By Mustafa Korel, Head Gardener
This post was first published on PENZU.
Reading through Flick’s ‘Introduction to Research Methods’ bolstered and built on, what I realise now, my limited pre-existing knowledge of research. While I have held positions that involved research – my previous level of research is not quite up to the academic standard that is expected of me. This could be a stark revelation, but as I have learned last year – accept criticism and especially from my tutors. Why? Because I’ve changed my way of thinking over the course of the first year, I’ve had to, otherwise I’d keep still and not progress, and that criticism isn’t there to make me feel bad – this is a learning experience and I am learning, so in a sense, mistakes are allowed… if one learns from them.
Having a discussion with my lecturer about research and what perspective I take, this ebook has confirmed my outlook on research: it should be systematic and you must use empirical methods, while the researcher remains objective (this is harder than it seems – we will cover researcher bias in a later entry). This is important for me as a social scientist, after all, I do want to do a BSc.
It is interesting to read that Flick also started out by mentioning that everyday knowledge and practice is informed by science and research. How would we know the configuration of the stars and planets? What would we know of our history? These questions have very complex answers – answers that have gone through a systematic line of investigation, from formulating hypotheses to carrying out the research.
It seems to get harder to quantify things when we think of things as a social science – to me at least. To help with this, I find it best to say that an additional methodology is available to the social researcher: quality of data or qualitative data capture methods. These could be interviews that collect anecdotal evidence, and the researcher then uses analytic methods to identify trends in several interviews – however, applying controls seems to be the best way to get an accurate data-set. The variable in this case could be seen as the question, to overcome this, the same standard question is asked to each participant.
It seems that one of my recently acquired entrepreneurial characteristics come into play here: living with ambiguity (yes, that was a hard characteristic to develop after studying the Entrepreneurial Mindset the year before). In the state of knowledge row, it was particularly interesting to note that everyday knowledge is ‘concrete, referring to particular situations’ whereas science and research can be ‘abstract and generalising’.
This is fairly true, I would say. Partly because science and research are at the cutting edge of innovation and how fascinating that the abstract is then defined and goes through a process before being embedded in the public consciousness as something that is concrete. It is almost as if there is a formula, a method, a standardised way of doing things – S C I E N C E.
To summarise this read in a sentence: this was a very useful (and short) read that has ignited my appetite to get stuck in to this Unit.