Research design and methodology


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This presentation contains notes from Bryman (2008) on key aspects of research design and methodology.

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Research design and methodology

  1. 1. Research day @ BDRA 22 Oct 2010 <ul><li>Dr Palitha Edirisingha </li></ul><ul><li>University of Leicester, UK </li></ul>Research design and methodology Notes from Bryman (2008)
  2. 2. Bryman, A. (2008) Social Research Methods, 3rd Edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Key reference
  3. 3. Social research: some considerations Theory and research deductive (theory guides research) inductive (theory as an outcomes of research) Epistemological considerations positivism (a natural science epistemology) interpretivism Ontological considerations Objectivism constructivism Research strategy quantitative and qualitative Influences on the conduct values practical considerations
  4. 4. The connection between theory and research
  5. 5. The connection between theory and research <ul><li>what form of theory are we talking about... </li></ul><ul><li>whether the data are collected to test or to build theory... </li></ul>
  6. 6. Types of theory Grand theories Middle range theories (Merton 1967) social capital cultural capital symbolic interactionism critical theory labour process theory educational attainment assessment theories? Approaches to learning? too abstract and general offer few indications to researchers as to how they might guide or influence the collection of empirical evidence. fall somewhere between grand theories and empirical findings represent an attempt to understand and explain a limited aspect of social life.
  7. 7. Theory as something that ... <ul><li>Guides and influences the collection and analysis of data - deductive theory </li></ul><ul><li>Occurs after the collection and analysis of some or all of the data associated with a project - inductive theory </li></ul>
  8. 8. Deductive theory <ul><li>a hypothesis based on what is known about in a particular domain --- subject to empirical investigation </li></ul><ul><li>usually middle-range theory ‘principally ... to guide empirical inquiry’ (Merton, 1967, p. 39) </li></ul><ul><li>hypothesis -- concepts -- researchable entities / questions </li></ul><ul><li>hypothesis translated into operational terms --- specify how data can be collected in relation to the concepts that make up the hypothesis </li></ul><ul><li>implications of findings for the theory </li></ul><ul><li>findings fed back into the stock of theory and knowledge in the domain of inquiry. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Inductive theory <ul><li>theory an outcome of research </li></ul><ul><li>drawing generalisable inferences out of observations. </li></ul><ul><li>iterative. ‘once the phase of theoretical reflection on a set of data has been carried out, the researcher ..collect[s] further data in order to establish the conditions in which a theory will and will not hold’ (p. 12) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ weaving back and forth between data and theory. ... particularly evident in grounded theory. (p. 12). </li></ul><ul><li>‘ very often what one ends up with can often be little more than empirical generalisations (p. 12). </li></ul>
  10. 10. Grounded theory <ul><li>? </li></ul>
  11. 11. Epistemological considerations
  12. 12. Epistemological considerations <ul><li>what is regarded as acceptable knowledge in a discipline </li></ul><ul><li>whether the social world can and should be studied using the methods and the procedures of the natural sciences </li></ul>
  13. 13. Epistemological considerations Positivism Interpretivism Advocates the application of the methods of the natural sciences to study the social reality and beyond. Subject matter of the social sciences - people and their institutions - is fundamentally different from that of the natural sciences. Researcher’s conceptualisation of reality ... reflects that reality the job of the social scientist to gain access to people’s ‘common-sense thinking’ and, to interpret their actions and their social world from their point of view.
  14. 14. Ontological positions
  15. 15. Ontological positions Objectivism Constructionism / Constructivism Social phenomena confront us as external facts that are beyond our reach or influence. e.g., organisation, culture has ‘the characteristics of an object and hence of having an objective reality’. (p. 18). social objects and categories are socially constructed.
  16. 16. Research strategy
  17. 17. Research strategy <ul><li>the general orientation to the conduct of social research </li></ul><ul><li>quantitative and qualitative </li></ul><ul><li>striking differences in terms of role of theory, epistemological issues, and ontological concerns </li></ul>
  18. 18. Quantitative Qualitative role of theory deductive, testing theory inductive, generation of theory epistemological orientation practices and norms of the natural science model (positivism) preference for an emphasis on how people interpret their world (interpretivism) ontological orientation social reality as an external, objective reality (objectivism) social reality as constantly shifting emergent property of individuals creation (constructionism) quantification in the collection and analysis of data words rather than quantification in the collection and analysis of data
  19. 19. Influences on the conduct of social research
  20. 20. Influences on the conduct of social research <ul><li>Values </li></ul><ul><li>Practical considerations </li></ul>
  21. 21. Values <ul><ul><li>personal beliefs and the feelings of the researcher </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>develop affection or sympathy ... for the people being investigated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>difficulty of disentangling researcher’s stance as a social scientist from their subjects’ perspective </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Practical considerations <ul><ul><li>‘ While practical considerations may seem rather mundane and uninteresting compared with the lofty realm inhabited by the philosophical debates surrounding such decisions about epistemology an ontology , they are important ones. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>All social research is a coming-together of the ideal and feasible. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ ... there will be many circumstances in which the nature of the topic or of the subjects of an investigation and the constraints on a researcher loom large in decisions about how best to proceed’ (p. 27). </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Criteria for assessing the quality
  24. 24. Criteria for assessing the quality Reliability adequacy of measures are the measures that are devised for concepts (poverty, racial prejudice, deskilling, religious orthodoxy) are consistent? Replicability can other researchers replicate the findings? Validity the integrity of the conclusions that are generated from a piece of research’ (p. 32). Trustworthiness Credibility - how believable are the findings? Transferability - do the findings apply to other contexts Dependability - are the findings likely to apply at other times? confirmability - investigator’s values intruded to a high degree?
  25. 25. Triangulation (conceptualised by Webb et al, 1966). <ul><li>originally, to use more than one method to develop measures, resulting in greater confidence in findings. associated with quantitative strategy. </li></ul><ul><li>using more than one method or source of data in the study of social phenomenon on methods of investigation and sources of data. </li></ul><ul><li>ethnographers checking out ‘their observations with interview data to determine whether they might have misunderstood what they had seen.’ [p. 379]. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Research designs and research methods
  27. 27. Research design Research method provides a framework for the collection and analysis of data a structure that guides the execution of a research method and the analysis of subsequent data. a technique for collecting data. reflects decisions about the priority being given to the range of dimensions of the research process <ul><li>involve specific instruments: </li></ul><ul><li>self-completion questionnaire </li></ul><ul><li>a structured interview schedule </li></ul><ul><li>participant observation (to listen to and watch others). </li></ul>
  28. 28. Research designs Experimental Cross-sectional Longitudinal Case study Comparative
  29. 29. 1. Experiments <ul><li>the touchstone ... considerable confidence in the robustness and trustworthiness of causal findings </li></ul><ul><li>used as a yard-stick against which to assess the non-experimental studies </li></ul><ul><li>strong in terms of internal validity. </li></ul><ul><li>manipulating independent variable(s) to determine whether it does in fact have an influence on the dependent variable. </li></ul><ul><li>one or more experimental groups, each representing different types or levels of independent variable. </li></ul>
  30. 30. Experiments <ul><li>establish how far the differences between the groups are responsible for variations in the levels of dependent variable. </li></ul><ul><li>the vast majority of the independent variables cannot be manipulated, e.g., gender, social class. </li></ul><ul><li>might involve social engineering. can be unethical. </li></ul><ul><li>laboratory experiments in a lab, in contrived settings </li></ul><ul><li>field experiments in real-life, natural settings </li></ul><ul><li>[ [Ref. page 36, 37, 41, 42] </li></ul>
  31. 31. 2. Cross-sectional designs <ul><li>‘ the collection of data on more than one case (... a lot more than one) and at a single point in time in order to collect a body of quantitative or quantifiable data in connection with two or more variables (... many more than two), which are then examined to detect patterns of association’ (p. 44). </li></ul><ul><li>often called survey design </li></ul><ul><li>methods ..................................................... </li></ul><ul><li>key features ................................................ </li></ul><ul><li>survery. ‘research that employs a cross-sectional research design and in which data are collected by questionnaire or by structured interview’ (p. 45). </li></ul><ul><li>[ [Ref. page 44 - 48] </li></ul>
  32. 32. 3. Longitudinal design(s) <ul><li>an extension of survey research based on a self-completion questionnaire or structured interview research </li></ul><ul><li>a sample is surveyed and surveyed again on at least one further occasion </li></ul><ul><li>allows some insight into the time order of variables </li></ul><ul><li>more able to allow causal inferences to be made </li></ul><ul><li>two types: panel study and cohort study </li></ul><ul><li>[ [Ref. page 49 - 52] </li></ul>
  33. 33. 4. Case study design <ul><li>the detailed and intensive analysis of a single case </li></ul><ul><li>concerned with the complexity and particular nature of the case in question (Stake, 1995). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a single community, a single school, a single family, a single organisation, a person (often ... life history or biographical approach), a single event </li></ul></ul><ul><li>emphasis on intensive examination of the setting. </li></ul><ul><li>reserve the term for studies where ‘the “case” is the focus of interest in its own right’ (p. 53). </li></ul>
  34. 34. 4. Case study design <ul><li>ask the questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>is the case, or the location, organisation just the backdrop to the findings rather than a focus of interest in its own right? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>is the case the unit of analysis or is it the sample the unit of analysis? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>the case should be ‘an object of interest in its own right, and the researcher aims to provide an in-depth elucidation of it. unless a distinction of this or some other kind is drawn, it becomes impossible to distinguish the case study as a special research design, because almost any kind of research can be considered as a case study . (p. 54). </li></ul><ul><li>[Ref. pages 52 - </li></ul>
  35. 35. 4. Case study design <ul><li>The critical case. </li></ul><ul><li>The extreme or unique case. </li></ul><ul><li>The representative or typical case. exemplifying case. </li></ul><ul><li>The revelatory case. </li></ul><ul><li>The longitudinal case. </li></ul>
  36. 36. 5. Comparative design <ul><li>studying two contrasting cases using more or less identical methods </li></ul><ul><li>to understand social phenomenon better by comparing them in relation to two or more contrasting cases... </li></ul><ul><li>multiple case studies? </li></ul><ul><li>[Ref. page 58 - 61] </li></ul>
  37. 37. Research strategy and research design together [ref pp. 61, 62 (Table), 64)
  38. 38. Research design Research strategy Quantitative Qualitative Experimental Cross-sectional Longitudinal Case study Comparative
  39. 39. Ethical issues [ref p. 133]
  40. 40. Methods of data collection
  41. 41. Methods structured interviewing self-completion questionnaires structured observation content analysis secondary analysis of official statistics ethnography and participant observation qualitative interviews focus groups conversation analysis documents as sources of data ????
  42. 42. Quantitative Qualitative Mixed structured interviewing self-completion questionnaires structured observation content analysis secondary analysis of official statistics ethnography and participant observation qualitative interviews focus groups conversation analysis documents as sources of data
  43. 43. Data analysis Quantitative univariate analysis bivariate analysis multivariate analysis statistical significance Qualitative analytic induction Grounded theory thematic analysis narrative analysis
  44. 44. Quantitative research
  45. 45. Quantitative research <ul><li>The main steps (p. 141). </li></ul><ul><li>Concepts and their measurement (p. 143) </li></ul><ul><li>Reliability and validity (p. 149) </li></ul><ul><li>The critique of quantitative research (p. 159) </li></ul>
  46. 46. Qualitative research
  47. 47. Interviewing in qualitative research qualitative interviews - different from interview used in quantitative research less structured than interviews used in survey research two main types: unstructured and semi-structured flexible ... can accommodate respondents’ views [Ref. types of interviews - key concept 8.2. p. 196].
  48. 48. Differences between the structured and qualitative interviews Quantitative Qualitative To maximize the reliability and validity of measurement of key concepts. interviewees’ own perspectives clearly specified research questions to be investigated greater generality in the formulation of initial research ideas interview reflects researcher’s concerns greater interest in interviewee’s point of view rambling discouraged rambling / going off at tangent encouraged (to seek insight, what interviewee sees as important no departure from questions. no new questions. compromise standardisation. interviewers can depart from the schedule / guide. new questions based on responses. inflexible because of the need to standardise. flexible. adjusting the interview direction depending on the emerging issues. answers that can be coded and processed quickly. researcher wants a rich, detailed answers. unless longitudinal, interview on one occasion only. more than one interview.
  49. 49. Preparing an interview guide <ul><li>starting with research questions.. asking yourself the question ‘Just what about this thing is puzzling me?’ (Lofland and Lofland, 1995: 78) </li></ul><ul><li>formulate questions in a way that help you answer research questions </li></ul><ul><li>ordering questions according to topic are so your questions about them follow well </li></ul>
  50. 50. Observations and notes <ul><li>specify key dimensions of what you are going to observe </li></ul><ul><li>starting point - research questions... </li></ul><ul><li>detailed summaries of events and behaviours and the researcher’s initial reflections of them. </li></ul><ul><li>write down notes, however brief, as quickly as possible after seeing or hearing something interesting </li></ul><ul><li>write up full field notes at the ... end of the day and include full details as location, who is involved, what prompted the exchange (or whatever), data and time of day.. </li></ul><ul><li>take copious notes, so, if in doubt, write it down [p. 417]. </li></ul>
  51. 51. Thank u! [email_address]