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Authors: Marianne Franklin

Understanding Research

UNDERSTANDING RESEARCH

Successfully completing a research project is a major milestone in most university degrees, and the cornerstone of an academic career. This text is an accessible, real-time guide to conducting academic research in international and cross-cultural settings.

It provides advanced undergraduates and graduate students practical and theoretical guidance on how to begin, execute, and then communicate the outcome of research projects undertaken at the intersection of the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Understanding Research
:

  • explores the decision-making process at all points of a research project and the implications of these decisions in the longer term;
  • outlines the practical and philosophical conundrums around specific techniques for gathering and analysing material;
  • examines moments of disconnect, overlap, and potentially mutual benefit for researchers working at different points along the quantitative–qualitative divide that underscores popular and scholarly debates about the relevance of academic research;
  • explains how to cope with a divide that is both real and imagined, in all its experiential, institutional, and conceptual variations.

Focused explicitly on the needs and experiences of students and including a wealth of practical tips, this work is an essential resource for all students embarking on a research project.

M. I. Franklin
is Reader and Convener of the Global Media and Transnational Communications programme at Goldsmiths (UK). Previous books include
Resounding International Relations: On Music, Culture, and Politics
and
Postcolonial Politics, the Internet, and Everyday Life: Pacific Traversals Online.

UNDERSTANDING RESEARCH

Coping with the
quantitative–qualitative divide

M. I. Franklin

First published 2013
by Routledge
2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN

Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada
by Routledge
270 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016

Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business

© 2013 M. I. Franklin

The right of M. I. Franklin to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Franklin, Marianne, 1959-
Understanding research : coping with the quantitative - qualitative divide /
M. I. Franklin.
   p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Political science—Research—Methodology—Textbooks. I. Title.
JA86.F69 2012
001.4--dc23
2011046383

ISBN 13: 978–0–415–49079–5 (hbk)
ISBN 13: 978–0–415–49080–1 (pbk)
ISBN 13: 978–0–203–11886–3 (ebk)

Typeset in Garamond by
Keystroke, Station Road, Codsall, Wolverhampton

CONTENTS

    
List of illustrations

    
Acknowledgements

1   Introduction

    
Aims and objectives

    
Who should read this book

    
Using this book in context

    
What is
academic
research?

    
On divides – real and imagined

    
Key concepts and their various uses

    
Chapter organization

PART 1 DIVIDES AND DESIGNS

2   Putting research into perspective

    
Introduction

    
Key elements of a research project

    
Looking ahead: milestones, destinations, and expectations

    
Getting started and deciding a topic

    
Theory and method – of carts and horses

    
Concluding comments

3   Research in practice: designing a research project

    
Introduction

    
Main stages in a research project

    
Work-plans and proposals

    
From research topic to
research question
or
hypothesis

    
On science, worldviews, and other brainteasers

    
Other practical matters: limits, ethics, and codes of practice

    
Methodological coping strategies – plotting a course

    
Concluding comments

4   The politics of research: living with and defending our choices

    
Introduction

    
Doing research today: ‘location, location, location’

    
Literature searches and the
literature review

    
Historical and philosophical note

    
Purpose and categories of literature reviews

    
Practicalities

    
Sources and resources that matter

    
Research communities and (multiple) disciplinary identities

    
Concluding comments: living with your choices

5   Online research and web-resourcing skills

    
Introduction

    
Setting the record straight

    
Back the future: a quick prequel

    
The internet as resource

    
Digital tools for online data-gathering and analysis

    
Online research: fields, relationships, ethics

    
Web-analysis: sites, maps, and hypertexts

    
Summing up

PART 2 COPING AND COMMUNICATING

6   Doing research – gathering data

    
Preamble: introduction to Part 2

    
Chapter aims and organization

    
Data-gathering techniques – review

    
Surveys and questionnaires

    
Interviews

    
Focus groups

    
Ethnographic fieldwork and participant-observation

    
Summing up: repositioning the divide?

7   Doing research – analysing findings

    
Introduction

    
What is
analysis
?

    
Working with texts

    
Deductive and inductive paths to knowledge

    
Behaviouralism and its discontents: a worldview in action

    
Data-gathering as process
and
product

    
Concluding comments

8   Writing it all up and going public

    
Introduction

    
What is
academic
writing?

    
Writing formalities: citation and style guides

    
Feedback: examinations and going public

    
Procrastinations and prevarications

    
Coping and moving on – creatively

    
Revising and editing – what to look for

    
The final cut – what to remember

9   Conclusion

    
Reappraising divides imagined and real

    
To the exit and afterlife of a research project

    
Appendix 1: informed consent form template

    
Appendix 2: guidelines for internet research/researching cyberspace

    
Appendix 3: sample (master-level) ethics form

    
Glossary

    
Literature list

    
Index

ILLUSTRATIONS
TABLES

1.1   Academic research objectives

3.1   Supervisors and supervisees

A2.1 Guidelines for internet research/researching cyberspace

FIGURES

1.1   How we/cats see the world, Nina Paley

1.2   Post-doc presentation, Vadlo

1.3   Differences between the humanities and social sciences, Jorge Cham

3.1   Ways of seeing, Len Munnik

3.2   View from Greenwich, UK, M. I. Franklin

3.3   View of lighthouse, Castlepoint, New Zealand, M. I. Franklin

3.4   Urban renewal, M. I. Franklin

3.5   Valid and invalid claims schedule, Fran Orford

3.6   Human–machine ethics, Nina Paley

4.1   All the authors?!, Vadlo

5.1   Information superhighway, Chappatte

5.2   Screenshot (i)

5.3   Screenshot (ii)

5.4   Spam, Chappatte

5.5   Map of the internet, xkcd

5.6   Cyberpolice!, Chappatte

5.7   Welcome to the medium of the future, Nina Paley

6.1   Surveys – a waste of time, Fran Orford

6.2   Don’t have a category for that, Joseph Farris

6.3   I can prove or disprove it . . ., Vadlo

7.1   Surrealist painter meets surrealist plumber, Dan Piraro

7.2   Measuring climate change, Josh

8.1   Student workout, Jorge Cham

8.2   You need some boundaries, Nina Paley

8.3   How not to act like an artist, Nina Paley

8.4   Gatekeepers, xkcd

8.5   Views and reviews, Vadlo

8.6   How to act like an artist II, Nina Paley

8.7   You are here, Chappatte

8.8   Help! I’m trapped in a hole, Nina Paley

BOXES

2.1   Key elements of an academic research project

2.2   Climate change or global warming?

3.1   The main stages in a research project

3.2   Elements in a research proposal/outline

3.3   Examples of hypotheses

3.4   What is science?

4.1   Self-assessment – what is a literature review really?

4.2   Literature reviews in action – a working example

4.3   Wikipedia – a necessary evil?

5.1   Frequently un-asked questions about online research

5.2   Try out – another search engine?

5.3   Boolean search terms

6.1   Current web-based survey tools and resources

6.2   Overview – modes of survey administration

6.3   Checklist before taking off

7.1   Philosophical research

7.2   Composite approaches to complex realities – working example

7.3   Sex, gender and chromosomes

8.1   What kind of writer are you?

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Is there really ‘no such thing as a stupid question’? Maybe not. However, budding researchers quickly learn to avoid looking ‘stupid’ at all costs, so leaving many questions about the research process frequently unasked. In this sense, borrowing from that erudite social commentator Woody Allen, this book could well be entitled
Everything You Wanted To Know About Academic Research But Were Afraid To Ask
, or afraid to answer. My first acknowledgement is to other authors in the methods and research skills literature that informs this project:
Respect
.

Closer to home, this book has been the product of a particular sort of collaboration. A number of people have shared with me their own experiences, wisdom, teaching material and, in some cases, let me watch them first-hand conveying some of the insights presented here; thanks to Susan Banducci, Chris Berry, Niko Besnier, Terrell Carver, Tim Crook, Matt Davies, the late Alex Fernandez, Des Freedman, Julian Henriques, Jeannette Hoffman, Jeff Karp, Harry Kunneman, Laurens ten Kate, Meryem Marzouki, Liz Moor, Hans Radder, Philippe Rekacewicz, Anne Sisson-Runyan, Richard Smith, Susan Stocker, Kent Wilkinson, and Sally Wyatt. Thanks to Pasi Väliaho, my ‘partner in crime’ in developing a department-wide research module at Goldsmiths.

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