Question: What difference does using different research methods make?
Please choose one of the following topics from any in the list below and write an essay of not more
than 3,000 words providing a comparison of two research methods your ‘home’ discipline would
utilise in examining one of the following topics.
f) Missing persons
Your account needs to focus on the research methods used in investigating the topic rather than
producing a research proposal.
You need to be producing a comparison between different methods in investigating a particular
topic, and showing how the different methods inter-relate with the topic.
The following might be a useful guide in thinking about the essay:
a. The conceptual issues that your chosen topic raises
b. The challenges of researching in this area, either from a primary or secondary research
c. The particular methods your home discipline might employ for research in this area, their
appropriateness, and the constraints they might put upon your research.
d. The difference that using alternative methods might make to your answer in c.
e. The use of theory in research in these areas, and the way that this structures research
f. Other methodological aspects you believe are appropriate, and which are derived from research in
your specific topic area or from the methods literature.
I have started an essay (below) to give an overview of what I require:
What difference does using different research methods make? Provide a comparison of two research
methods your ‘home’ discipline would utilise in examining missing persons
This essay will provide a comparison of two methods commonly used in the author’s home discipline;
criminology, to research Missing persons. This paper will introduce the topic, using existing
research to illustrate challenges that will need to be considered by researchers in this area. It
will then look at a method regularly adopted by criminologists, and consider the appropriateness of
this method, the limitations that this places on the researcher and benefits that are to be gained
through this method. It will also show how the research question influences the choice of method.
An alternative method will then be discussed, again examining the limitations and benefits for the
researcher. Throughout, this paper will consider the philosophical assumptions of the chosen method
and how that impacts on the ability to answer the research question. Finally, the author will
discuss the most appropriate method, of the two chosen, to research this area.
There are multiple issues that contribute towards children and young people within the looked after
system running away from a children’s home, which leads to them being reported as missing.
Individuals who go missing are putting themselves at potential risk and increased likelihood of
involvement with crime (Shalev, 2010). More recently, following a series of high profile
prosecutions, attention has been drawn to the risk of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and the links
to children in care (Greene & Alys, 2016), and research is beginning to look at the factors that
influence this. The reasons why people go missing are recorded following each police investigation.
These are then grouped, or coded, into categories as specified by the National Crime Agency
(Missing Persons Bureau, 2015) It is worth knowing that the reasons recorded are subject to
disclosure by the young person and interpretation by the police officer involved. This may be why
47% of the 16313 respondents in an 11-17 years of age category were recorded as “intentionally
missing” or “because of a relationship”. Almost 47% of those missing, who were questioned, refused
to give a reason or an unknown was recorded
I had considered Surveys and Semi Structured Interviews as the two methods that I’d like to discuss
The references can include 2 or 3 internet sources and MUST contain references to Greener, I.
(2011) Designing social research : a guide for the bewildered. London: SAGE.
Bryman, A. (2008) Social research methods. 3rd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bryman, A. (1992) Quantity and quality in social research. London: Routledge
Blaikie, N.W.H. (1993) ‘Introduction’, in Approaches to social enquiry. Cambridge: Polity Press, or
Blaikie, N.W.H. (2007) Approaches to social enquiry : advancing knowledge. 2nd edn. Cambridge:
I additional items from my reading list if required