Category: research methods

Oral history as a method to analyse historical and cultural contexts and inform policymaking: the example of the early AIDS epidemic

On this World AIDS Day, Marco Scalvini and Chris Parkes describe how their new oral history project aims to create a new digital archive that will help researchers better understand the early AIDS epidemic and the new model of therapeutic alliance that emerged, in particular. Oral history is an effective research method to explore and analyse the historical and cultural […]

Elephant paths: Wider methodological transparency is needed for legal scholarship to thrive.

Mariana Gkliati calls for a reconsideration of traditional research methods in legal studies and how these methods are communicated. Most legal scholars seek to fit their conceptual analysis into narrow and strictly legal boxes, often relying on tacit knowledge from the field. Drawing on the metaphor of elephant paths, or an overlaying system for going from place to place, and behavioural psychology, […]

Book Review: The ‘Postmodern Turn’ in the Social Sciences by Simon Susen

In The ‘Postmodern Turn’ in the Social Sciences, Simon Susen traces the epistemological shift from modern to postmodern thought and the influence of this transformation on the social sciences. While admiring of his comprehensive descriptive accounts of the projects of modernity and postmodernism, Sarah Burton is left feeling that the lack of penetrating critique or analytical ‘bite’ may be symptomatic […]

Why perpetuate a 300-year-old anachronism? Reincarnating the research article into a ‘living document’.

Online publication provides us with new freedom to update, amend and extend the research article as we know it. Daniel Shanahan presents a vision of the evolution of the article beyond the limits of the printed page. Creating a living document for a single research project, updated in real time, would lead to it being evaluated based on the question […]

How long does a scientific paper need to be? Length limits can have a detrimental effect on scientific reporting.

In principle, length limits should help with the accessibility and readability of a scientific paper. But in practice these limits often achieve the opposite effect. Now that journals are becoming online-only, Dorothy Bishop argues, lengths limits are far less relevant. Yes, we should encourage authors to be succinct, but not so succinct that scientific communication is compromised. There was an interesting exchange a […]

Book Review: Ethnography for the Internet: Embedded, Embodied and Everyday

Ethnographers of contemporary Internet-infused societies consequently find themselves facing serious methodological dilemmas: where should they go, what should they do there and how can they acquire robust knowledge about what people do in, through and with the internet? Casey Brienza thinks Ethnography for the Internet is both a challenging and magisterial book by a scholar working at the fullest extent of her […]

Book Review: Language in Mind: An Introduction to Psycholinguistics.

Language in Mind highlights the topics that capture the imagination of researchers and students alike, for example, deaf communities, poetry, jokes, misutterances, and Alzheimer’s disease. It would be a joy to teach using this book, writes Gwyneth Sutherlin. This review originally appeared on LSE Review of Books. Language in Mind: An Introduction to Psycholinguistics. Julie Sedivy. Sinauer Associates Inc.,U.S. 2014. Find this book: Taking […]

Qualitative and quantitative research are fundamentally distinct and differences are paramount to the social sciences

Matt Vidal calls for clear distinctions to be made between qualitative and quantitative research. Using as an example the impartial data generated by surveys, Vidal argues that such quantitative data are fundamentally important, but incomplete. Data based on methods of prolonged engagement with respondents are qualitative, also important, but incomplete. Both are united in their goal of advancing knowledge and theory, […]

Book Review: Methodological Practices in Social Movement Research edited by Donatella della Porta

This collection aims to offer a practical, how-to approach to researching social movement studies, with each author writing on a method they have used extensively in their own work. Leonardo Custódio is impressed by the book’s invitation to researchers to reflect about different approaches to studying mass demonstrations, protests, and other forms of collective action for socioeconomic and political change. This piece originally appeared on LSE […]

Stand Up and Be Counted: Why social science should stop using the qualitative/quantitative dichotomy

Qualitative and quantitative research methods have long been asserted as distinctly separate, but to what end? Howard Aldrich argues the simple dichotomy fails to account for the breadth of collection and analysis techniques currently in use. But institutional norms and practices keep alive the implicit message that non-statistical approaches are somehow less rigorous than statistical ones. Over the past year, I’ve met with many doctoral students […]