Presentation on theme: "Issues in a research team using different methods: Changing hats? Julia Brannen Thomas Coram Research Unit Institute of Education, University of London."— Presentation transcript:
Issues in a research team using different methods: Changing hats? Julia Brannen Thomas Coram Research Unit Institute of Education, University of London
Why is it appropriate to use different methods? What does mixing methods mean in practice?
Why use different methods? What is your research question (s)? What ontological and epistemological positions do you hold in relation to each? Do two or more methods outweigh advantages of one method? Which methods best fit particular research questions? Have you got the resources and skills to use more than one method? How will you analyse the material? And write it up?
What are the benefits and risks in engaging in mixed methods research? Opportunity = interdisciplinarity: risk = loss of disciplinary base Opportunity = strategic/ practical research: risk = loss of theoretical purpose Opportunity = multiple data sources: risk = under-use of the data
What are the benefits and risks in engaging in mixed methods? Opportunity = agency and structure: Risk= how to bring these together? Opportunity = context and contingency; understanding and explanation: Risk: Mix different paradigms, ontologies and epistemologies Opportunity = increase skills: Risk = how to develop good practice/ apprenticeship
What are the benefits and risks in engaging in mixed methods? Opportunity = disseminate material in integrated way or separately: Risk = difficult to carry off Opportunity = use different sampling logics: Risk = non comparable analysis
What does using different methods within a research team mean in practice?
Examples of types of MM studies Studies where the quantitative component more dominant; researchers skilled in quant methods; quantitative component comes first = QUAN > qual studies e.g. when subsample is explored in limited way Studies where qual comes first but is less dominant = qual > QUAN e.g. survey development Studies where the qualitative component more dominant; researchers do mainly qualitative research; main qualitative component comes second = quan > QUAL studies e.g. when survey is a sample screening tool Study where both are equally important; qualitative precedes quantitative = QUAN>QUAL
Addressing different questions with each method Corroborate: whether different data confirm/ disconfirm a hypothesis/ claim Elaborate: expand/ exemplify what is known on basis of first method (sequential) Initiate: use first method to generate hypotheses/ new questions to pose with a second method Complement: use of more than one method to provide complementary insights to create a ‘bigger picture’
Design phase differs from analysis phase Intentions get subverted in the course of the research process What you start out to do may turn out differently In analysis you have to reconcile your interpretations of the data with epistemological assumptions/ standpoints
Using different methods within a research team A study of 4 groups of childcare workers working with vulnerable children (Brannen et al 2007) Iterative use of methods Nested samples & different sampling logics for each method Methods mapped on to different phases of research process Methods used to address different time frames Quantitative hat/ qualitative hat/ quantitative and qualitative hat Dominant concern: interpretive understanding but also a quantitative concern to examine workforce retention over time
A Study of Childcare workers Research questions with a ‘quant hat’: What are the characteristics of the different groups of childcare workers and how do they differ? What aspects of the work do they like/ dislike? Which work-family life policies and practices do they access? Do they intend to stay in the work in short term? Method at Phase 1: Postal questionnaire survey distributed by LAs, and other agencies Current time and future intentions
A Study of Childcare Workers Research questions with ‘a qual hat’ on: Tell me the story of your interest in caring and your career in childcare work? What contextual factors prompted you to enter the occupation(s)? How have care workers shaped their work- life careers and identities over the life course? How do they understand care work? Method at Phase 2: Biographic – interpretive method with a subset of cases Past life course through lens of present and future; also focus on present understandings e.g. care work
A study of childcare workers Research question with ‘a qual hat’ on: What is the policy context? What opportunities exist in Las etc for training for different groups of workers? Is there movement within the childcare workforce? What policies and practices are provided for workers to manage work-life commitments? Method at Phase 3: Interviews with managers Present time
A study of childcare workers Research question with ‘quant and qual hats’: Who stayed in and who left the work (since Time 1)? Why? How do reasons at Time 2 compare with their earlier stated intentions at Time 1? Method: A follow-up telephone survey at Time 2 of original survey population at Time 1 Real time compared with past real time
Mixed methods integration: Analysis How are qual and quan data brought together? Complementarity in terms of each method addressing different research questions Survey used to explore whether intentions at Time 1 have meaning (apparent contradictions with biographical interviews) and whether they were born out at Time 2 (telephone follow up) Biographical cases used as exemplars of other data analysis and as stand alone comparative cases to explicate theory Integrated output: book
Working with different hats on Moving between issues of generalisability & representativeness to understanding social processes and whole cases Issues of describing characteristics of populations to extrapolating to theories about cases e.g. careers of childcare workers, orientations to caring Issues about time devoted to time for analysiing and mining the different data sets Issues of transparency (is there evidence for the conclusions) Issues about how to write up different types of material
The International Journal of Social Research Methodology, Special Issue, 8 (3) 2005, Brannen, J Coming to Care: the work and family lives of workers caring for vulnerable children Brannen, J Statham, J, Mooney A and Brockmann, M 2007 Policy Press Brannen, J in M Bergman (ed) Advances in Mixed Methods Research Sage