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Spectrum of Research Paradigms Version 2

e-tivity No 1 for Applying Research Methods in Practice (D/L)
by

Sarah Cook

on 9 October 2013

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Transcript of Spectrum of Research Paradigms Version 2

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Spectrum of Research Paradigms Version 2
Rationalistic,
empiricist philosophy
Positivist, but recognises the fallibility of measurement and the role of theory within scientific knowledge
Critical theory that challenges social and power relationships e.g: Marxist or feminist theory
Symbolic Interactionism Social and historical
Real-world, Subtle Realism, Scientific Realism, Consequences of actions
Cultural anthropology (various theoretical schools, e.g.: scientific rationalism, symbolic interactionism, feminism, critical theory ethnomethodology, etc)
Phenomenology & hermeneutics
Ethnography
Paradigm (theoretical framework which influences the way knowledge is studied and interpreted)
Ethnographic methods have an established and long history. They engage an exacting set of methodological and interpretive procedures that evolved primarily in the 20th century. Ethnography includes both qualitative and quantitative methods. There are both classical and nonclassical ethnographic approaches. These approaches often does not have a hypothesis worked out instead the ethnographer would observe and participate in the study to allow the ideas to develop in the process (Laugharne 1995).
Ethnography has an exploratory method in which the researcher is used as the data collection instrument and it emphasis the need for a self-conscious approach to research (Maggs-Rapport 2000).

Underlying philosophy (the systematic examination of basic concepts such as truth, existence, reality, causality, and freedom)
According to Laugharne (1995) ethnography could be seen as part of the common philosophical basis of qualitative research methods. The most important facets can be summarized into;
•Culture- in which the center of the ethnographic work would be to deal with describing common beliefs, customs and traditions.
•Naturalism- This emphasis the need to study people in the natural setting. According to the philosophy beliefs cannot be separated from the social context in which they occur.
•Holism- This approach takes into account individual actions and motivated by events within the larger whole, it supports the fact that what people do is in part determined by the cultures in which they live.
Ontology (What is the nature of reality and the social world? Is something real or in the minds of people in the world? )
Andreas Glaeser (2005) feels that it is Imagining social life as process, including action-reaction-effect sequences. Social scientists use the methodology to the description of everyday western cultures as if it was that of more distant culture, while anthropology continues to use the methodology to study the culture of races (Laugharne 1995).


Epistemology (What kind of knowledge can be gained in our world? What understanding is the researcher aiming for? : What is knowledge like, from where can it be derived, and how may it be explored?)
Use of ethnographic method in research sees how society works, to describe social reality, to answer specific questions about specific instances of social reality. Some social scientists are interested in very general descriptions, in the form of laws about whole classes of phenomena. Others are more interested in understanding specific cases, how those general statements worked out in a particular case. Ethnographers use many different data collection methods to understand the culture of groups. Participant’s observation, life histories and analysis of documentations are all important tools for ethnographers.
Rationale and arguments (any additional ideas that explain and justify this paradigm)
Ethnographers, in order to understand the culture better get engaged in the culture. As such ethnography refuses to deal with artificial environments and controlled versions of work, and instead aims to study the natural environment of work and its activities. Ethnography enables researchers to discover many interrelated elements to provide increasing authentic representation on the interplay of human behaviour (Strum 2004).
Example of a research question that requires this methodology (applied to Occupational Therapy)
Ethnographic interviews employ descriptive and structural questions. Descriptive questions are broad and general and allow people to describe their experiences, their daily activities, and objects and people in their lives. These descriptions provide the interviewer with a general idea of how individuals see their world. Structural questions are used to explore responses to descriptive questions. They are used to understand how the client or parent organizes knowledge.
Example of research using the Methodology- Ethics and care: an ethnographic study of psychiatric community health nursing practice (Sturm 2004). Study conducted by the department of nursing to explore, describe, and document the practice of a group of psychiatric community health nurses ,so as to provide them with a forum through which their voices could be heard. An ethnographic approach was used to study the nature of issues nurses experience in an effort to meet the needs of patients with mental illness. Participant observation was used to study psychiatric community nurses in the process of their daily work. Daily activities of the secretaries, coordinators and supervisors were recorded. Data’s were also collected from multi-disciplinary meetings and semi-formal interviews were conducted for the purpose.
Example of Research designs (eg: RCT, before and after single cohort trial, survey, observational study, case study, exploratory study, narrative study etc.)
Ethnographic research begins with the choice of topic, the research chosen guides the entire research endeavour, in shaping the research design and even in presenting the research finding. The choice of the topic will suggest the most appropriate research approach- as ethnographic, survey or observational.
Example of methods of data collection (quantitative or qualitative or both)
These can include participant observation, field notes, interviews, and surveys. Interviews are often taped and later transcribed, allowing the interview to proceed unimpaired of note-taking. Secondary research and document analysis are also employed to provide insight into the research topic. The goal is to collect data in such a way that the researcher imposes a minimal amount of their own bias on the data.
The two types of observation used in this research methodology are participant and non-participant observation. The major research tool is the researcher who is responsible for the data collection and collects the data in 'field notes'. Streubert and Carpenter (1995) referred to the ‘researcher as instrument’. On failure of the researcher who does not completely understands what has been observed, further data collection is conducted by semi-structured interviews with representatives from the group observed. Photography and the use of film can also be incorporated as data collection methods. Ethnographers are also open to visual analysis of any artefact or document witnessed within the environment under study, for example, a noticeboard in the clinical area (Roberts 2009).
Example of methods of data analysis
Data collection through field work and interviews are transcribed and together are analyzed for themes and meanings, to understand the observations made (Roberts 2009). According to Donovan (2206) ‘descriptive analysis’ is the most traditional approach for ethnographic studies.

Questions or issues?
The nature of the success or failure of an ethnographic report depends on the degree the natives and the colleagues in the field accept the truth of the researcher. Readers may disagree with the researcher’s interpretation and conclusions but it should be agreed that the details of the description are accurate (Fetterman 2010). Ethnographic research have been attached by claims that the research account produced are the ethnographers construction and therefore presents simple one reality, thus the researchers role in the research process has been debated in ethnography than any other research methods (Laugharne 1995). .
Example of a research article using this methodology (related to practice)
The re-construction of women's sexual lives after pelvic radiotherapy: A critique of social constructionist and biomedical perspectives on the study of female sexuality after cancer treatment (White, Faithfull, Allan 2012). The focused ethnographic study included 5 month period of observation of participant during their radiotherapy follow up consultations and 49 in depth participant interviews.
White, Faithfull, Allan 2012 The re-construction of women's sexual lives after pelvic radiotherapy: A critique of social constructionist and biomedical perspectives on the study of female sexuality after cancer treatment. Social Science and Medicine (in press) November 2012
Methodology: Phenomenology using qualitative methods
Methodology: Grounded theory
Methodology: Feminist (may use mixed methods)
Methodology: Experimental or
Quasi-experimental, testing hypotheses
Methodology: Realistic Evaluation using mixed methods
Methodology: Ethnography
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Instructions
Find your pair (or group's) Methodology
Fill in the text under each heading
When complete read and comment on the other Methodologies
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Experimental Methodology:

Paradigm
(theoretical framework which influences the way knowledge is studied and interpreted)
Experimental research may be considered in the positivism paradigm as it involves a scientific examination of knowledge focusing on the objective truth and uses predominantly quantitative methods.

Underlying philosophy
(the systematic examination of basic concepts such as truth, existence, reality, causality, and freedom)

MacJenzie and Knipe (2006) report that the positivism paradigm assumes that cause probably determines effects / outcomes.
Experimental designs require manipulating the independent variable (cause) and measuring the effect of this on the dependent variable (effect) (Hicks, 2009, p. 75).
Experimental methodology examines the objective truth by using deductive reasoning to verify or refute theory by testing hypotheses.
It is a top-down approach and begins with a general focus (a theory) and then uses deductive reasoning to narrow its focus to examine a specific hypotheses.

Ontology
(What is the nature of reality and the social world? Is something real or in the minds of people in the world? )
Experimental methodology provides a viewpoint, which is rationalistic and aims to prove what is real, objective and logical.

Epistemology
(What kind of knowledge can be gained in our world? What understanding is the researcher aiming for? : What is knowledge like, from where can it be derived, and how may it be explored?)
This research can provide objective findings to support or refute theory. In healthcare, it can provide a systematic approach to examining the effectiveness or efficiency of clinical treatments and thus impact on the treatments that we use. The findings have potential for macro-generalisation.
The researcher is an objective expert in the research process as he/she is the sole producer of the knowledge and is detached from the research.
The researcher must carefully consider how the data is analysed and “each experimental design has its own statistical test, which must be used when analysing the results. Thus, a key feature when planning your research is to match up the design with the appropriate statistical test” (Hicks. 2009, p. 122)

Rationale and arguments
(any additional ideas that explain and justify this paradigm)
Example of a research question that requires this methodology (applied to Occupational Therapy)
Does brief intervention improve alcohol outcomes in medical inpatients identified as having unhealthy alcohol use? A randomised controlled trial.
Patients in the control group received usual care. Patients in the intervention group received a 30 minute session of brief motivational counselling. The research design aimed to identify if brief motivational counselling improves alcohol outcomes with these patients. The null hypothesis would be: brief intervention does not improve alcohol outcomes with this patient group. The experimental hypothesis would be: brief intervention improves alcohol outcomes with this patient group. Data collection: each patient’s average number of drinking days per week and their maximum number of drinks consumed per occasion were collated. Patients also described their readiness to change using a visual analog scale. These measurements were used pre and post intervention / usual care at 3 month and 12 month follow-up. SAT / STAT software was used to complete analysis.

Example of Research designs (eg: RCT, before and after single cohort trial, survey, observational study, case study, exploratory study, narrative study etc.)

Bourhis et al (2012) conducted a large randomised controlled trial over several years to investigate the efficacy of two experimental arms of cancer therapy against the conventional cancer therapy. One experimental arm (accelerated radiotherapy) had previously been shown to improve patient survival compared with conventional radiotherapy. The control arm (combined chemo-radiotherapy) had become the standard treatment after it was shown in previous RCTs that a ‘two pronged attack’ compared favourably against either treatment alone.
The hypothesis was therefore that ‘the increase in the dose intensity attributable to the combination of accelerated radiotherapy-chemotherapy would lead to an improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) and disease control, as compared with either very accelerated radiotherapy alone or compared with conventional concomitant chemo-radiotherapy’.

Example of methods of data collection (quantitative or qualitative or both)

Studies employing the experimental methodology predominantly collect quantitative data. This is somewhat controversial in the healthcare sciences as it is argued that ‘patient experience’ cannot be truly quantified and that quantitative studies therefore fail to take into account the ‘various realities’ which exist for their different subjects.
The primary endpoint of the Bourhis study was ‘Progression Free Survival’, which was defined as ‘time between randomisation and the first of the following events: locoregional progres sion or relapse, distant relapse, or death from any cause.’ This variable- time- is a measurable quantity and the results can therefore be subject to statistical analysis.

The study first established the base-line characteristics of their participants. (Full medical history, physical examination, blood tests, head and neck CT or MRI, chest CT, an endoscopy examination.)
The researchers then assessed tumours by clinical examination and CT scanning at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after completion of treatment, and every 6 months thereafter. It is perhaps worth noting that this study could have included a qualitative element at this point and assessed patient quality of life throughout the course of treatment; as is common for clinical trials of this nature.
The researchers graded acute radiation and chemotherapy toxicities according to Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) acute radiation morbidity scoring criteria and the WHO scoring system. Toxicities occurring more than 3 months after the end of treatment were graded according to the RTOG/EORTC scoring system. These scoring systems aim to standardise the classification of side effects and therefore remove any ambiguity or interobserver variations.


Example of methods of data analysis

A key feature of the ‘experimental methodology’ is the use of inferential as opposed to descriptive statistics. While descriptive statistics allow the reader insight into ‘the state of the world’ at that specific point in time, for that specific population of subjects; and can even go so far as to enable the researcher to make informed predictions as to how the state of the world will be in the future; i.e. quality of life in cancer patients has improved over the last 10 years and therefore should continue to improve; descriptive statistics do not truly allow us to extrapolate the results beyond the population which the researcher investigated.
The Bourhis study uses the following statistical models to analyse their findings:

Questions or issues?
write here
Example of a research article using this methodology (related to practice)
write reference here
References

CONVERSE, M. (2012). Philosophy of Phenomenology: How Understanding Aids Research. Nurse Researcher, 20 (1), 28-32.

Bradbury-Jones, C., Sambrook, S. & Irvine, F. 2009, "The phenomenological focus group: an oxymoron?", Journal of advanced nursing, vol. 65, no. 3, pp. 663-671.)
BRITTEN, N (1996). ‘Qualitative interviews in medical research’ in: Mays, N and Pope, C (eds) Qualitative Research in Health Care, BMJ Publishing Group, London
MAY, Stephen J. (2001). Patient satisfaction with management of back pain main. Physiotherapy, 87 (1), 4-20.
Maykut, P. & Morehouse, R. 1994, Beginning qualitative research: a philosophic and practical guide, Falmer. Pg 4
Traci-Ann & Mahee
Realistic Evaluation
Paradigm (theoretical framework which influences the way that knowledge is studied and interpreted)
The theoretical framework for realistic evaluation is scientific realism, a theory driven model of scientific explanation. In terms of healthcare research it seeks to find out what works for who, in what circumstances, and how?

Underlying philosophy (the systematic evaluation of basic concepts such as truth, existence, reality, causality, and freedom)
Programmes (this might include trials) only work when they introduce appropriate ideas to a group in an appropriate context. Therefore ideas/opportunities (called mechanisms) + social and cultural conditions (context) = outcomes.
This argues against the idea of simple cause and effect!

Ontology (what is the nature of reality and the social world? Is something real or in the minds of the people of the world?)

It is possible to find out truths about the world (objective knowledge), but that this knowledge can only be acquired through critical reflection on the world (subjective knowledge). This questions the idea that there is a clear and logical connection between things.
Realistic evaluation argues that laws/rules of what we expect to happen do not always happen, and begins to question why; to look for causality. Pawson and Tilley (1997) give as an example that gunpowder has the potential to ignite but will not always. In this case the mechanism (chemical composition of gunpowder) + context (the physical conditions which allow this chemical reaction to occur e.g. sufficient powder, not wet, oxygen present) = outcome (explosion).

Epistemology (what kind of knowledge can be gained in our world? What understanding is the researcher aiming for? What is the knowledge like, from where can it be derived, and how may it be explored?)
The goal of realistic evaluation research is to understand associations, outcomes and patterns; particularly to explain irregularities.
In realistic evaluation a study would be completed, and the author would have an expectation of what mechanism (idea/opportunity) would result in a certain outcome. However they would then manipulate the context (conditions) to make them ideal for the expected outcome to happen (called experimental control). This means ensuring conditions are stable and no other forces come into play.
‘Progress is experimental method occurs when designs, comparisons, and controls are put in place to manufacture the mechanisms and contexts which yield the expected outcomes.’ (Pawson and Tilley 2007 p63)

Rationale and arguments (any additional ideas that explain or justify this paradigm)
The following terminology is used:
Embeddedness:
Actions only make sense because they contain built-in assumptions about wider rules, e.g. signing a cheque is accepted as payment as this is understood within the wider organisation of the banking system. Causation is not linked to the individual or the object, but to the social organisation.
A study is the people, the place, the past and the future.
Mechanisms:
This includes explanatory mechanisms, understanding how things work by digging beneath the observable surface, and understanding the inner workings of a situation. For example, there is a difference in suicide rates between groups of people higher in individualist Protestant communities than in collective Catholic communities. Therefore social mechanisms are about capacities and choices as part of a group, rather than just as individuals. Thinking about micro (individuals) and macro (groups/society) at the same time, and what it is about a programme is it that makes it work for those people?
Contexts:
The relationships between mechanisms and outcomes are not fixed; there must be the right conditions. A contextual condition will either promote or prevent a potential turning into an outcome. Experiments always occur in pre-existing contexts, which must be considered when the success or failure of an experiment is justified. Therefore there is little point in anonymising an experiment, as this does not, by its nature, consider context. The study should consider if these pre-existing structures enable or disable the intended outcome.
Regularities:
Looking at an outcome and understanding who it works for and in what conditions.
Change:
People are aware of the patterns of their lives, of the choices that affect their activities, and the larger social contexts that limit or give them opportunities. This awareness will result in a desire to change the patterns, and may or may not happen due to resources, and the support or lack of from the social context around them. Social regularities constantly change and develop. Programmes and policy should address this change. Research should demonstrate which mechanisms sustained the original problem, and how they were overcome by mechanisms which occurred within the programme.


Example of a research question that requires this methodology
Why are community policing programmes successful?
The success, or otherwise is dictated by a variety of conditions, including the cultural, social and economic circumstances in which the programme is delivered. Therefore it is not as simple as the positive benefits of the public having face-to-face contact with the police. Realistic evaluation would ask what is it within the programme that triggers certain reactions from the public.

Example of research designs (e.g. RCT, before and after single cohort trial, survey, observational study, case study, exploratory study, narrative study etc)
Research designs should link theory with experimental observation.
For example in a standard RCT a situation is controlled with only one variable altered, so that any difference in outcomes can be attributable to the variable that has been changed. Again, in realistic evaluation the author would have an expectation of what mechanism (idea/opportunity) would result in a certain outcome. However they would then manipulate the context (conditions) to make them ideal for the expected outcome to happen.
This may be better placed to examine the complexity of healthcare interventions than a RCT.

Example of methods data collection (quantitative or qualitative)

Wide variety of multiple data sources enables the construction of an account of an event and actions and their intended and unintended consequences (e.g ethnographic observation, interviews, interpretative analysis, informal discussions, audit). Both qualitative and quantitative methods

Example of methods of data analysis
Don’t try to find an outcome without considering all the mechanisms in play; if these are understood fully then an experiment can be conducted. Having a theory about why something might be effective.

Questions or issues?
1.Mechanisms can be difficult to define (e.g due to disagreement within the research group)
2.Complex power dynamics in programmes will be difficult to analyse.
3.How will healthcare (which arguably has a dominantly positivist approach) find this interpretative rather than deductive approach?

Example of a research article using this methodology (related to practice)

Greenhalgh T, Humphrey C, Hughes J, Macfarlane F, Butler C, Pawson R (2009)
How Do You Modernize a Health Service? A Realist Evaluation of Whole-Scale Transformation in London
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2881448/

Grounded Theory:-
Methodology: Paradigm (theoretical framework which influences the way knowledge is studied and interpreted):- Grounded Theory research (GT) is an approach to research, initially developed by Glaser and Strauss (1967) and further developed by Strauss and Corbin (1998) (both sociologists). GT is an inductive technique that emerged from the discipline of sociology. The term, grounded means that the theory that developed from the research has roots in the data from which it was derived. GT is based on symbolic interaction theory which holds many views in common with phenomenology. Formed in response to the 'rigid' sociological theories of the 1960's. It is not a theory in itself but the theory develops directly from the data collected. Underlying philosophy (the systematic examination of basic concepts such as truth, existence, reality, causality, and freedom):- This theory explores how people define reality and how their beliefs are related to their actions. Ontology (What is the nature of reality and the social world? Is something real or in the minds of people in the world? ):- Reality is created by attaching meanings to situations; Meaning is expressed in such symbols as words, language, religious objects and clothing. These symbolic meanings are the basis for actions and interactions. However, symbolic meanings are different for each individual. Therefore we cannot completely know the symbolic meanings for another individual. Epistemology (What kind of knowledge can be gained in our world? What understanding is the researcher aiming for? : What is knowledge like, from where can it be derived, and how may it be explored?):- GT tries to account for people’s actions from perspective of those involved. GT researchers seek to understand the actions by first discovering the main concern or problem and then the individual’s behaviour that is designed to resolve it. The manner in which people resolve this main concern is called the core variable. One type of this variable is called basic social process (BSP). The goal of GT is to discover the BSP that explains how people resolve it. Rationale and arguments (any additional ideas that explain and justify this paradigm)?:- GT strength lies in allowing researchers to start afresh and not be influenced by the present knowledge, thereby opening up the possibility of new perspectives on old problems. GT is also very useful for studying phenomena for which little or no theory has been developed Is also a good approach for complex and confusing projects. Example of a research question that requires this methodology :- Griffiths and Jasper (2008) used GT theory methods to explore military nurses’ ability to reconcile the dichotomy between their caring role and being in an organisation associated with conflict during a period of war. The core category they identified was “Caring for war: Transition to warrior” Some of Glaser and Strauss' original work was researching dying in hospitals in 1965-8. Example of Research designs (eg: RCT, before and after single cohort trial, survey, observational study, case study, exploratory study, narrative study etc.):-
A key difference from other qualitative methods is that researchers start their data collection without researching the question first, and from these initial data begin to formulate theory. These rules makes GT different from most other methods using qualitative data. No pre-research literature review. Studying the literature of the area under study gives preconceptions about what to find and the researcher gets desensitized by borrowed concepts. Instead, grounded theories in other areas, and GT method books increase theoretical sensitivity. The literature should instead be read in the sorting stage being treated as more data to code and compare with what has already been coded and generated. No taping. Taping and transcribing interviews is common in qualitative research, but is counterproductive and a waste of time in GT which moves fast when the researcher delimits her data by field-noting interviews and soon after generates concepts that fit with data, are relevant and work in explaining what participants are doing to resolve their main concern. No talk. Talking about the theory before it is written up drains the researcher of motivational energy. Talking can either render praise or criticism, and both diminish the motivational drive to write memos that develop and refine the concepts and the theory (Glaser 1998). Positive feedback makes you content with what you've got and negative feedback hampers your self-confidence. Talking about the GT should be restricted to persons capable of helping the researcher without influencing her final judgments
Example of methods of data collection (quantitative or qualitative or both):- Generally qualitative method used only Although there is no reason quantitative means could be used. Example of methods of data analysis:- Typically 20-30 interviews, interviews continue until the point of saturation. A category represents a unit of information composed of events/ instances Described as a zigzag process out to the area to gather data, analyse data, back out to the area etc. Theoretical sampling Particular use of the literature Unique to GT, Blindly interviewing people without studying the area or data of choice first Interviews are the most common form of data collection, observational studies and analysis of documents can also be used. As the sampling is purposive (theoretical) the participants studied assist the researcher to formulate the study. The repeated comparison of information is referred to as a constant comparative method Questions or issues? – Issues with GT :- Influence of researcher on qualitative methods is considered to be more subjective and therefore can threat the rigour of the study. Purposeful rather than random sampling techniques are frequently used, making it impossible
To generalize the findings to a wider population
Example of a research article using this methodology (related to practice):- Therapeutic relationships in day surgery: a grounded theory study, HYPERLINK "http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Mottram%20A%5BAuthor%5D&cauthor=true&cauthor_uid=19747255" Mottram, A (2009)
AIM:
To explore patients' experiences of day surgery.
BACKGROUND:
Therapeutic relationships are considered to be a core dimension of nursing care. However, in modern health care with short hospital stays the formation of these relationships may be impeded. A major theme to emerge from this study was the development of therapeutic relationships in the day surgery setting.
DESIGN:
The Glaserian method of Grounded Theory was used.
METHODOLOGY:
Semi-structured interviews with 145 patients took place from 2004-2006 in two-day surgery units in the UK. Analysis involved transcriptions of interviews and memos. Lists of key words and phrases were made and constantly compared until core categories emerged.
RESULTS:
Patients spoke highly of the relationships they developed with nurses during their stay in the day surgery unit. Analysis of the data revealed the core category of therapeutic relationships and four sub core categories: 'presence', 'extra special', 'befriending' and 'comfort-giving.'
CONCLUSION:
This paper adds to the growing body of literature which demonstrates that therapeutic relationships can be developed within the short stay arena of health care: routine interactions which may not be considered to be significant by nurses may be of importance to patients. The patients in this study felt supported, comforted and befriended by day surgery nurses. However a minority of patients were disappointed with the nursing staffs' lack of interpersonal responses to their needs.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE:
Anecdotal evidence suggests that personnel working within day surgery are not always aware of their therapeutic potential. Therefore raising awareness of this through research generated from patients' experiences might encourage nurses to further realise their capabilities in this fundamental area of nursing.
References:-
Glaser, B, G. & Strauss A (1967) The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago. Aldine. Griffiths, L and Jasper, M (2008) Warrior nurse: Duality and complementary of role in the operational environment. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 61, 92-99. Mottram, A (2009) Therapeutic relationships in day surgery: a grounded theory study. Journal of Clinical Nursing 2009. Oct;18(20):2830-7. Robson, C (2005) Real World Research. (2nd ed). UK, Blackwell. Strauss, A, L & Corbin (1984) Chronic illness and the quality of life. (2nd ed). St Louis, Mosby
The Feminist Research Methodology
Feminism is a popular standpoint theory with a political agenda that aims to provide a voice to women’s experiences within a ‘malestream’ and patriarchal society. It serves to illuminate the oppressive effects of patriarchy and empowers women to make positive life changes as well as in society at large.
Underlying philosophy :
•Phenomenology
•Truth is negotiated and involves the researcher examining views and incorporating this into their research process and findings. Subjectivity is overt throughout.
•In order to bring the researcher closer to the subject, engaging and valuable methods/procedures are employed
•Challenges the dominant definition of valid research as being quantitative, positivistic and objective
•Non-feminist research on women typically documents and tends to be corrective, whereas feminist research is ‘research for women’ – consciously aimed at emancipating women and having a positive effect on their lives•Assumes the way results are reported should empower participants
•Transformative rather than interpretivist / constructivist
•Intention to understand the world of human experience•‘Traditional’ methodologies are not objective as they purport to be: they are biased towards the male perspective and ignore women’s knowledge and experience.

Ontology:
•Highlights multiple realities.
•Researcher’s subjectivity is inevitable.
•External world is viewed through interpretations and experientially derived understandings / theories; the world is socially constructed•Aversion to empirical positivistic methodology
•Assumes that the powerful dominate social life and ideology•Perceptions on life differ due to their social status.

Epistemology:
•There is a spectrum of feminist epistemological positions
•Influenced by politics, personal and professional values and beliefs •Both qualitative researchers and feminists argue against the notion of researchers’ absolute objectivity and embrace a belief in multiple realities and constructed knowledge.
•Relationship between researcher and participants•Importance of individual experiences and voices, empowering women to speak about social life from their perspective.
•Socially produced knowledge positioned within a political process, in which some claims are views and certified as superordinate
•Women’s experience is a valid source of and justification for knowledge
•Aims to expose conditions and structures, ultimately contributing towards social change and reconstruction
•‘Strength’- focused research (rather than ‘problem’-focused)
•Assumes the feminist approach has privileged access to social reality ( the oppressed have epistemological privilege, viewing events and people as what they truly are)
•Emotion can be analytically interrogated in the existence and management of the different ‘realities’ or versions held by researchers
•Disclosed distortions related to women’s experiences.

Rationale and arguments:
•Not solely about women but is regarded as primarily for women, adopting an emancipationist stance
•Gender is a system of inequality between males and females in which feminine things are socially and culturally devalued•Gender inequality is produced socioculturally
•Gender inequality is evaluated negatively as unjust and unfair, therefore feminists should strive to eliminate it.
•Research was previously the preserve of white males, leading to homogeneity, biased and inadequate knowledge
•Lives, consciousness, skills, distribution of power and privilege is shaped by gender inequality
•View gender as the nucleus of women’s perceptions and lives

Example of a research question that requires this methodology:
A review of the literature by Primeau (1992) exploring ‘A woman’s place: unpaid work in the home’ suggested that a feminist analysis of housework may increase occupational therapists’ sensitivity and realisation that women’s responsibility for unpaid house work may have negative repercussions in daily living.

Example of Research Designs
•Tend to be qualitative •Grounded theory •Ethnography• Single case study •Observational

Example of methods of data collection:
While it has been suggested that there is no method that is exclusively made for/employed by feminist researchers, and rather that both qualitative and quantative research is adjusted to meet feminist’s principles (Oakly 1998). The following methods have been used and it has been stated that:
•Qualitative methods as a rejection of ‘traditional’ qualitative research methods
•Quantitative methods should take into account ‘hard to measure’ aspects such as empowerment.
•Quantitative research can be effective for feminist research in gathering statistical information that can allow the researcher to recognise the scale of the problem, for example, domestic abuse, and for placing women’s experience in a larger context
•Innovative designs such as ‘consciousness-raising methods,’ ‘group diaries’ and ‘dramatic role play’
•Collection of ‘sex-disaggregated data’•Mixed methods: more complete and full portraits of our social world through the use of multiple perspectives and lenses

Example of methods of data analysis
•Exploration of interplay between data and core theoretical databases
•Questionnaire and surveys focused on the meanings and interpretations
•Dialectic method – the process of constantly moving between concepts and data, as well as society and concrete phenomena
•Political standpoint, relationship with participant are overt in analysis
•Reflexivity important throughout.

Questions and issues surround the Feminist Research Methodology
•Exploitation versus the empowerment of research participants and the potential for objectifying participants
•Feminist methodology has been accused of perpetuating female stereotypes by rejecting objective, rational, quantitative approaches and methods and focusing on emotions
•Ethics of a research approach with a political and ideological agenda – do you try to “convert” participants who disagree with your standpoint?
•Too much effort is expended on in-depth analysis of one category of people, making it difficult to develop and test theory – end up with loads of description and nothing generalisable
•Feminists have not extensively focused on issues surrounding data analysis
•Analysis and interpretation is not regarded as a separate stage
•Impossibility of a research process free of contradictions in the relationship between the researcher and participants/research
•Issues regarding validity if the research process becomes part of the process of change
•Can fall into the trap of asserting that the life experiences and interpretations of the less powerful are more accurate and valid than those of the majority
•Can result in data collection and analysis methods that fit the ideology rather than the research question

Example of a research article using this methodology:
PIERCE, D. & FRANK, G. (1992) A Mother's Work: Two Levels of Feminist Analysis of Family- Centered Care. American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 46(11), 972-980.

Single case study following a mother caring for her child with multiple chronic conditions, in the neonatal intensive care unit and at home, over a five-year period. A feminist approach was used to explore the subjects’ perceptions of motherhood, because care giving is primarily a female activity.
By Jo and Alex
Hermeneutic phenomenological concepts and principles are a means of accessing interpreting and communicating human experience.

Phenomenology and hermeneutics
Paradigm (theoretical framework which influences the way knowledge is studied and interpreted)
“A paradigm is set of overarching and interconnected assumptions about nature of reality” ( Maykut and Moorhouse 1994)
Underlying philosophy (the systematic examination of basic concepts such as truth, existence, reality, causality, and freedom)
The German philosopher Edmund Husserl is credited with starting the phenomenology movement in 1913. Influential philosophers include Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Phenomenology is a philosophical perspective that helps researchers to explore and understand everyday experiences without pre-supposing knowledge of those experiences. That is, the researcher is open to what presents itself during a phenomenon (Converse, 2012). The reality and the phenomena of the reality are believed to be distinctly seperate. Things take place in the mind rather than objective realities that can be observed. All perceptions have meaning. Hermeneutics is the science of text interpretation, mainly of literature, religion and law. Philosophical hermeneutics refers primarily to the theory of knowledge initiated by Martin Heidegger and developed by Hans-Georg Gadamer.
Ontology (What is the nature of reality and the social world? Is something real or in the minds of people in the world? )
The reality and the phenomena of the reality are believed to be distinctly separate. Things take place in the mind rather than objective realities that can be observed. All perceptions have meaning.
Interviewees have different perception to different questions asked. So, researcher should accept different answers to same questions. E.g. How does physiotherapy help you in your daily life?
Epistemology (What kind of knowledge can be gained in our world? What understanding is the researcher aiming for? : What is knowledge like, from where can it be derived, and how may it be explored?)
Epistemology is concerned with the theory of knowledge & the role of science…defines how we conceptualise the nature and status of our research enterprise (Finlay & Ballinger, 2006). Interpretivist epistemology – individual interpretation of the phenomenon as the researcher’s perspective and identity shape the research significantly, acknowledged that this is the case and argued that it is impossible to be objective. The researcher is part of the world s/he is studying and context is important. Phenomenologists usually adopt realist (aim to study the world out there, phenomena are identified structures that can be identified and described) or critical realist (researchers are pragmatic and accept the participant’s subjective perceptions of their experience even if it is not the real experience) positions.
Rationale and arguments (any additional ideas that explain and justify this paradigm)
It is not the purpose of qualitative research to generalise the results to demonstrate probability of similar findings if applied to similar context and people.
Phenomenological research tries to collect unbiased views through a dialogue between researcher and participant. The researcher is an essential element in the process as his interference in the data may change the findings. Phenomenological research often uses interviews but that doesn’t mean all interviews used in research are phenomenological.
In this research researcher and the co-researcher play important roles. Both have to do a separate analysis and then debate their findings in order to make their analysis is trustworthy. Sometimes participant to participant data is generated. Not only their words but their expressions, gestures and tone of speaking provide data. Therefore, it is advisable to have a data collection method that can record these non-verbal behaviours
Example of a research question that requires this methodology (applied to Occupational Therapy)
Is level one and two occupational therapy students’ understanding of their professional identity and the role of others altered by undertaking a professional practice placement on an inter-professional ward, and how do they perceive this will benefit their future practice? (undergraduate dissertation research question focusing on the subjective experiences, personal meanings and perceptions of the research participants).
Example of Research designs (eg: RCT, before and after single cohort trial, survey, observational study, case study, exploratory study, narrative study etc.)
The research design is usually an Exploratory study.
Example of methods of data collection
Qualitative methods are utilised. In-depth interviews are favoured to capture the perceptions and lived experience of the participants, for example of 10 or more participants (BRITTEN, 1996); also focus groups may be used (Bradbury-Jones, Sambrook and Irvine, 2009) or the collection of written accounts such as in an e-mail dialogue.
Example of methods of data analysis
Thematic analysis; Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis; Framework analysis
Example of a research article using this methodology (related to practice)
MAY, (2001)
Questions or issues?
The researcher needs to engage in reflexivity focusing on how they as an individual affect the research process. This reflexivity appears to vary widely between researchers. The researcher may already be familiar with the setting s/he is researching – need to take precautions against bias. How relevant or easy to apply are lived experiences and individual perceptions when attempting to undertake research that will inform professional practice and policy?
Example of a research article using this methodology (related to practice)
MAY, (2001)
Bradbury-Jones, C., Sambrook, S. & Irvine, F. 2009, "The phenomenological focus group: an oxymoron?", Journal of advanced nursing, vol. 65, no. 3, pp. 663-671.)
BRITTEN, N (1996). ‘Qualitative interviews in medical research’ in: Mays, N and Pope, C (eds) Qualitative Research in Health Care, BMJ Publishing Group, London
MAY, Stephen J. (2001). Patient satisfaction with management of back pain main. Physiotherapy, 87 (1), 4-20.
Maykut, P. & Morehouse, R. 1994, Beginning qualitative research: a philosophic and practical guide, Falmer. Pg 4
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