Research design and methodology Notes from Bryman (2008)
Bryman, A. (2008) Social Research Methods, 3rd Edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Key reference
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
whether the data are collected to test or to build theory...
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.
drawing generalisable inferences out of observations.
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)
‘ weaving back and forth between data and theory. ... particularly evident in grounded theory. (p. 12).
‘ very often what one ends up with can often be little more than empirical generalisations (p. 12).
what is regarded as acceptable knowledge in a discipline
whether the social world can and should be studied using the methods and the procedures of the natural sciences
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.
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.
the general orientation to the conduct of social research
quantitative and qualitative
striking differences in terms of role of theory, epistemological issues, and ontological concerns
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
‘ 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.
All social research is a coming-together of the ideal and feasible.
‘ ... 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).
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?
Triangulation (conceptualised by Webb et al, 1966).
originally, to use more than one method to develop measures, resulting in greater confidence in findings. associated with quantitative strategy.
using more than one method or source of data in the study of social phenomenon on methods of investigation and sources of data.
ethnographers checking out ‘their observations with interview data to determine whether they might have misunderstood what they had seen.’ [p. 379].
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
involve specific instruments:
a structured interview schedule
participant observation (to listen to and watch others).
Research designs Experimental Cross-sectional Longitudinal Case study Comparative
‘ 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).
is the case, or the location, organisation just the backdrop to the findings rather than a focus of interest in its own right?
is the case the unit of analysis or is it the sample the unit of analysis?
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).
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 ????
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
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].
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.