Research Methods I - Lecture 2 - Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods


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The second in a series of lectures in a pluralistic approach to research methods.

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  • You have come to UCM. This means that doing research methods will be slightly more difficult for you than your average sociology, psychology, history or science student. If you receive a disciplinary training, you learn about one approach. You will need to be able to understand and appreciate different approaches. Not one approach is ‘the’ liberal arts approach. This is more difficult and confusing, but also more fun.You will probably feel more comfortable with one of the approaches we will discuss today; it is perfectly fine to want to specialize. However, understanding at least the basics of other approaches will be a huge asset for your further studies, and indeed you career after that.
  • Also, what would constitute an answer to my research question within my worldview?
  • Realism: reality exists independently of our perception (truth is out there, regardless of whether we can see or ‘know’ it)Empiricism: knowledge is limited to what we can observe through our senses. (scientific method)Positivism: all true knowledge is scientific, and is best pursued by scientific method. The (social) world exists externally to the researcher, and its properties can be measured directly through observation. Reality is what is available through the senses. (Gray)Relativism: there are no universals; truth, morality, and knowledge are culture specific, and can only be described in their historical context.Social Constructivism: emphasizes that the world (/universe) and how it functions is constructed by humans as they interact with each other and engage in interpretation.Subjectivism: emphasizes subjective elements in experience, and accepts that individual, personal experiences (of the researcher) are the foundation for factual knowledge.Pargmatism: not committed to any one system of philosophy and reality. Focuses on ‘what works’ at the time. Stop overly asking these questions, and just “change the subject”. Often used in Mixed Methods.
  • Tests the relationships among measurable variables.Producesnumbered data.Tends to use statistical analysis of data generated.Tends to test theories deductively.Examples: ‘Natural’ sciences, psychology, quantitative sociology, much of political science, much of IRFinal report tends to be structured.
  • Causal-comparative research: looking for causal relation xyCorrelational design: there is a correlation between two or more things, regardless of the cause and effectSurvey research: can be descriptive (what is the average age?) or probabilistic (what are the odds that you vote left wing?)Experimental research: Comparing groups who are different on one controlled aspect (if I would give half of you alcohol, but not the other half, and then see whether you differ in terms of finding this lecture more interesting).
  • Tends to focus on individual meanings.Tends to focus on particular, specific settings / contexts.Tends to use an inductive approach to research.Examples: Anthropology, qualitative Sociology, History, humanities in general, some of political science & IRWritten report tends to be flexible in structure.
  • Narrative research: describing a storyline / biography of a person or an object, and anlysing that further.Phenomenological research: describes how a specific phenomenon or object is experienced by a (specific) group of people.Grounded theory: Deriving general theories based on a wide collection of data in a certain field.Ethnography: describes a specific culture or society as a whole, from a wide variety of angles. Usuallyinvolves both observation and participation by the researcher in the society, and often involves interviews as well.Case studies: offers an in-depth analysis of a specific case (a programme, an event, an activity, a process, a group of individuals, a country, etc.)
  • Collects and integrates both quantitative and qualitative data.Should provide a more complete comprehension of a given research problem.Examples: relatively new, but applied widely in sociology, political science, and to some degree in psychology and anthropology.
  • Convergent parallel mixed methods: gather quant and qual data at the same time; tries to integrate information in final analysisExplanatory sequential mixed methods: quant first, then qual to further explain the findings in greater detailExploratory sequential mixed methods: qual first, then quant. The second, quant phase is informed by the findings of the first qual phase.
  • Research Methods I - Lecture 2 - Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods

    1. 1. Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Research Methods 1, Lecture 2
    2. 2. Before we begin, SOME CLARIFICATIONS Research Methods 1 – 2
    3. 3. A reminder: what we will do in these courses (the happy playground) Getting the Individual ideas basics right Group proposal Mixing & Matching Research Methods 1 – 3
    4. 4. Topics in Research Methods 1 • Feasibility to conduct research in just 4 weeks without any money or other resources is not a concern. Think big. • Your topics as input for discussion. • Your topics as the basis for your graded assignments. Research Methods 1 – 4
    5. 5. Topics in Research Methods 2 • Final proposal needs to be feasible: – Possible to finish in just 4 weeks. – Possible to conduct with about 4 people. – No additional financial resources (sadly). • You may use your topic for RM1 as a starting point; not required though. Research Methods 1 – 5
    6. 6. What is a “Research Paper”? • Not just a literature/theory review. (Though it still needs to include that too.) • Consists of empirical data & analysis. = Based on observations, measurements, or experiences. ≠ Based only on theory or pure logic. Research Methods 1 – 6
    7. 7. Before analysis, before data, and before methodology, there is: PHILOSOPHY Research Methods 1 – 7
    8. 8. Research Methods 1 – 8
    9. 9. Truth Research Methods 1 – 9
    10. 10. Objectivity Research Methods 1 – 10
    11. 11. Knowledge Research Methods 1 – 11
    12. 12. Paradigm (worldview) Research Methods 1 – 12
    13. 13. Ontology & Epistemology • Ontology: The study of what exists, and how things that exist are understood and categorized. • Epistemology: How we come to have legitimate knowledge of the world; rules for knowing. Research Methods 1 – 13
    14. 14. Basic Process of doing Research Define topic Formulate question Decide on approach Gather information (data) Analyze Present How do I see the world, and what are my assumptions? Research Methods 1 – 14
    15. 15. So let‟s give names to some of those PARADIGMS Research Methods 1 – 15
    16. 16. Some „-isms‟ (paradigms) • Realism • Empiricism • Positivism • Relativism • Social Constructivism (& interpretivism) • Subjectivism • Pragmatism Research Methods 1 – 16
    17. 17. Induction revisited • Example 1: (weak) – A: It took me 10 minutes from UCM to the lecture today. – B: It will take me 10 minutes again next week. • Example 2: (strong) – A: All life forms we know consist partly of water. – B: Potential life forms that we don‟t know of yet, likely also consist partly of water. Research Methods 1 – 17
    18. 18. Deduction revisited • Example 1: (‘deductive nomological model’) (correct) – A: All people are mortal. – B: Students are people. – C: All students are mortal. • Example 2: (incorrect) – A: All enrolled students also come to the lecture. – B: Students who go to lectures get high grades. – C: All students who enroll get high grades. Research Methods 1 – 18
    19. 19. Connecting the dots: QUANTITATIVE, QUALITATIVE, MIXED METHODS Research Methods 1 – 19
    20. 20. Three approaches to research • Quantitative • Qualitative • Mixed Methods Research Methods 1 – 20
    21. 21. Quantitative approaches • What is it? • Rules of thumb: – Typical philosophical assumptions – Typical „logical‟ aims • Mostly confirmatory • Mostly nomothetic • Academic disciplines • Styles of writing Research Methods 1 – 21
    22. 22. Strategies of Inquiry: Quantitative There are several research designs that are quantitative, these include: Causal-comparative research Correlational design Survey research Experimental research Research Methods 1 – 22
    23. 23. Qualitative approaches • What is it? • Rules of thumb: – Typical philosophical assumptions – Typical „logical‟ aims: • Often more exploratory than quantitative • Mostly idiographic • Academic disciplines • Styles of writing Research Methods 1 – 23
    24. 24. Qualitative • Usually particularistic (idiographic) • Often holistic (considering a phenomenon in its whole context) Research Methods 1 – 24
    25. 25. Strategies of Inquiry: Qualitative In this type of research several approaches may be used, including: Narrative research Phenomenological research Grounded theory Ethnography Case studies Research Methods 1 – 25
    26. 26. Mixed Methods approaches • What is it? • Rules of thumb: – Philosophical assumptions & „logical‟ aims • Academic disciplines • Styles of writing Research Methods 1 – 26
    27. 27. Why do Mixed Methods? “Methods should be mixed in a way that has complementary strengths and non-overlapping weaknesses. It involves the recognition that all methods have their limitations as well as their strengths.” - Johnson and Turner (2003) Research Methods 1 – 27
    28. 28. Mixed Methods: it depends… The way a Mixed Methods study is set up depends on several factors: – Specific practices in an academic discipline – The type of research question in the project – Resources (money, time, etc.) Research Methods 1 – 28
    29. 29. Strategies of Inquiry: Mixed Methods Assumes that one type of database or method of analysis may be used to inform and explain another. Some mixed methods include: – Convergent parallel mixed methods – Explanatory sequential mixed methods – Exploratory sequential mixed methods Research Methods 1 – 29
    30. 30. Before you leave, some FINAL NOTES Research Methods 1 – 30
    31. 31. Assignment 1: “Formulating Questions” • Deadline (the week after Carnival): – Before Monday 10 March on Safe Assignment – By Monday 10 March at 13:00 at the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) • Weight: 30% of final grade • Individual assignment Research Methods 1 – 31
    32. 32. Assignment 1: “Formulating Questions” • What counts: – Paper of 2000 – 3000 words (3-4 pages) – Presentation in tutorial (max. 5 minutes) • Elements in the paper (at least): – – – – Research question (& hypotheses if applicable) Social / scientific relevance of the topic Basic theory & earlier empirical work on this subject A suggested research approach for this question (including a description of what kind of approach this would be, and why/how this would answer the central question) – Your philosophical-methodological considerations Research Methods 1 – 32
    33. 33. At the Cutting Edge: Research in Practice Next Wednesday (19 Feb), 18:00, UCM Lecture Hall: Harm Hospers Harm Hospers will be interviewed about his research, his fieldwork in countries like Tanzania and Indonesia, and about the delicate balance between being an academic, an observer, and feeling a strong sense of engagement with the ones you observe. Research Methods 1 – 33