There are a number of different research methods I can use for my primary research, but I have decided that the methods that will benefit my research are: questionnaires, non-directive interviews and structured interviews I am going to begin with a pilot study before going onto my interviews. By doing this I should be able to obtain some valuable information which I will be able to put into numerical form e.g. pie charts, statistics and percentages.
This is a big advantage as I will be able to compare data easily and it will give me a better understanding of what teenage girls feel about the pressures of dieting. Questionnaires are also a cheap, efficient and fast method for obtaining large amounts of information, which is helpful to me, as I do not have much time to carry out my primary research. Potentially, information can be collected from a large portion of a group, but this potential is not often realized as returns from questionnaires are usually low.
For example, postal questionnaires are a relatively inexpensive method of obtaining information but often only a very small percent of the sample return them and those who do often have a special reason for doing so which makes the results untypical as a whole. This is why I have decided not to send postal questionnaires but to give them to girls at my school instead, this way I will be able to make sure that everyone returns their completed form to me. I am going to use random sampling in order for my results to be more representative of teenage girls as a whole. I will go through a register for each year group from years 7-13 and cross of every third name until I have ten names from each year. I will then give each person a questionnaire to fill out.
However, there are some disadvantages of using questionnaires in my study. Respondents may answer superficially especially if the questionnaire takes a long time to complete, so I will make sure that the common mistake of asking too many questions is avoided. Great care must also be taken when wording the questions so there is no bias, or words that some people may misinterpret or not understand. If this happens my results may not be as representative or accurate as they could be. I will also avoid including open-ended questions as these can generate large amounts of data that can take a long time to process and analyse.
Some girls may not be willing to answer some of the questions as my project is on quite a sensitive topic, especially for girls. So I will ask them to reply honestly and tell them that the questionnaire is anonymous. My second research method is unstructured interviews. With non-directive interviews there are few problems of misunderstanding or misinterpretation and the interviewee is not restricted to set questions like in questionnaires, they can really say how they feel. The respondent is in control of the content of the interview and is free to explore any aspect of the topic they want. This will give me a more in-depth and detailed insight into the real thoughts and feelings of the interviewee.