9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN20 Qualitative Methods

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Innovative Methods Building II, B2.01

An International Perspective on Innovations in Social Science Research Methods: What is in store for Qualitative Research?

We have been constructing a ?map? of the ?hot spots? of research methods around the world. This map has two aims: first, to locate innovations in method being developed within social science disciplines; and second, to locate the sites and institutional contexts of these innovations. We have been seeking research practices that have not yet filtered through to typical research methods courses or that impact on the research process in novel ways. Our interest in innovative research practices ranges from data collection to analysis and covers disciplines such as (social) psychology, sociology, social work, socio-legal studies, political science (including public health and public policy) and international studies, (social) geography (area studies, demography, environmental and urban planning), (social) anthropology, (socio-)linguistics, education, communication studies, economic and social history, economics (management and business studies), science and technology studies, statistics, methods and computing.

In this paper, we shall present the conclusions of the project with reference to developments in qualitative methods and qualitative research overall. This includes the identification and geographical mapping of innovative methods and practices, innovators, research networks and structures, as well as a reflection on these developments. Preliminary observations indicate that (i) visual, digital and online methods, (ii) the use of existing theoretical approaches and methods in new ways and (iii) interdisciplinarity are all main features of innovative qualitative research practices.

The project has gathered evidence by reviewing previous reports, carrying out desktop research using automated methods of identifying growth points, conducting an e-mail survey with academics, practitioners, research methods experts and others (N=215) - registering data entries in the form of nominations of experts, institutions and links to explore (N=670) - and holding interviews with gatekeepers (N=36) and telephone interviews with nominated experts (N=34 in progress).

The research has been supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM).