Data may also be collected through the use of questionnaires. This is, perhaps, the commonest method of data collection as it can reach a large number of people; it is relatively cheap and is easy to set up. There are various types of questionnaires such as the ‘paper-pencil’ questionnaires. A major drawback of this method is that some of the people who are handed the questionnaires never return them for analysis. Other types include the new and upcoming Web-based questionnaire, which uses internet users as its research base.
Other data collection techniques that may be used to support the data, gathered through the two major methods, include observation such as observing the number of teenagers, frequenting a specific restaurant and the type of orders that they place. Another means may be the use of existing documentation and databases such as internet research and visiting public libraries, where reports of previous recorded researches may be found. Internet is increasingly being used as a research base due to the virtually limitless amount of data, found therein.
Data analysis is a process that involves the study of data collected and transforming it with an aim of emphasizing the important aspects of the eventual data presentation to be used in decision making. The data analysis process involves various stages. The method, used for data analysis, depends on the tools for analyzing data that are at the researcher’s disposal. The methods, used in manual analysis, differ from those that are used, when utilizing survey software packages and statistical packages. After collection, the data is processed. This process involves going through the data collected and removing the unwanted or erroneous components of the research. It also involves transcribing the interviews and the findings from observations. Editing and coding of the responses also takes place at this stage.
The findings from the research carried out are, then, presented and recorded, using three major methods. The first method involves the use of descriptive summaries, which uses text to give a worded account of the observations and findings from the research and the use of tabulation to record and present the data. This is especially helpful as it clarifies large volumes of data by presenting them in a systematic organization for easy understanding. A second method is the use of descriptive statistics, which involves the use of frequency counts to describe the data obtained. There may also be the use of ranges to describe the spread of the data by stating the maximum and minimum values. The use of ranges is, however, heavily affected by the presence of outliers in the data sample collected. A more commonly used method to describe and present statistical data is through the use of central tendencies. This is commonly used as easy work with calculations. The measures of central tendencies include mean, median and mode, which all may be used to describe a data sample. The third and final method involves the use of graphical representation to describe data. A pictorial representation of data promotes easy understanding of the information being presented. It includes the use of graphs, charts and histograms to present statistical data. It is important to note that these are not the only methods that exist for representing data obtained and that the method chosen would largely depend on the type of data that has been collected from the research.
Recent reviews indicate that gender differences do play a huge role in the eating habits of teenagers. These differences occur due to the fact that men generally consume more food than women who generally pay more attention to manners and body image than their counterparts. In general, women have been noted to under-go more food-related conflicts because though they may want specific foods, they avoid it as it is perceived as ‘fattening’. This, however, is not a common occurrence with men. Education also greatly affects eating habits. More educated teenagers or those from more educated families are generally more aware of the harms that come from over-consuming certain food types such as fats, which could lead to conditions such as atherosclerosis. They tend to avoid such foods in preference of foods that are perceived to be healthier. Education also includes exposure to media, which is known to promote certain body images as the ideal body types, the affected teenagers, then, tend to strive to achieve these ‘perfect’ bodies. This aspect has been known to lead to numerous physical and psychological effects on the teenagers.
Another factor that affects eating habits of teenagers is the different levels of incomes. Teenagers from the poorer backgrounds tend to have poor eating habits mainly due to un-affordability of well-balanced diets. They are also unable to purchase supplements that are essential, yet not commonly found in common diets. The well-off teenagers, on the other hand, are more exposed to ‘junk-foods’, which have negative effects on health and generally lead to poor eating habits. The social class also greatly affects eating habits. This is especially seen in those perceived to be of higher social classes, where women are encouraged to have ‘feminine’ eating behavior, which includes picking of foods and carefully watching their intake. In these higher classes, the image, presented to the public, is carefully cultivated and maintained though watching of ‘figures’. Men are also affected by this though not as much as women in almost all instances (Brown, 2006).
In conclusion, it can be seen that research methodology is an important aspect in carrying out a research and that it greatly affects the results obtained. Data collection could be either qualitative or quantitative and the methods, utilized in gathering of statistical data, include methods such as interviewing, questionnaires, observation and making use of existing literature to obtain research data. Data analysis, on the other hand, has been seen to be a multistep process that starts with processing and transcribing the data obtained. This is, then, followed by recording and presentation of the data, which is done mainly through means such as central tendencies and tabulation among others. The other issue that was discussed was the factors that influence teenager eating habits. Factors such as gender, education, levels of income and differing social classes are seen to have a profound effect in the eating habits of teenagers and the whole population in general.