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Qualitative Research Methods

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Introduction (Part A)

Primary research is the collection of original statistics from the participants without depending on information concerning the topic of research, amassed at an earlier date (Nardi 2005). A researcher who wants to accumulate primary data works on the premise that there exists no other information available pertaining to his research topic. He has to commence from the beginning, constructing questionnaires, coming up with methods of attracting participants as well as taking into consideration the ethics involved in this (Sapsford 2006). He then assesses the results of his research collection with an unaffected outlook, coming later to an innovative conclusion. The utilization of original and up-to-date information and statistics is the main character of primary research.

There exist different methods of collecting primary research statistics. The following are a few examples discussed in details:

(i)Interviews, where one asks selected questions about the topic of discussion, can be conducted verbally over the phone, online, or in an open area. Telephone interviews are cost effective solutions where the respondents that one has live in different geographical areas. They also do not entail the posting of advertisements if one desires to question a random selection of individuals. Face to face interviews, on the other hand, tend to be longer, more detailed, and convey more information to the researcher. This is because the researcher can observe body language and assess the meaning behind the movements.

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(ii)Mail surveys are a second way of collecting primary data. In this method, questionnaires are sent to people’s mailboxes. Though it is a popular method, it does not get many respondents.

(iii)The use of focus groups that concentrate on acquiring the detailed views of a group of people is another common research tactic.

(iv)Companies wishing to observe consumer behavior commonly utilize product tests. A group of consumers is required to visit stores with test products and the researcher(s) then observe their purchasing patterns.

(v)The use of diaries is rare because it requires a substantial commitment from the research participant. The respondents are asked to monitor their own buying patterns over a number of weeks, in this method. The amassing of a number of such diaries will offer a lot of information about the spending patterns of customers.

(vi)Mystery shopping is a way of sourcing for information that may be considered unethical by some. In this method, people who are hired by one organization go to institutions to get to know about buying patterns by posing as potential consumers (Szafran 2011). They then volunteer this information to the companies that requested for the research. 

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Advantages of Primary Research

(i)Primary research tends to be more focused than secondary research. When a researcher goes out to gather primary data, he concentrates on the exact facts that he is interested in and not the details that surround the facts. Any instruments a researcher utilizes be they such as questionnaires, or interviews, have queries that collect only the knowledge that the researcher would like to know.

(ii)Primary research allows the researcher to focus on precise details and to determine how the information is amassed. With this control, the researcher can decide how big he wants the study to be as well as the area to source for participants. The researcher also has the power to determine how long the collection of statistics and their subsequent analysis will take.

(iii)Primary research is cost effective. In the acquisition of primary data, a researcher gets the information that he desires without having to obtain it by going through bigger sources of irrelevant information. In the case of secondary data, there is usually information presented, which do not relate with the study.

(iv)Information acquired by primary researchers solely belongs to them (Berg 2008). Any reference to their material would require their express permission. Companies that conduct primary researches often utilize this information to get ahead of their competitors.

Disadvantages of Primary Research

(i)The preparation of materials and execution of the research means that there exist extra costs in conducting primary research.

(ii)The entire procedure of constructing questionnaires or surveys, hunting for participants, getting information, and analyzing it is time consuming.

(iii)Sometimes it is not practical to carry out primary research where the corporation involved is too large or well known, since the costs will exceed the budget.

Ethics Concerning Primary Research

The field of using ethical practices to acquire research information is useful and is commonly utilized in the collection of research. It is usually considered that intellectual rights will be discussed with participants prior to initiating the research. This is important to as to determine who gets the credit for original ideas expressed within the research material. There also exist the consent forms that need a participant’s signature prior to initiation of the questioning process (Creswell 2006). These forms inform respondents of their rights to withhold or change their opinions during the course of the research if they wish. These forms also alert the participants if the information they volunteer will be freely available to all individuals even if it contains personal matters.

Part B

The SWOT and PEST analysis show details of the strengths of the British Gas Corporation, its shortcomings, as well as the steps it is intending to take in order to improve its sales. This study also mentions the average numbers of British Gas consumers in the recent past. It also makes known the prospective clients that could be brought aboard prospective merger with constructors of solar panel technology. The weaknesses that British Gas faces are more to do with elements such as unfavorable climatic conditions. Primary researchers can use this study to acquire information about the trends of growth in the energy corporation sector.

This study can also furnish information in surveys that seek to learn the various types of services that energy companies avail to their clients. Another research study that can benefit from the information displayed on this report is one which seeks to verify the factors that are essential in carrying out successful changes in the means of providing energy for British (and other) homes. Some section details the way British Gas has developed a new program. This course will oversee the installation of smart meters across British houses and places of work. Currently, most of these establishments operate on gas and electric meters. This study reveals the opinions of various well-placed officials on what it will take and what operations will be necessary to make this a possibility. Such information can be utilized as primary research if the officials in question are quoted.

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