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Research Methods in Education 6th Edition

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  2. 2. STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER • What is a document? • Primary documents • In the archive • Documentary analysis • Ethical and legal issues
  3. 3. WHAT IS A DOCUMENT? • A record of an event or process, which may be produced by individuals or groups. • Types of documents: – Created by private individuals and family groups in their everyday lives or records produced by local, national and international authorities and small or large organizations. – Based on written text or produced through other means. – Produced independently of the researcher or produced by researchers themselves as data for their research. – Primary documents (produced as a direct record of an event or process by a witness or subject involved in it) and secondary documents (formed through an analysis of primary documents to provide an account of the event or process in question). – Documents which combine primary and secondary sources. – Hybrid documents (edited and collected versions of diaries, letters and autobiographies). – Virtual documents (from internet).
  4. 4. WRITTEN SOURCES OF DATA • Some social worlds, cultures and events are literate (documents are part of their everyday world and activities); others are non-literate; others are mixed. This affects the status of documents and narratives; • Some written data are deliberately written for research; others (the majority) are not; • Data deliberately written for research can be by the researcher and/or the researched (e.g. diaries) – insiders and outsiders; • If data were written for a purpose, agenda and audience other than research(ers) then there are problems of validity and reliability;
  5. 5. WRITTEN SOURCES OF DATA • Documents are ‘social products; they must be examined not simply used as a resource. . . . To treat them as a resource and not a topic’ betrays ‘the interpretive and interactional work that went into their production’; • Documents do not often record everything about literal events; they are selective; • Records are ‘contractual’ rather than ‘actuarial’, e.g. police records may record that an officer was present rather than what took place.
  6. 6. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SOURCES • Books, textbooks, articles; • Contemporary reports and proceedings; • Minutes of meetings; • Census data; • Newspapers/media sources; • Works of fiction; • Personal documents, e.g.: diaries, journals, letters; • School magazines/prospectuses; • Field notes; • Records (formal and informal); • Biographies/autobiographies; • Timesheets/timetables; • Technical documents; • Memos and e-mails; • Reports and statistics; • Correspondence; • Plans; • Stories (oral); • Annals and chronicles; • Photographs & artifacts; • Conversations & speeches; • Policy documents; • Newspaper articles; • Public records and archives.
  7. 7. ARCHIVE DOCUMENTS • Public records (public record offices) • Census data and cabinet minutes • National and local archives • Special collections in libraries • Newspapers • Government papers, laws and acts of parliament
  8. 8. WRITTEN SOURCES OF DATA Consider: • The original intention of the document; • The reasons for/causes of the documents; • The intended outcomes of the document; • The interests of the writer; • The original agenda of the document; • The original audience(s) of the document; • The status of the document; • The original context of the document; • The style/register of the document;
  9. 9. WRITTEN SOURCES OF DATA Consider: • How reliable/biased is the record? • The ownership of the document (e.g. the researcher, others’); • Does the researcher personally know the author(s) of the document (i.e. relationships)?; • Was the researcher present in the events reported (i.e. researcher effects)? • How close to/detached from the participants is the researcher? • What do we need to know in order to make fullest sense of the document? • How to analyze and use the document.
  10. 10. WRITTEN SOURCES OF DATA (Hammersley and Atkinson, 1983) • What does the document say about the writer? • How are the documents written? • How are they read? • Who writes them? • What is included? • What is omitted? • What is taken for granted about the readership? • What do readers need to know to make sense of them? • Validity and reliability are significant problems in many documents.
  11. 11. CONSIDERATIONS IN WRITTEN SOURCES OF DATA • Formal/official → informal/lay documents; • Published → unpublished documents; • Public domain → private papers; • Anonymous → authored; • Anonymity ≠ objectivity; • Facts → beliefs or opinions; • Lay → professional; • For circulation → not for circulation.
  12. 12. WRITTEN SOURCES OF DATA • Biographies and autobiographies risk over- presenting the story of successes, the famous, the unusual, and the views of the powerful; • Is a biography or autobiography ‘research’? • Is a newspaper report/journalism ‘research’? • Is a piece of fiction ‘research’? • Documents are maybe to be used as background data or to provide ‘sensitizing concepts’.
  13. 13. THE DOUBLE HERMENEUTIC • Documents record live events, so written data on social events by definition become second hand because they interpret the world; the researcher then interprets the already-interpreted world, i.e. there is a ‘double hermeneutic’; • Social actors interpret social research and social behaviour, i.e. they act in a pre-interpreted world; this is a form of ‘double hermeneutic’; • ‘Sociology deals with a universe which is already constituted within frames of meaning by social actors themselves, and reinterprets these within its own theoretical schemes’; • the human subject is always involved in self-interpretation, and this interpretation is then subjected to a second-level interpretation by the ‘professional’ interpreter (researcher).
  14. 14. THE TRIPLE AND QUADRUPLE HERMENEUTIC • A research report is written, not live, i.e. it is a written – interpreted – record of the writer’s interpretation of the actors’ interpretations – a triply interpreted world; • The reader then puts her/his own interpretation on the report – a quadruply interpreted world.
  15. 15. THREE GENERAL TRADITIONS IN DOCUMENTARY ANALYSIS • Positivist – objective, systematic, rational and quantitative nature of the study • Interpretive – Regards social phenomena such as documents as having been socially constructed • Critical – emphasize social conflict, power, control and ideology, with ideology critique such as Marxist, feminist or critical discourse theory
  16. 16. ANALYZING DOCUMENTS • Locate the document in its contextual setting; • Address the preceding questions; • Decide whether to opt for pre-ordinate or responsive analysis; • Decide how to ‘read’ the document, e.g. as objective text, as subjective representation, as signification; • Consider the facts, themes, patterns, beliefs, opinions, statements in the documents; • Consider similarities/differences between documents which comment on the same issues; • What are the readers’/researchers’ roles in producing and analyzing the document? • Is it possible to ‘factorize’ the document(s)?
  17. 17. NARRATIVE ENQUIRY (Connelly and Clandinin, 1997) • Involves field, texts on field experience, research texts (which incorporate field and text); • Converting field text to research text is a process of increasing interpretation; • ‘Field texts tend to be close to experience, descriptive and shaped around particular events. Research texts . . . tend to be at a distance from the field and from field texts . . . . Research texts tend to be patterned. Field texts are shaped into research texts by the underlying narrative threads and themes that constitute the driving force of the inquiry.’
  18. 18. NARRATIVE ENQUIRY (Connelly and Clandinin, 1997) • ‘The researcher’s presence needs to be acknowledged.’ • Discovering the researcher’s presence is no grounds for dismissing the research text as subjective; on the contrary, not to declare this is deception.’ • The researcher has to set out the criteria that govern the study and by which it might be judged.
  19. 19. QUESTIONS IN USING DOCUMENTS 1. Where has the document come from? 2. What is the document? 3. What kind of document is it? 4. What is the document about? 5. What are the intentions/purposes of the document? 6. What are the reasons for/causes of the document? 7. What were the intended outcomes of the document? 8. What were the focuses of the document? 9. Who was/were the writer(s)? 10. What was the agenda for the document? 11. How are documents similar to/different from other relevant documents? 12. Who were the audiences of the document? For whom was it written?
  20. 20. QUESTIONS IN USING DOCUMENTS 13. What is the status of the document? 14. What is the context of the document? 15. What else do you need to know in order to make sense of the document? 16. Was the researcher present when the data were collected? 17. How close to/detached from the participants was the writer of the document? 18. How can you analyze the document? 19. What can you infer about the writer of the document? 20. In reading the document what does it tell you about yourself as a reader of it? 21. What are you doing in trying to make sense of the document? What are you bringing to the analysis? 22. What are the problems of reliability and validity in the document itself and in your reading of the document?
  21. 21. ETHICAL AND LEGAL MATTERS • Insider research based on documentary sources where the material appears likely to cast an unfavourable light upon the institution which may have commissioned it in the first place. • Laws of copyright, freedom of information and data protection as they operate in different countries.