By Geane de Almeida Fontinele Zadra, CDT Doctoral Student
I had a great and valuable opportunity to attend two online training courses provided by the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM). This was possible thanks to the Web Science CDT funding, which helped me to gain more knowledge and skills needed for my PhD research on sport and physical activity experience among visually impaired people. The training courses were the Survey Design and Analysis that was held in June 2021 and the Hard-to-Reach: Applied Research Methods with Hidden, Marginal and Excluded Population in August 2021.
Both training courses were conducted online, due to the COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, and each one had provided materials, reading and other information beforehand to get the students ready to start. The two days course, Survey Design and Analysis, was held on Microsoft Teams by the University of Hertfordshire’s Statistical Services and Consultancy Unit. They provided a programme that included a range of topics from sample selection methods, questionnaire design and administration, power, sample size analysis to regression-based methods. Each section included practical exercises, which was very useful to better understand the application of the methods and the use of G*Power, SPSS and Microsoft Excel. This course was very helpful to me to understand and clear my doubts on how to calculate sample size and manage the data analysis.
The Hard-to-Reach: Applied Research Methods with Hidden, Marginal and Excluded Population was a one-week and full-time online course held by the Nuffield Centre for Experimental Social Sciences at the University of Oxford. This course was the one I was looking for regarding the research methods with hidden population. I am very happy I had this opportunity because this topic is not very easy to find in textbooks. I found few resources among papers and textbooks addressing it. In this course, we used gather.town, a web-conferencing software, which offers a virtual classroom and interactive tools to work in groups. The interface design of this platform has a video game style, which made the experience more interesting and enjoyable. This created a sensation of learning in a classroom, where we could see other participants and the lecturer via video and their respective emojis in the classroom. This course covered a great range of concepts, research methods, specific techniques, and analysis to apply for determined population. This was a rich and useful course where lecturer and participants also could share their experiences in working and dealing with issues in research with hidden, marginalised or excluded populations. Also, we had practical exercises to do individually or as a group. I learned a lot from the lectures and the exercises, also from others’ experiences, such as planning and improving the participant recruitment process that I could apply in my study with visual impairment people. The main takeaway I learned from this course is that by applying research methods with those populations depends on understanding the characteristics of a particular population, as well as the budget available for the study. Despite it was very intensive and long course held online, I really enjoyed it!
By attending these training courses, I had the opportunity to do exercises, clearing my doubts, bring my study materials to discuss with the lecturers and better understand how to plan and organise my participants recruitment, sample, and analysis. These courses provided me the tools and insights to be more confident to manage my study and make decisions based on the limitations of research methods with a hidden population, such as visual impairment population