DR. ZINA O'LEARY: Core skills for new researchers:How to work with data--we often think that research is about data collection.And it certainly is a part of it.And it is a very challenging part.So by the time we get here, hopefully we'revery clear on everything we've done so far.Now it's time to explore data.And data is absolutely everywhere.So we're going to discuss the challenges of a data
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: rich world.We're going to explore the different types of datathat exist.Then we'll look at the skills that youneed for effective data collection, and finally,the skills that are needed for effective data analysis.So one of the skills that is essential in doing researchis obviously data collection.[Dr. Zina O'Leary, Senior Fellow] And this
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: is a landscape that's actually been changing over the last 20years.So when I first started doing research,the skills we needed to collect datawere interview skills and survey writing skills,and maybe facilitation of focus groups and observation.Those were the skill sets that we needed in order
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: to collect data.But data is now everywhere.So the skills that you need are quite different.It's a matter of finding existing dataand wading through it.So data, data everywhere-- let's talkabout the kind of data that's out there that you mightbe able to access in during your research,
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: and what skills you need to be able to do that.So data types-- first of all, there is so much existing data,so much.You have all the past research that's done.Right?So you have all the studies that have been done,and sometimes they're a bit conflicting.Sometimes they're in alignment.
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: There's actually a research method now called meta analysisor systematic review.And a systematic review is when youtake all the relevant studies, put them in a funnel,and then distill out a more robust set of results, basedon all the different data.When you do it quantitatively, it's called a meta analysis.
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: When you do it qualitatively, it's a systematic analysis.So we're not even collecting any new data.We're doing a meta review of what's out there.So that's past research.What other kinds of existing data is there?Well, there's documents.And by documents, I mean anything.There is policy documents.There is e-mails.
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: There is letters.There are web sites.There are television shows.There are YouTube clips, vine clips.There is Facebook posts.There are tweets.President Trump is very big on the tweet.So it'd be interesting to do an analysis of that.That is all new data types, existing data.What we mean by existing data is data
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: that is not generated solely for your research purposes.And there is so much out there.So, documents, social media, TV, anything reallythat exists out there, that's the kind of thing youreally need to be looking at.So when students come up to me and theywant to know about research methods,
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: and they're talking about interviews and surveys,I always recommend looking at what's already out there, whatexisting data is there.It helps them with their protocols.It may just be for triangulation,where you have more than one data source confirmingthe veracity of another.But it's also sometimes just a data source in its own right.
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: Now that is quite different than primary data.Primary data is data that you collecton the basis of your research.And it takes a different skill set.The skill set you need for existing data issearching and culling.The skill set that you need for primary data isknowing how to interview, knowing how to facilitate
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: a focus group, knowing how to findthe right group of responses for either one of those things,knowing how to find the responding groups for surveys,knowing how to write a survey, knowing how to pilot a survey,knowing how to do the analysis of that data,whether it be qualitative, thematic analysisor quantitative, statistical analysis.
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: So it is a very different skill set,and it is one that is still required because often wedo want to collect at least some primary data,even if just to give a local contextualizationto the existing data.So primary data, existing data--now there's also something called online datathat we now need to look at.
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: And this overlaps with the other two types.But when I think about online data,I think of the internet, and the internet, for example,as a library.Now if you think of the internet as a library thathold everything.I don't know of anyone who is doing research and not usingthe internet as a library.And so again, a different skill set that most of you alreadyinherently have, because you've been
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: using the internet as a library for other thingsother than research.But the internet is also a generator of knowledge.So it is the source of knowledge itself, for example,Facebook posts and tweets.There's an interesting study thatwas done on suicide, which looked at Facebook status
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: posts of individuals for six months priorto committing suicide.So the internet is a generator of knowledge.And marketers know all about this,about click through rates, and how many hits something has,not only the words that are generated, but just wherepeople are going, what they're looking at.All of that is internet as a generator of knowledge,
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: and it does take a specific skill set that marketersare actually quite adept at.And academics are just becoming adept at that.The internet is also a means of data collection.So we used to have to limit our interviews to the locales
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: that we could visit.Now we're getting to the point whereit's really quite easy to do a Skype interview,to do something online.We can do online surveys.Although, the challenge there is getting a response rate.We can do online interviewing.We can do online focus groups.So it is a way of generating dataand again, a new skill set to really
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: be able to manage the technology of something that's quite new.So those are some of the ways in which data has changed,and the skills that you need to reallybe able to access existing data, primary data,and use really an online forum for searching, collectingthe generation of, and also using it
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: as a means for data collection.If I was going to talk about the skills neededfor effective data collection, I would definitelyrank logic as really high.Use all your logical processes.So why am I doing this?How is it working?What's my inductive and deductive logic?Just really thinking logically about the problem situation,
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: the answers, how I'm going to find solutions.A lot of that goes back to problem solving.What is the problem?What solutions are possible?How can I assess those solutions?And what is the most effective solution that I can use?So my logic needs to be strong.
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: My problem solving needs to be strong.And certainly my communication needs to be strong.I'd be really looking at the development of my communicationskills, communication skills in termsof finding out about problems, determining research questions,data collection, making sure I'm facilitating someone's ability
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: to respond in an interview.All of those things really rely on communication, my abilityto write-up, my ability to disseminate.Those are all skills that you need for effective datacollections.So logic, problem solving, and communicationare critical to the endeavor of data collection.
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: Now if we move to analysis, there are similar skills.I would say you still need logic, problem solving,and communication.But you become really quite specific in some of the skillsthat you need for that.One of the skills I suggest you work onis that ability to logically linkwhat you're exploring with your data,
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: back to your research question, and backto your aims and objectives.So making that logical leap back and forthbetween what was I trying to find?What do I have here?What was I trying to achieve?What do I have here?How can I wade through this to make sense of it?And then quite specifically, you'regoing to need two sets of skills,
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: depending on your data type.One is quantitative analysis skills and the sysstatistics.So what do you need to know about statistics?Well, you need to know the logic of statistics.And then you also need to know howto run the stats program that you'll be using.I don't think you need to know howto calculate standard deviation manually,
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: which is how I learned stats, and look things upin tables and books.What you need to know is how to communicate with the program.So the kinds of questions you want to ask of the dataare manageable by the program.So you're asking for the right things.And so that you understand the results.So you don't need to be able to build a biketo be able to ride it, but it does
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: help to have some basic understanding of the mechanics.So if a chain falls off you know what's going on.So really just being aware of how statistics works,knowing about means, modes, medians,different types of distribution, different typesof variable types, just the basics,so that you can communicate about what's happening
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: with your quantitative data.And that you're not just letting go to a stats program,and not being able to engage with the analysis that'shappening behind the scenes.So things like central tendency, dispersion, the basicsof descriptive statistics, and evenyour basics of inferential statistics,becomes particularly important to be
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: able to communicate about.All right, the same is true for qualitative data.You need to really understand the processes here.And it's very frustrating for me to have students do interviewsor focus groups, and then write-up,and they're just maybe summarizing offthe top of their heads what they think they heard,without going through a rigorous process of data analysis.
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: But you need to have the skills developedto be able to really analyze that data.You need to be able to know what's important to transcribe,what's important to highlight, how you draw themesacross the data, how you work underneath what'sbeing said to find important thematic streams.
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: So you really do need to understandthe concepts of qualitative coding, qualitative reduction,qualitative meaning making, so that youare doing a qualitative dead analysis process.There's lots of specific processes that you might use,grounded theory--oh geez-- there's hermeneutics.
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: There's visual analysis.There's conversation analysis, all kinds of waysthat you can explore.But for me, it's really about knowing the importanceof actually doing some sort of rigorous analysis,and applying a logic and openness to whatyou're hearing, so that you can come and make sense of it.
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: So this whole concept of data is goingto take a wide range of skills from finding data,from accessing data to collecting data, to beingable to be quite adept with the internet,using logic and problem solving and communication to collectthe data, and then developing the skills of analysis,
DR. ZINA O'LEARY [continued]: whether it'd be quant or qualitative.And developing those skills, it's notonly something that's good for the research projects,they are transferable skills that will serve you wellinto the future.
Series Name: Core Skills for New Researchers
Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd
Publication Year: 2018
Segment Num.: 1
Dr. Zina O'Leary discusses data types, skills for collecting data, and data analysis.
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Dr. Zina O'Leary discusses data types, skills for collecting data, and data analysis.