Signup date: 13 Aug 2007 at 6:26pm
Last login: 18 Mar 2009 at 5:29am
Post count: 124
I am supposed to be doing a dissertation, but six weeks in I haven't been able to come up with a research question!!!!! (It is supposed to be something original, so that it might be publishable). I have only got six weeks until it's due in.
I have been having many sleepless nights worrying about it, I'm at the end of my tether.
If anyone could give me advice on this, I would be really greatful!
I think people should use whatever research method is best to find out what they want to know (qual is often better than quant in this respect), people should realise the limitations of the research that they do (of qual and quant methods), and people should be able to justify when questioned why they used that research method and not another. I other words find the right tool for the job.
As their appears to be a dearth of people able to do good quality qual research, maybe you should find questions which would be best answered with qual, and apply your skills to this.
Other than that you could just take the SPSS, press a few buttons 'paper mill' approach. Which due to the wonders of modern technology and advances in SPSS, requires few brain cells.
You just have to work out which three buttons to press (or ask a kindly person or another research student to tell you). I remember the days when I had to do statistics on paper and by hand!
'' (End of quote).
...so you can see Fererabaum was asking what is 'science' anyway? For him alot of science is bunk!
''Starting from the assumption that an historical universal scientific method does not exist, Feyerabend argued that science does not deserve its privileged status in western society. Since scientific points of view do not arise from using a universal method which guarantees high quality conclusions, he thought that there is no justification for valuing scientific claims over claims by other ideologies like religions.'' (Wikipedia)
Objects would fall diagonally instead of vertically. Since this does not happen, Aristotelians thought that it was evident that the earth did not move. If one uses ancient theories of impulse and relative motion, the Copernican theory indeed appears to be falsified by the fact that objects fall vertically on earth. This observation required a new interpretation to make it compatible with Copernican theory. Galileo was able to make such a change about the nature of impulse and relative motion. Before such theories were articulated, Galileo had to make use of 'ad hoc' methods and proceed counter-inductively. So, 'ad hoc' hypotheses actually have a positive function: they temporarily make a new theory compatible with facts until the theory to be defended can be supported by other theories.
Feyerabend was critical of any guideline that aimed to judge the quality of scientific theories by comparing them to known facts. He thought that previous theory might influence natural interpretations of observed phenomena. Scientists necessarily make implicit assumptions when comparing scientific theories to facts that they observe. Such assumptions need to be changed in order to make the new theory compatible with observations. The main example of the influence of natural interpretations that Feyerabend provided was the tower argument. The tower argument was one of the main objections against the theory of a moving earth. Aristotelians assumed that the fact that a stone which is dropped from a tower lands directly beneath it shows that the earth is stationary. They thought that, if the earth moved while the stone was falling, the stone would have been 'left behind'.
Such jokes are not intended as a criticism of the practice of scientists. Feyerabend is not advocating that scientists do not make use of renormalization or other ad hoc methods. Instead, he is arguing that such methods are essential to the progress of science for several reasons. One of these reasons is that progress in science is uneven. For instance, in the time of Galileo, optical theory could not account for phenomena that were observed by means of telescopes. So, astronomers who used telescopic observation had to use 'ad hoc' rules until they could justify their assumptions by means of optical theory.
Quote from Wikipedia: ''Feyerabend was also critical of falsificationism. He argued that no interesting theory is ever consistent with all the relevant facts. This would rule out using a naïve falsificationist rule which says that scientific theories should be rejected if they do not agree with known facts. Feyerabend uses several examples, but 'renormalization' in quantum mechanics provides an example of his intentionally provocative style: "This procedure consists in crossing out the results of certain calculations and replacing them by a description of what is actually observed. Thus one admits, implicitly, that the theory is in trouble while formulating it in a manner suggesting that a new principle has been discovered" (AM p. 61).
I believe many social science lecturers go and get some data, bung it into SPSS, press a few button buttons come out with some fancy numbers and write a paper. They do this regardless of how meaningless their research is or how little their research tells us. Often just to get more papers out, to be a 'paper mill.' If they looked more closely at some of the premises behind their research i.e. where they got their hypotheses from in the first place they would find out that their research is in essence flawed.
The BPS exam for 2006 was on the philosophy of science. I would recommend that you look up articles on the reading list, as it makes interesting reading. I would particularly recommend that you read the wikipedia sections on 'the philosophy of science' and 'Paul Feyerabend' and read as much as you can about 'grounded theory.'
I believe the BPS recently wrote or contributed to a draft report which is somewhere online (but I would have to search around to find it) which basically said 1) We should encourage people to do more qual because quant is limited in what it tells us, 2) Qualitative research is actually more difficult to do *well* and requires alot more work than quant research, and therefore we should discourage people from bad-mouthing it, 3) Supervisors are often reluctant to do qual research because they themselves hadn't a clue how to do it *well* because they hail from an era where qual was once frowned upon and therefore hadn't had much training experience in it, 4) Students were finding it difficult in some universities to find anyone who was experienced enough to supervise their qual research and therefore they were having to give up and do quant research instead. 5) We should encourage people to do more qual research.
If you ask people you are studying about their views and beliefs and you use quantitative methods, you tend to come out with 'yes' and 'no' answers and I can tell you that often reading this research is boring beyond belief! If however you were to use semi-structured interviews you would find out all sorts of interesting stuff that you would never have thought of (especially when you reflect on the potential inane questions you would have asked if you did the same research quantitatively).
There is actually now a move in some subjects back towards qualitative research and away from quantitative. This is because the quantitative approach is very limited in what it tells us. For example it might tell us that nine cats out of ten prefer Whiskers but it doesn't tell us how or why. Even if you were to give the surveyed cats a multiple choice test and asked them to circle the reasons they liked Whiskers, you would still be manipulating the research because you were only putting a set of pre-determined (by you) set of answers before them. Some cats might circle the answer that was the nearest to what they thought but not exactly what they thought, others might circle a reason why they liked it but mean it in a different way and some cats might have answers that were not included in the choices you gave them. Also if you wanted to find out cats beliefs and feelings about Whiskers and why they held those beliefs, there's nothing else you could do but ask them!
The time before that, I was practically promised one, but at the last moment someone with an extra degree applied and the gave the place to that person instead. I was considered for another PhD at the same time, but the supervisor decided that I wasn't good enough at research (my good graded masters from a top five uni wasn't good enough) and also I had the feeling that the supervisor didn't like me as I wasn't her 'mini-me.'
The time before that I couldn't have one because I hadn't finished my masters and they wanted to know my full set of grades.
The time before that I was trying to do interdisciplinary research (in a science department) and the department I approached is prejudiced against the discipline I come from (in social sciences) and will only work with one other non science department in the university. Plus the supervisor I approached who has matching research interests, didn't want to take me as I didn't do my undergrad in his 'science' discipline, and talked the head of the research group into not taking me. (Plus I think it was also the case that he hadn't supervised the last two students in that topic all that successfully).
The time before that I came second and one candidate beat me at the interview stage.
Well the last one I was rejected for - didn't have enough research training and not enough of a science background. (Even though I have had research training at masters level from a top five uni plus the PhD was in the social sciences).
Before that - lots of applicants, huge competition.
Before that - no supervisor to supervise, I submitted my application. The person I thought could supervise is still employed at university but by some freak incident and with little notice they will no longer be teaching and have disappeared off to work for industry instead.
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