Primary and secondary sources

For my project I am going to use primary and secondary sources. I will use primary as I know exactly where the information is coming from. And I will use secondary as there is simply some information that I cannot obtain myself and I want to be able to compare my results from my primary sources with other valid data. Primary I am aware that as I already think I know what the outcome of my project; I may be biased in the questions I ask in my interview and questionnaire. I may also not record the answers to the questions asked in my interview and questionnaire, if it is not the answer I need to prove my hypothesis. I am aware of this and I am going to make sure that I am not biased at any point throughout this project.

For my primary research I will be interviewing two people. One female that I know of having their first child at a young age and another woman that I know of having their first child at an age that is seen as old to have children, in our society. I feel that interviews would benefit my project greatly as they are a great way to get an insight into my chosen topic from the interviewee’s point of view. I will also be able to see difference between the social class a person feels they belong to and their sociological social class.

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I will be using a structured interview, which means I will be using set questions although I will allow the interviewee to elaborate if they want to. I will not be using a tape recorder as this may cause the interviewee to feel threatened and in turn causing them to shy away from my questions, give me less evidence to prove my hypothesis. Instead I shall be writing my own notes as this is less threatening, it is also a lot easier and quicker to analyse. The information I receive from each interviewee will be used in my project but I will keep the interviewees names confidential. By doing this and informing the participants before I interview them, I feel that they are more likely to answer my questions fully detailed.

Although I feel that interviewing people is a good method to use I also think that there are some disadvantages. One of which is that the data will be hard to analyse that is why I am using set questions. Also as I am not using a tape recorder I shall have to write my own notes, which means the interview will be more time consuming and I may not write down everything that is relevant to my project. I am also going to create a questionnaire. I am going to use simple direct questions and try to keep them to a minimum (people are less likely to answer a questionnaire if it is going to take up a lot of their time). I will also phrase it in simple everyday language so it is easily understood by the respondent.

I have decided to use a sample of fifty of all the houses in Portsmouth. I will devise this sample from a map of Portsmouth showing clearly the catchment areas for all state schools in Portsmouth (overleaf). There are seven schools in Portsmouth that require pupils to be living in a certain area, to be able to attend the school. I will distribute seven of my questionnaires to seven different addresses that I have selected at random in each catchment area for each school.

As I am using a sample of 50 questionnaires I will have to distribute eight questionnaires to one area, I have decided that the StLukes catchment area is that area, as it is the largest. I could have used a sample of 49 addresses which would make distribution easier and my results fairer. But 50 is an easy number to analyse and it is likely that I will receive a low response rate. I am using the map to help me distribute my questionnaires as the city is already divided into fairly equal parts and one of my aims is to find out whether education affects the ages at when we have children.

I am aware that I may receive a low response rate, so I am going to make the chances of this happening as little as possible. I shall seta date to collect the questionnaire on and of course I will inform the participant of this date (it would be impolite If I turned up on someone’s doorstep unexpected). I am aware that most people may not wish to answer a questionnaire so I have decided that if I receive twenty of more replies then I will still use the data for my project but if I receive less than twenty I will send out a further 50 questionnaires (to different households but within the same area). I feel that an anonymous questionnaire is a good method to use for my project as my project is on a very personal subject and some people may not want to answer such an intimate questionnaire but making it anonymous would cause less embarrassment for the participant, in turn making them answer the questions more fully.

By using a pre-coded questionnaire respondents will not be able to explain their views fully or develop their answers. This is good as the data will be easier to analyse and I will not have to read through information that is irrelevant to my project. But it does mean that I may miss out on some information that may help me with my project. To solve this problem I am going to put an additional comment section so participants can express their views if they want to.

Secondary I will be using three secondary sources for my research: Books, Newspaper articles and the Internet. I will be using books as they are a good source of information. It is also very easy to find exactly the information that is needed and I will know exactly where the information has originated; as it will be stated. I will need to question whether the information I have collected is relevant to my project and why the information was recorded in the first place. I will also be using newspaper articles from the UK as I will know the exact date and place they were created. This method of secondary research may not be the best as I will not know if the articles are completely true. Journalists tend to exaggerate the story in hand; as sensationalism sells papers.

I am going to research using the internet but only on official websites, such as: www.statistics.gov.uk: A website created by the government showing all census data. I am only using official websites as I may not be able to find where the data has originated, it may be a biased source. The data is also likely to contain errors or be forged if I were to use unofficial websites.