June 01, 2015

On the generalizability of case study research

Writing about web page https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjoboJxaaiE

Introduction

In our second meeting, we came across the discussion about the generalizability of case study research. Here is some or what was discussed and some extra resources that I found.

Why generalizability

screen_shot_2015-06-01_at_110232.pngThe strength of a single case study is the ability to go really deep into the intricate details and relationships of the case, the downside is being too specific and thus effecting the generalizability of the results. Of course generalizability is not the goal of case study research (as was mentioned in the discussion). So where does this leave us? Is our case study research in vain? Of course not, this is because (a) the close study of a certain case or as Yin says the “assessment of the prevalence of a phenomenon” could he inherently valuable maybe the phenomenon is one of a kind! And (b) although the results of our research are not necessarily generalizable, they can (and should be) transferable. Transferability of results refers to the situations where the results can be applied or relevant in another context. This is a more specific than generalizability, which mostly applied to quantitatively generated results using statistical tabulation of samples from a larger population.

Thanks to Michelle for mentioning that Yin talks about two kinds of generalizability; (1) statistical generalizability and (2) analytic generalizability. On the one hand, statistical generalization comes from a sample of the population, requiring an “interpretive second step from these characteristics to theory” (Yin) . On the other hand, an analytic generalization is a direct confrontation of the case study with an established theory.

My (very quick and brief) Internet search revealed that the first use of the term transferability in this meaning is attributed to Lincoln & Guba's Naturalistic Inquiry (1985).

Thinking bout generalizability and transferability

Each and every researcher should give their work a good amount of thinking about the transferable outcomes that wok could provide. Here the transferable element could be anything; the research conclusion obviously or a part of it, a section or sub section from the design phase, the research method especially for those who develop innovative research methods and so on. (Listen to our talk about this at the 35 minute mark -link above).


Read more:

12_generalizability.pdf: Moreau, Jean-Luc. "Generalizability" Encyclopedia of Case Study Research. 2009 Sage Publications.


2nd Group meeting summary

Writing about web page https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjoboJxaaiE

11219728_10153339058278540_601117441024260248_n.jpgIn brief

So last Wednesday we had our second meeting for the PhD support group, on the agenda of the meeting we had a discussion about the definition of case studies (including a talk about revealing contact details about your case study) generalizability of case study [link] research and using NVivo for qualitative data analysis.

The meeting was extra especial because we had our friend Anne join us from the U.S. over Skype, with the magical technological advances and tech wizardry and with Anne heroically waking up right in the middle of the night we were able to have our across-the-Atlantic meeting of the minds. Also to make our gathering that much better we were joined by Henry who is nearing the submission date of his thesis, and was generous enough to join us and share with us some great advices related to our discussion points (more on that later).

So what is the case in case study

So, the first item of business; definition of a case study, the idea here was to collaboratively figure out what defined the “case” part of each of our respective case studies. So, in turns we each presented our research topic and what outlined the boundaries of each case; for some of us a case was a subject institution like a school or a university; for others it was a person whom they had interviewed or were planning on interviewing; and interestingly for some of us a case was a collection of people within an organization like teachers, headmasters and teacher trainers.

Also, some of us are looking at multiple case studies (example Asima and myself) while other are looking at one case study (example Hessah and Hafiz).

Being careful with language

Asima made an important remark about being careful in using the language when talking about the research method and methodology. So terminology such as ‘case study’ comes loaded with meanings and related connotations and the researcher is actually borrowing aspects of case study design, aspects that are related to his or her research. Here the researcher is urged to tread lightly so to speak when talking about the design of their research. They should talk only about those related aspects and make a clear cut about what is it they are borrowing and what is it they are not. (Listen to Asima talk about this and her reflection on Yin’s case study book at the 9 minutes mark of the recording – link above).

11181686_10153339058413540_626376609674397301_n.jpg11350505_10153339059103540_5671400526198442948_n.jpg


May 30, 2015

2nd Group meeting recording

Writing about web page https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjoboJxaaiE

I am getting the hang of it! It seems that video editing is a skill with a smooth learning curve. This time around I had a video recording and an audio recording to work with. The video recording covers a part of the meeting where our friend Esther Jawing is talking about using NVivo for thematic analysis. The audio recording covers the whole meeting. Now, getting the two recording into iMovie was simple enough, creating a joint video was very easy. Except the audio recording quality dropped massively in the video file. Apparently the internal microphone of a smart phone is not as good as a dedicated professional audio recorder, who knew :)

So, I overlaid the dedicated audio recording over the video recording. Turned down the audio track from the video file and voila! a great sounding video. The tricky part was getting the two files to synchronize perfectly, which was not as easy as you would imagine. iMovie was not helpful in this are, which caused me to I struggle a little bit to get a convincing synch.

You can watch the final product here; seek to minute 49:35 to see how the video track and audio track work together.

betterfamilyphotos.jpg

The video contents are:

  1. Agenda
  2. Case studies: what are cases in each research
  3. Case study as a research design, approach and methodology
  4. Disclosing information about case study details
  5. Ontology, Epistemology & Axiology
  6. Using NVivo for thematic analysis


After finishing the editing, I was glad with how things turned out thinking to myself “this is a genius set up, people should use a similar handheld audio recorder to improve the audio quality of their videos!” I then realized that people have been doing this for ages. Just go to YouTube and search vloggers audio setup for their videos. Turns out that my handheld device was somehow popular on YouTube. On the right you can see a standard set up for capturing video with high-quality audio (credit: Better Family Photos).

I wish to thank Hafiz Hanif for providing the video file; probably video recording should be a standard in our future meetings. I think I will bring this up in a future meeting and see.


May 28, 2015

Researcher's paradigm: useful resources

Follow-up to Researcher’s paradigm from CES PHD Support Group

The nicest thing a fellow student could do is to share his/her resources. Especially when they give you the best of their resources, straight to the point, bite-sized and concise.

Well, this is exactly what our colleague Hessah did when she sent me a couple of book chapters on Researcher's paradigm and research philosophy. Her intension was to share these resources with other students (which I am gladly doing through this post).

rubin

So, here you will find some useful documents. I will be updating this blog post with more resources as soon as I come across any good ones.

Book Chapters


  • Rubin, H.J. & Rubin, I.S. 2012. Chapter 2. Research Philosophy and Qualitative Interviews. In: Qualitative Interviewing: The Art of Hearing Data Third Edition. SAGE Publications, Inc. pp. 13-24.

rubin_rubin_2012.pdf

  • CreswellCreswell, J.W. & Plano Clark, V.L. 2011. Chapter 3. Choosing a Mixed Methods Research Design. In: Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research (2nd Ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc, pp. 53-106.

creswell_plano_clark_2011.pdf

Journal Articles

  • Mackenzie, N. & Knipe, S. 2006. Research dilemmas: Paradigms, methods and methodology. Issues In Educational Research, 16, 2006.

mackenzie_knipe_2006.docx

Other Documents

  • Flowers, P. 2009. Research Philosophies – Importance and Relevance. Research Philosophies – Importance and Relevance, 1, 2009.

flowers_2009.pdfnote: this is not a peer-reviewed article but is still useful

  • Alsalahi, S.M. 2015. Paradigmatic Standpoints of Master’s and Doctoral THESIS. Exeter University.

alsalahi_2015.pdfnote: this powerpoint document is in Arabic & English

I wish you find these useful. Special thanks to Hessah.


May 18, 2015

1st Group meeting recording

Writing about web page https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnE55FPS7yY

First recording upload to YouTube

It was not an easy job getting my first YouTube upload in this format! I created a dedicated YouTube channel for the group (link) and had to learn how to transform an audio recording into a video file (using iMovie) so YouTube will accept it. The reason that I wanted to upload the file to YouTube is that I could have cut into bite-size chunks so it's easier to jump through. The result is a nice looking file with a detailed description of its contents. Additionally, I learnt to use the annotations, which are very useful little things!


Video annotations

So, annotations are "clickable text overlays on YouTube videos". They are used by YouTubers to increase their view count and help engage more subscribers. You are advised to be inventive in using annotations. I remembered once seeing a video where the uploader made self-referring links in the video that allowed to jump from one point in time to another. After a bit of tweaking and trial and error, I was able to overlay a couple annotations that broke the file into four major parts. Pressing each one will allow the viewer to seek into a different part of the recording. I am generally happy with the result. I hope it's clear for first time viewers.

So, please have a look through and don't forget to check out the video description just underneath the title and the sharing buttons. Oh yeah, and share it if you feel like it. Link to video

The video description

For more details about the content of the video I added a detailed account of the recording contents. A time stamp and a title of the discussion is listed in chronological order. The time stamp is clickable and will make the video jump to the exact point of timw where the right topic is discussed. I’m genuinely impressed with how things worked out at the end. Alas, it was not an easy job! Uploading the recording took about an hour!! Adding the annotations took another hour, and don't get me started on the editing (the video rendering only took a whopping 5 hours on a 2.8 Intel Core i7 with 8 Gigs of ram)! Regardless, let's just hope there’s a learning curve here and let's hope next time it won't be this much time consuming. Because I intend to not quit on this project. Oh yeah, I to see this through.

Recording privacy

Although this recording is on YouTube it is somehow private. This will be good news for you if you were in the recording and are shy or unconformable being on YouTube. Because the recordings is "Unlisted". Making a video "unlisted" means only those who have the link to the video can view it. An unlisted video won’t appear in YouTube's search results (unless someone adds the unlisted video to a public playlist). You can share the video by simply sharing the link with the people who you’d like to have access to it.


May 17, 2015

Researcher’s paradigm

Researcher’s paradigm

paradigmResearcher’s paradigm is tricky concept. The problem starts with the term itself, with authors using various terms to refer to the same concept. The used terms include Researcher’s philosophy, philosophical worldview and Researcher’s framework.

Regardless, the paradigm is essentially an umbrella term that refers to the researcher’s ontology and epistemology.

According to Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, Ontology refers to the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of existence. Epistemology on the other hand refers to the part of philosophy that deals with knowledge. Epistemology is a theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion.

To read more on the difference between ontology and epistemology check my entry to the ARM programme blog and make sure you download the attached PowerPoint file. Here http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/voices/entry/researchers_paradigm/

A great resource I found online is an article by Professor Ørjan Totland, I found on the Norwegian University of Science and Technology website. Here http://www.idi.ntnu.no/grupper/su/publ/html/totland/ch032.htm

Book suggestions

In our first meeting of the CESPHD support group, we had a lively discussion on the researcher’s paradigm. Thankfully, some great books were suggested. Here’s a detailed account of the suggested books:

A Practical Guide for Beginners1) An easy to read and great with real-life examples book is Braun & Clarke's Successful Qualitative Research: A Practical Guide for Beginners. Library link

Book details:

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd (28 Feb. 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1847875823

ISBN-13: 978-1847875822


2) An authority on Research is John W. Creswell who has many books, except they might be a bit dry. See all Creswell's books in the Library here


3) Another authority on Research is David Silverman whose books are also hard to approach. See all Silverman's books in the Library here


4) Another authoruty is Stephen Gorard, whos provides hugely critical review of other authors. This makes him a great resource for those who want a critical edge to their work. See all Gorard's book in the Library here


A Practical Guide for the Social Sciences5) A must-have book is Matthews & Ross's Research Methods: A Practical Guide for the Social Sciences See Library Link or View Online

Book details:

Paperback: 520 pages

Publisher: Longman; 1 edition (9 Jun. 2010)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1405858508

ISBN-13: 978-1405858502


Feel free to suggest your own favourate books in the comments below


1st Group meeting summary

What a great first meeting we had! I genuinely enjoyed myself and had great discussions with other colleagues. The 75 minutes meeting was very smooth and productive. The 9 attendees discussed their research as well as the format and goal of the support group.

You can listen to the meeting's recording here and read about the YouTube video here

The summary of the discussions includesmeeting2.jpg

Introducing the Group and its goals, followed by a discussion on the formula and regularity of meetings.

Asima, who also provided us with a list of book recommendations, triggered a lively discussion on Ontology & Epistemology. The discussion is going to continue on our next meeting. Make sure you are present for that!

The book recommendations are further discussed here.

Another great discussion on Data Collection took place, with everybody chipping in. We all presented out data collection duration and how we managed our schedules.

Interview transcriptions were also discussed, with colleagues sharing their experiences in using transcribing software (namely NVivo). A coming up meeting will include detailed discussions and tips on using NVivio.

Self-reflection was also discussed and the matter of keeping a personal diary. Some suggested keeping track of your work, others suggested going back to your old material and reflect on it.

A closing discussion included the possibility of help from the department. The idea is that the department offered to provide us with workshop and one-on-one support on key research-related topics, such as using NVivo and SPSS. A group of students who are interested in such help can request formal support from the department. The CESPHD support group will help facilitate this request.

Looking forward to our next meeting! Make sure you are present so you don’t miss out.


May 12, 2015

Welcome to the CES PHD Support Group blog

Welcome

It brings me great pleasure to announce forming a PHD support group. The group is called CESPHD and as the name suggests it is aimed at all PHD students at the Centre for Education Studies.


Goal of the group

As many of you have indicated on various occasions, there is a need for some sort of a group that allows students to discuss their research and help each others overcome the similar obstacles they are facing. Well, here's your chance, an informal group formed and managed by students. Thanks to everyone of you who expressed interest and helped with your valuable input (especially Asima, Hafiz, Sakinah & Natia)

The main goals of the group are:

  1. help students meet on a semi-regular basis in a friendly environment where they can talk openly about their research experience
  2. transfer research experience and share helpful tips
  3. capitalise on the collective thinking and allow feedback for those who would like to present their work to a fresh set of eyes

Additional benefits include (and are not limited to)

  1. Sharing tips on valuable papers and books
  2. Provide solutions to potential problems (brainstorming/focus group)
  3. Giving conference heads up
  4. A good place to just hang out and plan fun activities


The formula of the meeting

As mentioned above the meetings are biweekly and take place in the late morning. The meeting is open for everyone to show up and leave whenever they feel like it.

Please keep in mind that this is definitely not a formal thing and most definitely not mandatory.

In order for the meeting to be most fruitful you are encourage to:

  • Have a personal 'agenda' for the meeting; this is what you want to get out of the meeting. You personal agenda can be some piece of work you are working on and feel stuck and in need of fresh eyes to have a look at.
  • Don't expect everyone to show up so try and make use of as many people who are present on the day.
  • If you are not facing any problems with your research (in which case congratulations!! you are the 1 in a million) you are still welcome to take part and help other students. Who knows? you might just pick up the most useful piece of advice for your work (well... it's a possibility!
  • Be reasonable in your expectations, this is not a tutoring group or a workshop (although some members might be up for one-to-one tutorials according to their time and availability.

Looking forward to your participation both in the Group and online, please feel free to view, comment and post on this blog.


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  • Dear Asima, you are welcome :) and thanks for the addition, very interesting stuff! by Mohammad Waseem Sandouk on this entry
  • Very informative blog indeed, Mohammad! I will be looking into the websites for career opportunities… by Asima Iqbal on this entry
  • I found Yin to be the most helpful in Case Study; the great value about Yin is that his method is mu… by Mohammad Waseem Sandouk on this entry
  • Hey guys – I've also been using Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2011) Research Methods in Education – I … by Michelle Evans on this entry
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