Our textbook for LDT 597A is Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (4th edition) by John Creswell. Each week, we are assigned readings and must write a 1-page paper summarizing the main topics and following up with inquiry that is due before class. It’s sort of a flipped classroom concept, where we come to class prepared to talk about and apply what we just read.
The intent of the book is to make those in research pull back and think about research more as a process. The book discusses three types of research: quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. As a person thinks about research, they need to think about “positionality” and how it relates to a study, as well as understand the appropriate niche. Thus, if you are a qualitative researcher presenting to a bunch of scientists, you may need to rethink your approach. One good way to explore different world views and positionality is to become an reviewer for journals.
Qualitative research focuses on inductive reasoning, the complexity of social or human experience, and it is emergent and flexible. The literature reviews aren’t too extensive, you just need to make sure it hasn’t been done before. It is also inductive in that you research as a part of the community and you want it to be understood from the field. Quantitative research focuses on building from theory. It involves a tight literature review and it is controlled, but also naturalistic. It is founded in the scientific method with a controlled environment. Finally, mixed methods are a more pragmatic approach where the researcher is focusing on a specific perspective of understanding. The literature review is front-loaded into the research and it is important for underexplored areas. For those in the science realm, quantitative research is favored simply because of the scientific method.
The most important step of doing research if crafting the right research question. You don’t want to do a research study where people say “So what?” You need it to be meaningful and do work that matters. It also needs to be convincing. You need to sell what you’ve learned. (Note: Apparently, at Penn State, the librarians are a great resource and will help you run literature reviews on your particular topic. This is good to know and something I need to confirm.) Additionally, you need to make sure people see the difference in your research as it compares to all the other research. What is it that makes you stand out?
Our instructor always manages to lead us through engaging and applicable activities. One of the activities entailed the Gapminder project. We needed to select to variables and then come up with a research question about the correlation between the two. Then, we needed to come up with further research questions that would help us tease out important details depending on the type of research we were conducting. It was challenging to say the least!
We also discussed the concept that “causality does not imply” correlation by reviewing two studies. We talked about the Abortions and Crime: Freakonomics Movie as well as the research onThe Crimes of Lead. Interesting studies that leave you with many more questions, which is what research…and further research is all about.
It was a busy class this week that required a lot of thought digestion. Situating all this information with how I can help carry out research with the IOLab tool should keep me busy this semester! Here’s to good research!
(Originally posted on my work blog on September 2, 2015)