Been Wanting to Do This for a While

Edit 11/21/16 *for those of you just reading this on 11/21/16 or later, I’ve been working on another draft via Twitter with much help from everyone but especially Maha Bali.  I’ll be putting out another, bigger better blog post.  When I do, I’ll link it <here.>

Edit 11/22/16 But until the bigger better blog post comes out, I’ve added version 2.0 below version 1.0.


Since moving on from my postdoctoral fellowship I’ve been doing some educational research and development consulting. I’ve noticed a trend in some of the work I’ve been offered. People tend to bring me on to projects (paid and unpaid) for one of two reasons. First, I am usually a good bet to be a wildcard – if you want a different perspective or someone to blow audience/stakeholder expectations out of the water, I can do that sometimes.

Second, I have experience in synthesizing large amounts of information, leading me to a lot of work reading, organizing, analyzing, and critiquing entire fields and bodies of educational research.  A lot of my work will be coming out in conference presentations, blog posts, and publications soon.  However, through this process I’ve discovered that a lot of people have difficulties understanding how to describe research in terms of its underlying assumptions, design, and methods.  This is a problem, because educational research is so decentralized and generally messed up that a systematic approach is essential to making sense of any of it.  Making sense of something and being able to communicate what you’ve found is essential to critique and reform…which, in my opinion, the educational research desperately needs.

Therefore, I made an infographic to describe how I think about organizing research literature.  It’s an infographic and not a power point slide or a set of bullet points because I’m trying to develop my infographic skills. Would love to hear your thoughts.

Describing Research Design.png


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Nice! I’d like to share this with my proposal development class at Creighton University.


  2. Maha Bali says:

    Hey Laura… I think this is great! Thanks for doing it. I think for people who mostly understand what’s behind it, it’s really useful. I am unsure if it’s useful for someone just learning (and maybe those aren’t your audience).

    My main issue with it is…ok several issues. But possibly based on my own misunderstandings. But the main ones are
    A. Is everything on one side meant to follow the same philosophy? Coz i don’t at all understand how participatory ethnography (arguably very constructivist) is even in the same box as correlation (clearly positivist).
    B. Methods aren’t inherently anything in and of themselves. You can do observations or interviews or surveys from a variety of paradigms. Right?
    C. I don’t understand the colors of the boxes.. Why are some dark and some yellow? What’s the common thing between all the yellow ones?

    I would love to put our heads together to create something that’s maybe a ThingLink which shows more info about different things and links to authors or good articles on each thing.

    I have a table in my thesis that’s JUST about how the SAME qualitative methods can be used within different paradigms. It’s an expansion of a Creswell and Miller table. There are also critical/emancipatory paradigms and postmodern ones..but this is too much for most people I think. I will DM you more about what I am trying to do coz it’s also about going beyond just research methodology but also connecting all the philosophical paradigms with various things like curriculum theory, teaching approach, understanding of critical thinking, citizenship, even parenting I guess. I should blog the general idea but I kinda feel like I should flesh it out

    And so I assume your infographic is provisional also?


  3. Laura Gogia says:

    Hi Maha!

    If by provisional you mean a draft, then yes. This is a first draft of a thought process that has helped me tremendously over the past summer.

    I chose a building for a reason; buildings – especially apartment or office buildings – are typically laid out in floors or layers, not in vertical lines

    So. In my experience with working with people who are trying to understand research design and methods by reading articles (and not reading a textbook…in other words, practitioners in the field, not students in a classroom) is that they tend to get caught in the weeds fairly quickly and then mix the weeds up. This makes sense, as MOST articles don’t mention the philosophical stance of the author – in fact I would argue that many authors don’t know their philosophical stance even as they are expressing it through their work – but they do mention their data collection and analysis techniques…in fact they focus on them. So what I’ve found is that a lot of people conflate their layers. They may talk about frameworks (I’m thinking like “ethnography”) in the same breath as content analysis in the same breath as interviews. One cannot compare “content analysis” to “ethnography” … there’s an almost 100% chance that ethnography will involve some form of thematic analysis…you see my point?

    It’s kind of like what you were saying in a recent tweet or blog post…it’s not really about qual or quan as much as it is interpretivist vs positivist, because qual can be done from a very positivist stance (and I 100% agree…I see it ALL THE TIME. ALL. THE. TIME).

    So, that’s why philosophy is at the top – it’s the overview. It is what shapes the impact of the work on the skyline.

    And why analysis and collection is on the bottom, because that’s what consumers latch onto first.

    And I made a point of mentioning reporting venue (it’s the door leading out…get it?) because people often DON’T mention the impact of the venue on the perception of the work. Well, some people do, but I don’t think they do in the right sort of ways.

    This is not a strict hierarchical map. It’s horizontal first, vertical later. I mixed things up because I didn’t want people to assume verticalness. Additionally it is an infographic and not meant to comprehensive – hence some of the asterixis…but I can work on making that more clear.

    So I’m hoping that this answers a lot of your questions. Obviously data collection tools aren’t anything inherent beyond data collection tools that can be used through a variety of lenses – that’s actually my point and the thing that I have had to fight against the most :).

    I have some ideas on how to clear some of these things up, but based on your critique I think a lot of the issues are superficial …they are things I can try to clear up in a second draft.


  4. samsven says:

    Laura this is a great visual and a great draft. Maha beat me to most of my comments, and you already answered them. The one that lingers is where you see apost-positivist and critical stances? I really like the visual and know I was looking for something like this when I was doing my research design courses.


    1. Laura Gogia says:

      Thanks! As a mentioned above, these were merely examples – never meant to be comprehensive. Since so many people were looking for something more comprehensive, I added more examples to the new version. this includes critical theory by name since this is the one so many people requested :). The new version should be out soon.


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