Last set of blog comments


ABA programs for children with autism.


Autism in theUKeffects boys more than girls, and occurs in approximately 1 in every 100 children. It is a requirement under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 1990, that schools provide necessary education for these children. This law however doesn’t state that the children must be educated to their highest potential. A study by Howard et al (2005) used an Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) program consisting of one-to-one instruction for 40 hours per week on one group of 29 children. In the second condition, 16 children received eclectic treatment: speech therapy, SPEECH program, and integration therapy for 30 hours a week. In the third condition, children received the standard treatment in schools at 15 hours a week. Results showed that after 14 months of treatment, the children from theABAcondition had gained 1 year of development. This lends support to the use ofABAprograms for children with autism, and suggests that they could develop further than assumed with intense 40 hours a week therapy if it was made available and compulsory. A similar study by Lovaas 1987 found that in an intervention group where 40 hours a week ofABAtherapy was received for over 2 years, 47% of them seven years later were able to participate in mainstream education classes. This was compared to the standard treatments available and a group receiving less than 10 hours ofABAa week. This shows that increasing the hours ofABAtherapy programs has lasting effects on development as the children become older. However if 40 hours a week of this type of therapy was compulsory for all autism sufferers, it would be extremely expensive and time consuming and invading in relation to families. Therefore this is unlikely to realistically happen. However the effects of such consistent and intensive therapy cannot be denied. These programs do not cure autism but they treat the negative developmental effects of it, so perhaps they should be invested in.

Howard et al –

Measuring the Earth’s population


At the beginning of the 20th century, the world’s population was just 1.65 billion. As of October 31st 2011, it reached 7 billion ( How do we know these figures are correct, and how are they measured? I suggest that many unreported births mean that this figure is distorted. 

Currently, births are reported by parents registering their child within 42 days of the birth. This can occur in any register offices for births/deaths/marriages, or it can be possible for registration to occur through the hospital. However, not all births are reported and I think that this causes population figures to be inaccurate. 

Unreported births in Northern Vietnam were studied in 2005 by Målqvist et al ( Using many record sources, and group interviews for each part of Northern Vietnam, 15 full-time researchers collected data from April to June.  The Provincial Health Bureau stated that there were 16551 births in the province of Quang Ninh in 2005. This study found evidence of 17519 births (1461 of them did not occur at health facilities).


Reasons found for the under reporting of births include a lack of understanding of the importance of registering births by health staff and families, poor access to registrars, poor report forms, parents failing to properly and completely register a birth sometimes assuming health facilities will do so.

This leads me to believe that reported populations are actually a lot larger than reported. In this study, just one part of a country’s births were unreported by a thousand. Perhaps this occurs with greater discrepancies in many parts of other countries.    

The New Straits Times posted an article on September 9th 1990 about the failure of people reporting births and deaths (,708660). They described 12% of births as being unreported due to transport problems (in remote areas).

So how can the Earth’s population be accurately measured if there are areas where births are regularly unreported by families and health staff, communities where women give birth without medical services, and families that live far from any registry offices? …It can’t. We can only realise that this statistic cannot be accurately reported unless there is a legal obligation for every birth to be correctly registered, and even if there was there is no guarantee that it would happen! 

I wonder what the Earth’s population really is…






How researchers use internet sources to gather data for qualitative studies, and is it ethical?


Online data can be found through internet communities. These are a communication point for members of similar groups, they include chat rooms, news groups, blogs, discussion boards and mailing lists. 

There are 3 ways to research internet communities for data:

  1. passive analysis: studying or observing patterns of interaction and information online without getting involved
  2. active analysis: the researcher is involved in communicating with the group being studied (this can involve deception as the rest of the group believe the researcher to be someone who has experienced what they have, or someone who shares the same beliefs and opinions).
  3. In the 3rd way of researching internet communities, researchers identify themselves as an observing researcher and invite individuals to participate in online interviews & surveys, or they use this method to gather participants for recruitment to take part in research.

The 3rd method is often problematic as members of the group are resistant towards individuals outside of the group-for example a support group for survivors of domestic abuse do not like the idea of another joining their group discussion, when they have not experienced domestic abuse and are not a survivor, whether they are a researcher or not.

Advantages of using internet sources

  • the sources are often personal opinions and not measured responses in an unrealistically controlled research environment
  • by using large internet communities such as mailing lists, blogs, discussion boards and chat rooms, researchers can uncover the views of many, not just a few – providing a readily made large sample
  • so much time (and effort) is saved by not having to manually find participants then interview then and transcribe their results, when what you want to know is just a click away!

Disadvantages of using internet sources

issues of privacy, consent and confidentiality:

  • personal views and opinions may be made public when the individual believed they would remain private to themselves and a select group
  • it is difficult to know whether consent needs to be obtained – it depends on whether the data is counted as public or private.
  • consent is required “when behaviour of research participants occurs in a private context where an individual can reasonably expect that no observation or reporting is taking place.” (American Sociological Association)…
  • but not required if researchers “conduct research in public places or use publicly available information about individuals (such as naturalistic observations in public places and analysis of public records or archival research) without obtaining consent,” (American Sociological Association code of ethics)
  • Confidentiality is difficult to secure, especially when using the internet. When using exact quotes from a participant’s source in your work, search engines (e.g. google) may locate the original source of this quote, and other places where it has been published. This may lead you directly to the blog/discussion group where the quote originates which may show the participant’s name and some details including email addresses-meaning their confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.

When looking at the pros and cons, it would seem that using internet sources for qualitative data is unethical. However these sources are so valid to research, as they are detailed personal accounts free from any experimental conditions which may cause confounds. Researchers should use passive analysis when researching a public internet community, but if the community is private and consent must be obtained, researchers should not use active analysis (as they will eventually have to admit they are a researcher who was pretending to be a group member when asking for consent). I believe that internet sources should be used, and are in fact more valuable than data collected in other ways. However, the individuals involved in using these sources should be completely happy to be observed and their views made public-this is suitable for some who want publicity, but not for those who want nothing to do with the research world and disagree with the internet procedures involved :

One subscriber to a Breast Cancer Mailing List, was getting frequent requests from researchers wanting to study patients’ personal experiences with breast cancer, she responded: “Why can’t researchers do it the ‘hard way’ as they used to … and leave us alone on the Breast-Cancer list?”

Blog 1 comments [semester 2]


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