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Lesson I-3

Integrating Methodology

synthesize graphic
Research is distinguished from other forms of investigation and knowing by undertaking systematic empirical inquiry.  That is the case both for quantitative research and qualitative research.  Both involve systematic procedures and both collect data--quantitative or qualitative. 

Methodology is the systematic procedures of inquiry.  It includes the methodological approach (experiments, surveys, case studies, ethnographies), the research design or emergent design, the sampling of the units of analysis, data collection instruments and procedures, and data analysis techniques. 

Any but the newest topics of research have been studied with a variety of methodologies.  That is desirable because all methodologies have weaknesses as well as strengths.  Before conducting new research on a topic, it is often useful to integrate the methodologies that have been previously used on that topic.

Means of Integrating Methodologies

  • Portray: Map out the methodologies that have been used in researching the topic.  Indicate which have been most, which least, and other applicable methodologies that have not been used.

  • Trace History: Describe changes in the methodologies used over the years.  Indicate the reasons for those changes and the effects they had on the body of knowledge. 

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  • Categorize: Classify the methodologies according to their similarities and differences on several dimensions.

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  • Summarize: Summarize the methodologies by the main approaches used, disregarding relatively unimportant variations.

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  • Undermine: Identify possible serious shortcomings in the dominant methodology used or common serious shortcoming and several of the methodologies widely used.

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  • Synthesize: Suggest new or improved methodologies, in the context of  both the strengths and weakness of previously used ones. 
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