Wednesday, 5 December 2012

reflections on my time with Knight and Luker

This week’s readings from Knight and Luker really helped to bring everything together for my research proposal, perhaps most importantly the connections were made for me between designing a research project, analyzing the data gleaned, and making sense of everything.

Over the course of the semester we have read about research methods from a number of individuals, including articles about specific research methods, but the books written by Knight and Luker have been constant and familiar. In a blog I wrote earlier in the semester, I commented that I preferred Luker’s readings to Knight’s because I found Knight to be very theory heavy, and sometimes found it challenging to fully grasp the main points. As the semester progressed, however, I actually began to enjoy Knight for the same reason I struggled with him early on: heavy on theory. When we began examining specific research methods (e.g. face-to-face, surveys, content analysis), I actually enjoyed how he got right into the discussion of the particular method - laying out how to go about utilizing the method, and pros and cons. I still found Luker to be helpful in learning about the research process and preparing my research proposal. Knight and Luker utilized vastly different writing styles and brought different perspectives on the world of research methods, which made learning about research methods more enjoyable and well-rounded then depending on one constant author. 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Analysis Starts on Day 1

Both of the readings from Luker and Knight this week helped me add the finishing touches to my research proposal. What stood out to me in this week's readings was Luker's point about how the analysis portion of our research project is done throughout the entire data collection process. I was able to relate this point to one of the research methods that I have chosen to use for my project; which was the email interviews. The article that I consulted was called “Research Interviews in Cyberspace” by Reid, Petocz and Gordon (2008). In this article, the authors give suggestions in how to make effective use of this style of interview. How this article can relate to Luker is when they talk about how the researcher should spend a bit of time in reading and interpreting their respondents’ answers, before sending them another set of questions (Reid, Petocz, & Gordon, 2008, p. 54). This approach to me seems like an analysis-type of activity, because you are encouraged to look at your data right away so that you can start teasing out patterns or interesting ideas that you may want your respondents to continue to elaborate on. From an interpersonal level, it can also show your respondent that you are paying attention to their answers and taking them seriously. Overall, I think that there are benefits to doing the analysis of your data throughout the collection process, because you may find interesting patterns that you can quickly address since you are still in the process of figuring out what you research is telling you about the thing you are studying. And, as Luker states, there is less analysis work to do at the end.

Citation:

Reid, A., Petocz, P., & Gordon, S. (2008). Research interviews in cyberspace. Qualitative Research Journal, 8(1), 47-61.

Reflection on the research proposal

When I started writing the research proposal, I too found the structure a little baffling. I wasn't sure how to separate the background form literature review. And I was more comfortable with proposing hypothesis right after the lit review, which often makes sense logically to come to research questions after the theoretical frameworks and previous research. Then after giving it a thought, I started to realize what this assignment really wanted me to do. I've never written a research proposal before, so my idea about a proposal was something more like the journal articles I read. I initially thought this proposal would somewhat resemble the intro, lit review and method sections of journal articles in terms of structure, style and length. However, this proposal is more like a scholarly paper plus an action plan, laying out what I know about this topic, what's been done, what's the question I want to study, how I'm going to do about it, and the details of the procedures and actions of doing it. No wonder the expected results and potential biases are left to the end.....
In terms of the methodology portion, I struggled a lot since my topic has been studied in many other disciplines but almost none in information studies. I tried to think about what's unique about this topic when it is examined in the context of LIS and how I could address that uniqueness in research design or distinguish this research from what's been done. The Knight's reading chapter 5 has been really helpful on that. In general, I found the Luker book is great on approaching a research idea and the conceptual design, whereas when I have difficulties with pragmatic concerns or specific questions about methodology I found myself often go to Knight for help.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

proportional structure

I am dealing with the same challenge as Colin about the structural guidelines given.  I am trying to make sure each section should be roughly around the same length but of course some sections would have to be longer in order to cover what is needed.  It is without a doubt that the methodology section would be the body of the proposal and that would be lengthier and written with depth.  I find it awkward that the hypothesis is put last in the paper.  Coming from a science background, the hypothesis has always been at the beginning right after the topic is introduced.  After giving some thoughts to it, it does make logical sense for it to be at the bottom.


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Trouble with structure

Is anybody else having trouble making use of the structure provided for the research proposals? I remember Davidson talking about how he wasn't sure how to introduce his topic without covering the same material as the literature review. I'm having the same problem, but with my theoretical framework. My framework is based on the research and theories of other researchers in the field I'm writing about. I talk about their work in the literature review, but that comes after the background, which is supposed to contain the framework. I feel like I can either have a theoretical framework that won't make much sense until you read my literature review, or I can transplant large sections of my literature review and end up with a less clearly structured work.

I'm also having a little trouble determining exactly how to allocate my word limit. 4000-5000 is a lot of words to fill, to be honest, and while I can easily write that much, I don't want one of my sections to be overwhelmingly dominant in terms of length. I'm around 3000 now, and I suspect my stronger material will peter out by about 3500. I can make up the rest in more extensive literature review, more background, or more introduction, but I'm not sure how ideal that is.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Flexibility in proposal writing

While putting finishing touches on my research proposal for assignment 4, I realized that proposal writing is actually a fairly flexible process.  The MI thesis proposal requirements for the Faculty of Information for example simply states to submit a proposal that is 7-8 pages long. It is really up to me to decide how much or how little I want to include. I found that I condensed my proposal significantly for my actual thesis, whereas, what I submitted for assignment 4 was far more detailed. It really depends on how I think I can convince the person reading my proposal that I have put in enough effort into thinking through the details of the proposed research. Similarly, I found the requirements for the SSHRC proposal to be far too stringent in terms of the amount of information requested within the given page limits. It all seems so subjective. But perhaps proposal/grant writing is also something that comes with experience and after writing a couple different versions of research proposals, I supposed one gets enough experience to make objective decisions about how much or how little needs to be written. 

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Knight Chapter 5.

So as I sit down to write assignment 4 I'm struggling to find a research methodology that accurately answers my research thesis and questions.  Since there isn't much on my research thesis and question I am unable to find many other studies that have studied my topic.  If others had studied my topic and published research on it I would be able to consider their research design and perhaps be inspired or build upon their design.   This week's chapter 5 Knight reading was particularly useful because multiple research methods were outlined along with what they are often used to answer as well as their limitations. Sampling was also outlined including theoretical, systematic, stratified, site, opportunity as well as snowball sampling.  The benefits and drawbacks of multi-method design was also explored.  Interestingly Knight mentions that triangulation produces greater uncertainty.  I was originally considering a complex research multi-method design; however, after reading the section on costs of complexity I am seriously rethinking my method.  As a result I think this chapter is definitely worth a read through before starting assignment 4.  So it's back to the drawing board for me-how's everyone else doing?