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Doing research

Data gathering and analysis

As part of the planning process you will have already established the research methodology. Now you need to collect and analyse the data. Data takes many forms - numerical, verbal, textual, etc - and can be collected in a variety of ways including scientific experiment and questionnaires.

You may have to deal with access issues when collecting your data, so you need to think about what data you are able to collect, how you will go about collecting it, and how you use that data. And of course you need to acquaint yourself with the ethical issues involved in conducting research.

Analysis of the data involves the search for explanation and understanding. You will need to interpret the data you have collected keeping in mind the rationale and objectives of your study. Important concepts for many types of data analysis include:

  • Significance: the likelihood that a result could have been found by chance;
  • Generalisability: the likelihood that the results will have a broader applicability;
  • Reliability: have you carried out your research project well enough so that it could be duplicated by another researcher with the same results; and
  • Validity: whether the methods, approaches and techniques actually relate to the issues you have been exploring.

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Research software

As you work through your research project you will come across some software programs that may be of use in analysing your data. Charles Darwin University has a standard set of software that is available on all CDU computers, so you should acquaint yourself with these in the first instance.

CDU Software

The main programs available to postgraduate students are:

Acrobat Reader
Free software for viewing and printing Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

MS Office Suite
This software suite from Microsoft includes programs for word processing (MS Word), spreadsheet creation and management (MS Excel), database creating and management (MS Access), and presentations (MS PowerPoint).

MS Publisher
Another Microsoft product that enables you to create and edit newsletters and brochures.

MS Project
A Microsoft product that enables you to manage schedules, allocate resources, manage budgets, communicate a project status, and report project information.

Other programs

Other software programs specific to the needs of researchers are:

A statistical package developed for use in the social sciences.

STATISTICA provides data analysis, graphics, database management, and custom application.

Nudist provides tools for managing documents, creating ideas and managing data, and asking questions and building and testing theories about data.

Qualitative research software designed to help users organise and analyse non-numerical or unstructured data such as audio, video transcripts and so on.

Specialised software for storing and managing bibliographic references. For more information go to CDU EndNote Page.

Produced by ESRI, a company that specialises in software for Geographic Information Systems (GIS), it is a program that enables users to view spatial data (both map and images), play with legends, look at attribute tables and do some very basic analysis.

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The 'middle years'

The middle years hold many challenges. You need to maintain motivation, keep focused on your research goals, deal with feedback, overcome setbacks and more.

As you work progressively towards your goal, you'll be coping with the demands of data gathering and analysis, literature and theory. The research process is rarely straightforward and linear, so you'll need to continually refine and focus your project.

To record and keep track of progress, you are required to complete two progress reports each year – an Interim Report due in April/May, and an Annual Report due in Aug/Sept.

As if all this isn't enough, you should also be working towards building a track record through conference presentations and publications.

Administrative requirements

Interim reporting - every April

Annual reporting - every October

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MyResearch links:
Getting published
Ethical issues








CDU related links:
Analysis of data: For more information on data gathering and analysis refer to chapters 6 and 7 in Blaxter

Library Resource
Chapter 1 'Introduction to scientific data analysis' by Les Kirkup in Data Analysis with Excel











































CDU Progress and Interim report forms