Learning Research & Change Methods

Learning Change Project: 8 Blogs, +7200 Readings

Ethnic Diversity and Inequality – Ethical and Scientific Rigour in Social Research

Currently, much social research does not include minority ethnic people and communities and does not engage meaningfully with issues of ethnic diversity and inequality. Where research does address ethnicity, there is a wide range of theoretical and methodological approaches, as well as concerns regarding ethical standards. Increasing the quality and quantity of social research that addresses ethnicity will require particular knowledge, skills and competencies among researchers and research commissioners, as well as a commitment to ethical and scientific rigour in such work. The overall aim of the present project was to explore the feasibility and desirability of developing guidance at different points within the research cycle that could help commissioners of research, investigators, applicants and peer reviewers consider when and how ethnicity should be included in social policy relevant research projects. In order to achieve this aim, the project involved a series of review, consultation and piloting exercises through which we were able to (i) synthesise key ethical and scientific issues relating to ethnicity in social research; (ii) explore current concerns and practices among social researchers; and (iii) identify factors that support or hinder the use and impact of guidance on research practice.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

August 4, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Foundations for Research: Methods of Inquiry in Education and the Social Sciences

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Designed for introductory research courses in the professional fields and social sciences, this text acquaints students and beginning researchers with a broad view of research methodologies and an understanding of the assumptions that inform each of these approaches. More experienced researchers will also find the book useful in acquainting them with methodologies and theoretical frameworks that are new to them.The text is distinguished by its avoidance of using the discreet categories of qualitative and quantitative methods to organize the chapters. While some chapter authors rely more on one or the other, many employ multiple methodologies to investigate particular problems and questions. Further, the book is not organized into single, contradictory positivist-interpretivist categories of research; chapter authors often situate methodologies within a variety of, and sometimes multiple, theoretical positions, particularly as these approaches are shaped by the historical context of social science research. Focus points in Foundations for Research: Methods of Inquiry in Education and the Social Sciences, research ethics, intertwined relationship of theory and research design, systematic examination of ways to design and implement high-quality, trustworthy research across varying research designs, specific methods for implementing research within various frameworks, pedagogical strategies.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

June 18, 2015 at 9:48 am

After Method – Mess in Social Science Research

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Research Methods’: a compulsory course, which is loved by some but hated by many! This stimulating book is about what went wrong with ‘research methods’. Its controversial argument is radical, even revolutionary. John Law argues that methods don’t just describe social realities but also help to create them. The implications of this argument are highly significant. If this is the case, methods are always political, and this raises the question of what kinds of social realities we want to create. Most current methods look for clarity and precision. It is usually said that messy findings are a product of poor research. The idea that things in the world might be fluid, elusive, or multiple is unthinkable. Law’s startling argument is that this is wrong and it is time for a new approach. Many realities, he says, are vague and ephemeral. If methods want to know and to help shape the world, then they need to reinvent their practice and their politics in order to deal with mess. That is the challenge. Nothing else will do. This book is essential reading for students, postgraduates and researchers with an interest in methodology. John Law is Professor of Sociology and Technology Studies at Lancaster University. He has written  widely on social theory, methodology, technologies, and health care.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

May 22, 2015 at 2:15 pm

Social Research: Theory, Methods and Techniques

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Social Research: Theory, Methods and Techniques presents an understanding of social research practice through appreciation of its foundations and methods. Stretching from the philosophy of science to detailed descriptions of both qualitative and quantitative techniques, it illustrates not only `how’ to do social research, but also `why’ particular techniques are used today. The book is divided into three parts:

Part One: Illustrates the two basic paradigms – quantitative and qualitative – of social research, describing their origins in philosophical thought and outlining their current interpretations.

Part Two: Devoted to quantitative research, and discusses the relationship between theory and research practice. It also presents a discussion of key quantitative research techniques.

Part Three: Examines qualitative research. Topics range from classical qualitative techniques such as participant observation, to more recent developments such as ethnomethodological studies.

Overall, the author offers an engaging contribution to the field of social research and this book is a reminder of the solid foundations upon which most social research is conducted today. As a consequence it will be required reading for students throughout the social sciences, and at various levels.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

April 16, 2015 at 2:57 pm

Social Research Methods

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This book is designed to help you to succeed in your undergraduate or postgraduate level course on social science research methods. This includes research methods appropriate to a wide range of subjects, such as social science, social anthropology, psychology, leisure studies and sport, hospitality, health studies, the environment, business studies, education and the humanities. It is about helping you to pass your exams and to get most from your coursework assignments, as well as providing a handy summary of research methods if you are a novice researcher. It is designed and written to provide you with an easy-to-navigate guide to the commonly taught curriculum in your course, and the ways of thinking and writing that your examiners will be looking for when they start to grade your work.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

April 16, 2015 at 2:40 pm

Do It Yourself Social Research

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With the rapid growth of collaborative, indigenous, and community-based research, one of the key challenges researchers face is finding an effective way of involving non-researchers in the research process. Do It Yourself Social Research has been a best-selling methodology guide for action research projects and community groups in Australia for almost three decades. Always emphasizing the importance of a spirit of inquiry, it demystifies the research process, covering where to start, how to manage a research project, what methods, techniques and resources to use, and interpretation, analysis and reporting. This third edition has been thoroughly revised, adding the use of narrative and dialogue in research, rich research design, and what digital technology can (and can’t) contribute to the research process. With its hands-on, no-nonsense approach, Do It Yourself Social Research is an essential resource for community groups, college students, and other novice researchers in health, social welfare, education and related areas.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

April 16, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Understanding Social Research

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The aim of this book is to introduce novice researchers to the world of social science research. Unlike some of the other ‘worlds’ to which you have become accustomed, the world of science may constitute an unknown and therefore somewhat threatening world. All of these factors may lead one to conclude that such a world is quite inaccessible to the ordinary person. However, we will show you that the world of science and of scientific inquiry is inhabited by ordinary people who have learned certain practices and acquired certain knowledge and skills, that are – if not fully transparent – at least not totally mysterious. This book will introduce you to the distinctive features of the world of social science. You will see that scientists are committed to the very specific values of truth, objectivity, impartiality and honesty. They do things in very specific ways and tend to follow procedures which, at first glance, might seem unnecessarily repetitive. They are very protective of certain standardised practices (one can even call them rituals ) such as making their research public (they usually abhor secrecy), submitting their research to evaluation by their peers and placing a high premium on honesty and integrity (rejecting plagiarism).

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

April 16, 2015 at 1:16 pm

How to Write a Thesis

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Umberto Eco published a little book for his students, How to Write a Thesis, in which he offered useful advice on all the steps involved in researching and writing a thesis—from choosing a topic to organizing a work schedule to writing the final draft. Eco’s approach is anything but dry and academic. He not only offers practical advice but also considers larger questions about the value of the thesis-writing exercise. How to Write a Thesis is unlike any other writing manual. It reads like a novel. It is opinionated. It is frequently irreverent, sometimes polemical, and often hilarious. Eco advises students how to avoid “thesis neurosis” and he answers the important question “Must You Read Books?” He reminds students “You are not Proust” and “Write everything that comes into your head, but only in the first draft.” Eco’s index card research system offers important lessons about critical thinking and information curating for students who may be burdened by Big Data. How to Write a Thesis belongs on the bookshelves of students, teachers, writers, and Eco fans everywhere. Already a classic, it would fit nicely between two other classics: Strunk and White and The Name of the Rose.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

March 10, 2015 at 10:57 am

Research in Cultural Studies – Classical and new Methodological Approaches

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While the different methodological approaches frequently complemented one another, they also mounted in practical difficulties as well as theoretical contradictions. Based on my research, and a wealth of other people’s research, this book aims to provide a guide map on how to study the lived, discursive and social and political nature of contemporary reality. My intention has been to write a book that I would have liked to read before I started my research.

The thought of mastering a set of diverse research approaches, and combining them, may sound daunting for any beginning researcher as well as an experienced scholar, struggling as we all are with multiple pressures on our time. The success of any research project depends on a difficult balancing act between being both ambitious and doable. Thus, I would not suggest all research projects combine several views. Rather, the aim of the different chapters of the book is to outline different ways of doing research and to promote a way of doing them in the best possible way, by highlighting their specificity, strengths, possible problems and omissions.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

February 25, 2015 at 4:13 pm

The Tactics of Collaboration

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Understanding the tactics of collaboration can help make the unique value of working well together real. It’s important because the whole — all of us, humanity — can be greater than the sum of our parts. We often discuss collaboration in terms of its relationship to competition; competition, at its best, can make each part more valuable and more effective, but collaboration adds value to the whole by focusing on how the parts work together. Effective collaboration depends on effective relationships between humans. If the right people are in the room, and if there is time and space for like minds and potential partners to find and engage with each other, then even the worst-designed gathering can be productive. If the right people are also talented, driven, and a bit entitled, they will make the space they need to be productive regardless of the meeting’s design. However, setting aside time and space is not the whole story. Effective collaboration also requires that all collaborators gain value from collaborating. When the value is reciprocal, other barriers become smaller and the collaboration is easier to sustain.

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Read also: Creating Participatory Events

Embracing Emergence

Written by Giorgio Bertini

November 7, 2014 at 12:45 pm