Keeping Track Of The World

Research Methods for Regular People


New researchers often want to research everything about their topic. As they start their exploration the topic expands before their eyes and potentially interesting topics multiply with abandon. The situation is not that different for experienced researchers. Most of us have a larger pile of research we started and did not pursue than that which we actually accomplished. To conduct research it has to be feasibly in terms of access to the research subject(s), researcher time and ability, funding and so on. This has the unfortunate result that none of us ever gets as much done as we had hoped.

The bright spot is this ever expanding universe of things to know and do is that many millions of us are working on tracking the world. Collectively we are a lot closer to “ultimate knowledge” than we are alone—even though this goal appears to be unreachable in this world or the next.

I have always followed my interests and derived my research methodology and method from the needs of the topic I am studying. As a result I have little bits of knowledge about a fair number of methods and methodologies. As with the data themselves methods and methodologies seem to stretch beyond the horizon. Recently I have been fascinated by research methods that use art to collect data. Another innovative recent method of research and analysis analyzes video narratives created by individuals who experience events. Such newer approaches join the endless variations on interviews, focus groups, questionnaires and more.

Alas, there are more methods than I have research projects. This blog is a response to this lack in my life. In it I will explore different methods and methodologies that catch my fancy. I will also examine issues that arise in conducting and writing up that research. Finally, I will address research related issues that arise in my work as Assistant Professor of Research Methods at Tyndale University College & Seminary. I hope this blog will be useful to both scholars and regular people alike.


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