As a publisher, we play a significant role in supporting the development of new research understanding and skills, and in reflecting on emerging agendas and dilemmas, including online data, evidence use, ethical practice, mixed methods, participatory approaches and cross-disciplinary learning.
Our titles on social research methods and research practices span disciplines and embrace new collaborations and ways of working as part of a focus on challenge-led research.
Highlights in this area include the Social Research Association Shorts, which provide academics and research users with short, high-quality and focused guides to specific topics, and the Longitudinal and Life Course Studies journal.
Social Research Methods and Research Practices
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This chapter introduces the concept of participatory research and then sets the scene for the rest of the book. It provides an overview of the contents and style of the book, and tips on how to read it.
This chapter introduces the concept of research generically and then participatory research as the focus of this book. The chapter explains how participatory research is situated amongst many other types of research, in order to ease the complexity. The chapter presents a clear definition of participatory research along with its benefits and challenges. Key roles of researcher, co-research and participant are explained. Attention is drawn to the way participatory research aims to contribute to social justice. The chapter is designed to help the reader to understand and in turn communicate to others why this type of research is so important.
Avoiding both over-simplification and jargon-riddled complexity, this book is an invaluable, straightforward guide to participatory research for you and your fellow practitioners working with community groups and organisations.
The book offers a blueprint for your research project, taking you through each stage of the process, from planning your project to disseminating your findings. Keeping in mind imperatives such as engagement, involvement and voice, the book explores how best to conduct your research in ways which are meaningful for the participants.
The book includes valuable resources such as reflection points, chapter summaries and further reading lists. It will encourage and empower practitioners to plan and execute participatory research projects with confidence.
This chapter introduces the reader to the concept of data analysis. The chapter provides a straightforward overview of analysis of the main types of data, namely numbers, words and images. Clear descriptions, worked examples and additional suggested tools make this an accessible guide to analysis. The chapter presents a simple planning tool for data analysis and discusses the potential and challenges of participatory analysis.
This chapter will support the reader to develop a research aim and research questions for their participatory research project. The chapter explains what research aims and research questions are and the difference between them as well as offering tips and checklists to develop them with the project with groups, organisations or communities. The importance of people creating their own research questions is linked to social justice. This chapter also introduces the idea of ‘locating’ the research study in a wider field of literature in order to show how it relates to other people’s thinking. A practical approach to this is suggested so that it does not become too time consuming or distracting.
This chapter explains some of the core beliefs that are associated with different types of research so the reader can understand the fundamental differences between them. The underpinning beliefs or philosophy of participatory research is explained as having three foundations. The chapter then progresses to explain how different approaches to research are tied to the core beliefs of each type of research. The chapter also introduces the concept of research alignment – ensuring that all elements of design are complementary – as a key aspect of research quality.
This chapter explores the range of people and roles for people in participatory research. This includes thinking through who does the research with you as co-researchers and who the co-researchers might invite to be participants in the research. The chapter includes a discussion of power as participatory research aims to transform power relations between actors in these collaborative research endeavours. The chapter describes some of the difficulties inherent in identifying and describing groups and suggests practical solutions to these issues. The chapter also discusses people’s involvement in terms of identifying target populations, sampling and recruitment strategies and ways to deal with the inevitable ‘drop out’ from research.
Sequence analysis is an established approach to study life courses. When several life domains are considered simultaneously, multichannel sequence analysis (MSA) and the extended alphabet (EA) approach are the most frequently used strategies. We compare these two methods using real data composed of four life domains (cohabitational status, children, professional status, health), and we focus on clustering since sequence analysis usually aims to identify typical patterns in sequences. As professional status trajectories, and potentially their relationship with other domains, proved to be different between men and women, the analyses were run separately by sex. We describe step by step the approach followed and the different criteria to judge the relevance of a typology. Neither of the two approaches is clearly superior, and the typologies obtained with both methods are often close. However, even if MSA is generally easier to use and applies to a broader range of situations, EA can provide original typologies in specific cases and we therefore propose guidelines for choosing between the two approaches depending on the context.
This chapter explores work in a ‘traditional’ local authority planning department that has sought to retain its in-house specialist staff alongside a long-term reputation for doing ‘good’ planning work. Latterly it has sought to ensure this by instituting a commercialisation agenda that has monetised various aspects of planners’ work. We show how this commercialisation process unfolded and reveal its tensions with planning in the public interest alongside a lack of resistance by planners, despite their identifying with a public-service ethos. The chapter highlights themes such as the public interest, the impact of austerity politics on local authorities and how planning officers work with a local authority’s elected members.
This chapter sets out the approach taken in the book, arguing for the need to explore the actual, multiple and diverse practices of planning and the similarly diverse working lives of professional planners. It introduces key changes in the environments in which planners work, including privatisation and the growth of private-sector work as well as linked initiatives to bring commercial logics into the realm of planning. It sets out debates on the purpose of planning and the public interest before outlining the ethnographic approach to data collection in the four case-study organisations.