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The importance of theory and methodology in research




Take a minute to think about how you understand the notion of 'reality' and the social world you live in. The classic way to distinguish between 'qualitative' and 'quantitative' research is through what sort of data it analyses. The statistical analysis of numbers signifies quantitative research, while the analysis of 'text' is the remit of qualitative research.

Text, in this context, also refers to talk, to images and to observations of actions. The purpose and process of research in these two different approaches is also distinctive; you could say that they look for different things, in different ways. While some research methods overlap - for instance interviews, questionnaires or content analysis - the ways that these are framed and proceed depend on which kind of research they take place in.

Numerical data gathered answers are coded into numbers for analysis. Official statistics Performance data Content analysis of policy documents. Observation schedule used with events Measurements from experiments.

Interview talk Narratives for life histories. Diaries, minutes of meetings Scripts e. Interactions between people Events Pictures. Find two pieces of research, one that uses quantitative methods [Suggestion: An Overlooked Population and Implications for Practice. Journal of Family Violence, Vol.

Qualitative Health Research, Vol. Now, find a piece of research that is 'mixed-method' - i. Qualitative Social Work, Vol. As you can see, both these approaches to research have the possibility of finding out useful information for social care practitioners: What matters is that the research is 'fit for purpose' and carried out in a rigorous and appropriate way. Social work researchers who are concerned with social justice aim to develop an anti-discriminatory consciousness to conduct their research in anti-oppressive ways.

Such an attitude will inform every stage of the research process, from the conception of the research through to the planning, the methods and the reporting. There are a number of principles to keep in mind in conducting research in an anti-discriminatory way. Knowledge, especially for and about social life, is not produced in a vacuum - as knowledge producers, researchers and evaluators are located within a complex set of social structures.

Their identities, motives and agendas will impact on the questions they ask, the methods they use and the conclusions they draw. Instead of an assumption of a neutral, objective stance, anti-discriminatory researchers need to be concerned with the moral and political questions that affect the lives of the people being researched, including understanding how the language of power, oppression and domination is used. This may lead them to reject some methods as incompatible with this stance.

Anti-discriminatory research does not necessarily imply only qualitative methods. For example, in a survey of gay men's health needs conducted by Truman et al. Grounded theory is a general methodology, a way of thinking about and conceptualizing data. It focuses on the studies of diverse populations from areas like remarriage after divorce Cauhape, and Professional Socialization Broadhed, Their collaboration in research on dying hospital patients led them to write Awareness of Dying in In this research they developed the constant comparative method, later known as Grounded Theory Method.

There were three main purposes behind the publication of The Discovery of Grounded Theory:. This theory mainly came into existence when there was a wave of criticism towards the fundamentalist and structuralist theories that were deductive and speculative in nature. After two decades, sociologists and psychologists showed some appreciation for the Grounded theory because of its explicit and systematic conceptualization of the theory.

The Discovery of Grounded Theory was published simultaneously in the United States and the United Kingdom, because of which the theory became well known among qualitative researchers and graduate students of those countries.

This helped the theory to gain some significance in the fields of medical sociology , psychology and psychiatry. Glaser's strong training in positivism enabled him to code the qualitative responses, however Strauss's training looked at the "active" role of people who live in it. Strauss recognized the profundity and richness of qualitative research regarding social processes and the complexity of social life, Glaser recognized the systematic analysis inherent in quantitative research through line by line examination, followed by the generation of codes, categories, and properties.

Symbolic interactionism is considered to be one of the most important theories to have influenced grounded theory, according to it understanding the world by interpreting human interaction, which occurs through the use of symbols, such as language. Theorizing is involved in all these steps. One is required to build and test theory all the way through till the end of a project.

Grounded theory method is a systematic generation of theory from data that contains both inductive and deductive thinking. One goal is to formulate hypotheses based on conceptual ideas. Others may try to verify the hypotheses that are generated by constantly comparing conceptualized data on different levels of abstraction, and these comparisons contain deductive steps.

Another goal of a grounded theory study is to discover the participants' main concern and how they continually try to resolve it. The questions the researcher repeatedly asks in grounded theory are "What's going on? Grounded theory method does not aim for the "truth" but to conceptualize what is going on by using empirical research.

In a way, grounded theory method resembles what many researchers do when retrospectively formulating new hypotheses to fit data. However, when applying the grounded theory method, the researcher does not formulate the hypotheses in advance since preconceived hypotheses result in a theory that is ungrounded from the data.

If the researcher's goal is an accurate description, then another method should be chosen since grounded theory is not a descriptive method. Instead, it has the goal of generating concepts that explain the way that people resolve their central concerns regardless of time and place. The use of description in a theory generated by the grounded theory method is mainly to illustrate concepts. In most behavioral research endeavors, persons or patients are units of analysis, whereas in GT the unit of analysis is the incident.

When comparing many incidents in a certain area, the emerging concepts and their relationships are in reality probability statements. Consequently, GT is a general method that can use any kind of data even though the most common use is with qualitative data Glaser, , However, although working with probabilities, most GT studies are considered as qualitative since statistical methods are not used, and figures are not presented.

The results of GT are not a reporting of statistically significant probabilities but a set of probability statements about the relationship between concepts, or an integrated set of conceptual hypotheses developed from empirical data Glaser A theory that is fitting has concepts that are closely connected to the incidents they are representing; this is related to how thorough the constant comparison of incidents to concepts was done.

A relevant study deals with the real concern of participants, evokes "grab" captures the attention and is not only of academic interest. The theory works when it explains how the problem is being solved with much variation. A modifiable theory can be altered when new relevant data are compared to existing data.

A GT is never right or wrong, it just has more or less fit, relevance, workability and modifiability. The core variable explains most of the participants' main concern with as much variation as possible. It has the most powerful properties to picture what's going on, but with as few properties as possible needed to do so. A popular type of core variable can be theoretically modeled as a basic social process that accounts for most of the variation in change over time, context, and behavior in the studied area.

It happens sequentially, subsequently, simultaneously, serendipitously, and scheduled" Glaser, All is data is a fundamental property of GT which means that everything that the researcher encounters when studying a certain area is data — not only interviews or observations but anything that helps the researcher generating concepts for the emerging theory.

Open coding or substantive coding is conceptualizing on the first level of abstraction. Written data from field notes or transcripts are conceptualized line by line. In the beginning of a study everything is coded in order to find out about the problem and how it is being resolved. The coding is often done in the margin of the field notes.

This phase is often tedious since it involves conceptualizing all the incidents in the data, which yields many concepts. These are compared as more data is coded, merged into new concepts, and eventually renamed and modified. The GT researcher goes back and forth while comparing data, constantly modifying, and sharpening the growing theory at the same time as she follows the build-up schedule of GT's different steps.

Selective coding is done after having found the core variable or what is thought to be the core, the tentative core. The core explains the behavior of the participants in resolving their main concern. The tentative core is never wrong. It just more or less fits with the data. After the core variable is chosen, researchers selectively code data with the core guiding their coding, not bothering about concepts with little importance to the core and its subcores.

Also, they now selectively sample new data with the core in mind, which is called theoretical sampling — a deductive part of GT. Selective coding delimits the study, which makes it move fast. This is indeed encouraged while doing GT Glaser, since GT is not concerned with data accuracy as in descriptive research but is about generating concepts that are abstract of time, place and people. Selective coding could be done by going over old field notes or memos which are already coded once at an earlier stage or by coding newly gathered data.

Theoretical codes integrate the theory by weaving the fractured concepts into hypotheses that work together in a theory explaining the main concern of the participants.

Theoretical coding means that the researcher applies a theoretical model to the data. It is important that this model is not forced beforehand but has emerged during the comparative process of GT. So the theoretical codes just as substantives codes should emerge from the process of constantly comparing the data in field notes and memos. Theoretical memoing is "the core stage of grounded theory methodology" Glaser Memoing is also important in the early phase of a GT study such as open coding.

The researcher is then conceptualizing incidents, and memoing helps this process. Theoretical memos can be anything written or drawn in the constant comparison that makes up a GT. In memos, they develop ideas about naming concepts and relating them to each other and try the relationships between concepts in two-by-two tables, in diagrams or figures or whatever makes the ideas flow, and generates comparative power.

Without memoing, the theory is superficial and the concepts generated are not very original. Memoing works as an accumulation of written ideas into a bank of ideas about concepts and how they relate to each other. This bank contains rich parts of what will later be the written theory.

Memoing is total creative freedom without rules of writing, grammar or style Glaser The writing must be an instrument for outflow of ideas, and nothing else.

When people write memos, the ideas become more realistic, being converted from thoughts into words, and thus ideas communicable to the afterworld. In GT the preconscious processing that occurs when coding and comparing is recognized.

The researcher is encouraged to register ideas about the ongoing study that eventually pop up in everyday situations, and awareness of the serendipity of the method is also necessary to achieve good results.

Serendipity is used as a sociological method in grounded theory, building on ideas by sociologist Robert K. When proper to a study of methodology, such processes constitute a constructive generic framework , and may therefore be broken down into sub-processes, combined, or their sequence changed. A paradigm is similar to a methodology in that it is also a constructive framework. In theoretical work, the development of paradigms satisfies most or all of the criteria for methodology.

Any description of a means of calculation of a specific result is always a description of a method and never a description of a methodology. It is thus important to avoid using methodology as a synonym for method or body of methods. Doing this shifts it away from its true epistemological meaning and reduces it to being the procedure itself, or the set of tools, or the instruments that should have been its outcome.

A methodology is the design process for carrying out research or the development of a procedure and is not in itself an instrument, or method, or procedure for doing things. Methodology and method are not interchangeable. In recent years, however, there has been a tendency to use methodology as a "pretentious substitute for the word method ". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


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Theory can be defined as “a formal logical explanation of some events that includes predictions of how things relate to one another”[1]. Concepts are “collectives used to label certain bits of experience. In other words, they are elementary constructs by .

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Research Theory and Methods 19 our discipline-based teachers and our students represent a range: The teachers are two men and two women who teach in three different.

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SWOT Analysis: Theory SWOT is a strategic analytical tool for assessing strengths and weaknesses of a business, analyzing opportunities available to the business, as well as, threats faced by the business. 1 1 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY & THEORY OF SCIENCE SCIENCE, KNOWLEDGE, METHOD Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic Department of Computer Science and Electronics Mälardalen University.

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What is the difference between a theory, methodology, approach, method, framework, tool and process? It is part of the methodology. Research approach can be divided into three types: 1. Deductive research approach 2. All are the part of conducting research, Theory is just mathematical model or theoretical. Research mindedness The importance of theory and methodology in research. All research contains theory in some form, and social work research is no exception.