More on Hammersley, critique, and a framework for research design

Hi

I’ve done a couple of prezi’s, elaborating my adaptation and interpretation of Hammersley’s framework for critical reading of ethnography, which as you know by now, I think has currency as a framework for critique more generally.

Hopwood’s interpretation of Hammersley framework

The first prezi explains, with a visual accompaniment (partly prompted by a nudge in the comments to one of my posts about a lack of visuals!), how I think the whole thing works. It goes alongside the podcast I’ve published previously. See below for some brief comments on research design.

Hammersley-Hopwood framework for researchers to complete

The second prezi is very simple, and is essentially a ‘fill in the blanks’ version aimed at helping social science researchers (maybe others, too! I’d be fascinated to know if it works in other areas), to think about their research. It has deliberate (but for now unexplained) ‘fit’ with Kamler’s approach to writing abstracts (Locate, focus, report, argue). If you haven’t finished your research yet, it’s still very possible to complete the whole thing. Imagining or projecting what your claims and conclusions might be is really important. Normally we have some sense of what kind of things we might find and why they might be important. Of course we still want to leave space for the empirical world to surprise us!

Hopwood research design 5-part  framework

I just want to explain some references in the first prezi to a 4-part design framework. This is my  system for clarifying different components of research design. I’m not claiming it’s totally unique or original. It’s just the way of working / use of terms I’ve come to find useful.

1. Research Strategy – this is the big picture. Are you doing a case study? What kind of cases?  Ethnography? What of? What kind of ethnography? Longitudinal design? How long? What sequence?

2. Theoretical / Conceptual Framework – this is about the set of ideas or sets of ideas that help you frame your research in more abstract terms. Such a framework is

  • part of the location of your work in scholarly debates, fields, contexts
  • something that enables you to frame a concrete problem in more scholarly terms (and in doing so make a local or specific issue something of wider relevance)
  • operationalise something tricky to pin down (e.g if you want to research something ‘invisible’ like ‘learning’ or empirically slippery like ‘class’, or ‘sexism’, then a theory or conceptual framework will enable you ‘see’ it
  • often something that you speak to in your contribution to knowledge (advancing the framework, adding to it, applying it in new areas, challenging aspects of it).

3. Sampling and selection – this goes down a level to think about sampling. Samples include who your participants are (if any) and how they relate to a wider population. But let me be clear this isn’t a kow-tow to positivism. It’s about the fact that we nearly always study something smaller than the phenomenon of interest. This involves selections or samples in space, time, people, documents etc.

4. Methods for data generation – what it sounds like it is! Are you using a survey? interviews? observation? document collection? visual methods? why?

4. Techniques for data generation – this goes into a bit more detail, and refers to the craft and artistry involved. Within a survey, what kinds of items are you using? how have they been piloted? what kind of interview are you doing (semi-structured? life history?), and how good an interviewer are you? (probing questions, noting body language etc). If you’re observing, what are you looking for, what are you noticing? how structured is your observation? what kind of notes are being produced? when are they being written up?

You can see a video explaining this framework here.

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