Sunday, December 5, 2010
(Okay, so there's no need to sample from such a small population, but play along.) Can you simply take a random sample of, say, 10 posts from each month? If you did, your sample would have something like 33% of October's posts and 88% of December's posts. Then again, since the purpose of the study is comparison and not overall generalization, you don't have to worry about your samples being uneven. As long as you can generalize about October from the October samples, you're fine. Still, maybe it would be better to take 50% of each month. I don't know. If you start taking percentages, then do you risk some kind of distortion? Is 6 of 12 as representative as 15 of 30? I need to go back to the textbooks.
For what it's worth, I think that my research design is going to involve nonproportionate stratified sampling. That would be relevant to this hypothetical study if, for example, October had 30 posts and September had 5. There's just no way you could sample from 5 and get a representative picture of the content of the blog posts. I suppose, though, that I have to think about the ways in which nonproportionate sampling constrains and affects the comparison.
And thank you also for lectures that were always full of visual as well as intellectual interest.
In reading Chapter 7 of Knight, I began to think a lot about whether or not note taking or using recording devices would be more appropriate in my interviews. The crux of the issue seems to be that in taking notes, there is more of a chance that you can miss something, as well as not being able to be as attentive to the interviewees. These implications can be somewhat avoided if you have two researchers as Knight suggests (168). At the same time, it is still difficult to capture all of what someone says by transcribing it. Using recording devices can assist with this problem, but there is the potential for recording devices to influence behaviour. Ethical considerations would necessitate letting the interviewee know that they are being recorded in any way, so they must be aware of this. It is suggested by Knight that if they are smaller, the interviewees may forget about them and make them more comfortable and thus less influenced by the device in their responses.
I think there is a need to find a balance between these two approaches. I believe that you can allow the interviewee to feel more comfortable about the recording by assuring confidentiality and anonymity. I think that I would definitely use 2 researchers- 1 for conducting the interview and 1 for taking notes not just on what people are saying but their body language, etc. I would also obtain an audio record of the conversation, just because I feel like this is the best way to ensure that I wouldn't miss anything important. I feel that the minor limitations that may come from using a recording device outweigh the potential loss of information from the interview that could happen if there were only transcriptions of the interview.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
I have been thinking a lot about writing lately because I need to rethink how I write papers. Not, I mean, how I put sentences together—well, yes, I need to work on that part of it—but the whole business of reading, thinking, making notes, writing, and editing. Curiously, this idea is completely appropriate to this moment because if you think back to the beginning of this course, then you will recall that we began with writing. "Start with Writing" is the first chapter of Knight's book. Here, at the end of the course, I arrive at the beginning.
The main reason that I need to rethink how I write has to do with the fact that I write in too many separate stages. First, I read some text and make notes. Then I read my notes. Then I re-read my notes and re-read portions of the text. Then I re-read my notes and re-read portions of the text and write. Then I re-read the text. Then I re-read my notes. Then I write. And so on. Why don't I just read and write?
So that's where I end, or begin. With a research question.
Friday, December 3, 2010
"Access to these records is governed by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Requests for access to records 100 years old or less must be submitted in writing to the Information and Privacy Unit of the Archives of Ontario."
It occurred to me that writing a request for access to these records would be not unlike writing a research protocol for a study involving human subjects. You should probably make an argument about the value of your research, how you will use the information, how you will secure the information, how you will protect the identities of the inmates, to whom you will disclose your results, what you will do with the information after the study, and so on.
So, as it turns out, our training in research ethics applies just as much to textual records as it does to human subjects. Neat.
While doing this assignment I also read several researcher's takes on evaluating reliability and validity differently for qualitative research; using concepts such as trustworthiness instead. This really resounded with me. Quantitative research is older and more established and these concepts are clearly defined to evaluate quantitative research. It is unfair to have the same standards for a completely different type of research.
Not every topic deals with "benign" issues and Peter helps the researcher understand the importance of these sensitivities. I suppose this is what it means to be a professional in any undertaking, being responsive or empathetic to the will and emotions of others. I wonder though, if this can be learned and internalized from the chapter of a research methods book ? I mean, if one were to apply these tenets literally it might obstruct the flow of whatever information gathering technique is being employed. But then again, I am speaking as an a person who is not shy and quite open (if you weren't able to discern from my in class participation). Not everyone is like this however, and it is important to absorb the professional advice from Ch.7 of Knight.
A small-scale example of online and offline worlds coinciding in research was how I conducted my previous research on Afghan-Canadian youth. Facebook actually allowed me to conduct this research. I was able to use it to approach potential participants. Basically, I sent messages to members of an Afghan Association in Hamilton outlining my research and asking if they would be willing to meet with me and be interviewed. Because this is a marginalized group I could not ethically approach them in person or by telephone but through the Internet it was more annonymous and they could simply not respond to me if they did not want to be interviewed. This was very difficult for me to describe in my ethics approval application and in my final research paper. Clearly, the framework for online research is still being created.
My background is sociology and I also took several psychology courses. The whole principle of sociology is based on the fact that society and groups of people need to be studied as a whole rather than as the sum of individuals. I was definitely happy to see that some methods specialists do no simply brush off the importance of groups and group interviews.
I was, therefore, intrigued to read Knight's section on unobtrusive methods. It is interesting to think of doing a study without leaving a mark. You're simply making observations. The researcher cannot influence subjects under these circumstances. Knight says that most researchers choose not to use unobtrusive methods but I think there might be something very valuable to them. I am not sure if they would make scientists take us more seriously, but they definitely are able to get around some of the criticisms with many social science methods.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Our class on ethics reminded me of this song. I don't think I can speak (or sing) on the topic as eloquently as Floyd "Red Crow" Westerman so I'll leave it to him.
Good luck on your proposal
PS I will follow-up with a post that is actually based on the weekly readings ASAP :)
Sunday, November 28, 2010
involve more participant in the adult programs by reaching out to the community to meet their needs.
Although my research is not design for individuals to pursue their personal concern or interest, but human is the main subject.
Human in my research is a key person who is the main informant of an organization, therefore related organizational objectives and guidelines should be considered and the ethics policies and regulations must be followed.
In Knight, listed pragmatic responses is a good reminding point to prevent accident.
BTW the very helpful and lightening website that gave me the answer to my puzzle is
(found it by way of a Cornell university research course).
D/K if it was one of the links given in another post last week? If so, thanks! If not and anyone else finds it useful please let me know.
good luck to all,
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Programmes for adult with different abilities
Programmes for older adult
Need to say that reading Knight’s chapter eight, made a clear sense of data gathering, although I am still not sure how to develop qualitative data analysis in the case of adult programme in the public library.
On to this week's chapters on the analysing of quantitative data. An aspect of the research process that I have always approached with dread and avoided as far as possible. Surprisingly, Laker's exposition of the various options gave me some hope that this might not always be so. I began to dimly feel the beauty of information hidden behind the cryptic face of unreadable numbers; and the potential excitements of gradually seeing that information take shape, like a photograph developing, as the data yield coherence and pictures.
Qualitative information, I see now, can't have that kind of mystery, because something is always readable on the surface, albeit partial or misleading.
But maybe the mystery would pall as I come to understand the techniques well enough to be able, possibly, to anticipate patterns in the choices?
Maybe. But that moment is a long way in the future for now. The thought of quantitative data analysis is still a form of instant soma. Not the pleasant kind. If indeed that existed.
I want also to thank all of you who write so extensively about the readings, your thoughts and reflections on their content, applications and particular uses for you. Much of interest, and really appreciated!
I don't know, I can rant a bit more about Knight but I'll maybe just end by saying that I think Knight is quite balanced and a good source to have handy when writing a research proposal, which is what i think we are all in the process of doing. I will definitely be citing Knight's wisdom in my proposal. And by the way, best of luck to everyone on this assignment, it certainly feels a bit daunting to me.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I came across this really novel method called a questerview. Its not even in the dictionary!!! Basically what it is is the combination of questionnaires (e.g. the kind used in quantitative studies) and interviews (e.g. the kind used in qualitative research). How it works is that respondents are tape-recorded as they complete a questionnaire and are asked questions relating to their understanding of the terms in the questionnaire. The data collected from questerviews would be so informative and rich compared to questionnaires alone.
So what a neat idea for strengthening a study against validity threats and using qualitative and quantitative methods in tandem. This idea is just brilliant if you ask me.
Check out this site for more details:
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
When I think about my research, it is somehow ethnography/culturally related. One aspect of developing and planning adult programmes in the library is to know the cultures of the community and their expectations.
Finding demographic data is very helpful in general but to get it in a more pertinent domain we have to come up with creative ideas and topics. Then, we must put them into work using different methodology (surveying or interviewing) and collecting data from individual members, community outreach and various organizations.
I found the article The untapped potential of virtual game worlds to shed light on real world epidemics by Eric T Lofgren and Nina H Fefferman to be extremely interesting. I have never been one for gaming. I get too frustrated and have never been interested enough to learn. However, I have always enjoyed watching others game because they were actually good. I spent my childhood watching my brother play, which suited him fine because he never had to share the controller. This was all before online gaming, which opens up a new world, both for the players and for researchers. Not only can researchers observe how the game is played but also can now observe how players all around the world interact.
The case study of the World of Warcraft and the Corrupted Blood epidemic is now offering researchers a new arena to study human responses to epidemics without having to actually be infected. I can remember vividly the news reports from the SARS epidemic and the H1N1 epidemic last year. The images of people wearing masks, attempting to escape 'hot zones' of contamination were very real. And to think, these real life reactions to epidemics could be replicated in an online world is amazing. The fact that this was also unplanned, led to the very real reactions of the gamers. As the authors state, for many of the gamers this virtual world is a very real part of their own worlds. (p. 627) I think that there are endless opportunities for researchers to use online worlds to replicate real world scenarios and issues such as epidemics. Since the article was published in 2007, I wonder if any researchers have begun to devise plans to complete research in online worlds.
Is it possible for a completely original qualitative method or measure to be valid? I have been toying with this question because I have been rethinking validity in general, having bungled the matter somewhat in my peer review, and because I have been wondering about the legitimation of methods and measures.
The more I think about validity, the more I think that conventional validation is really a matter of social process. Measures are valid when other people—subjects, peers, reviewers—agree that they are valid. Construct validity is an obvious example. Knight maintains that you have construct validity when you operationalize a measure in a such a way that it is acceptable to other people (p. 136). You are investigating what you set out to investigate because other people agree with your description of the concept. Face validity seems to be similar. Presumably, face validity increases with the number of people who agree that your measures are valid. Content validity, too, depends on some kind of agreement about the capacity of your questions to get at the domain or dimensions of the concept. In each case validation seems to be a matter of fitting your research into a social consensus about the relationship between a measure and a concept. Here's how one researcher put the matter:
[Mishler] starts from the process of validating (instead of from the state of validity) and defines "validation as the social construction of knowledge", by which we "evaluate the 'trustworthiness' of reported observations, interpretations, and generalizations". Finally, "reformulating validation as the social discourse through which trustworthiness is established elides such familiar shibboleths as reliability, falsifiability, and objectivity" (qtd. in Flick, An introduction to qualitative research, pp. 226-227).
So what happens when you use a method or measure in an unconventional way or, more to the point, if you invent a method or measure from scratch? Clearly, you no longer enjoy as much social approval as a more conventional researcher. Does that mean that your findings will be invalid? No. It does mean that your research may have to be the catalyst for a new or revised social consensus. The tricky part is that your findings may be the only things that justify the validity of your research. In other words, you may have to do all of the research in order to prove that your approach was valid. However, you're not alone. I suspect that a lot of qualitative researcher use their findings to justify their design. Hine implied as much at the conclusion of her article in Internet inquiry. She wrote that "the key recourse has to be the dialogues in which the study is able to engage: If we can do studies [. . .] that say something interesting and that advance debate [. . .], then our studies will have some claim to adequacy" (p. 18-19). I can imagine David Gauntlett saying something similar about Serious Play. Knight calls this a "post-structuralist" view of validity (p. 135). But I think that we distort the discussion of research methods when we posit this kind of validation as an exception to the norm. Instead, it is better to think of it as producing the norm. To my mind, the various discourses of validity reflect something like the Kuhnian model of scientific progress, a dialectic between paradigm and disruption.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
In my particular research, case study could be used to find out about varies adult programmes that is offered to the libraries with similar size population.
Earlier today heard a CBC program on gaming -- reminded me of the discussion we started in class a few weeks ago, about the effect of video games on children. What about adults? These game masters and developers are suggesting that"gamification" is the next cultural definer (?) after Facebook. The concepts under discussion went from the role of cognitive psychology and ethics in gaming --motivation v. manipulation -- to whether game design is an art form. Also apparently the industry/field needs more diversity. I'd be interested to learn more about this, especially after reading Boellstorff''s paper.
I have not read the articles for this week. But I'm looking forward to class anyway, if only to drop off the review! which became a torture to finalize. Hope you all had an easier time with yours.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
“Making the Most of Your Video Trends in Patron Access and Resource Sharing” by Barbara J Bergman.
She used survey method for her research study. The steps and principles that she used for her study is very practical. Although this research is more towards academic libraries but her approach to find solutions for circulating the video collection could be used in any libraries. This research study made me to think about the methodology of my own research.
By reading this article I realized that choosing the right research method is more important than choosing a few different methods. Because even by choosing one method you can find different ways to approach the subject matter in the research study. Therefore the findings will be in more details to support the research statement, and also more reliable for the future study of the same field.
I’ve chosen the ethnographic study on the role of the internet in social change in the Middle East to review, and I’m finding the explorations of different facets and applications of ethnography very interesting. Shaffir and Stebbin’s articles demystified some of the methodology, especially on the issues of personal preparation for working in the field, which my experience of the direct interview had brought well forward for me as I wrote in my previous post. I found Stebbin’s reminder that the researcher needs to have a credible level of competence in the area of study, and Shaffir’s discussion of the role that modifying oneself or even dissembling to some extent, might play in winning the confidence of the subjects of study (people!), especially notable. Whether the encounter is structured, semi-structured, or informal, I am now acutely aware of how much difference the researcher’s knowledge of context could make to the direction and depth of the Q and A process. Empathy also comes into it. Which is where participation can change the character of the interaction in some fundamental ways, as Boellstorff also emphasizes in his observation that while it’s impossible to fully observe and fully participate simultaneously, it’s in that paradox that the best connection can be made.
The van Dijk article’s exposition of critical discourse analysis and his dissection of how discourse control in policy debate functions to manage public views and the status quo in the maintenance of racism struck a particular chord with me. Derrrick Bell (Faces At the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism) has some amazing multi-layered and multi-disciplinary analyses in this area. Critical theory and many other theoretical approaches tell us that power relations are a fundamental aspect of social analysis; the role of racialization in those relations can hardly be exaggerated and would be especially important in ethnographic studies of a wide range of topics and contexts, yet discussion of its role has been so successfully discredited or otherwise discouraged that in my experience it’s rare outside of specific forums dedicated to that discussion.
|Now you see Trotsky standing next to the podium where Lenin is speaking...|
|Now you don't|
I am still finishing my reading of Knight, but in the meantime I have posted these two images after being inspired by the discussion on p.104. It is useful to consider why Trotsky was removed from the second pic (e.g. by whom and to what end?). This story is very revealing. Knight's comment that understanding the "context if production" and that "published images are carefully chosen and have been produced under certain constraints of creation [e.g. totalitarian regimes, my example] and the process of selection and editing helps researchers to attribute significance to the images" (104) is bang-on in my opinion and very insightful.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Homo sapiens have always been a technologically dependent species, and since the development of archeology, the technological extension of humankind has proven to be a fruitful way to interpret human culture and social relations. Is the ethnography of infrastructure not then, in essence, a continuation of this tradition? I suppose one key difference between the two children of anthropology (archeology and ethnography of infrastructure) is the focus on living versus past humans, which is a significant conceptual difference. However, the commonalities between the two in terms of their focus on technology and artifacts as the basis for interpreting human social life is too compelling to be ignored. Both the archeologist and ethnographer of infrastructure have a privileged detachment as researchers for examining social phenomenon (past and present). I will give two brief examples to illustrate my point:
First, artifacts from an aboriginal burial ground tell the archeologist a story of customs and rituals common to a tribe during a certain time-period. Second, the health care infrastructure in small-town Ontario tells the ethnographer of infrastructure a story of customs and rituals of physicians who need to cope with a lack of resources and networks. In both cases, and for arguments sake, those who are directly involved in the use of such technologies are less likely to produce a scientific account of their social implications. On the other hand, the ethnographer-archeologist is in a suitable position to examine such implications by means of the researcher’s own technological extension, namely the tools used for building an appropriate framework of analysis.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Basically Participant Observation (PO) is the main key for methods such as; focus groups and interviews. The requirements for these methods are based on the theory and questionnaires that the researcher is conducting. In order to build up our theory, it is important to look at the cultural aspect of the people who are being interviewed.
It is very true as I read this week articles that the PO must get close enough to the people of the study and yet be far enough to be able to analyze it.
In my research study I will find out about the community outreach/organizations and build up the practices and questions to discuss during focus groups and interviews.
These methods will be very useful in my research study because the programmes in the library is very much related to our community needs and interests.
This week I had an interview to do for INF1300. It was a sobering exercise. So easy to write, I’ll use this method and that method… reality is a bit more demanding. Even a one-on-one Q and A with someone you know, can surface a lot of issues about the process.
It’s a challenge to word questions without leading; to prompt without suggesting; to receive all answers with the same benign inscrutability that will (hopefully) disarm anxieties and neutralize any desire to give a more pleasing or less ignorant answer.. etc etc.
It’s a process that made me aware of how weighty the ethical issues are or can be. I didn’t find too much guidance on this in the readings for this week. But I can see that participant observation of any kind is going to be a many-layered challenge.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
By fixating our attention on the “validated” means for producing “acceptable” generalizations, I think we run the risk of overlooking a world of “truths” which can enlighten our sense of “social reality.” For example, if an oppressed South African living in jail during the apartheid era produces a journal of his experiences, I would not penalize his work for leaving out a discussion on methodology. If anything, a preoccupation with social science methods would, somewhat ironically, render obscure this important piece of “reality.” This example speaks to the attractiveness of post-colonial literature (as well as poetry, music etc.) as a source of “truth” in our complex world.
In other words, if we accept that Luker’s (and similar scholars) methods are highly westernized, then it is not unreasonable to claim that they affectively perpetuate a western mindset in our society (also consider the immense influence of the academy).This affect is not only a hindrance to our pursuit of knowledge, but can also be quite dangerous. Take for example the Jews from the Frankfurt School whose critical theory (note the lack of capitalization) rose from the oppression of Nazi Germany. Although society has progressed since his time, Foucault, whose thinking was also unconventional in this sense, was a homosexual. You get my point.
As a final note to close this tirade, I believe that often important “truths” are too personal or humanistic to be attained by conceptual “methods,” as much as the established order would steer us to believe.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
I really believe in what Luker says about “generalization”. The case of my research study began when I had some informal conversations with colleagues and staff at larger-sized public libraries and realized that this problem is general, therefore the audience for my research study will be far beyond our community.
Knight: Chapter 4 made me to consider all the different types of questionnaires; including rating scale questions for each programmes, semi-structured interviews with different groups in the community, and use q-sort to get a better understanding of adult groups beliefs and expectations.
I am not sure, but based on Annette Lareau school study, is sampling the same as comparison?
Friday, October 15, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The workshop that Eleonore and Jennette organised last Friday on the Artlab approach gave us a good look at the actual workings of the exercise. It facilitates more abstract thinking and, paradoxically, more direct communication. Using modelling material to express our responses seemed to generate material that was more complex and revealing than the verbal information exchanges. All good! from the researcher’s viewpoint. But as we discussed in our post-exercise review, this could need some sensitive management in groups where participants might feel uncomfortable about exposure. As well, though there’s a lot of good potential for layered, authentic information, as Knight observes in his review of face-to-face methods analysing it systematically could present challenges.
On another front; reading through the SSHRC proposal samples I’m struck by the issue of language use; it seems to be very difficult to avoid using specialised vocabulary. Coming to a working understanding of many of the basic terms of contemporary information studies is one of my own challenges at the moment. I am appreciating just how much of a gatekeeping function specialised vocabularies have, especially in the process that Innis’ Minerva’s Owl thesis critiqued -- the building of knowledge monopolies. (At the same time as his writing itself demonstrated the sin, being almost unreadable in both content and form!) The other side of this issue is expressing one’s ideas accurately and appropriately, which might demand technical terms – which, as the information age has and continues to evolve so rapidly, are already common usage within vanguard users in the community. The Seiter article/interview – which was indeed troubling – also demonstrated some of the barriers that class-and-knowledge based language differences can present in just relating, never mind information-gathering. It’s a problem with many dimensions and implications, I find.
I'm going to go back a little bit for this entry and talk about Luker's Chapter 4 and her discussion of translating general ideas into a research question. She uses the analogy of an intellectual cocktail party, different groups focusing on different conversations and having to find a way to insert yourself into a conversation. I am still concerned with being original in my research proposal. Everything I think of seems to have already been done. I'm really struggling with finding a way to make my research stick out from everybody else's. In my undergraduate degree I did my research on Afghan-Canadians and ethnic identity and it was a really original topic. Afghan-Canadians hadn't been researched extensively at all and my literature review consisted of studies done on other immigrant groups. I'm looking for that same spark of originality that I had with my undergraduate research but it seems to be eluding me.
Hope your proposals are going well!
Monday, October 11, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
I was struck by the centrality of feedback in some recent methodological discussions. David Gauntlett, having invited people to model their identity in Lego bricks, observes that people need time to think about their models and reflect on the meanings embedded in them. He concludes that people need "reflective time to construct knowledge." Peter Lunt and Sonia Livingstone, in their article Rethinking the Focus Group in Media and Communications Research, point out that feedback is part of the "new, critical approach to methodology that emphasizes empowering and respecting respondents as participants in the research process" (80). Interestingly, Gauntlett represents feedback as a conclusion of his research—it's an essential part of identity formation—which happens to confirm his method. Lunt and Livingstone represent feedback as an ethical quality of modern research.
Looking closer at Gauntlett's Lego experiment, we can see that the model itself acts as feedback. For example, he says that some people "balance" their design, building new elements in a discursive relationship with elements that they have already built. In this case, the feedback is not mediated by the researcher, perhaps increasing the validity of the findings. However, saying that the 'feedback is not mediated by the researcher' is not the same thing as saying that the feedback is not mediated. Obviously, the feedback is mediated by Lego. To what extent do the Lego pieces themselves suggest certain qualities or options? After all, they are meant to be connected together in very orderly and symmetrical ways. How does the symmetry of Lego pieces affect someone's desire to achieve "balance" in his or her model? At the same time, note that many people build their Lego models on a large base, effectively linking the various elements into a unified whole. How does that influence their model and our 'reading' of their model?
Saturday, October 2, 2010
In the three lectures so far some big questions have arisen -- the nature or at least the form of truth, the methodology paradigms and who asks the questions, of whom, and how, and now the big nut (that may be hard to crack before midnight!) – what’s our own interest? and how can it be defined in an essential question?
Some of the information that has been raining down on us in these first three weeks is starting to coalesce into some kind of synthesis though. In INF1003, highlighting the progression from data > information > knowledge gave me a useful framework for analysing some of that “information,” much of which was actually only data for me initially. Having integrated and organized some of it now, I can think more usefully about how information becomes knowledge, and that that process is both the process of learning something, and of being able to apply, manipulate or expand it into related or entirely other areas.
The data that our key question may generate has to become information before it will transmute into the knowledge that might provide new insights or solutions to perceived problems. But long before we get to that point, it seems that the process of generating a meaningful question is the same – data (our multitude of thoughts, observations, interests and inclinations, not to mention all the feelings that go along with them), has to be processed into coherency, out of which the question/s will emerge.