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Visual Research Methods Group Presentation

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Amber Smith

on 24 November 2012

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Transcript of Visual Research Methods Group Presentation

Amber Smith and Clara Wong Visual Research Methods Introduction Visual Methods is a form of qualitative research that uses archive images, media, drawings, creating maps, keeping photo diaries, etc to elicit information. This research method encourages participation of the subject rather than the researcher, therefore diminishing the dichotomy between the observer and the observed or researcher and participants. Visual methods are usually conducted in social science research.

Visual methods are also used for eliciting oral information as well as used to fuel and develop creative and analytical skills. The three main streams of visual research methods are:

1. Visual Data
2. Participatory and subject-centered
3. Audience-based Strengths & Weaknesses Data Analysis & Interpretation Key Definitions Concurrent mixed methods: procedures are those in which the researcher converges or merges quantitative and qualitative data in order to provide a comprehensive analysis of the research problem

Concurrent transformative: approach in mixed methods is guided by the researcher’s use of a specific theoretical perspective as well as the concurrent collection of both quantitative and qualitative data.

Concurrent triangulation: strategy in mixed methods is an approach in which the researcher collects both qualitative and quantitative data concurrently and then compares the two databases to determine if there is convergence, differences or some combination.

Connected: in mixed methods research means that the quantitative and qualitative research are connected between a data analysis of the first phase of research and data collection of the second phase

Qualitative audio and visual materials: takes the form of photographs, art objects, videotapes, or any forms of sound.

Validity strategies: in qualitative research are procedures (e.g. member checking, triangulating data sources) that qualitative researchers use to demonstrate the accuracy of their findings and convince readers of this accuracy.

(Creswell, 2009, p. 227-235) Key Definitions cont. Defining Features Data Collection Data Collection Steps Tools for Data Collection Data Analysis cont. Standards of Validation Tools for Ensuring Validity of Research Report Writing & Rhetorical Structure Review of Research Review of Research Checklist Conclusion Key Challenges & Common Errors Directions for Future Research Bibliography Bibliography cont. Bibliography cont. Gapminder - 200 countries, 200 years, 4 minutes

http://www.gapminder.org/videos/200-years-that-changed-the-world-bbc/ Discussion Exercise Self-documentation: exercises involving the creative use of media, such as photography or videography, in the research process by allowing participants to document themselves and their environment
(Singh, 2011, p. 36)

Reflexivity: acknowledgment of the subjectivity of a researcher in visual representations and the knowledge production process.
(Singh, 2011, p. 37)

Collaboration: recognizes knowledge production from any fieldwork as a process of collaborative negotiation of meaning between researchers and the participants.
(Singh, 2011, p. 38)

Visual artifact: human-created visual representational object or entity such as paintings, sketches, maps, photographs, video and film.
(Singh, 2011, p. 42)

Boundary object: an entity whose meaning and use is negotiated, as it mediates and facilitates collaboration amongst stakeholders of the research. It serves as an interface between two different social worlds.
(Singh, 2011, p. 43) The main significance about visual research is that it allows the participant to play the role of the interpreter - to understand the participant's behaviour and experience through the participant's eyes first. Therefore, the control shifts from the researcher to the participant. Building on traditional qualitative research methods and methods such as focus groups, the visual research process is much more fluid as responses are spontaneous, idiosyncratic and often metaphoric. As with what ethnography aims to do, visual research recognizes that every individual will have different views, and so these different views need to be acknowledged and understood. Current Uses Visual research methods allows for the study of a virtually limitless array of fields and types of subject matter so long as “what is being researched has a significant visual dimension” (Pauwels, 2011, p. 12).

As such, the use of visual research methods has become increasingly widespread throughout the social sciences. From their origins in disciplines like social anthropology and sociology, visual research methods are now firmly entrenched in major fields of inquiry, including: sociology, health and nursing studies, educational research, criminology, human and cultural geography, media and cultural studies, discursive and social psychology, management and organization studies, political science, and policy analysis.

The rapid development of information technology, facilitating the creation and editing of digitized data, and computer-based techniques for the storage and management of visual data, means that new methodological approaches are being developed and are envisaged for the near future (Knoblauch et al., 2008). This is especially apparent as most researchers wish to use the “cascade of new technologies to investigate new sites with questions both old and new” (Grady, 2008). Strengths:

•“Photo elicitation” enables the researcher to understand the broad context of photographs (Singh, 2011, p. 38)
•Gives access to knowledge that may have remained inaccessible to the researcher (Pink, 2007)
•Balances the power dynamic between the researcher and the researched (Gotschi et al., 2009)
•Ability to look at artefacts by participants as a “set of propositions”
•Compliments existing methods of traditional data analysis (Gold, 2004)
•Allows open-ended views to be formed to give a more comprehensive understanding of participants and their experiences
•Allows participants to respond more freely and comprehensively rather than an instant response as required by other types of qualitative/ethnographic research methods (Awan, 2008)


•Reservations about whether data produced can be considered valid information (Grady, 2008)
•Some participants may lack confidence in their ability to draw/photograph
•Translating symbolic images in the mind onto two-dimensional drawn images is not a straightforward process
•Researchers need to be vigilant about the difference between the depicted and the depiction (Pauwel, 2011, p. 11)
•Researchers must have a sufficient degree of technical knowledge, allowing them to produce images or other types of visual representations with the required amount of visual data
•Requires awareness of cultural conventions regarding the medium the researchers are using & consequently, the perceptual cultures of the academic or non-academic audience researcher intends to address Data Types

Depending on the specific study:

• Physical artifacts and settings
• Photographs and video recordings
• Drawings•Diagrams•Paintings
• Direct observation of activities and settings
• Visualizations inferred through observation of speech, gesture, movement etc.
• Visualizations manifest in other materials or reported directly through the comments of research subjects or other researchers
• Other patterns of embodied culture and social
• Visually interesting materials and activities
• How people see the world
• How people live (including ethnographic accounts of how the world looks to them or how they look to each other and to outsiders)
• Visual representations (including imagery, sign and symbol systems)
• In short, there is no shortage of objects to serve as the subject of visual research studies Short list of skills noted by visual studies scholars:
• Collect and acquire images and other visual representations
• Create and make images
• Modify or edit images
• Read and decode images
• Interpret and analyze images
• Present and display images
•Examine social and cultural contexts that shape the skills and tasks listed above
(Wagner, 2011a, p. 57-58) Typical Strands of Visual Research Some typical strands of visual research based on researcher-produced imagery include a variety of topics and issues such as:
• Social change (Page 2001; Rieger 1996, 2003)
• Urban processes (Suchar 1988, 1992)
• Education (Prosser 2007; Wagner 1999)
• Corporate culture (Pauwels 1996b)
• Burial rituals (Chalfen 2003; Synnott 1985)
• Gender construction (Brown 2001; Harper and Facciolli 2000)
• Pedestrian behavior (McPhail and Wohlstein 1982; Zube 1979),
• Youth culture (Hethorn and Kaiser 1999; Wagner 1999)
• Social activism (David 2007; Schwartz 2002)
• Migration and ethnicity (Gold 2007; Krase 1997).
(Pauwels, 2010, p. 551) A written proposal or research design is helpful in order to determine what visual objects of study will contribute to a project of empirical inquiry
(Liegenberg, 2009, p. 8) Data Collection Procedures It is important to identify the sampling strategies and the approaches used to establish validity of data.

• Identify and be specific about the type of data that will be collected during the proposed study
• Pick a sampling strategy:o Basic sampling strategies: involve combining both qualitative and quantitative sampling (eg. Stratified purposeful sampling, purposive random sampling)
o Sequential sampling: in which the sampling from the first phase informs the second phase
o Concurrent sampling: in which quantitative probability and qualitative purposeful sampling are combined as independent procedures or jointly
o Multilevel sampling: in which sampling occurs in two or more levels or units of analysis
•Include detailed procedures in your visual model
(Creswell, 2009, p. 217) As can be seen from preceding data collection information, visual research methods in the social sciences is comprised of a vast array of different types of approaches and data. Data may be comprised of:

•Found data (e.g., family photo albums, advertisements);
•Researcher-created data (e.g., photographs or film taken by researchers);
•Respondent-created data (e.g., photographs taken by study participants or drawings or models created by them); and
•Representations (e.g., graphical representations of data).

Approaches to the collection and analysis of these data are varied and include, among others, photo elicitation, documentary film making, visual anthropology and semiotics
(Rose, 2007; Prosser & Loxley, 2008). For many researchers, the “reliability” of “hard” data, such as census data, survey response, financial accounts etc., appears as a firmer foundation for conducting empirical social inquiry than artifacts and behavior observed in natural settings because these kinds of text and numbers that are relatively easy to reduce, aggregate, compare and manage”
(Liegenberg, 2009, p. 6)
As such, validation procedures are in order. Validation Procedures Standards of Validation

“Qualitative validity means that the researcher checks for the accuracy of the findings by employing certain procedures” (Creswell, 2009, pp. 190)
• Researchers should be as accurate and descriptive as possible when communicating their findings
• Identify and clarify the biases the research brings to the study. This can produce an open and honest narrative that will establish a sense of trustworthiness
• Present negative or discrepant information that runs counter to the general themes and findings.
By presenting incongruous information, the researcher adds credibility to the study and makes the account more realistic and valid(Creswell, 2009, p. 192) •Research design can guard against the main threats to empirical inquiry
•Noting researcher bias
•Personal accounts
(Liebenberg, 2010. p. 8-9) Sequential study

The report of procedures should be organized into quantitative data collection and quantitative data analysis followed by qualitative data and collection and analysis or vice versa. Explanation of how the qualitative findings helped to bolster and confirm quantitative results should be addressed in the conclusions or interpretation phase of the study. The quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis are generally presented as two distinct phases.

Concurrent study

Quantitative and qualitative data collection may be presented in two separate sections but convergence or similarities in results by the combined types of data must be elaborated in the analysis and interpretation section. As such, there is no distinction between the quantitative and qualitative phases.

Transformative study

Characteristically structured involving advancing the advocacy issue in the beginning and then using either sequential or concurrent structure to organize content. As a result of the research, a separate section detailing an advance for change or reform is elucidated upon.
(Creswell, 2009, p. 220) Case #1:

The project: The Passport of Me

This project was developed by Peter Bonnell and David Gauntlett as part of the educational program accompanying the exhibition This Much is Certain at the Royal College of Art, London, in March-April 2004.

This Much is Certain explored the use of documents and documentaries by artists and others, in space, time and text.

The Passport of Me gave young people the opportunity to create documentation about themselves, in the form of a 'passport' which included a Polaroid photo and other visual information added by the passport holder.

The workshops were aimed at stimulating the creativity of participating children, and to provide an interesting opportunity for engaging them in themes relating to: storytelling, identity, the news media, Truth/Fiction and evidence.

http://www.artlab.org.uk/passport.htm Case #2:

The project: Visual artefacts as boundary objects in participatory research paradigm.

This project was based on findings of an ethnographic field research conducted at Sudarshan Layout, an urban slum in Bagalore, India in February 2009 by Abhiyan Singh in collaboration with Ambedkar Community Computing Center (AC3).

This project investigated the area of mobile-based community communication for marginalized communities belonging to Indian urban slums.

The fieldwork presented a unique opportunity to employ visual methods such as “self-documentation’ exercise, involving the creative use of a digital camera, and ‘social map-drawing’ exercises.

Although the AC3 originally aimed at educating local youth with computer skills, the interest in the use of digital cameras and the subsequently produced visual artifacts assisted in and mediated building a holistic understanding of problems that were not readily apparent, such as drainage, an issue that severely affects the quality of life on the entire local community. • Research is framed within the philosophy of visual research methods and focuses on lived experiences.
• The position of the researcher is explained
• The visual research method is explained and followed
• Collection of rich, descriptive data set. Data can be in-depth interviews and observations or a combination of types of data (written, visual, audible, movement)
• The report uses rich description and plenty of examples to impart a true representation of the experience. The description and findings must be cohesive and logical. A researcher journal or decision trail can aid in demonstrating the line of reasoning.
• The study is ethical. The well-being of the participants is taken into account. The study has received appropriate approval and participants have signed consent forms assuring their anonymity.
(Creswell, 2007, pp. 45-46) “Visual imagery is never innocent: it is always constructed through the various practices, technologies and knowledges. A critical approach to visual images is therefore needed: one that thinks bout the agency of the image, considers the social practices and effects of it’s viewing, and reflects on the specificity of that viewing by various audiences including the academic critic (Rose, 2007, p. 26). Advantages of Visual Research Methods • Provide important information regarding the cultural reality of the community studied
• Challenges attempts to define culture in purely linguistic terms
• Transcends pre-conceived notions of life, reflecting greater representation and contextual knowledge
• Combined with other qualitative research methods, this field of inquiry provides an opportunity to reconsider some of today’s most complex problems from a new angle
(Liebenberg, 2010, p. 444) The tripartite formulation that is usually characteristic of empirical research—observation and data collection, data analysis and interpretation, and writing and reporting—does not grant special distinctions to social or cultural studies that focus on visual objects of inquiry or make use of visual research methods or study skills. Trying to adhere to these three distinct activity sets can present challenges to researchers in managing the material dimensions of their work.
(Wagner, 2011a, p. 58)

Societal images and visual artifacts are ubiquitous and produced on a daily basis without any researcher effort (e.g., advertisements, news-reels, CCTV images, Web site content, artworks, cartoons), resulting in huge data repositories which have become more accessible nowadays with network and database technologies. On the downside, when using found materials, sociologists as ‘‘image collectors’’ often lack sufficient background knowledge or contextual information with respect to the exact origin, the production circumstances, and the representative character of the acquired visual data set. Researchers remain highly dependent on knowledgeable informants to be able to contextualize the ‘‘visual as presented’’ (the images or visual artifacts) through data from the past and/or outside their immediate frame of view.

(Pauwels, 2010, p.550) While visual methods in sociology and anthropology today may rejoice in a growing number of enthusiasts there is little integration with respect to the findings and practices of visual methods, especially between the social sciences and the humanities and behavioral sciences. Visual methods, therefore, seem to be reinvented over and over again without gaining much methodological depth and often without consideration of long existing classics in the field. Such a historic and highly dispersed efforts are detrimental to advancing a more mature methodology and developing a social and behavioral science that in its basic roots could easily become ‘‘more visual.”
(Pauwels, 2010, p. 546)

Pauwels proposes a new framework he calls the “Integrated Framework” which in part reflects and describes the current practices of visual social scientists in an analytical, interrelated and synthesizing way. The framework is an attempt to offer an integrated overview of the wide variety of interconnected options and opportunities researchers have when considering using visual input and/or output in the study of society and culture. Most authors in the field limit themselves to discussing some existing modes or techniques (e.g., photo-elicitation, native image making, systematic recording) or presentational formats (e.g., film, visual essay), often without trying to explain the existing diversity, underlying claims, or methodological caveats. While good examples and discussions of particular types of visual research do exist, few authors have ventured to provide an analytical and integrated approach to visual research as a whole.
(Pauwels, 2010, p. 548) Awan, F. (2008). Creative and Visual Research. In Young People, Identity and the Media (4). Retrieved from http://www.artlab.org.uk/fatimah-awan-05.pdf

Creswell, J. W. (2003). Research design: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches (3nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

Friedland, R. and Mohr, J. (Eds.) (2004). Matters of Culture: Cultural Sociology in Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Grady, J. (2008). Visual Research at the Crossroads. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 9(3). Retrieved from http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1173/2618

Knoblauch, H., Baer, A., Laurier, E., Petschke, S., Schnettler, B. (2008). Visual Analysis. New Developments in the Interpretative Analysis of Video and Photography. Forum: Qualitative Social Research 9(3). Retrieved from http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1170/2587

Liegenberg, L. (2009). The visual image as discussion point: increasing validity in boundary crossing research. Qualitative Research, 9(4), 441-467.

Pauwels, L. (2010). Visual Sociology Reframed: An Analytical Synthesis and Discussion of Visual Methods in Social and Cultural Research. Sociological Methods & Research. 38(4), 545-581. Pauwels, L. (2011). An Integrated Concputal Framework for Visual Social Research. In. Margolis, E. and Pauwels, L. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of visual research methods 3-23). London; Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE.

Pink, S. (2003). Interdisciplinary agendas in visual research: re-situating visual Anthropology. Visual Studies. 18(2), 179-192.

Pink, S. (2007) Doing Visual Ethnography Second Edition. London: SAGE.

Prosser, J. & Loxley, A. (2008). Introducing Visual Methods. NCRM Methodological Review. Retrieved from http://eprints.ncrm.ac.uk/420/

Rose, G. (2007). Visual methodologies: an introduction to the interpretation of visual materials (2nd ed.). London: SAGE.

Savin-Badin, M. & Major, C.H. (2010). New Approaches to Qualitative Research: Wisdom and Uncertainty. New York, NY: Routledge.

Stanczak, G. C. (2012). Visual Research Methods: Observing Culture and Social Life: Documentary Photography, Fieldwork, and Social Research. Sage Research Methods Online, 1, 1-34.

Wagner, J. (2011a) Visual studies and empirical social enquiry. In. Margolis, E. and Pauwels, L. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of visual research methods (49-71). London; Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE. Wagner, J. (2011b) Seeing things: Visual research and material culture. In. Margolis, E. and Pauwels, L. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of visual research methods (72-95). London; Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE.

Wiles, R., Coffey, A., Robinson, J., Prosser, J. (2012). Ethical Regulation and Visual Methods: Making Visual Research Impossible or Developing Good Practice?. Sociological Research Online, 17(1). Retrieved from http://www.socresonline.org.uk/17/1/8.html Questions Based on the Hans Rosling example, do you think that visual research methods as a mixed-methods approach can enhance a study? Using images as a prompt Thank you! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbkSRLYSojo
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