Book review: Gathering Data for Your PhD

Gathering data for your Phd is a small but useful book. It only took me one afternoon to finish it. This book gives a brief introduction the advantages and disadvantages of different data collection approaches. For instance, questionnaire, interview(structured, semi-structured, unstructured, mobile interview, face-to-fact), focus group, participant observation, etc. You will be encourage to use/invent an approach that is suitable for your study, for example, drawing and writing for young children, storying telling, diaries and so on.

While you are reading this book, you may focus on the part that covers the research approach you are interested in. There are many useful references for each approach. Since I am conducting social media data analysis, I mainly focus on the research ethics, mobile Apps and possibly gaming data (I do wish to write a mini game to collect attention/self-monitor skill related data, because it should be easier to collect data with a game, sample could be a bit biased though)

Here I selected some useful resources from the book for my future reference


  • Research ethics:


Informed consent

Research ethics online training

introduction to research ethics


social media and research ethical resource


(I might spend some time to do the research ethics online training in the coming few days. The training center offers a certificate, not sure how useful it is, but it doesn’t seem to take me too long to finish that course.)


  • Gathering data online raises tricky ethical issues around anonymity and confidentiality, because social media blurs the boundaries between private and public.



(thousands of APIs in here!)

Book Review: The Research Companion

I am officially starting my PhD program in September. To get prepared for my study,  I read a book called The Research Companion in the past 3 days. I would recommend every student who is preparing to start a research degree in social science to study this book if you are still confuse about how to read an academic article, how to write a research report, build academic connections, email a professor who might be able to give you guidance on your study, research ethics and even how to get funding and write a funding application.

This post is a summary of some major points in the Research Companion and I selected some useful books and links for my future references. If you don’t have time to read this book, this blog post shall give you some ideas about how you should do your research. But it is also highly recommended to spend a few days to read the book because there are many real life examples in the book that help you understand why you should consider certain issues in your study. And I only summarise information that is useful for my studies, therefore, you might miss some important information in the book if you are reading this post only.

  • Plan your research

(This is a compiled list of articles about how to write summary for the articles you read. I forget most of the articles I have read if I don’t have a table to put down a summary for them. Believe me, you will find the summary very useful when you are writing up your literature review. )


Pyrczak, F. (2014). Evaluating research in academic journals (6th ed.). Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Publishing.

Gathering data for your PhD (2015)

(This book is highly recommended by many profs, according to Research Companion. I will start a new post about my review on this book)

  • Design your methods that meet the participants’ needs. Think about that if your participants are children and they can’t read very well, sending them questionnaire is not a good approach.


  • Connect with professors who might be able to provide constructive advice on your study. Ask short questions that they could answer, but don’t let your initial approach to be a demand for them.


  • As a grant proposer, you can involve the public by making links with charities or other support groups. Involving the public does not mean that you invite participants from all walks of life in the community, instead, you should assign them different roles in your project.


  • Draw a map on how you bring the people together in your project.


  • Ten ways to get your proposal turn down by funders.


  • Resources for funding


Aldridge, J., & Derrington, A. M. (2012). The Research Funding Toolkit: How to Plan and Write Successful Grant Applications. Sage.


Table 2.7 checklist for obtaining funding


  • If things are not working well, better to talk to supervisors and colleagues as early as possible. Usually problems can be sorted if they are discovered early enough.


  • Perceived vs. actual risk. There are issues that researchers consider as ‘safe’ but participants could be a threat. Most of the researchers rely on their common sense to define safe/dangerous. For instance, research involving young men; sex workers; drug users and so on can be dangerous. However, participants might act in an aggressive manner when they are feeling ill or in pain or due to insecurity. (I think all the social science students should pay attention to this point, you don’t want to put the participants in an uncomfortable situation)


  • Read the safety policy in your department and university


  • Dress appropriately in the study setting.


  • Be aware of your body language and that of your participants. End the study if they are agitated, paranoid or seem distressed or delusional.


  • Table 6.2 checklist for dealing with distress


  • Construct participant details databases. Keep a record of those who refuse to participate or are unsuitable for the study. You can show later in your study that you weren’t biased in who you invited to take part. You can also create different databases with information about the same participants.


  • Some participants give you quick response on whether they would like to join your study. Whereas, some are hard to get hold of, they say yes to the study but clearly, they don’t want to. You’ll end up chasing them for the reply but at the end they usually don’t finish your study.


  • Keep a research diary and a diary of your study progress (This is why I started the blog here! I know these book reviews will stay somewhere in my cloud and I will forget about them if I don’t post them on a blog XD) You might want to record ideas for future work, books, papers you have want to read, conference or job information or people you would like to network with.


  • Table 7.6 ways of keeping qualitative data clean



  • Data protection (loc 4148)


  • Report findings: Poster checklist, conference talk checklist, symposium