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Researching Health: Bissertation Research Paper

Research Methodology

Justification of the research topic

Radiation therapy is a critical medical procedure that requires a lot of attention ranging from the medical practitioners, the patient’s commitment and in some cases excessive financial burdens. Radiotherapy in itself does not serve as a preventive approach to the curing of diseases rather than therapeutic (Hall 2002).

As a result of this, many voluntary organizations are increasingly becoming involved in the radiotherapy treatment process at different capacities ranging from public awareness, offering radiation therapy to patients and providing necessary assistance to patients such as follow up services (Hall 2002).

The involvement of various voluntary organizations at different capacities draws attention and therefore adequate research is required in order to evaluate the their perceptions towards radiotherapy.

The choice of this subject was also driven by the fact that adequate research has not been carried in the past concerning the perceptions of the voluntary organizations towards radiotherapy.

Research approach

Research approaches are principally determined by the structure of the research topic or question. When carrying out a research, there are basically two approaches; the qualitative and the quantitative approach (Bell 2005).

Qualitative method usually entails the collection of large amounts of information through the use of few assessments units such as interviews and in some cases observation so as to infer a viable conclusion. Quantitative approach usually involves the use of many assessment units which provide little information such as questionnaires (Byrnes 2008).

Since the overall purpose of the research study is to gain an in depth understanding of the perceptions of the voluntary organizations involved in cancer support towards radiotherapy, the qualitative method will be applied, and therefore it will involve the use of a semi structured interview as a primary method for data collection.

The research study will begin by an overview of some of the radiotherapy treatments, the investigation of the occurrence of ailments that require intensive use of radiation therapy such as cancers, the investigation of the involvement of the unknown organization in radiotherapy treatments, after which the study will focus on concrete empirical evidence, that will be used to study the perceptions of the unknown organization in cancer support for individuals that are currently undergoing radiation therapy.

Finally, the findings will be evaluated according to theory. This therefore implies an inductive approach will be used in the evaluation of the data that will be collected. An inductive approach begins with the collection of data during the research after which general conclusions and ideas are developed concerning the research (Holiday 2002).

The research will use the findings from the unknown organization to generalize the perceptions of the other voluntary organizations towards the support offered towards patients who are undergoing radiation therapy. This therefore implies that the inductive approach will be most suitable for this kind of research study (Louis, Manion, & Keith 2007).

Data collection

Data collected during a research are usually of two types, which can be collected from primary sources or secondary sources. Primary data is usually collected during the research through direct contact with the respondents (Louis, Manion, & Keith 2007).

In this particular research study, the major source of data collection will be through the use of semi-structured interviews with the respondents because the aim of the study was basically to measure the perceptions of the voluntary organizations involved offering cancer support for the individuals that are undergoing radiation therapy.

The use of semi structured interviews during the research study will not only facilitate the gathering of the required data but will also serve as an interactive approach since some questions are bound to come up during the interview depending on how the interviewee responds to the already formulated questions (Holiday 2002).

It will serve as an open discussion which will facilitate the gaining of a deeper insight on perceptions of the unknown organization towards the providing of support to individuals that are undergoing radiation therapy.

Primary data sources

Primary research involves the data acquisition based on first hand information by the researcher (Kalton 2008). This will be carried out through the use of semi-structured interviews which will be based on a one-on-one approach with the respondent.

The semi structured interviews will be based on a planned approach; which means that appointments will have to be made with the prospective respondents prior to the actual interview session.

Semi structured interviews

Semi structured interviews always serve as an effective method of gathering information in a social setting contrary to a structured interview which only consist of a set of limited questions. The effectiveness of semi-structured interview is demonstrated in its flexibility, allowing the expanding of the issues that are highlighted in the interview guide (Lindlof & Taylor 2002).

The interviewer will be presented with a framework of the issues that have to be researched extensively during the study. Interview guides will also be prepared since they outline the informal groupings which are topically arranged so that the interviewer will be able to ask different respondents different questions.

Interview guides also aids the research process through allowing the interviewer to focus on the topics that are at hand with actually arranging them in a predetermined format; this in turn will help the interviewer to customise the questions according to the situation and the individuals that are being interviewed (Saks & Allsop 2007).

The semi-structured interview will be used to gather definite information concerning how the unknown organization provides the support for individuals that are undertaking radiation therapy.

One of the significant purposes of the semi-structured interview is to provide motivation and encourage the interviewee to be part of the study (Strauss and Corbin 2008); this will be achieved through the formulation of interesting interview questions together with visual aid where it will be necessary to facilitate clarity.

More specifically, the interviewees will be asked to give their personal opinions which will not be disclosed during the presentation of the results. The interview process will take place at a time whereby the interviewee will be able to have the enough required time to answer all the questions that will be posed during the interview.

Sample selection

The key respondents that the study will use to reach the research purpose will basically involve about 10- 12 respondents from the unknown organization, who will be used to represent the overall perceptions of the voluntary organizations that are involved in cancer support for individuals that are undergoing radiotherapy.

The sampling methods that will be employed will include a blend of both quota sampling technique and random sampling since the sample size is generally small. Quota sampling refers to a situation whereby the researcher chooses a proportion of the elements that will be investigated during the study (Greenhalgh 2006).

The partition can be based on different categories such as gender, age, lifestyle and ethnicity. The researcher can then decide which categories to use in the proportion of the study elements depending on the ease of access.

For this particular study, the quotas that will be chosen will be divided into two distinct categories depending on age and the role of the participant in the unknown organization: above or below 30 years and either in the top level management or low level staff.

This classification represents a diverse people with different perceptions towards cancer support for the voluntary originations. Each classification was allocated five respondents basing on their willingness and the ease of access.

Value of the study

Pilot study

An Initial pilot study will be done in order to ensure the quality and accuracy of the interview’s questions. It will also be used to test the reliability and validity of the primary research through discussions with friends.

The initial pilot study will be aimed at detecting and rectification of the difficulties concerning the semi-structured interview such as cases of ambiguity in the questions and lack of clarity.

The pilot study will be carried out in the same organization involving a small number of respondents compared to the main research study.

The pilot study will also involve an interview with the individuals who have been beneficiaries of the unknown organization and have undergone radiation therapy at least once.

Method of data analysis

The analysis of data will primarily use descriptive and inferential statistical methods. Descriptive statistical method will be deployed to exemplify the fundamental characteristics of data and summary of analysis on the data (Strauss and Corbin 2008).

The presentation of information will use graphical methods such as graphs, tables and charts. In addition, inferential statistical approach will be used to derive at the conclusion of the research study after data analysis and evaluation.

Limitations and difficulties during the research study

The significant constraint that the research will face is the time constraints. This implies that only one method of data collection will be used; semi-structured interviews. Time limitations will also pose the problem of not having enough time with the respondent to answer the interview questions.

Which in turn may cause some of the most critical research issues not being explored and as result; the research may be ineffective in the evaluation of the findings (Strauss and Corbin 2008).

Another problem will be that some target respondents may not be interested in answering the questions during the research and during interview. Some respondents may also provide inaccurate information and eventually leading inaccurate results.

Another difficulty that will be encountered during the research will be ethical approval to carry out the research in the unknown organization.

Approving the research will involve convincing the relevant authorities and informing them of the purpose of research after which the final decision will be determined by the top level management of the unknown organization. Ethical approval will also require acceptance by the other members of the unknown organization, which of course is not guaranteed.

Another problem that will be encountered during the research will be geographical limitations. This may pose problems regarding gaining entry to the research site. Getting access to the participants will also be a problem because of the various security protocols and policies that are deployed at the unknown organization.

Having the participants to abandon their duties to respond to the interview is probably going to be an issue with the both the organization and the participants.

Ethical and legal concerns

There will be a number of ethical and legal issues concerning this project. Firstly, the interview questions should be devoid of sensitive questions.

Majority of people fear for their views to be known and they seek confidentiality. Some of the ethical and legal concerns will include:

  1. The principle of voluntary participation; which requires that no correspondent will be forced to participate in the study (Holiday 2002). This will be achieved through the involvement of only willing and cooperative participants.
  2. Preservation of the anonymity of the participants; all research studies should aim at guaranteeing the anonymity and confidentiality of the respondents (Louis, Manion, & Keith 2007). All the information collected will not be disclosed to any one under any circumstance. In addition the interviewers will not be asking the respondents their names and other associated personal information.
  3. Potential harm or good that may be as a result of the study; an ethical requirement of research study is that the researcher should not put the respondent in a harmful situation through his participation in the project (Saks & Allsop 2007). All participants shall receive equal treatment without prejudice and they will be informed the reasons for the research prior to their participation.


Bell, J., 2005, Doing your research project. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Byrnes, M.,2008, Field sampling methods for remedial investigations. New York: CRC Press.

Greenhalgh, T.,2006, How to Read A Paper: The Basis of Evidence-Based Medicine. Chichester: Wiley.

Hall, E.,2002, Radiobiology for the radiologist. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams Wilkins.

Holiday, A.,2002, Doing and Writing Qualitative Research. London: SAGE.

Kalton, G.,2008, Introduction to survey sampling. London: SAGE.

Lindlof, T., & Taylor, B.,2002, Qualitative Communication Research Methods. London: SAGE.

Louis, C., Manion, L., & Keith, M.,2007, Reasearch Methods in Education. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Saks, M., & Allsop, J.,2007, Researching Health: Qualitative, Quantitave and Mixed Methods. London: SAGE.

Strauss, A., & Corbin, J.,2008,. Basis of Qualitative Research: Techniques and Procedures for Developing Grounded Theory. London: SAGE.

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