Writing a mixed methods report in social work research

Introduction Participant observation, for many years, has been a hallmark of both anthropological and sociological studies. In recent years, the field of education has seen an increase in the number of qualitative studies that include participant observation as a way to collect information. Qualitative methods of data collection, such as interviewing, observation, and document analysis, have been included under the umbrella term of "ethnographic methods" in recent years. The purpose of this paper is to discuss observation, particularly participant observation, as a tool for collecting data in qualitative research studies.

Writing a mixed methods report in social work research

writing a mixed methods report in social work research

However I must first note that there is no one feminist perspective, and hence no one feminist methodology.

Feminist researchers have criticised quantitative positivistic methods for ignoring and excluding women e. Jessie BERNARD questioned why research is conducted in certain fields of study but not others and how objectives, methodological and ideological stances are determined, and concluded that they all mirror maleness.

Barbara DUBOIS highlights that what has been named "universal" knowledge is actually male knowledge, derived from male scholarship and therefore fundamentally flawed.

She emphasises the androcentric basis of the social sciences and explains that the "person" has been considered to be male, and the female, the woman, has been defined in terms, not of what she is, but of what she is not The androcentric perspective in social science has rendered women not only writing a mixed methods report in social work research, but virtually unknowable.

She argues that this perspective "examines how and why knowledge is not produced, is obliterated, or is not incorporated into a canon" p. It is this questioning of knowledge that forms the basis for feminist epistemological issues. Epistemological Issues In the sixth century BC the Pythagorean school of thought developed a table of opposites based on the primary contrast between form good and formlessness, or matter bad, inferior.

In this relationship male form is set up as dichotomous to female formlessness. These ideas were still prevalent in the early seventeenth century when Francis BACON related the concepts of form and matter to knowledge maleand nature female. BACON claimed that nature is an object of knowledge, with men being the "knowers" and women the "knowable".

It lies deep in our philosophical tradition" p. If research does not follow the "rules" it is often criticised and dismissed as methodologically flawed and hence "untrue". An example of this can be found in an introductory research methods textbook for psychology in which the author writes; "a majority of psychologists would agree that research should be scientific, and at the very least that it should be objective, controlled and checkable" COOLICANp.

This statement is problematic in that it is not only saying objective research is desirable, but also assumes total objectivity is possible. This highlights the idea that quantitative data, like qualitative data, is interpreted and often manipulated by the researcher and therefore incorporates subjective acts within a supposedly pure objective analysis.

Additionally, the striving for objectivity may result in the downplaying of validity if participants feel uncomfortable with the researcher. Humans, be they female or male, are not computers, and are unable to process information without some degree of subjective interpretation.

This starts with the first stage of research: As the process continues this is highlighted further, indeed, the introduction, or literature review, at the beginning of a report is actually a review of the literature that the researcher has deemed to be relevant.

This rejection of pure objectivity is not limited to feminist researchers, and many other sociologists have questioned and rejected the notion, preferring to make knowledge claims based on findings being corroborated by other research. Feminist standpoint theory has been rejected by Donna HARAWAYwho argues that neither women nor men can ever have total knowledge, as all knowledge is partial.

Post-modern feminists have made similar criticisms, claiming there is no one "truth" and although all standpoints are conflicting, none are privileged. These theories expand upon the work of earlier sociologists such as C.

MILLSwho argued that social laws are always historically specific. However feminists have added gender to the "hat" and shaken it up again. HARAWAY suggests that the notion of complete objectivity should be redefined and replaced by situated knowledge, in which the researcher recognises that knowledge can never be regarded as universal.

She writes "situated knowledges require that the object of knowledge be pictured as an actor and agent" p. Maria MIES suggests that "the "truth" of a theory is not dependent on the application of certain methodologies and rules but on its potential to orient the processes of praxis towards progressive emancipation and humanisation" p.

Experience has also been suggested as a measure of knowledge, and an important contribution is made by DUBOIS in arguing that a rejection of absolute standards based on notions of objectivity in favour of relativist standards based on subjective experience in no way makes the research less critical, rigorous or accurate.

The Statistical Survey Surveys are generally used to obtain responses from a sample that can be coded with variable labels and statistically analysed, with the results being generalised to a wider population. Due to the nature of the questions asked and the process of analysis for example, frequency counts, calculation of the mean, between-group comparisons, in short, the kinds of operations associated with use of a statistical computer package, such as SPSSthe survey is generally defined as a quantitative method, and is utilised to examine widespread social issues whereby the results of a sample can be generalised upon to reflect society as a whole.


The use of surveys to collect statistics has been criticised by many feminist researchers. Criticisms often focus on the crudeness of survey questions and data, which are arguably too simplistic to examine the complexity of the social issues being addressed.

Denise FARRAN argues that rather than statistics being a representation of social reality, they are actually a construction of reality. She argues that statistics are "divorced from the context of their construction and thus lose the meanings they had for the people involved" p.

writing a mixed methods report in social work research

She concludes that "the survey may well frustrate, from its inception, a feminist programme" p. She argues that the survey method treats all individuals as being equal units and therefore does not reflect the patriarchal society in which the data are gathered.

Although I believe that sexual harassment is a form of sexual abuse, the term "abuse" in contemporary society is generally used to describe abuse against children.

I therefore feel a higher number of participants gave a response to the question "have you ever experienced sexual harassment at work? Additionally, one male participant refused to answer any further questions when he came to this question, claiming "this questionnaire is designed for women".

Interestingly the research showed that male taxi drivers are sexually harassed at work, albeit not to the same extent as women. If a phenomenon is assumed not to affect a population there will generally be no relevant question included, hence suppressing and nullifying the experiences of the population studied.

The "naming" of women's issues by feminist researchers has made and is still making an important contribution to the women's liberation movement as a whole.The Journal of Mixed Methods Research serves as a premiere outlet for ground-breaking and seminal work in the field of mixed methods research.

Of primary importance will be building an international and multidisciplinary community of mixed methods researchers. The journal's scope includes exploring a global terminology and nomenclature for mixed methods research, delineating where mixed.

This practical and accessible textbook presents the report writing process in a clear and straightforward way. From methods of collecting and presenting evidence, to .

Developing a Mixed Methods Proposal: A Practical Guide for Beginning Researchers (Mixed Methods Research Series Book 5) - Kindle edition by Jessica DeCuir-Gunby, Paul A.

Schutz. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Developing a Mixed Methods Proposal: A Practical Guide for .

Whatever our proffesion, mixed methods research pocket guide to social work research methods can be great resource for reading. Discover the existing reports of word, txt, kindle, ppt, zip, pdf, as well as rar in.

Research on Social Work Practice, v23 n3 p May This article briefly chronicles the development of mixed methods research and its use in social work.

We then move onto a discussion of terms and designs, reasons for . These notes are aimed at helping students write an effective research proposal. The first part of the guides, you will need to work out how to adapt was is given here for the level of sophistication and A mixed methods approach will be needed to conduct this research because.

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