Social Research - help with ideas on nuclear power



I am studying for a Masters and I have to do a group project on finding out Uni student's perception of nuclear power compared to other energy sources. I am totally clueless on social research (I am a physical geographer!). We have to use 2 social research methods, I am thinking focus group (for a collective view point) and quetionnaires.

I really not to sure on this whole thing. Do you have any tips? I have been reading tons of social science books and journals, but they don't make much sense to me. The tutors aren't much help. Ahhh

p.s. has been cross-posted on other forums.



Avatar for XJR

What aspects of this are you not too sure about? Are you struggling with starting the whole thing off, or are you unsure how to go about putting the methods you have chosen into action?

It sounds as if you are on the right lines in terms of the methods you have chosen as focus groups will allow you to get in depth-data, while questionaires will provide information from a wider number of people.

If you are a bit more specific I'm sure people on ths forum will be able to help.


Hello- agree with the above, think the way you approach it- with focus groups (qualitative) and surveys (quantitative)- would produce some interesting results. In terms of both, you would need to make sure that the people taking part are representative of 'students' as far as possible (so gender, class, age and so on), especially for the questionnaire section. I suppose that the other big problem would be getting people to take part, which is always difficult. I think you should be able to set up a questionnaire online using a free website, but I cant remember what it is (sorry!). But I think combining qualitative and quantitative research in the way you are thinking would be an interesting way to go about it. Hope that helps.

V - I remembered! Also would be useful to distinguish between your two methods (i.e. the survey would be more 'scientific' while focus groups tend to produce more subjective data) and how they relate to each other- good luck!


just a quick think - because I'm supposed to be writing up my ethics bit at the moment, which is why I'm on here of course!


clicked wrong button there
for your paticipants perhaps you need to find out if any live near a nuclear power station or near where one might be. what they know about the alternatives, have they read/heard anything recently, could you produce some info (poster type or series of cards to get discussion going in a meaningful direction before or mid discussion.) Do they have an alternative, if you can find any paper cartoons do they influence their feelings. Brown/Cameron etc do they think any are convincing. does age affect their knowledge or response? how are you going to get your group? prey on people as they go to the restaurant/library/classes.don't forget you need to make sure they can't just go down a questionnaire ticking the same box etc.


Hi, there is actually lots of social research out there regarding attitudes to Nuclear power vis a vis other energy sourcs. Try looking at the Energy Policy Jornal , and work by Gordon MacKerron or Nick Pidgeon. Hope this helps, if not, I can suggest some other references.