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Research Design: Tree and 4-part framework

23 May 2013
by

Nick Hopwood

on 10 July 2015

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Transcript of Research Design: Tree and 4-part framework

Where are our roots planted?
Nurturing your research
So what?
Conclusions
Trunk
Good research needs to have a solid trunk.

Height = going beyond what we already know - making your contribution. Don't build a trunk that is too tall and thin! Plan something you can make 'thick'...

Thickness and sturdiness come from the relevance of your methods to your question(s), and the quality of the evidence (data) you generate
Research Design

Step back and remember to answer the question: so what?

How does your tree look compared to those around it (other studies in your field) - why should be even bother looking at this, let alone tasting the fruit (listening to your conclusions?)
You have to move beyond your claims (about what you studied) to make conclusions about something of wider interest.

Make it apetising and easy to digest!
Nick Hopwood
(University of Technology, Sydney)


Do a 'neighbourhood' analysis - what research gets closest to yours? what is in your wider area?
Just like you check whether a plant is wilting or drowning...

You've got to keep checking your research is 'plumb' - that the questions, theories, design, methods, and data all line up
- See Chenail R J (1997) Keeping things plumb in qualitative research. The Qualitative Report 3(3)
Why here and not there?

Why this topic and not another one?

Why should I or anyone else care?
Design
Part 1: Strategy
What is your general approach? This sets the tone for your research
Survey
Experiment or intervention
Ethnography
Case study
Collaborative action research
Longitudinal study
.... leads to questions of sampling...
Part 2: Sampling
Samples matter in ALL research! (not just quantitative)
Who do you ask / talk to / observe?

How are they selected? Who is left out? What does this mean for your claims and conclusions?

What is your relationship to participants and how/why does this matter?

Would more mean better?

Samples can be large/small, but also homogeneous / diverse, random / targeted...

Whose involvement best helps answer your RQs?
What you have to resource (feed) your study also depends on:
Practicalities (time, money etc)
Ethics
Access

Compromise is not a dirty word. Reflecting on the implications of decisions / limitations is the way forward.
Part 3: Methods
Pre/Post test? Questionnaire? Interviews? Observations? Documents? Visual?

Before you get into the nitty gritty of how you do these, you've got to ask how they line up (are plumb with) your RQs

What does each give you evidence of?
INTERVIEWS/SURVEYS = what people say when you ask them X
OBSERVATION = what you notice and note when present at X
DOCUMENTS = what X (authors) wrote at a particular time
VISUALS = how X chose to represent Y (maybe an interview could tell you why, what it means)

What evidence do you need to answer your RQs?
This is about how you actually generate / collect your data

PRE/POST TESTS: what are you testing for, how do you know it gives reliable and valid measures?
SURVEY DESIGN: open/closed questions
INTERVIEW: (un)structured? what does your relationship with participants mean now? (age, gender, power etc)
OBSERVATION: how does your presence affect the action? Does it matter? What do you notice? What are you looking for?
VISUALS: who creates images? How are they shared with participants? What do participants do with them?

Is there not an AESTHETIC quality in doing this well? Is there not artistry as well as rigour?
Part 4: Techniques
Don't forget all aspects of design are shaped by practical & ethical considerations, as well as research questions, and your personal preferences / affinities
Topping out
How tall is tall enough?
When do you have enough data?

SATURATION - stop learning / noticing new things
But we often don't get that far...

So practicalities, ethics, time limits etc are okay as reasons to stop!
Analysis
You can't wait until after you've got your data to start thinking about analysis: by then it will be too late!
(hence '4+ part framework)

Analysis takes our data and reaches out over the terrain in which our tree is planted...

It has to stay 'plumb' - address your research questions, and have a firm basis in your evidence.

Parsimony rules! Balance between simplicity and power of insight
4 PARTS: Strategy, Sampling, Methods, Techniques
+ Analysis (not an afterthought!)
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