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Researching Innovation In search of the mother of invention in an academic culture of necessity 19 th -20 th 2011 Andrew Bengry-Howell,

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Presentation on theme: "Researching Innovation In search of the mother of invention in an academic culture of necessity 19 th -20 th 2011 Andrew Bengry-Howell,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Researching Innovation In search of the mother of invention in an academic culture of necessity Methods@Plymouth 19 th -20 th 2011 Andrew Bengry-Howell, Rose Wiles Graham Crow, Melanie Nind

2 “There is a cultural expectation of innovation and ceaseless change in the modern world caused by the market economy and the growth of the state, and one can also find this in qualitative research…no one would dispute that qualitative research is a consumer product and has to be marketed to mass audiences, nor that as researchers we need to demonstrate innovation in grant proposals, and in other activities and that these organizational and cultural pressures have intensified in recent times…This, however, still leaves a number of questions both about the nature of innovation in qualitative research and about how one should respond…It also raises the question of how we should respond to institutional or commercial pressures to innovate, and how to assess new developments and advances.” Travers (2009)

3 Defining methodological innovation Varying definitions but key elements: –Should be rooted in genuine attempt to improve some aspect of the research process (not just gimmickry or innovation for innovation sake) –Can comprise developments to established methods as well as new methods –Should (arguably) be some level of dissemination, acceptance and take-up in the social science community (but process slow …) –(Travers, 2009; Coffey and Taylor, 2008)

4 Part of programme of research on methodological innovation being undertaken by the NCRM Hub Two studies: A narrative literature review (2009-2010) Innovation case-studies (2010-2011) Brief summary of findings (study one) Preliminary findings/emerging themes (study two) Studying innovation

5 Research questions What is methodological innovation? What are the antecedents to specific innovations? How have/do disciplines responded to them? How have the methods been publicised and promoted; what impact has this had on their uptake?

6 Study 1 - Innovation in qualitative research methods: A narrative literature review

7 Study 1: Narrative Literature Review (2009-2010) Social sciences’ bibliographic databases searched for ‘method’ or ‘qualitative’. 14 journals identified. Journal contents searched using innovat*, new, novel and emerg* in the title or abstract. Authors’ self-definition of innovation, through the use of ‘novel’, ‘new’, ‘innovative’ or ‘innovation’ Filtered for relevance (n=57) Categorised by area/topic Categorised by type of claim [Inception (n=32); Adaptation (n=6); Adoption (n=19)]

8 Findings: topics covered Seven topics were identified:

9 Findings: innovation type Authors rarely defined what they meant by innovation Their narratives suggested three categories of claims: –Inception (n=32) –Adaptation (n=6) –Adoption (n=19) Closer analysis of ‘innovation’ at inception level revealed over-claiming Majority of ‘innovations’ involve adapting SS methods or transferring & adapting methods from other disciplines

10 Study 2 - Innovation Case Studies

11 Study 2: Innovation case studies (2010-2011) What is the process whereby an innovation is developed? How is it publicised, promoted and disseminated? Who are the key ‘champions’? Who are the ‘early adopters’? What is the uptake in the core discipline … in different disciplines? Has it been adapted? To what extent does the innovation address important methodological challenges (is it really an innovation?) ????

12 The Cases Online/Virtual ethnography … Netnography Robert Kozinets Creative methods … Lego Serious Play David Gauntlett Child-led research … Children as Researchers Mary Kellett

13 Methods Semi-structured interviews: Developers of the method/methodological approach Champions/supporters of method/approach Established academic in topic area Early career user of method/approach User from different discipline to the innovator User from different country to the innovator Author of book review

14 Methods Exploration of Literature: Social sciences’ bibliographic databases searched for published journal articles/conference papers, in which: (a) Method/approach is applied/adapted/discussed/ referred to/related book reviewed (b) Method/approach is specifically linked to innovators we are studying. (c) Innovators are not authors/co-authors, or otherwise linked to instance of uptake.

15 Rationale for the innovation New/more effective tools for the 21 st century

16 Netnography (Robert Kozinets) Changed World Development of Internet/Social Media; Easier access to social worlds. Cultural Shift The way in which human beings form culture & community changed because of technology. Necessity Adapt research methods/techniques to online context. Opportunity To access/utilise new forms of cultural data; explore new social environment; overcome methodological problems; data overload. Ethical Issues Anonymity; consent; access; guidelines; procedures.

17 Child-led Research (Mary Kellett) Changed World Global uptake in children’s rights (UNCRC); participation agenda. Cultural Shift Governments/populations more receptive to children’s rights/agency than ever before in history. Necessity To give children a valid research voice not mediated by adults; encourage/support children’s agency. Opportunity New forms of knowledge; deeper understandings of children’s lives/perspectives; insider-perspective on childhood. Ethical Issues Adult agendas/exploitation of children for their own ends; how child-led research should be evaluated/critiqued.

18 Creative Methods (David Gauntlett) Changed World Interest in Identity; participatory methods. Cultural Shift Increasing interest in new methodologies/research innovation; richer/deeper understandings. Necessity Problem: language-based methods – participants expected to have formed opinions/generate instant responses/different capacities to articulate; questions reliability/validity of findings. Opportunity Generate richer/more valid & reliable data; ‘what people really think’; utilise quick/reflective process. Ethical Issues Accessibility of language; research experience; power relations – generating/interpreting data.

19 An ‘organic’ process of development and acceptance Organic process: ‘I didn’t set out to invent method’ (RK); ‘accidental discovery’ (DG) Support and encouragement – ‘big names’; senior colleagues; established professors; academic champions: ‘you should definitely keep doing that’ (RK); ‘empowering professor’ (MK) A journey – from ‘abyss of cynicism’ (MK) to ‘academic legitimation’ (RK); addressing critiques; theoretical bolstering; promotion/dissemination – web sites (being ‘out there’)

20 “I don’t think you go searching and seeking innovation necessarily… it’s asking good questions about stuff that’s really happening right now…and if you, if you can’t answer it then you’re gonna have to innovate. And find a way to figure out how you’re gonna answer that. That’s where innovation comes from. Necessity’s the mother of invention.” Robert Kozinets (12.01.11) “I mean, no-one likes to sit around on a park bench and say I’m an innovator…but…since you ask…I do think, it’s, it’s pushing the way in which we do qualitative research in a particular, more innovative direction. And there does seem to quite a lot of, what you might call, complacency about using sort of the tried and tested tools that we already have.” David Gauntlett (18.01.11)

21 Constituting/Preserving the innovation Coining a distinctive name Set of procedures to be followed/clear procedural guidelines (RK); stage-process (DG); specific training programme (MK) Books (training manuals) Teaching method to students; business clients (RK) Comprehensive training programme for children and adults (MK) Workshops: Learn about the process by doing the process (DG)

22 Academic response to innovations Common theme – gradual/incremental process Distinct profile for each case Netnography – 148 citations; applied – marketing, business (75%) Child-led research – 87 citations; referred/referenced – education (38%), childhood studies, social sciences. Creative Research Methods – 38 citations; referred/referenced – media studies (23%), education, health. Applied – early career researchers.

23 What makes an innovation? Primary conditions Dissatisfaction with existing methods/approach Identification of new phenomena Opportunity to develop something new Innovation must address ‘need’ (individual/social science). Innovation must be feasible/workable/accessible

24 Secondary Conditions Marketing of innovation – publications, training, web sites etc. Evaluation – response/received Academic legitimacy Uptake Duration What makes an innovation?

25 Are our cases innovations? ‘New’ (and to a degree) distinctive approaches Address specific methodological issue Evidence of uptake/acceptance/legitimacy BUT Claims to distinctiveness a problem (similar approaches) Unique attributes hard to assess Durability unknowable

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