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Session Overview
W08: What's My Approach? Deciding on the approach to use for your research
Wednesday, 26/Sep/2018:
1:30pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Sheila Webber
Session Chair: Pamela Ann McKinney
Location: Nukuttaja-Näyhä

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What’s My Approach? Deciding on the Approach to Use for Your Research

Sheila Webber1, Bill Johnston2, Pamela McKinney1

1University of Sheffield, UK; 2University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland

The research approach used to undertake research has an impact on what type of research questions are posed, what kind of results are obtained, and what you can do with your results to affect policy and practice. This is more than deciding „interview or questionnaire?“: it is looking at the whole research exercise from start to finish and deciding how to shape it.

The objectives of the workshop will be:

1. To identify key characteristics of selected qualitative and mixed-methods research approaches, and to show what kinds of research questions and problems each approach is most suited to. The research approaches covered will be: action research; case study; phenomenography; ethnography; and autoethnography.

2. To enable participants to understand the issues, advantages and disadvantages of different approaches, by looking at a practice-based information literacy problem, and asking participants to identify the implications of choosing one approach or another.

By the end of the workshop participants should have an extended understanding of the research approaches available, what they should consider when deciding which approach to use, and the implications of their choices.

There will be three portions:

The key characteristics of each approach will be outlined concisely in an introductory presentation (around 40 minutes). The slides and supporting material (for example, links to examples) will be available online for delegates’ access.

1. Following on from this, an information literacy problem that would benefit from research investigation will be presented as a scenario, with sufficient detail that participants can engage with it meaningfully in the limited timespan of a workshop. (around 40 minutes)

2. Participants will form groups, each group taking on one of the research approaches. Each group will draft specific research questions or aims and research design that would be best suited to that particular research approach (for example, ways in which the data would be collected, analysed, and presented). They will think about what the results might look like and how they could be used, for example, to change practice. The group will also identify strengths and weaknesses of using that approach. Finally, they will pull together a case for using that approach.

3. The feedback (around 30 minutes) section will consist of each group identifying concisely the research question/aims and likely outcomes and arguing for their approach being the best to choose. This will lead to discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of each approach and highlighting differences in questions, process and outcomes.

The target audience is anyone interested in carrying out information literacy research. The main audience will be those who are not experienced researchers. More experienced researchers may enjoy thinking about a research problem from a new perspective during the activity and can also contribute valuable insights from their own research. Equipment should include flip chart paper and at least one flip chart stand or at least one personal computer per group with sufficient space to work round it and produce a presentation. The workshop leaders are experienced researchers who also have experience of teaching research methods.

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