Mounting a Quantitative or Qualitative Research Study of the Rural African Village Library: Lessons Learned

Mounting a Quantitative or Qualitative Research Study of the Rural African Village Library: Lessons Learned

Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5043-5.ch012


Mounting a research study in a rural sub-Saharan African village produces unique challenges not typically encountered in a cozy university laboratory. While the nature of all field research implies unpredictability and flexibility, rural village library researchers can avoid certain pitfalls that could sabotage their study. By disseminating the lessons the authors have learned, this chapter increases the likelihood that future researchers’ efforts at planning and executing their projects will bear fruit.
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Initial Preparations

Before booking the flight, a researcher contemplating a trip to sub-Saharan Africa to conduct research in a rural village library needs to make initial preparations to insure a successful research experience. The initial preparations discussed in this chapter represent only a cross-section of all possible preparations; every project requires its own unique set of preparations. Some preparations would therefore not overlap with our own preparatory experiences. We suggest that future researchers use this chapter as a set of recommendations rather than as a template for making the necessary preparations to conduct field research in sub-Saharan Africa.

Generation or Formulation of Hypotheses

Qualitative researchers conduct both individual and focus-group interviews to generate hypotheses that could be submitted to future empirical testing. Qualitative research requires a research question that guides the interview content (Dent, 2011). Quantitative researchers conduct interviews and administer questionnaires and other valid and reliable assessment instruments to test hypotheses. These hypotheses reveal something about the relations between two or more variables. Generally, a hypothesis specifies the conditions under which a variable varies. The researcher who wants to conduct qualitative or quantitative research in sub-Saharan Africa needs to specify the research question and hypotheses prior to any other preparations because all other planning follows from these decisions.

Researchers formulate research questions and hypotheses by reading the theoretical and research literature about a topic of interest, speaking with experts in the field, and if possible, spending time in a rural village library in the host country to get a general sense of what kinds of research questions or hypotheses might yield valuable information used to promote literacy. All other initial preparations critically depend on the formulation of a research question or hypotheses, so one needs to pay close attention to this information-gathering process before planning a research trip to sub-Saharan Africa.

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