Methods, Variations and Ways to Choose

The Sage Handbook of Quantitative Methodology for the Social Sciences
Kaplan, D. (2004). Sage Publications, Inc.
Spans a wide range of topics, with historical context. 

The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research
Denzin, N.K. & Lincoln, Y. (2005). 3rd Ed., Sage Publications, Inc.
A comprehensive book that describes theory and practice of qualitative inquiry.

Center for Practitioner Research
National College of Education, National-Louis University
Defines practitioner research and critical issues within the genre.

Research and Collaboration. Reflections on an Interdisciplinary Academic Collaboration
The Journal of Business Communication, (2005) Personal, practical, and methodological issues involved in collaborative research. 

Home Away from Home: Collaborative Research Networks and Interdisciplinary Soci-Legal Scholarship
Annual Review of Law and Social Science(December, 2008). Vol. 4, No 1, p. 12,
This article offers an overview of the use of CRN’s for scholarship.

Types of Research

Specific to field of study
Graduate students learn about research methods used in their particular field of study.  Whatever methods are used, there are many resources to support research, and any number of variations to the basic methods.  Choose a method or variation that is manageable in your first years as a new faculty member to be certain to get your research agenda underway.  Often the biggest challenge is often to get started, so establish research priorities early on, and create a plan to impliment them.

Quantitative research
Quantitative research is inquiry into an identified problem, based on testing a theory, measured with numbers, and analyzed using statistical techniques.  The goal of quantitative methods is to determine whether the predictive generalizations of a theory hold true. We will explore some of the issues and challenges associated with quantitative research in this section. Seek the advice of faculty members who have conducted quantitative studies for advice, support and encouragement.

Qualitative research
A study based upon a qualitative process of inquiry has the goal of understanding a social or human problem from multiple perspectives.  Qualitative research is conducted in a natural setting and involves a process of building a complex and holistic picture of the phenomenon of interest.  We will explore some of the issues and challenges associated with qualitative research in this section. Look for colleagues who engage in qualitative research to serve as a sounding board for procedures and processes you may use as a new faculty member.

The quantitative / qualitative debate
These two forms of research, in spite of the differences delineated above, have many things in common.  They do, however, offer different perspectives on a subject under study.  As a result, some researchers are utilizing some combination of the two methods that both offer a quantifiable look and a more holistic picture of a phenomenon.  The research question will ultimately determine what methods are best employed.  As new faculty members, be open to looking at problems in different ways, or even collaborating with faculty who may offer a different perspective on the same issue. Be aware of expectations in your department, college and field of study to be certain the research undertaken is acceptable for progress toward tenure.

Collaborative research
There are many ways to collaborate and thereby enrich your work as a faculty member. Multiple perspectives offer a more complete view of an issue under study. Whether presenting or publishing, having several iterations of a study in different settings offers a means of validating findings. Collaboration may take many forms, including crossing disciplines, types of institutions, or engaging the community outside the campus environment.  Explore the ways that collaboration may enrich your research.  Some of the issues and challenges associated with collaborative research are explored in this section.

Practitioner research
Simple definitions of practitioner research address the investigator, the setting and the purpose. The investigator is the practitioner, in workplace settings ranging from hospitals, to schools and communities.  The general purpose is to better align the practitioner’s purpose with their actions. There are those who argue that practitioner research stems from a larger social justice movement within qualitative research. Even when social justice is not the sole motivating principle, an underlying commonality of purpose is the desire to improve upon and develop deeper insights into one’s practice. Practitioner research by its nature offers practitioners a voice in the research conversation.  Some consider it a bridge of sorts between theory and practice, although practitioners claim a rightful place in the research continuum. Some of the issues and challenges associated with practitioner research are explored in this section.

Possible questions to ask about Types of Research:

  • Quantitative research
    What are some of the issues and challenges that face quantitative researchers?
  • Qualitative research
    What are some of the issues and challenges that face qualitative researchers?
  • The quantitative / qualitative debate
    How might these two methods used together provide a deeper understanding of an issue?
  • Collaborative research
    What are some of the opportunities to collaborate, and how does one decide when or if to do so?
  • Practitioner research
    Quality teaching of a diverse student population is critical to the mission of the CSU, how might new faculty members use reflective research to be the best instructors they can be?
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