Revelations on Research

Last year I was a business student, and research is approached in a rather different method in the business world than in the media world. Studying statistics, research was very quantitative, numerical, historical, and based on ‘conventional’ or ‘traditional’ data of numbers, facts and figures. We touched on qualitative research methods, but that was where we left it – I thought no more of it.

Reading this article, I realised how important qualitative investigations are to research, having always thought it to support or be used in conjunction with quantitative methods, for example in market research situations. It was not that I didn’t value qualitative research (quite the opposite), but rather that I perceived it as something less valued in research industries. The article supports my initial perception:

“Most funding priorities call for quantitative projects, and qualitative investigators in all of the social sciences are often believed to suffer a disadvantage in getting grants… qualitative researchers cannot always produce conclusive answers to focused questions…” (pp. 119)

However, having gleaned an appreciation for the way in which qualitative research is conducted – i.e. through personal attachment with a studied subject, a passion for a certain field, or a genuine quest to gain knowledge or insight into a subject – I realise that it is perhaps, in some sense, a much more thorough approach to investigation. I understand that quantitative and qualitative methods are more appropriate for certain projects than others, but I feel that qualitative research is benefitted from a removal of the ‘sterile’, ‘facts and figures only’ approach of quantitative methods to ignite and spur a sense of determination in its so involved researchers.

In this way the article also changed my thoughts on researchers getting personally involved with their subjects.

“It is important to know that feeling passionate about our research is not just “okay” but the best way to live the scholar’s life. Researchers’ lived experience can also be a source of opportunity…”

I’d always assumed that being or becoming attached to an investigation or formal subject matter in an emotional or personal sense could be considered, and perhaps this is not the right word, unethical in a sense; considering bias, ‘fudging’ or careful representation of facts, or any personal repercussions from such attachment. However, I now can appreciate this close approach as something of a positive influence on research methods.

I have touched on one particular angle of Lindlof and Taylor’s article – being limited for words I wanted to focus this as my basis for discussion, since in this area i gained the most from my readings. Mentioning the online reading by the University of Surrey, I will also say that I found it extremely interesting considering the amount of detail, physical effort (writing, formatting, etc) and struggle (gaining grants, approval etc) that goes into embarking on research, especially of a qualitative nature.

This has been a longer post than usual, so thanks for bearing with me!

Lauren.

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