Dissertation - Using Secondary Data from Various Sources

09-Jul-11, 10:11
by john247
Avatar for john247
posted about 6 years ago
======= Date Modified 09 Jul 2011 10:13:10 =======
I am a distance learning student and have been juggling full time work with my program. Its been tough at times but I am now at the dissertation stage and have only 7 -8 weeks to complete my work due to no real fault of my own (only got the go ahead mid June to submit first week September). I have done a decent amount of reading in the build up to that but supervision is a bit thin at the moment, only worsened by my distance from the institution.

Basically, I need to know if it is acceptable to tackle my research questions by accessing/referring to secondary data from a variety of sources (as my research topic spans issues in 2 very different countries). I need some guidance with fashioning my research methodology as I feel the only option I have now is to refer to data from existing reports and other publications in providing answers to my research questions. I had initially planned to do some structured interviews in both countries but that seems to have gone out of the window now given my serious time constraints.

Any guidance/direction will be highly appreciated.
10-Jul-11, 17:17
Avatar for in_between
posted about 6 years ago
Hi, John,

If I understand your question right, you are asking, whether it is OK to analyze reports and other written sources/documents as a material and thus search for answers to your research questions only in these sources, not taking any interviews. From what I know (had a good course in methodology), that's totally acceptable. The main thing is that your research questions and documents you would use would match each other, i.e. that you would be able to find answers in those documents. Of course, it's always partial answers and more documents and interviews would make the picture of the phenomena you are researching more nuanced, but this you can acknowledge in your methodology section on limitations. If it turns out that you have done with your material smth else, that you previously thought you will do, you can (and need!) change your research questions to match what you have actually done. Also, be sure not to select too many reports and data overall. You need to say much about the little (some small phenomena, few documents). Have some reports (maybe each from a country is enough, hard to say not knowing the topic) as your main data and maybe use some other for triangulation (this might not be needed). Or more shorter units of data (e.g. newspaper articles). Also, I would advice to reach some other teachers, if your original supervisor is not available. Email to the people in your faculty, asking some specific questions about your thesis (e.g. ask about methodology your methodology teacher and tips on the way to analyse your material, for example, the teacher who is most familiar with your topic). Good luck! I am sure you will do great!
10-Jul-11, 23:23
by john247
Avatar for john247
posted about 6 years ago
======= Date Modified 10 Jul 2011 23:25:20 =======

Many thanks for your response and your wise counsel. Its good to know that what I am proposing is acceptable as it gives me a lot more confidence to proceed with my work. As advised, I have already reached out to one of my lecturers for assistance. I am also looking at narrowing down my secondary data sources to government publications/reports, reports from International agencies and articles from reliable local newspapers. Admittedly it may still be a bit much but I think things are beginning to take shape in my head such that there is consistency throughout the research . Thanks once more for your help.
28-Nov-11, 09:04
edited about 10 seconds later
Avatar for FallenAngel
posted about 6 years ago
======= Date Modified 28 Nov 2011 09:32:36 =======
============= Edited by a Moderator =============


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