Week 9 — Thinking About Some Possible Research Difficulties

I appreciated reading Knight’s (2002) take on nine common difficulties that researchers may experience when collecting data (especially for inexperienced researchers) as well as his practical suggestions to address the identified concerns when and if they arise during the research process. It was comforting to read Knight’s assertion that: “…when you read research reports be mildly spectical of those that make it seem that the research went to plan” (p.162).  As someone who enjoys exploring research projects conducted by other academics and scholars I still find designing a research study and data collection very intimidating.  Particularly because other individuals make it seem effortless.  It is not the norm to hear discussion about numerous difficulties other researchers encountered or their individual concerns and personal insecurities.

There are two difficulties identified by Knight – participant withdrawing and low response rate –which I am concerned about experiencing as I conduct my research because it explores a sensitive issue and may seem particularly intrusive to some individuals.  Therefore, it will be imperative for me as a researcher to build relationship of trust.  Knight outlines ways in which a researcher can build and maintain the trust of participant such as, having the researcher clearly inform potential participants the purpose of the research study and what it is about, ensuring the participant’s confidentiality and anonymity, being willing to disclose “information about similar experiences”,  being an active listener and careful observer, being humble and empathetic, and making necessary arrangements for the participant to be interviewed in a space where they feel safe (p.170).  What are some of the concerns that you have about your research project?


Knight, P.T. (2002). Small-scale research. Chapter 7: Doing It (pp.161-172). London: Sage Publications Ltd.


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One response to “Week 9 — Thinking About Some Possible Research Difficulties

  1. tracymatos

    Hi Frieda,

    I completely understand how you feel! After reading many research papers by scholars, I find them very intimidating as well especially with their complex language and sometimes the excessive use of jargon, which we learned is unnecessary for our papers and projects. So, I think by learning this from our professors, some stress has been alleviated for our upcoming papers, but still the research process itself poses difficulties and challenges.

    Those examples you mentioned with participants withdrawing and low response rates are definitely our fears when we start our research. For one of my classes a couple of years ago, I had to look for 4-6 children to be my participants, and this definitely was not easy.I had to gain consent from them and their parents and there were always concerns about the risks involved, especially when dealing with young children who may not understand the purpose of their participation or the research. So, I always remembered to tell the children and their parents that their participation was voluntary and they could withdraw at any time, which definitely scared me because if I lose any of them as participants, I would have to go out and search for others to participate in my project. I did not agree with how I had to find a certain amount of participants because as long as I had enriching data I could work with, then the number of participants was not important.
    Yet, getting useful and enriching data is another concern, especially when participants are not providing as much as you would expect.

    Your post really made me reminisce my past concerns in doing research, which will be great to consider and mention in our upcoming research proposals!

    Tracy Matos

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