terms. Ideas should be explained in simple language and short, coherent sentences. The personal pronouns I, we, you, my, our and us are avoided by the use of such expressions as the researcher or the investigator. Minimize the use of jargons and imprecise words. Concepts and definitions must be sufficiently described depending upon the type and capability of the target audience. The past tense should be used in describing research procedures that have been completed.
Generally, a researcher has the obligation to make some comments as to what the data mean. Data do not always “speak for themselves” but must be analysed and interpreted. It is based on these that conclusions and recommendations must be drawn. Whenever results are not conclusive, some explanations should be made. When a researcher feels he should express a personal opinion, he should say so very clearly.
Following are some checklist to consider reviewing a scientific report or paper.
  • Are concepts and definitions described sufficiently?
  • Are the main points/results clearly spelled out and described?
  • Has the text a clear focus?
  • Is the text well organized?
  • Are the different chapters well connected?
  • Is the text written in clear terms with adequate explanations?
Types of scientific publications
Universities, research organizations and donors require research reports. Usually, such organizations have their own format for progress, annual, and terminal reports, respectively.
Research findings should be reported in terms of the objectives and/or hypotheses of the study. One can use the research questions stated in the proposal.
Effective writing is a tool that helps to insure understanding and use of research results. If a researcher produces acceptable report, he can be rewarded in many ways.
Finally, research reports are substantiated by references from other published or unpublished sources. Sometimes, the researcher may want to make comparisons of the results with those obtained from other sources. Such other sources must be identifies by footnotes and assembled in the list of references or bibliography placed at the end of the report.
Format of the Research Report/ Guidelines for preparing the research report
A. Preliminary section
1. Title page: Some basic considerations
The title page usually includes:
  • The name of the topic
  • The name of the author
  • The relationship of the report to a course or degree requirement
  • The name of the institution where the report is submitted
  • The date and place of the presentation
Any research work starts with a title that will almost certainly change before the research is completed and reported. It is very wise, therefore, to think of an effective title that will be finally adopted. So it is a good idea to keep notes of alternative titles or ideas as you proceed in preparing and writing the research report. The title should catch the readers’ attention while informing them about the main thesis of the study. First impressions are strong and can attract attention. The title should be concise and should give a precise indication of what is to come. It should not claim more than what the study actually delivers. The title should be typed in capital letters, single spaced and centered between the right and left margins of the page.
2. Acknowledgement (if any)
An acknowledgement page is included if the writer has received unusual assistance in the conduct of the study. The author gives credit for external support received during the conduct of the study. Acknowledgement also expresses gratitude for the use of copyrighted or otherwise restricted materials. A doctoral candidate may choose to dedicate the dissertation to a person(s) who has had significant impact on his work.
3. Table of contents:
A good table of contents serves as an important purpose in providing an outline of the content of the report. The relationship between principal and minor divisions is indicated by capitalization of chapter numbers and titles, with subheadings in small letters and with capitalized principal letters.
B. Main body of the report
1. Introduction
  • As in the proposal, the introduction presents the problem addressed by the research.
  • Gives sufficient background information to allow readers to understand the results of the study.
  • It is written in such a way that readers will know the current status of research conclusions on the topic, the theoretical implications associated with the results of previous research on the subject, and the statement of a hypothetical resolution of the issues to be tested by the research described.
  • As in the proposal, the introduction should describe the nature and purpose of the study, present the guiding research questions, and explain the significance of and justification for conducting the study. Terms likely to be used throughout the paper should be defined in this section.
  • A statement of objectives is included and a research hypothesis
2. Review of Related literature
A literature review must be organized in relation to research topic you are developing. In the process you should synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known; identify areas of controversy in the literature; formulate questions that need further research.
3. Materials and Methods (Methodology)
The methodology section is used to describe what the researcher did and how the study was conducted. One important purpose is to enable others repeat the experiment and verify the results if they wish to. In doing so, you should summarize the procedures in the execution of each of the stage of your work. This section should build on the description of methods outlined in the proposal. You should label subsections similar to those in the proposal. It may include subsections describe participants or subjects, another describing testing or measurement procedures undertaken with the participants, and a section describing limitations of the methodology. These are all done in the past tense or past perfect tense.
This section should present the following:
  1. Procedures used and kind of design
  2. Sources of data
  3. Methods of gathering data
  4. Description of data gathering instruments used
4. Analysis of data/Results
  • This section summarizes the data collected and details the statistical treatment of that data.
  • Present your results in a logical sequence using only observations pertinent to your stated objectives.
  • After a brief statement of the main results or findings of the study, the data are reported in sufficient detail to justify the conclusions.
  • Tables and illustrations may be used to report data when these methods are seen to present the data more clearly and economically.
  • Do not replicate observations in your tables. Give only means and measures of variability.
  • Use tables to present exact values and figures to show trends and relationships.
  • All tables and illustrations should be mentioned in the text, with appropriate titles or captions and enough explanations to make them readily identifiable.
  • Avoid repetition of numerical data from the tables and figures in the text.
5. Discussion
This section should reflect the implications of the study. Here the researcher evaluates the data and interprets the findings in the context of the research questions or hypothesis. He is guided by questions like the following.
  • What do my results mean and what are their implications?
  • Should interpret your results clearly, concisely and logically. For each objective, describe how your results relate to meeting the objectives.
  • Here, the major results are picked or summarized, evaluate, and interpreted with respect to the original research questions and hypotheses and related with previous works.
  • Theoretical and practical consequences of the results and the validity of conclusions may appropriately be discussed in this section.
  • The limitations of the study and suggestions for future work may also be included.
  • Emphasize on new results and suggest new lines of work or further research.
6. Conclusions and Recommendations
In this section you should describe briefly what you did, the main results and recommendations for further research or applicability. Implications what the findings of the research imply (consider suggestions).
7. References
At the end of your report you need to list all the sources cited in the text. Details regarding citations and references are given part four.
The principle of fairness and the role of personal recognition within the reward system of science account for the emphasis given to the proper allocation of credit. In the standard scientific paper, credit is explicitly acknowledged in three places: in the list of authors, in the acknowledgments of contributions from others, and in the list of references or citations. Conflicts over proper attribution can arise in any of these places. Citations serve many purposes in a scientific paper. They acknowledge the work of other scientists, direct the reader toward additional sources of information, acknowledge conflicts with other results, and provide support for the views expressed in the paper. More broadly, citations place a paper within its scientific context, relating it to the present state of scientific knowledge. Failure to cite the work of others can give rise to more than just hard feelings. Citations are part of the reward system of science. They are connected to funding decisions and to the future careers of researchers. More generally, the misallocation of credit undermines the incentive system for publication. In addition, scientists who routinely fail to cite the work of others may find themselves excluded from the fellowship of their peers. This consideration is particularly important in one of the more intangible aspects of a scientific career-that of building a reputation. Published papers document a person's approach to science, which is why it is important that they be clear, verifiable, and honest. In addition, a researcher who is open, helpful, and full of ideas becomes known to colleagues and will benefit much more than someone who is secretive or uncooperative.
Features of citations
(a) Footnoting
  • Footnotes are very useful devices because they serve a number of purposes
  • They enable you to substantiate your presentation by citing other authorities
  • They also enable you to present explanatory statements that would interfere with the logic of your text
  • Traditionally, footnote citations are placed at the bottom of the page
  • They are separated from the text by a horizontal line from the text margin.
(b) Abbreviations
  • You may use abbreviations in bibliographic and footnote citations if you want to conserve space. Examples: bk., bks. = book, books.
(c) Bibliography (Reference/Literature Cited)
Points to consider in preparing the references:
  • The reference list at the end of the paper should list all works cited in the paper, and all items listed as references must have been cited in the text.
  • Special attention should be given to ensure appropriate citations of less common sources, such as unpublished manuscripts.
  • There are many ways of presenting the bibliography but be accurate and consistent in the way you list
  • Follow guidelines required by the particular journal, proceeding, etc. They do have their own style of citations.
  • Citing a source without having read/seen the original can lead to embarrassment and loss of credibility if the secondary source from which you gained the information is in error.
  • Again, the APA Manual can provide guidance for ensuring accuracy in these details.
  • General rule: Author (s). Year of Publication. Title of Work. Publication data.
(i) In-text references (citations)-References are citations of other works such as books, journal articles, or private communications. References in text are treated somewhat differently from references in the complete list at the end of a paper.
  • Use the author-date format to cite references in text. For example: as Smith (1990) points out,
  • For two-author citations, spell out both authors on all occurrences.
  • For multiple-author citations (up to five authors) name all authors the first time, then use et al., so the first time it is Smith, Jones, Pearson and Sherwin (1990), but the second time it is Smith et al., with a period after “al” but no underlining.
  • For six or more authors, use et al. the first time and give the full citation in references.
  • Include page reference after the year, outside quotes but inside the comma, for example: The author stated, “The effect disappeared within minutes” (Lopez, 1993, p. 311) , but she did not say which effect. Another example would be: Lopez found that “the effect disappeared within minutes” (p. 311). Notice also that the sentence is capitalized only if presented after a comma, as a complete sentence.
  • If two or more multiple-author references which shorten to the same “et al.” form, making it ambiguous, give as many author names as necessary to make them distinct, before et al. For example: (Smith, Jones, et al., 1991) to distinguish it from (Smith, Burke, et al., 1991).
  • Join names in a multiple-author citation with and (in text) or an ampersand (&) in reference lists and parenthetical comments. For example: As Smith and Sarason (1990) point out, the same argument was made by in an earlier study (Smith & Sarason, 1990).
  • If a group is readily identified by its initials, spell it out only the first time. For example, “As reported in a government study (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 1991), blah blah...” and thereafter, “The previously cited study (NIMH, 1991) found that...
  • If the author is unknown or unspecified, use the first few words of the reference list entry (usually the title), for example: (“Study Finds,” 1992).
  • If citing multiple works by the same author at the same time, arrange dates in order. In general, use letters after years to distinguish multiple publications by the same author in the same year. For example: Several studies (Johnson, 1988, 1990a, 1990b, 1995 in press-a, 1995 in press-b) showed the same thing.
  • For old works cite the translation or the original and modern copyright dates if both are known, for example: (Aristotle, trans. 1931) or (James, 1890/1983).
  • Always give page numbers for quotations, for example: (Cheek & Buss, 1981, p. 332) or (Shimamura, 1989, chap. 3, p. 5).
  • For e-mail and other “unrecoverable data” use personal communication, for example: (V.-G. Nguyen, personal communication, September 28, 1993). These do not appear in the reference list.
Abbreviating within a reference
Here are approved abbreviations for use in a reference list:
  • chap. for chapter
  • ed. for edition
  • rev. ed. for revised edition
  • 2nd ed. for second edition
  • Ed. for Edited by
  • (Eds.) for multiple editors
  • Trans. for Translated by
  • p. for page number, with a space after the period
  • pp. for page numbers in encyclopaedia entries, multi-page newspaper articles, chapters or articles in edited books, but not in journal or magazine article citations, where numbers alone should be used (see examples of reference formats).
  • Vol. for Volume
  • vols. for volumes
  • No. for Number
  • Pt. for Part
  • Suppl. for Supplement,
  • Tech. Rep. for Technical Report
Quotations: When a direct quotation is used, always include the author, year, and page number as part of the citation.
  1. A quotation of fewer than 40 words should be enclosed in double quotation marks and should be incorporated into the formal structure of the sentence. Consider the following example:
Patients receiving prayer had “less congestive heart failure, required less diuretic and antibiotic therapy, had fewer episodes of pneumonia, had fewer cardiac arrests, and were less frequently incubated and ventilated” (Byrd, 1988, p. 829).
  1. A lengthier quotation of 40 or more words should appear (without quotation marks) apart from the surrounding text, in block format, with each line indented five spaces from the left margin.
(ii) Lists of References
General Rule:
  • Pagination: The References section begins on a new page.
  • Format: The references lists are organized alphabetically by surnames of first authors.
  • Most reference entries have three components:
  • Authors: Authors are listed in the same order as specified in the source, using surnames and initials. Commas separate all authors. When there are seven or more authors, list the first six and then use “et al.” for remaining authors. If no author is identified, the title of the document begins the reference. The first author always starts with its surname followed by initials. The rest of authors are listed following the first author either starts by initials followed by surnames or vice versa.
  • Year of Publication: In parentheses following authors, with a period following the closing parenthesis. Or without parenthesis following authors, with a period following authors and after it. If no publication date is identified, use “n.d.” in parentheses or without parenthesis following the authors.
  • Source Reference: Includes title, journal, volume, pages (for journal article) or title, edition, city of publication, publisher (for book). [Note: Italicize titles of books, titles of periodicals, and periodical volume numbers.]
Examples of sources
  1. Journal article
Murzynski, J., & Degelman, D. (1996). Body language of women and judgments of vulnerability to sexual assault. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 26, 1617-1626.
  1. Book
Paloutzian, R. F. (1996). Invitation to the psychology of religion (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
American Psychiatric Association. (1990). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Author.
(note: “Author” is used as above when author and publisher are identical.)
  1. Article or chapter in an edited book
Shea, J. D. (1992). Religion and sexual adjustment. In J. F. Schumaker (Ed.), Religion and Mental Health (pp. 70-84). New York: Oxford University Press.
  1. Web document on university program or department Web site
Degelman, D., & Harris, M. L. (2000). APA style essentials. Retrieved May 18, 2000, from Vanguard University, Department of Psychology Web site: http://www.vanguard.edu/faculty/ddegelman/index.cfm?doc_id=796
  1. Stand-alone Web document (no date)
Nielsen, M. E. (n.d.). Notable people in psychology of religion. Retrieved August 3, 2001, from http://www.psywww.com/psyrelig/psyrelpr.htm
  1. Stand-alone Web document (no author, no date)
Gender and society. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2001, from http://www.trinity.edu/~mkearl/gender.html
  1. Journal article from database
Hien, D., & Honeyman, T. (2000). A closer look at the drug abuse-maternal aggression link. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 15, 503-522. Retrieved May 20, 2000, from ProQuest database.
  1. Abstract from secondary database
Garrity, K., & Degelman, D. (1990). Effect of server introduction on restaurant tipping. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 20, 168-172. Abstract retrieved July 23, 2001, from PsycINFO database.
  1. Letter to the editor
O'Neill, G. W. (1992, January). In support of DSM-III [Letter to the editor]. APA Monitor, 4-5.
  1. Magazine article
Gardner, H. (1991, December). Do babies sing a universal song? Psychology Today,70-76. (xi) Newsletter article
Brown, L.S. (1993, Spring). My research with oranges. The Psychology Department Newsletter, 3, 2.
  1. The date is given as it appears on the publication. For anonymous newspaper articles.
  2. Pamphlet
Just Say No Foundation. (1992). Saving our youth. (9th ed.) [Brochure]. Washington, DC: Author.
  1. Anonymous or unknown author (common in newspapers):
Caffeine linked to mental illness. (1991, July 13). New York Times, pp. B13, B15.

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