Workshop and discussion exercises

Practice with these exercises to prepare for your seminars and wider research.

1. Identify and discuss both the methodological differences and similarities between qualitative and quantitative approaches to social research. Is quantitative research always positivistic? In what ways might qualitative research adopt the assumptions of positivism?

2. How would you justify conducting a piece of research using combined methods to an audience of policy makers or practitioners?

3. Design a research project in which qualitative and quantitative methods are combined in an advantageous way. Discuss whether you would use triangulation or the multiple methods approach in combining the methods and the implications this has for the knowledge you generate from the research.

4. How might research based on quantitative methods embrace interpretivist thinking?

5. Which of the research topics listed below would be appropriately investigated using:
(a) Quantitative methods only
(b) Qualitative methods only
(c) Combined methods

Some research topics

  • The causes and consequences of homelessness for single people
  • The effectiveness of community service orders as a means of rehabilitating offenders
  • The way of life of travellers
  • Assessment of the way the police deal with sexual crime
  • How policy is made in a political party
  • How EEG (electro-encephalogram) readings correlate with emotional states
  • Children’s reading preferences
  • Students and how they manage their academic work
  • Quality of terminal care of cancer patients
  • Sexual activity in public settings (e.g. public toilets)
  • The experience of trainee nurses
  • School bullying
  • Racism in football
  • Victims of domestic violence
  • Sex discrimination at work
  • Right-wing political groups
  • New-age religion
  • The experience of boys in a ballet school
  • Analysis of archived qualitative interviews with elderly people recollecting wartime experiences
  • Analysis of media representations of ideal female body shape
  • Conversation analysis of calls to a computer help line
  • Ethnographic study of an on-line support group for parents of children with disfiguring conditions
  • Comparative analysis of discourse on immigration in US presidential and British prime ministerial speeches
  • Barriers to using HIV and AIDS services
  • Political discourse relating to illegal drugs use
  • Health worker motivation and incentives in low and middle income settings
  • Civil society advocacy for disabled people’s rights