Research design and sample
The research design methodology is determined by the structure of the research question and the context (Bridget & Lewin, 2005). Social research aims at explaining the current state of affairs using predetermined variables. It is worth noting that social research significantly depends on probability, therefore, explaining why a given variable plays a significant role in determining the outcome. Therefore, this implies that the social research must put more emphasis on the findings, coupled with a correlation to the available theoretical frameworks to explain the current form of perceptions by the citizens towards the police force. When carrying out social research, the researcher can choose between Qualitative and quantitative approaches (Nardi, 2003). The quantitative approach entails the collection and analysis of quantifiable data and statistics, to infer a conclusion; it involves collecting data through investigative units such as questionnaires. The qualitative approach on the other hand utilizes analysis and evaluation of qualitative data through interviews and observation to conclude. This research requires both the analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data that will be collected from the citizens regarding their gender and the way they perceive police satisfaction, with the data acquisition methods incorporating both primary and secondary sources. This is because the data collected will be in form of questionnaires and interviews which are both quantitative and qualitative respectively (Ritchie & Lewis, 2003).
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The deductive approach will be used since the research will begin by the description of concepts such as the relationships between gender and the perceptions of how the work of the police, after which it will involve analysis of empirical evidence that will attempt to evaluate the gender disparities towards the work of the police. Therefore, a deductive approach will be used because the research study commences with a research hypothesis and terminates with empirical measurement, analysis, and evaluation of research findings. The research structure will entail an analysis of the available theory, followed by the formulation of the hypothesis. After that, an observation is made to confirm the already formulated hypothesis. Consequently, this social research structure will deploy the use of a top-down approach. The deductive approach is more preferable because it narrows down to a specific objective that is primarily concerned with the confirmation of the hypothesis (Simeon & Simeon, 2004).
The research will be conducted in the state of Victoria. The choice of this state was based on the fact that it is one of the most populous states in Australia because it will facilitate research diversity and enhancing the accuracy of the findings. The sampling approach that will be employed will be quota sampling and convenience sampling. Quota sampling refers to a situation whereby the researcher chooses a proportion of the elements that will be investigated during the study. The partition can be based on different categories such as gender, age, lifestyle, and ethnicity (Ruane, 2005). The researcher can then decide which categories to use in the proportion of the study elements depending on the ease of access. The quotas that will be chosen for this research will be categorized into three distinct groups: ≤ 18, 19-34, and ≥ 35. A further classification will be based on gender and the social statuses of the citizens of victoria state. According to Nardi (2003), this chosen set represents a diverse people with diverse perceptions towards satisfaction in terms of the work of the police.
It is also is important for social research to put into consideration the perceptions of the police towards their effectiveness. The sample will therefore incorporate a considerable number of the police workforce to gather their views regarding their relations with the public, and how this plays a significant role in influencing the public satisfaction in the police force.
Proposed data collection methods and variables
Data collection is a significant requirement for the success of any social research since it determines the success of the research in terms of facilitating the inference of conclusions. This implies that social research should significantly rely on statistical data since it deploys a probabilistic approach to offer a rational explanation of the ways things are currently in the social context. Data consists of two types: primary data, which is collected by the researcher, and secondary data that has been collected by other researchers (Neuman, 1997). For confirmation of the social theoretical models, this social research will utilize both secondary and primary data sources.
Primary research/ data sources
Primary research involves data acquisition based on first-hand information by the researcher. This will be carried out through the use of questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, which will be based on a one-on-one approach with the respondent. Primary data sources serve as an effective method of researching because the information gathered is usually raw and has not been manipulated, this in turn increases the accuracy of the research study (Obson, 1997). Also, the primary data collected can be used to match against the secondary sources for accuracy purposes. The various ways of gathering primary data that will be used during the research include questionnaires, focus groups, and unstructured interviews.
Ruane (2005, p.123) defines a questionnaire as a “self-contained, self-administered instrument for asking questions”. The questionnaire will be used to gather information on the perceptions of the police workforce basing on gender orientations. The use of a questionnaire is preferred because it facilitates the researchers to acquire enormous amounts of data within a limited time frame. The use of questionnaires will also provide first-hand data concerning the levels of satisfaction towards the police workforce by the citizens of victoria state. The primary objective of a questionnaire is to encourage and offer motivation to the respondent to actively participate in the interview (Bridget & Lewin, 2005). This will be achieved through the use of interesting questions and visual aid representations for clarity.
The respondents will be asked the various ways in which the police force is effective or ineffective during the relinquishing of their duty and other parameters that hinder the effectiveness of the police force such as excessive use of force. This will be aimed at captivating the motivation of the respondents to actively participate in the research study. The questionnaire will comprise of structured and unstructured (open) questions. A structured question can be either in form of multiple choices, dichotomous questions, or scales. Dichotomous questions are designed to collect the fundamental data from respondents such as Male or Female, age, and other basic personal information. Dichotomous questions will save time required for the respondents to answer the questions. They will be in a simple format involving Yes or No multiple-choice questions.
Checklists will be used to obtain diverse information from the respondents such as areas they perceive the police force is more effective, areas that police have failed, and areas that require improvements in the police force of the Victoria state.
Ratio Scales will be designed as a five-point scale range between 0 and 5 to indicate extremes of the satisfaction of the work of the police by the various residents of the Victoria State. 0 will be used to mark very bad while 5 will represent very good (Nardi, 2003). They will also be the open ended questions where the respondents will be able to open clarify and express their opinions in detail concerning the effectiveness of the police force in carrying out their duty. This research aims to collect approximately 1000 questionnaires from the various regions within the Victoria state that will be accessible.
Semi-structured interviews provide a large number of qualitative data. However, the limiting factor towards this approach is that interviews require researchers to consume a lot of time (Ritchie & Lewis, 2003).
The semi-structured interviews will be carried on a random basis. This will involve spotting those who are consuming carbonated soft drinks in the various designated areas in the cities and if they are willing they will be interviewed immediately.
Ruane (2005) argues that focus groups are one of the most effective methods of gathering collective data. Also, it offers an interactive approach to social research. Focus groups used in the research will comprise of six individuals; three females and three males, with one facilitator. The proposed duration for a focus group meeting will range from forty-five minutes to one hour.
Limitations of the research
The significant constraint that the research will face is time constraints. This may result in an inadequate collection of questionnaires and the carrying out of the semi-structured interview. This may result in a higher marginal error.
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Another problem will be that some target respondents may not be interested in answering the questions during the research and interview. Some respondents may also provide inaccurate information.
Consideration of any ethical and legal issues
Any social research must put into consideration the various ethical and legal concerns associated with conducting social research. Firstly, the questionnaire and interview questions should be devoid of sensitive questions. Many research participants fear for their views to be known and they seek confidentiality. The following is an outline of the ethical and legal issues associated with the research.
- The principle of voluntary participation: it requires that no correspondent will be forced into participating. To achieve these, the questionnaires will be issued to only participants who will be willing to participate in the research study.
- Preservation and anonymity of the respondents: all social research studies should aim at guaranteeing the anonymity and confidentiality of the respondents. All the information gathered will not be revealed to anyone under any circumstance. Also, the questionnaires will not be asking the respondents their names and associated personal information.
- Social research should guarantee no harm to participants and researchers before, during, and after the research study. It is an ethical requirement of a social research study that the researcher should not put the respondent in a harmful situation through his participation in the project. All participants shall receive equal treatment without prejudice and they will be informed of the reasons for the research before their participation.
Data analysis is an essential phase in social research because they are used to infer conclusions. The research findings will provide a framework for agreement or refute of the already formulated hypothesis. It is therefore important that the data collected should be as accurate as possible to facilitate the process of data analysis. The data collected during the research will entail both qualitative and quantitative data. This implies that both inferential and descriptive statistics will be used to arrive at the conclusion (Neuman, 1997). Descriptive statistics in social research usually serve to summarize and describe data through the use of quantities such as percentage, proportion, mean, mode, mode, and other descriptive statistical quantities. Inferential statistics on the other hand will be used to generalize the sample population; it will generally entail the use of statistical tests such as variance, chi-square, standard deviation, and other statistical test variables (Miles & Huberman, 1994).
The approach for data analysis will consist of mainly univariate data analysis, which examines the distribution of one statistical variable at a time. For instance, the percentage of women in Victoria State who view the police as effective in delivering their services. Bivariate data analysis will also be deployed in analysis cases that will require the evaluation of the relationship between two variables, for example, the relationship that exists between the women’s perceptions and men’s perceptions towards police satisfaction. Bivariate data analysis will deploy the use of contingency tables and correlation to evaluate the kind of relationship that exists between two variables.
An important part of data analysis is the testing of the hypothesis. This social research is based on an experimental hypothesis, which is based on a prediction and will be confirmed after the analysis of data (Miles & Huberman, 1994).
Analysis of qualitative data will entail the use of a generalization of research findings to evaluate their conformity with available theoretical literature. Field notes drawn from interviews or observation will be analyzed by the use of affixation of codes and noting relevant remarks and reflections (Miles & Huberman, 1994).
Bridget, S., & Lewin, C. (2005). Research methods in the social sciences. London: SAGE.
Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. (1994). An expanded sourcebook: Qualitative data analyis. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Nardi, P. (2003). Doing Survey Research- A guide to quantitative methods. Boston: Pearson Education Inc.
Neuman, W. (1997). Social Research methods: Qualitative and Quantitative approaches. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Obson, C. (1997). Real World Research: A resource for social and practitioner researchers. London: Blackwell.
Ritchie, J., & Lewis, J. (2003). Qualitative research practice: a guide for social science students and researchers. Sage Publications: London.
Ruane, J. M. (2005). Essentials of Research methods: a guide to social science research. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.
Simeon, J. Y., & Simeon, Y. (2004). Doing social science research. London: Sage Publications.