Methodology The purpose of research

23 Mar 2015

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Research and research methods might be studied for a variety of reasons such as understanding research reports, academic research projects and management tool (Veal 2006). It is a useful tool to understand the purpose of this report in this study. A purpose of a research project can shape the choice of topic and the subsequent research design (Veal 2006). The purpose of this research is to analysis the travel motivations and travel behavior of the senior travel market in Xinjiang. The research is designed to answer the following questions which are the objectives of this study.

To identify the motivations of the senior travel market in Xinjiang.

To determine the travel behaviour of the senior travel market in Xinjiang.

To evaluate the implications of the senior travel market for the tourism industry in Xinjiang.

Research definition

The sociologist Norbert Elias (1986, cited in Veal 2006) identifies the main aim of research is discovery. Veal (2006, p2) further explains discovery is "making known something previously unknown". Veal (2006) suggests that the nature of Elias's term discovery can be seen as a process of finding out. It should focus on the simplest significance of its existence. It can be considered as describe process. According to the definition, Elias (1986: 20, cited in Veal 2006) also mentions research can "advance human knowledge, to make it more certain or better fitting". Veal (2006) explores this statement as the second aim of research is explanation which is beyond description to seek to explain the patterns and trends observed. It can be used to predict further. Veal (2006) also provides the third function of research which is evaluating. Evaluative research arises from the need to make judgments on the success or effectiveness of policies or programmes (Veal 2006).

1. Descriptive research

Finding out, describing what is

2. Explanatory research

Explaining how or why things are as they are (and using this to predict)

3. Evaluative research

Evaluation of policies and programmes

(Source: Veal 2006:3)

The research used in this study is considered as descriptive research. It aims to analysis the travel motivations and travel behavior of the senior travel market in Xinjiang. Three objectives are considered three main issues when discuss the senior travel market. Although there are many of similar researches regarding senior travel market, this research focuses on a different city background. Veal (2006) suggests because of the newness of the field, the changing nature of the phenomena being studied, and the frequent separation between research and action, descriptive research is very common and necessary in the leisure and tourism area. Furthermore, the results of this research can be used to have a good understanding on senior travel behavior. Deposit they are a certain market segment, they also may change with uncertain social environment. The results of this research can compare with the previous researches. But it may be more useful for the further studies. Indeed, Veal (2006) suggests that the providers of leisure and tourism services may rely on a flow of descriptive research due to the constant changeable tourism environment. This kind of research can provide up-to-date information they can be fully explained or understood.

Research approach: qualitative and quantitative research

Qualitative and quantitative researches are two main popular approaches in the current research area (Veal 2006). Simply put, qualitative research involves analysis of data such as words (e.g., from interviews), pictures (e.g., video), or objects (e.g., an artifact) while quantitative research involves analysis of numerical data (Miles and Huberman 1994). The differences of two shows in the below table which is created by Miles & Huberman (1994, p. 40).



The aim is a complete, detailed description.

The aim is to classify features, count them, and construct statistical models in an attempt to explain what is observed.

Researcher may only know roughly in advance what he/she is looking for.

Researcher knows clearly in advance what he/she is looking for.

Recommended during earlier phases of research projects.

Recommended during latter phases of research projects.

The design emerges as the study unfolds.

All aspects of the study are carefully designed before data is collected.

Researcher is the data gathering instrument.

Researcher uses tools, such as questionnaires or equipment to collect numerical data.

Data is in the form of words, pictures or objects.

Data is in the form of numbers and statistics.

Subjective - individuals interpretation of events is important ,e.g., uses participant observation, in-depth interviews etc.

Objective seeks precise measurement & analysis of target concepts, e.g., uses surveys, questionnaires etc.

Qualitative data is more 'rich', time consuming, and less able to be generalized. 

Quantitative data is more efficient, able to test hypotheses, but may miss contextual detail.

Researcher tends to become subjectively immersed in the subject matter.

Researcher tends to remain objectively separated from the subject matter.

 (Source: Miles & Huberman 1994, p. 40, Qualitative Data Analysis)

The research in this study is similar with many other researches regarding leisure and tourism is conducted with quantitative research. The quantitative approach to research involves statistical analysis. It relies on numerical evidence to draw conclusions or to test hypotheses. The research focuses on collecting the data in the form of numbers from a large number of seniors and analysis the data by computer. The results are able to test hypotheses. The data is processed technical due to present a more scientific and objective result. However, qualitative and quantitative researches are now widely accepted that the two approaches complement one another (Bryman and Bell 2003). Thus quantitative research is often based on initial qualitative work (Veal 2006). Therefore, before design the research, large number of relevant information is gathered from pervious studies according to a plenty of literature review. The questions mostly depend on the similar pervious studies. A further review of the literature can be valuable, concentrating particularly on techniques used by previous researchers, and asking such questions (Veal 2006).

Research method

Research method is also considered as research strategy in some contributions (e.g. Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill 2006). There are various ways in which to design the empirical research aspect of a research project. It includes experimental research, survey research, comparative research, case study research, observational research and action research (Brotherton 2008). None of the alternatives is perfect or equally applicable to all research questions and projects, they each have strengths and weaknesses. It is necessary and difficult in making the decision which method will be most appropriate and robust to use in the research. This means choices must be made to select the design that is most appropriate for collecting the type of data required to answer the research question and/or test the hypothesis (Brotherton 2008). Before choosing the best fitting method, it should have a general knowledge to majority of research method.

Experimental research is viewed as the best ways to implement the scientific method and is common used within the physical and natural sciences (Brotherton 2008).

Survey research is a very common and popular form of empirical research design that is widely used by academics, commercial research organizations and companies (Brotherton 2008). Hospitality and tourism companies and organization also conduct surveys to gather information on issues that are important to them (Brotherton 2008).

Comparative research, simply put, is the act of comparing two or more things with a view to discovering something about one or all of the things being compared. This technique often utilizes multiple disciplines in one study (Veal 2006).

Case study research is seen by some commentators as a design that is most appropriate for initial, exploratory research, often of a qualitative nature. Case study designs may be more applicable to the type of study you have in mind than the literature might have led you to believe. One reason for choosing a case study design could be that you need to study the particular phenomenon within a situational context because they are interrelated and inseparable.

Observational research is more associated with those who have a phenomenological philosophy and use an inductive approach (Brotherton 2008). He further suggests that observational research occurs in more naturalistic environments and data are recorded using more open-ended, less formal techniques, then it would correspond to the latter kind of approach.

Action research is quiet different with above. It tends to involve the researcher in implementing some change in order to assess and evaluate its effects and impacts (Brotheton 2008).

As discussed in the above, experimental and survey research designs are likely to be appropriate for quantitative studies, while observational and case study designs are generally appropriate for qualitative studies.

The research methods in this study are considered to use the survey strategy as part of a case study. To analysis the travel motivations and travel behavior of the senior travel market in China, Xinjiang is selected as a case study target. Robson (2002: 178) defines case study as "a strategy for doing research which involves an empirical investigation of a particular contemporary phenomenon within its real life context using multiple sources of evidence". The data collection techniques employed in the case study is survey. Survey is essentially a technique to communicate with and collect information from a representative sample of individuals or organizations, mainly using verbal or written questioning (Lucas 1999, cited from Brotheton 2008). A survey can be implemented in various ways. Simply put, it can be categorized as direct way such as face to face interviewing and distributed way such as questionnaire, to the potential respondents by either postal, telephonic or electronic means (Brotheton 2008). The chart below indicates a detailed comparison of main survey researches:

Indeed, surveys have their advantages and disadvantages, as do all the other designs. The main advantages of surveys are that they can be relatively quick and easy to design and implement compared to other empirical design options. The main disadvantages are that the survey interview or questionnaire is a contrived and artificial situation. Brotheton (2008) suggests that the survey respondents are strongly influence the validity of the data collected. The true feeling of respondents can critically determine the answer given.

Data collection methods

The research in this study conducted with questionnaire surveys. Questionnaire surveys involve the gathering of information from individuals using a formally designed schedule of questions called a questionnaire or interview schedule. The technique is arguable the most commonly used in leisure and tourism research (Veal 2006). However, the accuracy of it highly depends on the interviewee honesty (Veal 2006).

Questionnaires surveys in the leisure and tourism field can be divided into six types: household survey, street survey, telephone survey, mail survey, E surveys, user/on-site/visitor survey and captive group survey (Veal 2006). The type of questionnaire used in this research is captive group survey. Captive group survey is considered as be conducted with members of groups such as classes of school children. The survey needs to obtain permission from the central education authority such as the class teacher. The advantage of this survey has been suggested by Veal (2006) that a roomful of cooperative people can provide a number of respondent-completed questionnaires very quickly and less problematic than less controlled situations. It is possible to take the group through the questionnaire question by question and therefore ensure good standards of completion.

A self-administered, closed-ended questionnaire was designed to collect information about the travel behavior of seniors to answer the above objectives. The questionnaire consisted of four main sections. The first section was asked about travel behavior, such as when they travel, where they usual to go. The second section was asked to indicate the importance of push and pull motivation items using a five-point Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (not at all important) to 5 (highly important). The lists of push (10 items) and pull (10 items) motivations were obtained from a widespread review of prior studies existing in the travel and tourism market (e.g., Baloglu & Uysal, 1996; Kim & Jogaratnam, 2002; Kim & Lee, 2002). The third section is asked to indicate the extent the respondents interested in the tourism attractions in Xinjiang. The aim is to explore which types of tourism destination choice and selection are sought by respondents. The final section is asked the demographic questions about the basic profile of respondents such as gender, age and income group.

Sampling Method

Due to the degree of variety of population, the necessary of sampling has been heavily concerned. According to definition by Brotherton (2008: 164), a sampling is "a smaller version of the whole it is obtained from that reflects the same characteristics as those of the whole". In research term, it is widely considered the whole as "population" (Brotherton 2008). Population does not only simply mean people; it may be comprised of particular types of companies, products, destintations and so on (Brotherton 2008). Population in this context is a term used to denote a collection of related elements (Brotherton 2008). Sampling is regarded as can sufficiently be able to make valid inferences from (Brotherton 2008). It is clear that there is an important relationship between the whole the sample is taken from and the sample itself. Brotherton (2008) suggests important characteristic of sampling as can be considered as "representative". He explained that if the sample is not representative, then it will be biased in one way or another and so inferences made on the basis of the sample are likely to be wrong. Simply put, there are two categories of sampling, quantitative data sampling and qualitative data sampling. The biggest difference is qualitative data research is probability-based sampling and quantitative data research is either.

This research is considered to use a quantitative data sampling. The sampling method used in this research is convenience sampling. As the name implies, Brotherton (2008: 172) explains that "it is a way of selecting a sample that available at the time and place of choice". This research is as straightforward as using student peers as a sample because they are conveniently available to collect the data from. The respondents in this research are the seniors who are in the same city, similar senior citizen activity center. It is easy for determining the research target and accessing. However, the disadvantage of conveniently sampling is also unavoidable. Though the data collected via this form of sampling may be valid, the nature of the sample makes it unreliable for generalization purpose. Brotherton (2008) suggests that due to the ability to determine or control the selection of the sample is extremely limited under these circumstances, it is essentially dependent on respondent's goodwill, the likelihood of the sample being representative of the population is extremely low. Therefore, it is required the researcher should be very circumspect about trying to make generalizations based on such a "self-selecting" sample.

Research Development

One issue need to be first considered here is accessibility. Accessibility has been regarded as the first step of research. It is necessary to influence the data collected. It is common to meet barriers in the research hunting (Veal 2006). Nowadays, research accessibility is not only concerned in ICT resources, or official historical data, it is also concerned with other kind of resources such as interview a sample of people (Veal 2006). How to span these barriers becomes one tough task for almost researchers. In order to avoid such barriers, the questionnaires are assigned to senior citizen activity center in Xinjiang. Due to my father works in Urumqi, Xinjiang, he contacted the senior citizen activity center of The First Teaching Hospital of Xinjiang Medical University, the senior citizen activity center of Xinjiang Airport Group Co., LTD and the senior citizen activity center of Xinjiang Autonomous Region. The seniors there can be easily accessed to finish the questionnaires. On the other hand, Urumqi is the capital of Xinjiang Autonomous Region. It is a historical, cultural and typical city in Xinjiang. These senior citizen activity centers can represent the average level of seniors in Xinjiang. The seniors there almost have a similar living standard and good self quality. It is good for the accuracy of the following results.

Data collection

Data were collected at senior citizen activity center in Urumqi, Xinjiang. There are divided three sections that The First Teaching Hospital of Xinjiang Medical University, Xinjiang Airport Group Co., LTD and Xinjiang Autonomous Region. The seniors involved in questionnaires were at over 40 years old. The survey began in 31st July 2010. There are total 200 seniors were asked to complete the questionnaire. 15 copies were found to be incomplete and were eliminated. Overall, a final total of 185 questionnaires were fully completed which was a response rate of 92.5%.

Schedule of Survey


Place of survey

Number of questionnaire

Number of respondents

Rate of received

31th July 2010

Senior citizen activity center of the First Teaching Hospital of Xinjiang Medical University




3rd Aug 201

Senior citizen activity center of Xinjiang Autonomous Region




6th Aug 2010

Senior citizen activity center of Xinjiang Airport Group Co., LTD




Data analysis method

All data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS 18.0). The data were assessed to determine if there were statistically significant among the responses obtained. Analysis of the data involved three stages. First, all the data were processed for description statistics for simply understanding through the statistical figure of data. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted followed by to identify underlying push and pull motivation factors. The same method was conducted for the tourist attractions. Finally, Crosstab was employed to assess the causal relationships regarding satisfaction and loyalty.

Validity and reliability

The use of reliability and validity are common in quantitative research (Golafshani 2003). Patton (2001) states that validity and reliability are two factors which any quantitative research should be concerned while designing a study, analyzing results and judging the quality of the study.

Validity is "the extent to which the information collected by the researcher truly reflects the phenomenon being studied" (Veal 2006:41). The validity of leisure and tourism research is considered as a rough task. Veal (2006) explains this phenomenon that mainly because empirical research is largely concerned with people's behavior and with their attitudes, and for information on these the researcher is, in the main, reliant on people's own reports in the form of responses to questionnaire based interviews and other forms of interview. The interview situation is not always conductive to careful, thoughtful responses. Respondents may tend to exaggerate or understate in their answers to some questions.

To avoid this disadvantage, the research undertakes on large number of questionnaires about 200 copies. Large number of sampling may reduce the possible invalidity in the research (Veal 2006). On the other hand, the questionnaires are required to fill out after seniors finished their activities. It is necessary to avoid the activity time as seniors may be unwilling to finish it in their activity time. Normally, there have enough time after their activities, seniors may feel relax and tend to be willing to answer the question on the questionnaire. Indeed, Some effective ways to increase response rates as well as to reduce nonresponses can be attained by providing incentives, selecting best time, and sending more follow-ups by extending the entire survey period (Crompton & Tian-Cole, 2001; Sangster, 2003; Trochim, 2001, cited form Kim 2008). It may help ensure the validity of this research.

Reliability is "the extent to which research findings would be the same if the research were to be repeated at a later date or with a different sample of subjects" (Veal, 2006:41). Due to the varying social and physical environment, it is also very difficult for leisure and tourism research. Veal (2006) explains that as human beings in differing and ever-changing social situations. Therefore, this research may useful for other relevant studies regarding seniors travel behavior. However, due to different social background, it may indicate the different results. Though within the similar social background, the relevant research may also indicate different results with the time moves.

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