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Thread: Help with data collection for Climate change related dissert

  1. #1 Help with data collection for Climate change related dissert 
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    Hi, first of all sorry if this is in the wrong catagory, but i had to pick one! and i think this best suits.

    I plan to do a dissertation on analyisng the channels to which knowledge is distrubuted with relation to climate change.

    To collect data i plan to construst a questionaire collecting various amounts of data such as, age, income, education level etc and ask people which sources of information they generally rely on and which they trust and if any sources significantly effect their behaviour.

    With that i plan on showing them 4 videos, each video will basically be saying something similar about climate change but each will be preseneted by someone different;
    A. A scientist
    B, A regulated news reader from a source such as the BBC
    C A non-regulated media source such as ITV or FOX news
    D. A 'non expert' ( as in someones friend from the pub)

    I will then interview(or might be another set of questions, not sure yet) people afterwards and ask them which video they trusted most and which would influence them the most and their thoughts about all of them in general.

    I then plan to sort my data and compare to see if people with different levels of education react differently to information presented to them, i also would like to comapre age groups (also open to suggestions!)

    I would just like to get anyones opinions on this and comments, do people think this is good eneough to be a dissertation? would it create eneough depth for analysis?

    any ideas for improvements or alternatives welcome.

    Hope to hear from you all,

    Many thanks, Alex


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  3. #2 Re: Help with data collection for Climate change related dis 
    Forum Freshman Fatboy Miller's Avatar
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    A couple of ideas...

    1) I suspect that a large proportion of people (particularly those with little interest in climate change) actually get their information from friends and acquaintances (i.e. Category D). We tend to know which of our friends spouts a fountain of bullsh*t and which generally can be relied upon. Until such time as we have worked that out for a stranger we tend to take their words with caution. On this basis a video of a random person whom you don't know may not be the chosen option for someone who largely gets their information on climate change from discussion with friends. Hence the results will be skewed towards A, B, C or D.

    2) People will know that the scientist is likely to the primary source of information and so will go with 'A' to make themselves 'look good', even though few of them would have ever got their information directly from a scientist.

    3) You're asking people to fill out a questionaire, watch 4 videos and then be interviewed. It's a very small proportion of the general public that would agree to participate, likely to be those who are interested in the topic, hence would not be representative of the general population.

    4) The use of a series of videos implies that people get their information from TV or discussion, is it likely that some may get their information from books, newspapers, internet etc. which may not be directly analagous to format in which you present information to them.

    On this basis, it may be better to ditch the video idea and formulate a short questionaire on what they know about climate change and on what source(s) they are basing that knowledge. From this you can hopefully observe a general pattern on which to perform further investigation. For example it was indicating that people were generally getting their information from their peers further questionaires can be formulated investigating how frequently it is discussed, whether there are differences of opion, in what form is the discussion taking place (e.g. down the pub) etc. If it is from the news then a different second questionaire can be made and targeted following a new story about climate change. This questionaire could establish if they are aware of the story and what opinions are on it.

    Hope these thoughts are of use. Sounds like an interesting topic, are you going to post updates on here as you get them? It'll be great to hear the results...


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  4. #3  
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    hey mate thanks for the reply, yeh i think ure right.

    Ive now decided to distrubute questionnaires to the following groups of different educational backgrounds:
    • Group 1; No GCSE’s
    • Group 2; Some GCSE’s
    • Group 3; Higher education (A-levels, college course, NVQ etc)
    • Group 4; University undergraduates.
    • Group 5; Academic Professional

    and then i will follow up with smalller number of interviews (possibly 5 each or so)

    Obly problem now is how to i collect the sample data?!

    I did think of asking schools as they will have a hhigh abundance of people who meet the requirements for group 1-3.
    However then i thought the study would really be based on age rather than educational back ground, so i need some fresh ideas on how to collect the samples.

    obviously standing on the street collecting random people will not be too good as it will take forever for me to get enoeugh people randomly so the groups have roughtly equal amounts in!

    Group 4-5 i think im going to have to get from university.

    but do you have any ideas of saampling techniques for 1-3?

    Cheers mate for your help and look forward to hearing from you soon,
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  5. #4  
    Forum Freshman Fatboy Miller's Avatar
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    A couple of 'brainstormed' points:

    Targeting on the basis of education sets out with an initial premise that education is the major factor in how people get their information. There may be stronger factors such as age, urban/rural living etc. In order to establish the key factors, the survey should cover all of society and then the data examined to reveal patterns. To get this stopping people in the street may be the only answer (as you point out though very time consuming). However, one caveat - who's going stop and answer a questionaire on attitudes to climate change if they don't care about climate change? Hence this too may lead to some bias in the surveyed population. But this said I can't think of a better way short of kidnapping people until they have answered your questionaire!!!

    A minor point - I graduated and went into industry, not acedemia, hence I'm not within any of the groups!

    Has the topic of how people get their information on climate change been researched at all (maybe contact the environment agency, or other groups with environmental interest)? If you can get your hands on some data / conclusions of these surveys then instead of having a very general set of questions for the entire population you can pick on an area / areas that the previous surveys found interesting and do detailed case studies on a fewer number of people from these 'targeted areas'.

    Hope these points are of use!!!
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  6. #5  
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    cheers mate,

    i think you would go in the undergraduate/graduate group (ive just added graduate to it)

    You are right about singling out education but i think i really need to narrow it down to something so i can concentrate my hypothesis towards it. I will also be collecting the other data to see if they are confouding/more significant!

    u are also right in that people that actually agree to participate will be probably inclined to already be fairly informed about climate change, but i dont really have any other choice! this is obv. a flaw wityh the majortiy of volounteer questionnaires!

    I think to maximise the amount of people i can target i will for group 1-3 use social networking sites such as facebook, that way i can contact as many people as possible, i will then stratify them into the appropaite group...

    For uni graduates/undergrads and academics i will use a pool of email addresses from the university

    For the follow up interviews i will select 10 people at random from each group, this way atleast i can say the interveiws sections at leaset is representitive of the people who completed the questionnaire!

    Cheers for your contrubution mate! most helpful!
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