Comparison Of Methods Of Research Education Essay

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In this chapter the author attempts to discuss the research methods required in the context of study and also justify its use and limitations. This study was undertaken to analyse the impact of mega-events and the promotional strategies undertaken to reposition a destination's tourism industry. While conducting this research it was essential that a methodology be chosen to best suit the study. According to Howard and Sharp (1996), the choice of research methods is considered to be an integral part of any research project, which greatly influences the results obtained.

Since the aim of the dissertation is to demonstrate the importance of mega-events and the need to plan for these events, more spontaneous and flexible approach was required to develop the understanding of Sydney's image in the tourism industry. Secondly, the data had to be gathered from different sources, both primary and secondary, to fully understand the phenomenon. Finally, the author also attempts to offer practical value and ideas which could be useful in this issue. Based on these considerations, the research was conducted using qualitative research design. Qualitative research allows the subjects being studied to give much 'richer' answers to questions put to them by the researcher, and may give valuable insights which might have been missed by any other method. It also provides valuable information to certain research questions in its own right. Robson et al., in 1992 stated qualitative research to be 'A wide-ranging craft encompassing many different approaches, and can range from large, time-consuming Government/Social research contracts to pre-testing of consumer advertising' ( Chisnall, 2001,P195). According to Chisnall, the essence of qualitative research is that it diagnostic; it seeks to discover what may account for certain kinds of behaviour like brand loyalty. Qualitative research usually has no measurements or statistics but uses words, descriptions and quotes to explore meaning. Qualitative methods aim to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them Qualitative research may define preliminary questions which can then be addressed in quantitative studies (Greenhalgh & Taylor, 1997)

One of the key differences between qualitative and quantitative research is that qualitative research tries to generalize relatively simple information by performing statistical analyses, whereas qualitative research tries to learn about a complex phenomenon by seeking insight. In simple words quantitative research answers 'how many' of a question whereas qualitative research answers 'why' of a question. Quantitative research begins with an idea (hypothesis), which is converted into data through measurements and this at the end helps the researcher to draw conclusions. Qualitative research, in contrast, begins with an intention to explore a particular area, collects "data" (observations and interviews), and generates ideas. The strength of the quantitative approach lies in its reliability (repeatability)-that is, the same measurements should yield the same results time after time. The strength of qualitative research lies in validity (closeness to the truth)-that is, good qualitative research, using a selection of data collection methods, really should touch the core of what is going on rather than just skimming the surface (Greenhalgh & Taylor, 1997).

Of the various methods of qualitative research, case study was found to the best suited approach for this dissertation. In most of the researches undertaken, if the research involves 'how and why questions, they are more explanatory and likely to lead to the use of case studies. This is because case study deals with the operational links needing to be traced over time, rather than mere frequencies or incidences. For example, if one wanted to study how a community successfully thwarted a proposed highway (lupo et al, 1971, cited by Yin, 1994), it is less likely to rely on a survey or examination of the records and might be better off doing a case study. According to Yin (1994, P13):

A Case Study is an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident.

According to Schramm(1971), the essence of a case study, the central tendency among all types of cases study, is that it tries to illuminate a decision or a set of decisions: why they were taken, how they were implemented, and with what results (cited in Yin,1994,P12). According to Stake (1994, P236), a case study is not a methodological choice, but a choice of object to be studied. As a form of research, case study is defined by the interest in individual cases and not by the methods of inquiry used.

For the author to achieve the aim of this dissertation, a case study approach was utilised. this was achieved by doing a case study on the Sydney 2000 Olympics. The reason behind choosing the Sydney 2000 Games in particular is due to the praise Australia received from the world's tourism and sporting leaders for its approach to maximising the tourism opportunities presented with Sydney's staging of the 2000 Olympic Games. The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Juan Antonio Samaranch, said the Olympic games had helped overcome perceptions that Australia was too far away for a holiday. It provided a sporting and cultural stage for all of the continents and boosted tourism in Australia. The type of case study used was explanatory case study as existing theory was used in order for the research to understand the planning and strategies used by Sydney for the games to promote it as a destination.

Limitations of the Case Study Approach

Case studies can be both descriptive and explanatory and are thus considered a good approach for carrying out qualitative research. However, there are also a few limitations of the method attached to its use. Yin (1994) states that case study's findings can be generalised to theoretical propositions but not to enumerate frequencies. Thus it is hard to make general review from one case study. Yin states "perhaps the greatest concern about the use of cases is the lack of rigour of the case study research" (Yin, 1994, P10). There always remains a risk of too much data being gathered which may not be of real relevance to the study. Case study data is time-consuming to collect, and even more time-consuming to analyse. Hence, there is a reluctance to fund such a research if undertaken on a large scale.   Yet cutting corners on either of these facets is likely to seriously weaken the value and credibility of any findings produced. As yin (1994) pointed out case studies most often do not lend themselves to numerical representation. Hence the in determinant evidence and biased findings may influence the directions of the findings and the conclusions.

Looking at both the strengths and weaknesses of the case study method, and to obtain a clear understanding of the case, the author also collected data using primary research data collection methods. This was done to obtain balanced descriptive and explanatory information for the research supported by evidence of data collected through primary research.

Primary Research

Primary research is research used to collect data for a specific task. Primary research involves actually going out to the field and conducting some type of survey or fact finding investigation among the actual people. Primary data are usually gathered by the researcher via surveys, experiments or observation methods. However, interviews and questionnaires are most popular and commonly used methods of primary data collection. The data thus collected may be qualitative (in the form of words) or quantitative (in the form of number).

Primary research was used in this project to identify the key strategies of Sydney 2000 Games and the impact of these strategies on Australia's tourism. Primary research was one of the most difficult aspects of this dissertation. To collect primary data, the researcher used questionnaire technique to complete this dissertation. The researcher explains below the different alternative techniques that were considered to collect data before zeroing down on the questionnaire technique.


Veal (2006) is of the opinion that interviews are probably the only way of obtaining a realistic picture of the way people view the subject of research. Howard and Sharp (1993, P139) suggest that most scientists would see the interview as providing higher quality information that is free from bias than many other methods available to them. Types of interviews range from a fully formal structured interview to an informal unstructured interview and semi-structured interviews.

Structured interview

A fully structured interview is when the researcher has drafted a detailed questionnaire. The questions are asked as per their order for every interview so as to follow a common pattern and ensure that all the topics have been covered. This method is like using a questionnaire but by being face-to-face with the interviewee and there is also a scope of some personal interaction. However, due to a rigid structure and the pattern of question that the interviewer follows, the interviewee has less scope to put forth additional information.

Unstructured interview

An unstructured interview is based on a more flexible and adaptable approach. In simple words it is a little more than a conversation. In this method the researcher refrains from trying to structure the interview. The interview keeps the conversation open in order to gain more information. This method also follows a fixed outline but is not driven by prepared questions. There is a scope for interview to expand the issues or provide information of related issues as there is no restriction on the type of information provided.

Semi-structure Interview

This type of interview provides a balance between the other two forms of interview. It is essentially conducted with the interviewee possessing and following a list of questions but at the same time gives the interviewee the opportunity to express views freely. A major advantage of this type of interview is its adaptability. Veal (2006) suggests that the use of a checklist is more practical than fully detailed questions as the latter can interrupt the flow of interviewThere is a possibility that the interviewee might touch upon an important and untapped aspect of the researched issue and may change the course of research in order to investigate them.

Bryman (2001,P313) suggests, "qualitative semi-structured interviewing tends to be flexible, responding to the direction in which interviewees take the interview and perhaps adjusting the emphasis in the research as a result of significant issues that emerge in the course of interviews."

Interviews may be conducted face-to-face, via telephone or mail questionnaires. The method in which the interviews can be conducted depends on various factors like budget and time. The researcher was in England to do the research between December and May, but the interviewees were from Sydney. Thus, considering the time and budget constraint, the researcher used e-mail questionnaires as a method of conducting the research. the researcher contacted the respondents via mail stating the purpose of dissertation and the method that will be followed to collect data. After a positive reply from the respondents, a questionnaire was prepared and was e-mailed to the researchers. Over a period of 5months from January 2010 to may 2010 various e-mail were exchanged back and forth to collect as much information as possible. The respondents were also happy to give access to various reports and documents regarding the topic researched.

The type of questions that were use were non-directive and open to allow more latitude for response, generalized and probed to make the respondents feel more comfortable to speak freely.


Questionnaires are a popular means of collecting data. They are useful when the research is to be undertaken on a large scale. They can be easily posted e-mailed and faxed and hence, have a wide geographic coverage. They are particularly useful when the respondents are willing to provide information but want to maintain their anonymity at the same time. Unlike other research methods, the respondent is not interrupted by the research instrument. Questionnaires reduce interviewer bias because there is uniform question presentation (Jahoda, et al., 1962) However, it may be difficult to obtain a good response rate as often there is no strong motivation for the respondents to respond. It could be a delayed and a tedious method when the researcher has to wait for the responses to be returned. One of the main drawbacks of this method is that there is no control over who completes the questionnaire. Moreover, respondent can read all questions beforehand and then decide whether to complete or not. For example, perhaps because it is too long, too complex, uninteresting, or too personal. They do not give the respondents the freedom to put forth their views and opinions on the topic researched. Hence, it is risky and not entirely fruitful to use this method on its own for data collection.


Recording is a technique in which the researcher uses a tape recorder to record the data to be gathered. One of the important things to remember in this method is that recorders can be used by the researcher only if the interviewee/respondents agree to its use. Gillham (2000) justifies the use of tape-recorder as a method strongly recommended if the interviewee agrees. This helps the research to keep a word by word account of the information the interviewee provides so as not to miss out any important information. although it is said that the interviewee might feel uncomfortable with the use of tape recorder, taping the interview aids the listening process and provides an unbiased record of responses. According to Gill and Johnson (1991), in contrast to note taking, after a few minutes of taping, respondents become unaware of the recorder. However, one of the most important reasons for the research not adopting this technique is due to the tedious, time-consuming and costly techniques of transcripiting the data recorded. Moreover, Some people are very self-conscious in front of cameras or audio recorders. Recording the session may create a barrier between you and them, and make them less candid than they would otherwise be.


Collecting data is time consuming and expensive, even for relatively small amounts of data. Hence, it is highly unlikely that a complete population will be investigated. Because of the time and cost elements the amount of data you collect will be limited it is very important to take a small sample to collect the data from. According to Fink (1995, P1) 'the best sample is representative, or a model, of the population'. A correctly taken sample of an appropriate size will yield results that can be applied to the population as a whole. Due to the characteristic and nature of this research, the author chose to focus on the opinions of the people who were in any way involved with the 2000 Games. These were people in key positions from the Australian Tourism Commission, Tourism New South Wales and the Sydney Olympic Park Authority. The respondents were encouraged to speak as much, or as little as they wished bout the issue. One person from the Australian Tourism Commission, two from Tourism NSW and one from the SOPA were interviewed. Also in order to gain insight on the research topic from an academic viewpoint, a  professor in the school of leisure, sport and tourism at the University of Technology was also interviewed. The researcher is of the opinion that the respondents have provided the dissertation with sufficient qualitative information to draw conclusion and the form recommendations. Not only did the respondents respond to the questions e-mailed to them but they were very approachable and flexible in their approach and provided the researcher with a number of important documents and reports which proved to be really important for the research.

As the topic that the author has undertaken to research is an event which has occurred in the past, there is already vast and useful material available through various sources like, journal articles, newspapers, media and internet which can prove equally important to the dissertation. At this stage the use of primary research methods is limited and the research had to use various sources of data. This is called secondary research.

Limitations of primary research

Primary research is considered to be one of the most widespread and effective ways of gathering authentic data. However, there are a number of potential problems and limitations to using primary research as a sole method of data collection.

The most important problem faced by the researcher was of time money and distance. the researcher was based in Sheffield during the time of this dissertation and the respondents were from Sydney, hence, the researcher found it very expensive to actually travel to Sydney to conduct the interviews in person and had to therefore use alternate methods. Moreover, time constraint was another problem the researcher faced.

The researcher also had difficulties in contacting and getting the right people for gathering the data from. Sometimes it was not possible to talk to the right people and this created difficulties in creating a plan for data collection. And lastly, the researcher own lack of experience in planning the research and the questions as well. If the questions did not cover all the important issues, if they were not well phrased or if the research did not succeed to obtain the right answers and relevant data, then the research would not provide qualitative data and the researcher would have to start the whole process again from scratch. In spite of all these problems, the researcher managed to gather the relevant data required. The contacts were obtained from an extensive search and the respondents were also very helpful and approachable and provided with a vast amount of data to the research which proved very useful for the dissertation.

Secondary Research

Secondary research occurs when a project requires a summary or collection of existing data. As opposed to primary research data, secondary research data already exist. in simple words, Secondary research is where you use information that other people have gathered through primary research. Usually, secondary research is used in order to identify what earlier researchers have done and it also helps to provide areas of possible investigation which would be interesting and valuable. It helps to identify possible gaps or logical extensions between previous and existing work. . Sometimes secondary research is required in the preliminary stages of research to determine what is known already and what new data are required, or to form research design. According to HHHHHH Howard and sharp (1996), secondary research means to search for information that is given by other researchers and published in some form that is already accessible.

The secondary sources could include previous research reports, newspaper, magazine and journal content, and government and NGO statistics. In order to get a detailed understanding of the research issue information was gathered from newspaper articles, journals and books which were available at the Sheffield Hallam university library. Also online journal articles, news websites and computer database was also used to gather information. The existing literature enabled the researcher to identify any recurring issues or themes. The books and journal articles, in particular, helped the researcher to create a background for theoretical knowledge.


Events like the Olympic games are a world phenomenon and are thus captured by the world media. These events attract a lot of publicity from the press. For this reason, newspapers, magazines and television were of great significance to the research, not only because they provided with loads of up-to-date information but also because they contained interviews, and articles with different approaches on the research subject. These interviews provided information on how the games were perceived by the locals, the promotional strategies adopted.

Books and Journals

Books and journals in general are considered to be a good source of information in any research. They are useful in particular to form the theoretical background of the research. The journals contain papers written by pervious researcher on the researched topic. They form a background for research and are also useful in removing any irrelevant points or issues in the existing researcher and vice versa. In this research also, the researcher has made extensive use of book and journals in every stage and chapter of the dissertation. It helped the researcher to get a good understanding of the topic. These were readily accessible at the Sheffield Hallam university library.

Computer Data Base (Internet)

According to Howard and Sharp (1996), computer database is a source of considerable importance. There are a number of search engines that can be useful in searching the internet, The internet has the advantage that it is easy to access, it has lots of information, and it is sometimes the most up-to-date source of information. Databases for products and services are available online. These databases like EMRALD are maintained by dedicated international bodies and are also developed directly by universities and other research institutions.

The topic of this dissertation is an event which occurred in the past; hence, the electronic database was of immense help for this dissertation in particular. The researcher used Emerald and Google Scholar to access online articles and papers of trade journals. Accessibility to the data was fairly easy. However, due to the vast amount of relevant and irrelevant data available online it was necessary to be critical of the validity of any information available online.

Limitations of secondary research

In spite of the easy accessibility and the amount of data available through these secondary resources, there are some limitations to this form of research as well. The most important is the question on the quality and relevance of the available data. Data available through these resources is of the work and researches done in past and might not be up-to-date information. There are also several contrasting data available online which make it more difficult for the researcher to critically analyse the information and rely n his instincts with regards to the use of this data. This can sometimes lead to irrelevant information being included in the research and the research might also lose its track. Many times a researcher finds that research that appears promising is in fact a "teaser" released by the research supplier. This often occurs when a small portion of a study is disclosed, often for free, but the full report, which is often expensive, is needed to gain the full value of the study.

Keeping all these aspects in mind, the researcher has tried her best to use the most recent publications and articles from books, journals and magazines in order to cover all the aspects of the topic researched. The researcher tried to look for the most up-to-date information available.

Data Analysis

Summarizing and analysing the data was one of the most difficult parts of the dissertation. According to Veal (2006) the researcher is faced with practical problems of how to manage the heap on interview notes and transcripts. There are many different types of qualitative data analysis methods. The type of analysis used depends on the information collected, the aim of research and the time and finances available. For the data to be analysed, it must be put in simple words which can be easily analyzed. This might be in the form of transcripts from the interview, notes and answers from the open-ended questionnaires and the diaries and journals maintained by the researcher.

When multiple case studies are used to collect the data and where the researcher has to find and analyse recurrent themes in each study the researcher can use thematic analysis. However, where the focus is on secondary material in general and media analysis in particular, content analysis method is used. Content analysis is a technique that has applications in tourism research (Finn et al, 2000, P135). It is a technique that is applied to non-statistical data and allows analyzing it in a systematic way.  Using this method the researcher studies the transcripts in detail and assigns codes (number or words), to specific characters within the text.. The researcher may already have a list of categories or she may read through each transcript and let the categories emerge from the data. This type of analysis can be used for open-ended questions which have been added to questionnaires in large quantitative surveys, thus enabling the researcher to quantify the answers. This is further supported by Finn, who states that content analysis is a quantitative means of analyzing qualitative data (Finn et al., 2000, P134).


The chapter has discussed the data collection process and methods used by the researcher to gather information. In order to gather the most relevant and appropriate information, the researcher has made use of both primary and secondary methods of research. This has helped the researcher to cover all the important aspect and to gain both practical and theoretical knowledge. The research was completed in a period of four months. The next chapter take a look at the results and analysis of the information gathered.