I’ve been thinking a lot about research design lately, mostly because I am a graduate student (and really, what else do we think about?) but also because there are so many interesting studies I’ve been reading that employ a wide variety of design, philosophy, and methods.
In the first chapter, Creswell lays out a general definition of philosophical assumptions researchers make, the approaches researchers tend to take, and the methods that comes out of that. There is, of course, the old quantitative vs. qualitative discussion, which Creswell answers by saying both (he’s a big mixed-methods guy, even founded a journal about it. Now that’s dedication.) He states, “Thus, it is more than simply collecting and analyzing both kinds of data; it also involves the use of both approaches in tandem so that the overall strength of a study is greater than either qualitative or quantitative research.” I have a lot of questions about this statement as it seems like you could actually do a really bad job of a mixed-methods study and combine the weakest flaws of each approach, but I digress.
Overall, the chapter’s explanations of philosophy, methods, and strategies emphasized that the researcher herself has a great deal of impact on the studies done, no matter which approach she uses. In my academic voice, I obscure my identity, take the emphasis off of myself and place it on the question, where the question is situated in the larger theoretical discussion, and the findings. What Creswell makes visible is how much researchers philosophical bent and even knowledge (how many quantitative methods courses did you take? Does this make you a more confident quantitative methods researcher? You may be more likely to do a quantitative study then.) This was sort of a big AHA! grad student epiphany for me, as if someone finally let me peek behind the current a bit. I just never really considered it explicitly before.
It made me wish for a Cosmo quiz (you know:are you way too good for him? etc.) for research identity: what kind of researcher are you? Hmmm….I smell a future project for me. Stay tuned