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Tributes to Althea Hayton

Althea Hayton, founder of Womb Twin, passed away peacefully on August 13 (sorry for the delay in posting this news on the blog). We are all ...

Friday, May 07, 2010

I now know what kind of research I am doing!

Reading a (very rare) study of bereavement reactions in twins for the forthcoming book,  I found a description of the kind of research that lay behind this study, and in every respect it echoes the methods of my Womb Twin research project. 

At last I have a name for the kind of research I am doing! 

It's a new paradigm, in fact it's known as a "critical interpretive research" paradigm.

This is how I am working: I am doing "qualitative work in an interpretive paradigm. " And all the time those sceptics (and myself) thought I was going about it the wrong way!

Obviously, I can't quantify people's reactions, beyond their own subjective assessment of levels of severity of those statements. I can't find "representative samples"  or a "control group" for a situation that is largely unknown - even to some of the people involved.

Instead, I am exploring personal meanings at an individual level, that may be especially valuable to other researchers in fields of human experience like personal development or bereavement.

Critical interpretive research applies particularly in areas where there has been limited empirical research, where the use of questionnaires with fixed responses may limit findings or where a particular theory (in this case psychoanalytic theory) has dominated thinking and new ideas are beginning to emerge.

A design involving open-ended interviews  by email, enables new or revised conceptualisations. These play a crucial role in identifying the dimensions of interest for further research. The design of my research, using the questionnaire based on the statements made in the stories, and using the stories to create the questionnaire, is a perfect example of this kind of research -  what a relief.

More from Martin packer's  logic of enquiry:

Here is a quote: This framework distinguishes between quantitative and qualitative techniques of data-collection and analysis, on the one hand, and empirical-analytic and interpretive paradigms of inquiry, on the other.

Generally speaking, empirical-analytic inquiry seeks objective metric or categorical descriptions of phenomena, and aims to provide causal explanations of their interrelationship in the form of formal laws tested through statistical measures of association among variables.

Interpretive inquiry aims to characterize how people experience the world, the ways they interact together, and the settings in which these interactions take place.

By and large empirical-analytic inquiry employs quantitative techniques and interpretive inquiry employs qualitative techniques, but the exceptions to this rule of thumb are illuminating. 

See also GROUNDED THEORY  (that's almost exactly how I have been doing this! ) 
Quote:  It is a research method that operates almost in a reverse fashion from traditional research and at first may appear to be in contradiction of the scientific method. Rather than beginning by researching and developing a hypothesis, the first step is data collection, through a variety of methods. From the data collected, the key points are marked with a series of codes, which are extracted from the text. The codes are grouped into similar concepts in order to make them more workable. From these concepts, categories are formed, which are the basis for the creation of a theory, or a reverse engineered hypothesis. This contradicts the traditional model of research, where the researcher chooses a theoretical framework, and only then applies this model to the studied phenomenon.

I dont do the coding thing, I'm  too busy writing and developing the project, but I have always noticed when people say the same things again and again, often in almost exactly the same way. One day  when I have time I will code the thousands of emails - then I may come up with something really excellent that the sceptics will actually believe!

So I have always been on the right track!   Keep sending those emails and completing those questionnaires! Thanks!

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