Research Methodology Sample

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Chapter Three

Introduction

This chapter will be dealing with research methodology and data collection. The chapter will discuss the study’s location and the time of the study, unit of study, and how the sample was selected and the method of data collection. The remaining part of this chapter deals with the statistical techniques and problems encountered during the fieldwork.

According to (Bell 1999:2), research is ‘seeking through systematic methods to add to one’s own body of knowledge and, hopefully, to that of others, by the finding of non-trivial facts and insights.’

The web definition of research also agreed that research is a method of ‘inquiring into a topic to discover or revise facts or add to knowledge about the topic’.

Research Question

A comparative study of choice based lettings from the local authority perspectives: What is their view about choice-based lettings system?

Research Methodology Sample

Location of the Study

This research was carried out between the allocation officers of two boroughs Lambeth and Merton councils in London, United Kingdom. Lambeth and Merton’s councils are both located in the South West area of London. This research was carried out in other to compare two boroughs and find out their views about choice base letting schemes in their borough.

AIMS and Objectives of the Research

The aim and objective of this research are to discover the difference and similarities of the way Merton and Lambeth council operate choice-based lettings schemes in their borough and compare them.

Research Instruments

This dissertation is based on( qualitative and quantitative) methodology. However, whatever methodology used in this dissertation, qualitative or quantitative, can produce an interesting and useful result. Both methodologies require high self-discipline and capacity for attention to detail. Davis( 2007) stated that “qualitative and quantitative researches are both legitimate vehicles for” finding out” social reality in whatever sphere of human life are the focus of your study of your interest”. The approach first adopted for this study was qualitative method believing that it would enable me to have the general ideas of how choice-based lettings were delivered and if delivered as promised. However, as the study progresses, there became a necessity for me to include the quantitative methodology in my research in other to get the fact and compeer them from both boroughs (Merton and Lambeth).

Were used for this study, the questionnaire, and the structured interview. A questionnaire is the main instrument in survey research through which a researcher communicates information needs to a group of respondents to stimulate an accurate response and render data in a form that is meaningful for analysis. There are three types of questionnaire structure, namely: open-ended questionnaires, close-ended questionnaire, and contingency questionnaire (Abosede A.J et al. 2001).

A structured interview is also known as standardized, or a researcher administered the survey. This type of interview is a qualitative research method frequently used in survey research. This method’s main objective is to ensure that each interviewee is given the same questions and in a similar order. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structured interview)

Both instruments have been employed for this study because of their merits. Questionnaires have the advantage of guiding respondents to more precise answers and avoiding digression from the focus of the survey. On the other hand, interviews have the benefit of enabling the researcher to capture more detailed and less guided information from respondents. It allows for free-minded information and input from the respondents.

The structured interview method was used to collect data from the allocation officers in Lambeth. The same questions were asked in the questionnaire that was sent to the allocation officer in Merton council; this was used to note differences in their reply and response. This can be examined and proven to be genuine answers reflecting actual views and representation of the Lambeth and Merton council. According to (May 2001:121), “Validity may then be checked by asking the respondent about the same issue, but employing a different form of question-wording and then comparing the answers.”

Data Collection

The data for this study will be collected from two different sets of boroughs

  1. Lambeth
  2. Merton

Both boroughs have been chosen for the collection of data because both operate the choice based letting system and use the same method of allocating houses which is the Home Connection website on which most empty Council and Housing Association properties are advertised for you to bid for. This is a method whereby the applicant views properties on Home connection website and decides which one to apply for.

Two vital research instruments were used for this study, the questionnaire, and the structured interview. A questionnaire is the main instrument in survey research through which a researcher communicates information needs to a group of respondents to stimulate an accurate response and render data in a form that is meaningful for analysis. There are three types of questionnaire structure, namely: open-ended questionnaires, close-ended questionnaire, and contingency questionnaire (Abosede A.J et al. 2001).

A structured interview is also known as standardized, or a researcher administered the survey. This type of interview is a qualitative research method frequently used in survey research. The main objective of this method is to ensure that each interviewee is given the same questions and in a similar order. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structured interview)

Both instruments have been employed for this study because of their merits. Questionnaires have the advantage of guiding respondents to more precise answers and avoid digression away from the focus of the survey. On the other hand, interviews have the benefit of enabling the researcher to capture more detailed and less guided information from respondents. It allows for free-minded information and input from the respondents. I chose the semi-structured interview method for the research, but due to the unavailability of the Merton council’s allocation manager, who requested an online interview, which I have to as a questionnaire. The structured interview method was used to collect data from the allocation officers in Lambeth and Merton. The same questions were asked in the questionnaire that was sent to the allocation officer in Merton council; this was used to note differences in their reply and response.

This can be examined and proven to be genuine answers reflecting actual views and representation of the Lambeth and Merton council. According to (May 2001:121), “Validity may then be checked by asking the respondent about the same issue, but employing a different form of question-wording and then comparing the answers”. The Merton council allocation officers were selected among the staff working in the housing department because they will be in the best position to talk about their choice base letting schemes and the same was done in Lambeth council. Their respondents will explain why they are asked to adopt the choice base, letting schemes, and how the government wants them to go about it.

Sampling Procedure

May (2001) described sampling as ‘a portion of a larger group called a population. The population in the universe will be sampled’. He went on to say that ‘a good sample is a miniature version of the population- just like it, only smaller’. (May 2001:93).

However, among the staff working in the housing department of both London Borough of Lambeth and Merton, only three (3) interviewed (1) questionnaires were returned via email. They are all in the allocation departments because they can provide the information needed since the other staff view will not be of any importance in these studies, and it will not be necessary. Therefore, it will not be difficult and too expensive to cover the staff needed for the survey; only a limited sample will be surveyed for this study.

It is essential to highlight that the sample surveyed from the questionnaire and structure interview represents a targeted staff of two councils as the respondent of the survey is a major staff of the local council. The researcher adopted the use of stratified random sampling for some of the respondents. Stratified random sampling is the process in which the population is grouped into sub-population called “strata”, each stratum is then subjected to random selection chances. (Obasan, 2001).

The structured interview was to administer at this stage to the selected three (3) allocation officers in both boroughs, and one (1) questionnaire was sent online to the allocation Manager in Merton council through his email due to his unavailability for the interview. In light of this, purposive sampling was applied to enable the researcher to reach a reasonable number of allocation officers to reflect the true situation of choice based lettings in both boroughs.

However, in the case of the structured interview, one (1) staff from Merton council was interviewed, and one (2) staff was interviewed from the Lambeth council. They were selected using a simple random sampling method. As the definition implies, simple random sampling uses the principle of randomization, which involves giving each unit of the total population or universe an equal chance of being included in the sample. With this method, the necessary information and data were equally collected. Four (4) staff from both boroughs was willing to participate in the interview, and one interview was done through an online interview via email. They all gave valuable and necessary information needed for this study.

Sample Size/Population Size

This study was conducted on the staff of the allocation section in the London Borough of Merton and Lambeth’s housing departments. Assuming (ABC) the number of staff are working in the allocation section of the housing department of Lambeth borough and (ABC) number of staff are working at the allocation section in the housing department in Merton borough as mentioned above. The staff in the sample size comprises of staff from the boroughs.

The structured interview was conducted among three (3) staff of both borough and one (1) managers of the London borough of Merton, who requested that his interview be sent to him through email. Totals of three (3) respondents were interviewed, but only one (1) was sent online interview through a questionnaire, and they all gave valuable and necessary information on the study at hand.

Limitation of the Study and Problems Encountered

A researcher cannot but be faced with one problem or another in a study like this, especially when it comes to collecting information relating to human beings whose behavior cannot be precisely predicted. London Borough of Croydon and Lambeth was initially chosen for the research location, but Croydon borough has not started the choice based lettings scheme. Croydon borough happens to be my borough, and they further said the government is not funding the scheme anymore, so, therefore, they are not adopting the scheme. Due to this, I decided to choose the London borough Merton and Lambeth because they operate the choice-based, letting schemes, and I will be able to gather enough information for my research. However, it was not easy to get in touch with staff in the allocation section in the Housing department of both boroughs; eventually, I was able to get them, and letters of consent were sent to them for approval. It took weeks for the approval letter to be sent back due to the unavailable allocation manager in Lambeth.

The allocation manager in Merton said he was very busy when I called for the approval letter he said he wouldn’t be available for an interview that I can come in and speak to staff members in the choice-based letting section. He said I should send an online Questionnaire to him. However, a good structure questionnaire was sent to him online, and an appointment fixed to interview the staff; only one was available, but it took weeks before this was possible. Lambeth approval letter was sent back, and a date was fixed for the interview, although it was very difficult to set an interview date with the staff. I was able to interview only two staff. More, so the time available to go about this research work was somehow limited, coupled with a lack of financial resources, which also posed a limitation.

Personal Reflection

This chapter has dealt with the research methods and methodology used in carrying out all the research work for this study. The next chapter will show in detail the presentation of data used for this study and the analysis of data and its interpretation.

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