In the planning of the research process, within the general scheme of a research plan as well as in the final report, after the introduction, the method is presented, in which there is a section dedicated to the selection and description of the instruments research. The researcher must know, identify, determine and use (implement) the techniques and instruments, following the approach of the problem and the objectives of their research work, to obtain relevant data and compliance with those.
Focus on the subject
To focus on the subject, it is contextualized by summarizing the definition of Domínguez, Sánchez and Sánchez (2009), on the instruments and techniques, which are the “means by which the data will be collected (…)” . quantitative or qualitative techniques or a combination of both, with which the variables defined in the research work will be measured and interpreted. In a more summarized way, Rodríguez and Buelvas (2017) define the instruments for collecting information as the “tools that the researcher uses to capture the information” (p.37).
The instruments refer to the ‘how to investigate’ and support what to investigate (the definition of variables). The instruments for data collection also correspond to the “operational translation of concepts and theoretical variables”, and although they can be presented in a structured or unstructured way, they follow a methodology that goes hand in hand with the proposed objectives and the very purpose of the investigation.
Having the definition clear and before going on to discuss the instruments, the researcher should ask:
- What are the procedures to define, create or adapt the instruments?
- What techniques and instruments will allow to find the information necessary to develop the proposed objectives?
- Is it necessary to design instruments or adapt them?
It is also necessary to know and indicate the criteria of reliability, unidimensionality and validity that these instruments should have, and if possible, to carry out a pilot test to test if the management of them is understood.
In the field of social and human sciences (which do not correspond to pure sciences), some of the main instruments used for data collection, according to Monje are:
- For the collection of quantitative data: the structured interview; the self-administered questionnaire; the systemic, regulated or controlled observation; scales of attitude and opinion.
- For the collection of qualitative data: unstructured interview and directed interview; depth interview; focus groups; simple, unregulated and participant observation; life story, diaries; content analysis; ethnographic method
- Mixed: surveys, compilation or documentary research, among others.
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