On 25 June, the specialist group (SG) held a research workshop on research methods for doctoral research students and early career academics, which provided a rich source of information and sharing of ideas between attendees. The research workshop began with a look at three different approaches: qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods.
First, Emma Crewe from SOAS spoke to us about the value of ethnographic methods to study organisations, specifically legislatures and parliaments, by drawing in particular on her recent work on the UK Parliament. One important factor involved in ethnographic research is the role of gatekeepers in research: individuals that may open – but may also shut – doors to potential interviewees, sites and data. Her presentation is available if you click here.
After Emma Crewe’s talk, we heard from Peter Allen (Queen Mary), who drew on his PhD to discuss the added value of quantitative data. Often, academics make the mistake that they assume data is already out there, pre-packaged, and waiting analysis by legislative scholars. Data is often not available how we want it. We need to create the data, or find it ourselves, before we can collect and analyse it. His slides are available if you click here.
All speakers noted that every methodological technique has it’s uses – but also has some challenges. Mixing methods is therefore a crucial step to make sure information is accurate, reliable and insightful. This brings us nicely to Louise Thompson (Surrey), who spoke about the added benefits of mixed-methods. Her slides are available if you click here.
After the talks, we had time for a Q&A, which developed into a discussion about coding the difficulties associated with this. This was followed by a general discussion about challenges facing doctoral researchers studying parliaments and legislatures.
Finally, there was a talk from Parliamentary Outreach about possible engagement between researchers, universities and the UK Parliament. Their slides have also been made available, which you can access if you click here.
Overall, the workshop was well-received, if Twitter is anything to go by:
Daniel Gover (@DanielGover) June 25, 2015
(@politicsphd) June 25, 2015
Mark Goodwin (@MarkRGoodwin) June 25, 2015
Additionally, one of the attendees, David Bender (Hull), has written a short summary of his experience at the workshop, which is available here.
We have also used Storify to disseminate the workshop, available if you click here.