P. 1
Doing Social Research: Some Personal Reflections

Doing Social Research: Some Personal Reflections

|Views: 7|Likes:
Published by Babu George
Invited Presentation made at St.Joseph's College, Irinjalakkuda, Thrissur on 14 January 2013.
Invited Presentation made at St.Joseph's College, Irinjalakkuda, Thrissur on 14 January 2013.

More info:

Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Babu George on Jan 18, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





Doing Social Research

Some Personal Reflections
BABU P GEORGE, PhD Associate Professor of Business Alaska Pacific University

Proverbs 14:15 “The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.” Isaiah 1:18 God said: “Come let us reason together.”

The Foundations
• What do researchers strive for?
– TRUTH? No! – Models that explain phenomena? Yes
• Scientific realism Vs Scientific instrumentalism

– Science Vs Pseudoscience
• The central property of science is falsifiability • You can never ‘prove’ anything with science
– If a scientific claim can stand tests of refutation, it is likely to be ‘true’

• What is a scientific explanation?
– a scientific explanation succeeds by subsuming a phenomenon under a general law

• Why do researchers do what they do?
– What are your personal motivations?

Analysis, Induction, Deduction
• Analysis is the process of decomposing complex phenomena into simpler constituent components
– Reductionism refers to an extremist form of analysis
• In the final analysis, you can explain everything, including human behavior, in the language of physics and chemistry!

– Induction refers to weaving together the whole picture (general principle) from its parts. – Deduction refers to explaining a particular phenomenon as a realization of a general principle

Empirical Verification
• The predictions implied by hypotheses should be in agreement with observations
– Observations are NOT limited to observations by unaided senses – Multiple observers and multiple observations fortify the value of observations – It is difficult (if not impossible) to find intersubjectively agreeable observations in human sciences

Duhem-Quine thesis
• It is impossible to test a theory in isolation
– Interaction with the nomological network – If a particular test doesn’t support a theory, don’t immediately discard the theory
• Look for compounding factors that would solve the issue!
– The danger is that “you might be able to resist rejecting a theory despite compelling counter observations, just by adding ad-hoc ‘excuse’ hypotheses” – Occam’s razor warns against this tendency – Kuhn’s “Dominant Design”

How do you Know what you Know?
• Can we possibly know a thing as it is?
– No. We know in ‘human way’.
• Not yet; we know in Indian way/female way/introvert way/young way/ …./ “I know in my unique way” • “You don’t know a rose until you become a rose; from then you will cease to know a rose as others see it.”
– “Me and my Father are One”: Atman Brahman oneness! – This is also the root of differences between SubjectivistQualitative and Objectivist-Quantitative researchers

– Now, are you a subjectivist or an objectivist?

The Scientific Method

Research Problems and Hypotheses
• Research problems are opportunities for grasping the world better
– Why are some satisfied customers not repeat purchasers?

• Hypotheses are competing alternative solutions trying to address the research problem
– Might be, they are variety seekers.

Instrument Development
• Construct • Validity and Reliability
– Test-retest reliability, inter-subjective reliability – Face, convergent, discriminant, and nomological validity

Multi-Stage Mixed Designs

• Qualitative first stage followed by quantitative second stage studies have the greatest impact
– Identify the phenomenon via qualitative study – Quantify and universalize the findings via quantitative study

Qualitative Methods are NOT Stepchildren!
• • • • • • • • Case studies Critical incident technique Projective technique Ethnography Content analysis Exegesis … …

Nuances with PhD Research
• Move away from the single supervisor centered solar system
– Faculty-Scholar research committees – Leverage social media for rich interaction

• Be flexible with the topic, research problems, methods,….and everything!
– Make surprises, be prepared for surprises!

• Observations and literature reviews offer the first opportunities for writing research papers
– Why not begin writing blogs?

• Networking with other research scholars and academicians in general is vital
– Attend conferences! – Prepare active CVs: Google Scholar Profile, academia.edu, LinkedIn, etc

• Don’t ever plan for systematic progress
– Knowledge rarely reveals herself linearly!

Nuances with PhD Research
• Copyrights are 20th century things
– The best way to protect your knowledge is to make public imprints of it
• Publish work-in-progress papers online
– SSRN, Scribd, etc

• The ‘politics’ of research
– Close-minded supervisors – Sensitive research topics – Issues with college / university administrators

• Ethical issues
– Human subjects

• Synergizing teaching, research, and service


You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->