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Research Methods in Electrical

Engineering

Professor David Thiel


Centre for Wireless Monitoring and
Applications
Griffith University, Brisbane Australia
Copyright: David Thiel
Purpose
To make attendees familiar with the
process of rigorous research in an
academic environment.
To encourage attendees to critically
evaluate research papers they read.
To outline the processes required to
undertake a research project.

Copyright: David Thiel


Topics
1. Overview of the Research Process
2. Literature Search
3. Report Writing, Data Collection &
Presentation
4. Statistical Analysis of Data and Sampling
5. Making a Presentation
6. Survey Research Methods
7. Review

Copyright: David Thiel


Topic 1

Overview of the Research Process

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What is Research?
Discovery of new things that have been
independently verified by other
professionals.
Something new to humanity (not just new
to you or your group).

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Good & Bad Research Examples
Case 1 A high school research paper
Case 2 A good idea
Case 3 Tested outcomes for a new idea

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The Scientific Method

Prior
knowledge AnOutcome
The idea is Recognised
as a Major contribution
Submit
Report,
to the field Thesis,
Journal
Discovery or
Conference
Paper

Independent verification:
Independent verification:
literature, experiment,
literature,
numerical model,
Assessors
numericalmodel,
analytical model,etc
analytical model, etc
Copyright: David Thiel
The Research Community
All use the same scientific method.
All follow the same ethical principles.
All use the same language and terms.
All provide information to the world-wide
community reported in a full and open
manner.
All acknowledge the previous work of
others.
Copyright: David Thiel
Publications and Referencing
The archival literature (must be printed
somewhere and unalterable).
Must be reviewed by independent
professionals before publication.
Must be complete so others can
reproduce the results.

These three form the basic validity test!


Copyright: David Thiel
Types of Publication
Scientific papers (refereed journal and
conference papers)
Trade articles
Newspaper articles
Infomercials
Advertisements

You must only rely on refereed papers in


accredited journals and conferences.
Copyright: David Thiel
How can you tell?
Length of title
References (and their quality)
Authors name and affiliation
Evidence that the paper has been reviewed and
revised.
Date of submission & date of publication.
The paper includes a review of previously
published work.
Conclusion contains a critical reflection on the
contents of the article.
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Activity
Use http://scholar.google.co.id/ and enter
the key words from the paper you have.

Did you find it?


What else did you find?

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Next step research
Incremental advance compared to
paradigm shift.
Lateral translation research.

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Topic 2

Literature Search

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Literature Review
Who has done what and how?
What is their plan for further work?
Have they reported more recent work in a
conference?
What opportunities are available for
confirming the results of others and
expanding their results and conclusions?

Copyright: David Thiel


Key Words
Essential for searching the literature.
Must be both general and specific.

Copyright: David Thiel


Publication delays
Check your paper and see the submission
date and the publication date.
This delay may mean that this team has
moved forward with their research.
Following their suggestions for further
work might have you gazumped.
Conferences often have a 6 month delay
between abstract submission and the
conference presentation.

Copyright: David Thiel


Planning for an outcome
What is convincing proof?
What is the evidence you will provide?
Data
Sampling techniques
Accuracy.
Who is interested in this research?
Where will you release (publish/present)
your research results?
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Anticipating problems
Team planning meetings
Circulate outcomes immediately following the
meeting
Action items
Equipment calibration
Reliable power
Preventing Data loss

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Publication of Data
Internal report?
Choosing a conference
Choosing a journal

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Journal rankings
Impact factor
Half life
Citations (Google, ISI Thomson Web of
Knowledge, Scopus, etc)
http://scholar.google.co.id/
Weaknesses of the ranking systems
H index The number of papers that have
more than that number of citations fpr
person.
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Research Planning
Concurrent Engineering
Assembling the equipment
Arranging access to the site
Writing the paper draft
Choosing the journal
Concurrent Research

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Using the right language
Definition of terms (standards, standard usage,
standard methods of analysis).
Standard Measurement Procedures
Standard values (eg copper conductivity)
Spelling (US English or UK English?), Lexicon
and naming conventions.
Key words in publications

This is vital for accurate electronic searching of


indexes.
Copyright: David Thiel
Searching the Web
Google scholar http://scholar.google.co.id/
Journals and publishers indexes
IEEE Xplore digital library
http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/Xplore/dynhome.jsp
Elsevier
http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journal_br
owse.cws_home
and many more.

Copyright: David Thiel


IP Searching
Patents http://www.uspto.gov/ http://www.
wipo.int/pctdb/en/search-adv.jsp
PCT Applications
http://www.wipo.int/pctdb/en/
Country Based Searching
http://www.wipo.int/ipdl/en/resources/links.
jsp

Copyright: David Thiel


Activity
Find some scientific terms in your paper,
and check the definition. (Why not
wikipedia?)
Key word searches, key word selection.
Definition of terms.

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Topic 3

Report Writing

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The title
10-15 words is most common.
Must be sufficiently specific.

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The Abstract an example
High speed electronic beam switching is a
desirable feature of smart antennas.

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The Abstract an example
High speed electronic beam switching is a
desirable feature of smart antennas. Most
smart antennas are too large for most
applications and require significant power
during normal operations.

Copyright: David Thiel


The Abstract an example
High speed electronic beam switching is a
desirable feature of smart antennas. Most
smart antennas are too large for most
applications and require significant power
during normal operations. A thirteen
element switched parasitic antenna was
optimised for gain, speed and beam
coverage.

Copyright: David Thiel


The Abstract an example
High speed electronic beam switching is a
desirable feature of smart antennas. Most
smart antennas are too large for most
applications and require significant power
during normal operations. A thirteen
element switched parasitic antenna was
optimised for gain, speed and beam
coverage. Antenna characteristics were
determined at 1.8 GHz by finite element
modelling and measurements on a
prototype.
Copyright: David Thiel
The Abstract an example
High speed electronic beam switching is a
desirable feature of smart antennas. Most smart
antennas are too large for most applications and
require significant power during normal operations.
A thirteen element switched parasitic antenna was
optimised for gain, speed and beam coverage.
Antenna characteristics were determined at 1.8
GHz by finite element modelling and
measurements on a prototype. The antenna had a
gain of +9.8 dBi, a footprint of less than one half
wavelength squared and was switched ion less
than 100 s.

Copyright: David Thiel


The Abstract an example
High speed electronic beam switching is a desirable
feature of smart antennas. Most smart antennas are
too large for most applications and require
significant power during normal operations. A
thirteen element switched parasitic antenna was
optimised for gain, speed and beam coverage.
Antenna characteristics were determined at 1.8
GHz by finite element modelling and measurements
on a prototype. The antenna had a gain of +9.8 dBi,
a footprint of less than one half wavelength squared
and was switched ion less than 100 s. This is a
better performance compared to previous antennas.

Copyright: David Thiel


The Abstract a general guide
2 sentences on the wider field context
and significance.
2 sentences on the research method
2 sentences on the results and
conclusions.

Copyright: David Thiel


Scientific writing style
Dos and Donts
Past tense
Third person
Usually timing of events is not included
unless it is essential to data collection.
Sections and subsections (one level? two
level? three level?).
Quotes from other authors not common!

Copyright: David Thiel


Creating equations
There are standard symbols for quantities (eg
V=IR).
There are standard forms for scalar symbols
(often lower case, italics, not-bold) and vector
symbols (upper-case, bold).
The symbols must be the same font on every
occasion used in the equations and in the main
text.
All symbols must be defined.
MS Equation editor allows for equation creation.
There are standard upper-case and lower-case
type settings. Copyright: David Thiel
Data Collection & Presentation

Copyright: David Thiel


Types of Data
Quantitative data (numerical)
Integers (eg animal counts, packets received,
bit error rate)
Non-integers (eg analog sensor output)
Qualitative data (descriptive words)
Binary data (yes/no, success/failure,
present/absent etc)
Scalar information (1D, 2D, 3D, nD)
Vector information (1D, 2D, 3D, nD)
Copyright: David Thiel
Quantitative Data
Kelvins First Law of Measurement: The
measurement must not alter the event
being measured.
Microwave current measurements?
The impedance of an antenna?

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Data Presentation
Plots (2D and 3D), histograms, pie charts, tables of
numbers.
Printed papers usually black and white (lines
distinguished by dots, dashes, ellipse, legend etc)
Colour in power point slides and web publishing.
For comparison plot more than one data set on the same
graph using the same scale.
Images and flow charts.
Interpolation and extrapolation.
Curve fitting (covered in later lectures)
Contour plots.
Copyright: David Thiel
Plotting and analysis tools
MS EXCEL (Chart Wizard - 4 steps) -
demonstration
Matlab (plot, subplot, contour, quiver, etc)

Copyright: David Thiel


Graphing Guidelines
Always plot discrete points clearly.
Do not join points unless you have a
continuous mathematical function.
To compare data plot several lines on the
same axes.
Consider including error bars on all points

Copyright: David Thiel


X X
Copyright: David Thiel
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Matlab scalar 2D plots
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40
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3
20

10 2
8
6 8
4 6 1
2 2
4
contourf 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

0 0
surf
image
mesh 1
50
2

40
3

30
4

20
5

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6
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6 8
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2 2
0 8
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1 2 3 Copyright:
4 5 David
6 Thiel
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Matlab vector 2D plots
quiver
8

North-south
5

(metres)
4

1
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

East-west (metres)

Copyright: David Thiel


Qualitative Data
This can be a challenge as everyone will
use a different description.
One approach is to convert qualitative
data to quantitative data (eg rate from very
bad to very good on a score of 1 to 10).

Copyright: David Thiel


Decision Matrix
Delivery Total
Vehicle Cost Size Warranty time Comfort Score

Mazda 3 6 8 7 8 8 37

Mazda 2 8 6 7 7 6 34

Ford
Focus 6 7 7 8 7 35
Honda 6 6 5 6 5 28

Toyota
Camry 4 8 6 7 8 33
VW 2 6 5 3 7 23

Copyright: David Thiel


Decision Matrix - Histogram
Score

Survey Questions
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Data Collection
Asking the right questions without leading
the person (survey instruments -
questionaires).
Use redundant questions that always need
a positive response (discussed in a later
lecture).
Survey results (Is 35% return good
enough?).

Copyright: David Thiel


Flow Charts (MS Word)
Initiate equipment

Yes/No?

Stop process

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Activity
Plotting analysis using MS eXcel.
Flow chart using MS word.

Copyright: David Thiel


Topic 5
Statistical Analysis and Sampling

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Normal Distribution

From: http://mathbits.com/MathBits/TISection/Statistics2/normaldistribution.htm
Copyright: David Thiel
Experimental error?
How does this compare with your results?
Is your result significant statistically?

Copyright: David Thiel


Linear correlation
Need to fit a line to your data? Quote the
linear correlation coefficient (linear
regression)
3

2.5

2
Sample

1.5

0.5

0
0 5 10 15 20
y = 0.1199x + 0.2876
Voltage
R2 = 0.9498

Copyright: David Thiel


Sampling
Population every possible candidate.
Sample population a small number of
candidates selected from the population.
It is impossible to know from an
examination of your sample alone, if your
sample is representative of the whole
population.

Copyright: David Thiel


Examples:
In Australia the total population over 18 years votes in
an election.
Before the election, the press like to take a small
sample the population to estimate the likely outcome of
an election. This is called polling.
They hope that the sample is representative of the
entire population.
How do they select a representative sample for a
telephone poll?
Post code?
Telephone book?
In the street or shopping centre?
etc

Copyright: David Thiel


All samples may be biased
Why?
Age?
Shyness/openness?
Work times (shift workers)?
etc

Copyright: David Thiel


Example
6 people live in a single house
We want to randomly select 2 to get an idea of
the use of mobile phones in the house.
To do this we could:
visit at 10am on a week day.
visit at 3pm on a week day.
telephone at 8pm on a week day.
visit on Saturday morning at 10am.
Visit on Sunday afternoon at 3pm.
etc

Copyright: David Thiel


We ask the question:
How do you rate your use of a mobile
phone on a scale of 1 to 10?
10 means very continuously (>20 hours per
week)
1 means never (<30 minutes per week)

Copyright: David Thiel


We have the following opinions
Mary stays at home, goes shopping and drives 4
children to school at 8am and pick up at 3pm.
Fred drives to work for night shift. Leaves at 2
7pm and comes home at 6am.
Asif is a 9am 5pm office worker who rides the 5
train.
Sri is a part time sales person drives around the 8
city from 10am to 2 pm.
Chen cycles to University 9am and back at 7
3pm.
Rocco is retired and stays in the house all day. 1

Average value is 4.5/10


Copyright: David Thiel
How many possibilities?
If we select 2 people from the total population of n
people we have P combinations where
2!(n 2)!
P
n!
! indicates factorial where 5! = 5x4x3x2x1.
For a population of 6 we have 15 possibilities.

Copyright: David Thiel


There are 15 different combinations
Lowest result from a sample of two people
would be Rocco and Fred (2 and 1) Mean
is 1.5/10.
Highest sample of two would be Sri and
Chen (7 and 8) Mean is 7.5/10.
5 combinations lie between 4 and 5
11 combinations lie between 3 and 6
13 combinations lie between 2 and 7
15 combinations lie between 1 and 8
Copyright: David Thiel
Compromise required
The greater the need for a very accurate
result, the smaller the chance of fulfilling
this, even with the best method of
approach.

Copyright: David Thiel


Sampling Strategies
Clustered Sampling: Select a sample from only those
parts of the population which are relevant; eg chose only
those people who use the road at peak hour.
Stratified Sampling: Select a sample proportionally to
those who are likely to use the road at peak hour and
those that dont. (4/6 use at peak hour and 2/6 dont, so
use a sample of 3, two who travel at peak hour and one
that does not)
Destructive Sampling: If the sample is destroyed by
sampling (i.e. their mind is changed), then clearly you
should not sample all people.

Copyright: David Thiel


Chassis strength testing
A production line of note book computers
produces 2000 units per day.
The company is required to strength-test
to failure15 samples every day.
How do we select those samples?

Copyright: David Thiel


The Monte-Carlo Method
A random sampling technique to define
the effect of a large number of parameters
on an outcome. (Usually between 0.1%
and 1% of total population).
Usually applied to complex systems
described by mathematics.
One randomly selects the parameters and
calculates the outcome.
Used in optimisation.
Copyright: David Thiel
Random Sampling
How can I choose a team of 6 people
randomly from this class?
Family name?
Student number?
Seating location in the class?
Every third person?
Every person must have an equal
probability of being chosen.

Copyright: David Thiel


Random Numbers
1 0.5175 0.2455 0.9670 0.7566 0.3222
6 0.3234 0.0239 0.0048 0.6207 0.3796
11 0.4670 0.0300 0.3014 0.6453 0.6414
16 0.3208 0.8862 0.4546 0.3273 0.6023
21
26
0.0936
0.8704
0.8864
0.9132
0.8905
0.8435
0.1542
0.1844
0.0377
0.3351
Excel function
31 0.4451 0.5474 0.2504 0.4552 0.0782
36
41
0.1478
0.6520
0.1726
0.4870
0.7339
0.8396
0.5332
0.1624
0.5440
0.4911 =rand()
46 0.9420 0.8144 0.4230 0.9258 0.2879
51 0.8824 0.9366 0.7085 0.4091 0.2527
56 0.6609 0.5831 0.4059 0.0312 0.4393
61 0.2039 0.5489 0.5263 0.1673 0.6586
66 0.1703 0.4718 0.5256 0.5651 0.3256
71 0.0161 0.7533 0.0915 0.9854 0.0017
76 0.1654 0.3323 0.4037 0.1403 0.9727
81 0.1091 0.1725 0.7821 0.3336 0.1009
86 0.3612 0.5130 0.2648 0.3091 0.3184
91 0.5611 0.3804 0.3079 0.3543 0.9555
96 0.9638 0.8282 0.1850 0.1629 0.3493

Copyright: David Thiel


Sample Rate
Number of samples per second.
In a digital recording sensor system this might
be obvious initially, but there may be
overheads when you need time to send and/or
store data.
In an analog system this is regulated by the filter
response (eg mechanical needle, DMM update
speed, noise reduction filter).
Over-sampling and under-sampling.
Nyquist sampling (twice the maximum frequency
of interest).

Copyright: David Thiel


Topic 5

Making a Presentation

Copyright: David Thiel


Preparing a Power Point
Presentation
Maximum number of slides one per
minute!
Optimal number of slides one per 2
minutes
Use slides as a reminder of what you will
say.
During your presentation, do not read
what is on the slides.
100 words maximum on each slide.
Copyright: David Thiel
Preparing a Power Point
Presentation
Font size? (large!)
Graphs? (large!)
Colours? (clearly distinguishable, high contrast,
minimal background colour not dark)
Movies? (check on the presentation computer
before your talk usually they dont work!)
Pictures? (not too dark)
Lighting? (Keep the room lights up so you can
see the audience)

Copyright: David Thiel


Images
You MUST acknowledge the source of
image if it is not yours including
MS word image library (in this presentation)
Pictures taken from web sites
Pictures taken from colleagues
Graphs taken from papers etc

Copyright: David Thiel


Organisation: 10 minute talk
Title slide (Name and affiliation) 1
Outline slide (Major sections) 1
Introduction (Wider research context) 1
Main text (method, apparatus, results) 4-6
Conclusions 1
References 1

Copyright: David Thiel


Nervous?
Hints for overcoming nervousness:
Memorise the first 2-3 sentences (opening
sentences).
Make sure you have key words on your
power point to trigger your memory.
Do not start speaking until the title slide is
visible to the audience.

Copyright: David Thiel


Being Polite! Before you speak
Introduce yourself to the session chair
before the session starts.
Load your presentation before the session
starts.
Wait for the chair to introduce you before
you speak.
Switch off your mobile telephone.

Copyright: David Thiel


Being Polite! During your talk
Thank the chairperson for the introduction.
Speak clearly
Pretend you are talking to the back row of seats
in the room (project your voice).
Acknowledge your co-authors in Slide 1.
Rigidly stick to the allocated presentation time.
Clearly indicate the presentation is finished by a
slide and say thank you to the audience.
Do not invite questions from the audience. (This
is the role of the chair person)
Copyright: David Thiel
Being Polite! After your talk
Go quickly back to your seat.
Do not discuss your paper with others
during the next talk.
If necessary, leave the room (politely do
not slam the door).
Once the session is complete, thank the
chair person.

Copyright: David Thiel


Why References?
For scientific rigour.
In case someone in the audience has
made a major contribution to the field.
So the audience can follow up on your
previous publications.

Copyright: David Thiel


Topic 6

Survey Research Methods

Copyright: David Thiel


This is about how to prepare and analyse
a survey (questionaire)

Copyright: David Thiel


Sick building Survey
The research question:
Do you think that working in this building is
making you feel sick?

Copyright: David Thiel


Designing a Survey
Role of the researcher
Develop the research plan
Design the survey instrument
Select the sample population
Issue/distribute the survey
Prompt the sample population for responses
Analyse the data
Generate conclusions

Copyright: David Thiel


Who are the stake-holders
Selecting the sample population
Who are the stake-holders?
Whats in it for them? (No interest can mean no
completion)
Random selection from a large population
Inclusion
Those that are keen to participate will respond
Are they a biased sample?
Exclusion
Will people be offended if they are not asked to
respond?

Copyright: David Thiel


Who are the stake-holders
You must be able to defend your sample
population selection

Copyright: David Thiel


Anonymous Responses
Arguments for yes Anonymous
Sample population might be less influenced by who is
asking the questions
Respondents might be less concerned about others
learning of their opinions
Arguments for no Non-anonymous
Who will you send the results to?
Who will you send the reward (chocolates) to?
How do you know who to follow up about returning
the survey?

Copyright: David Thiel


Confidentiality
You need to ensure that confidentiality is
assured before the survey is sent out.
Consider using an independent third party
to administer the survey.
I have been asked to complete a survey
which asked for sufficient personal
information to be identified uniquely.
How will you report free comments?

Copyright: David Thiel


Feedback
It is assumed that your sample population
(and the full population) will want access
to the results.
You must explain how will this be done at
the beginning of the survey.

Copyright: David Thiel


Sample Time lines
Week 1:Pre-survey letter of introduction
(Wider research context and brief
research plan)
Week 2:Survey send out
Week 3:Mid-survey reminder letter
Week 4:Last minute final reminder
Week 6:Post-survey analysis report
completed
Copyright: David Thiel
Rating system 5 point scale
Strongly disagree 1
Disagree 2
Neutral 3
Agree 4
Strongly agree 5

Neutral allows respondents to sit on the


fence

Copyright: David Thiel


Rating system 4 point scale
Strongly disagree 1
Disagree 2
Agree 3
Strongly agree 4

This forces respondents to show positive


or negative attitudes.

Copyright: David Thiel


Topics for Sick building survey
General personal well being
Lighting
Ventilation
Noise and vibration
Odour
Electromagnetic radiation
Security
Demographics of respondents
Copyright: David Thiel
Hints for writing questions
Keep is very simple avoid jargon
Use one concept per question avoid multiple concepts
Keep wording positive avoid negative words and
phrases, double negatives
The first question should be the over-all question
Never place a controversial question at the beginning.
Place demographics questions at the end
Demographics at the beginning can raise suspicions.
Keep related questions together Difficult for the
respondent to remain coherent
Use three questions per topic Do not over question,
dont waste peoples time.

Copyright: David Thiel


Statement wording
I dont feel well most of the time (negative wording).
I enjoy good health.
I am satisfied with the ventilation and the lighting
environment (double-barrelled question).
I am satisfied with the ventilation.
I am satisfied with the lighting.
The University does not do a bad job of keeping us
informed about work place health and safety issues.
(double negative)
The University does a good job of keeping us informed
about work place health and safety issues.
Many students feel ill as soon as they walk into the
building. (projecting the feelings of others).
Students enjoy working in this building.
Copyright: David Thiel
Judgemental versus Observational
This work environment is just as good as
other places where I have worked.
I am happy with this work environment.
The University listens and acts on student
and staff concerns about the building
environment.
I am satisfied with the Universitys
response to student concerns about the
building environment.
Copyright: David Thiel
Judgemental versus Observational
This work environment is just as good as
other places where I have worked.
I am happy with this work environment.

What if you asked both statements to be


rated?
The conclusions would be different

Copyright: David Thiel


Reverse scoring
Q10: I am not happy with this work
environment. (1 5)
Q35: I am happy with this work environment. (1
5)

You would need to reverse score Q10 for proper


statistics.
The dangers include:
Donkey vote gives confusion (What do you do if you
get 5 for both?)
Was the question misread?
Was the respondent annoyed?
Copyright: David Thiel
Sample Open ended questions
and comments
Please identify at least three things that
cause you concern in this work
environment.
Please identify at least three things that
you like about this work environment.

Copyright: David Thiel


Reporting
Calculate averages and statistics for each
theme.
Construct a Histogram and report the mean
value
E.g. 80% rated the noise environment neutral or
better.
Or: 20% indicated that the noise environment
was not good.
Report selective quotes on open questions.

Copyright: David Thiel


Missing Data
Did the respondent simply forget one
question?
Maybe the question was not relevant to that
person?
Was the question too personal?
Was the question confusing? Could it have
been scored as a 1 for one interpretation
and a 5 using another interpretation.

Copyright: David Thiel


Accuracy and Reliability
On a 5 point scale there are 5 possible
answers.
Your mean value for the sample
population can be expressed to several
decimal places.
How many places are significant?
Return to Normal Distribution statistics
based on z score.

Copyright: David Thiel


References
Connolly, P.M. & Connolly, K.G., 2004,
Employee opinion questionaires, Pfeiffer.
Rosenfeld, P., Edwards, J.E., & Thomas,
M.D., (eds), 1993, Improving
organizational surveys, SAGE Pub.
Images from MS Word Clip Art.

Copyright: David Thiel


Review

Copyright: David Thiel


1. The Research Process
Independent verification of results.
Designing the experiment for outcomes
Journal rankings

Copyright: David Thiel


2. Literature Search
Using the web etc

Copyright: David Thiel


3. Report writing, Data Collection
& Presentation
Abstract
Referencing
Equations
Figures
Conclusions and Further work
Qualitative and quantitative data
Plotting techniques for multi-dimensional data

Copyright: David Thiel


4. Statistical Analysis and Sampling

Regression analysis
How to select a random sample.

Copyright: David Thiel


5. Making a Presentation

Copyright: David Thiel


6. Survey research methods

How to create and analyse a survey.

Copyright: David Thiel


Why this presentation?
To develop an understanding of the
scientific environment in which research is
conducted.

Copyright: David Thiel


Student Evaluation of Course
Survey!

Copyright: David Thiel