Tag Archives: Experience

Be the change you want to see in the world

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
–Mother Teresa

Besides generating papers to fulfil academic/professional aspirations, most researchers hope that with time, their papers would gain recognition and that findings would someday have real life implications on the world.

Closely intertwined with the concept of beneficence, it can be difficult for researchers to make that difference amidst the hundreds and thousands of journal articles published each year.

So the question is what now?
How can research feed into policies and support positive change?

These question remains pivotal in the translation of research into action and attempts to answer it often rest on understanding the roles and interactions between the various actors who govern the research to implementation process.

Revolving around the principle that research provides evidence for implementation and practice; many contend that research in action can save lives, reduce poverty and improve levels of well-being.

It however remains a cold hard truth that influencing the implementation of change is far and beyond the reach of most researchers; regardless of the number of times a paper has been cited.
Furthermore, research papers are often technical terms incomprehensible to many policy-makers; making the task of translating research into practice a more challenging one.

Despite the challenges researchers face in the translation of research to practice, it is not improbable or impossible thorough various ways researchers can facilitate this research to implementation process:

  • Reach out to those who implement changes:
    Though shorter non-technical outputs like blogs and posters are rarely recognised or rewarded from an academic’s perspective, it can be a useful avenue for researchers to translate findings into practical and engaging recommendations.
  • Share:
    Talk and share about your research to your friends and family (even if that means talking underwater with a mouthful of marbles)
    You never know who else would your friends and family share that information with and let’s be honest, what could be better than free word-of-mouth advertising?

So join me my fellow researchers.
Dream big, think change, and believe in the ripples you can create.

Be the change you want to see in the world.
-Mahatma Gandhi

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Reconciling differences; The Qualitative and Quantitative debate

qualitative-vs-quantitative-rap

After identifying research problems, questions and examining the feasibility of conducting a study based on prior research, most researchers are faced with the “What now?” problem.

While some researchers choose to adopt a particular methodology based on their field of study or personal preferences, it may not always be appropriate to the context.

Typically considered to be the more “scientific” approach, Quantitative research aims to explain various phenomena through the collection of numerical data which is subjected to statistical analysis and interpretation.

Qualitative research on the other hand emphasises on the exploration of issues and understanding phenomena through the systematic collection and interpretation of unstructured data (interviews, observations etcetera).

To determine the applicability and appropriateness of the approach to specific phenomena or hypotheses testing, there are a few questions that should be taken into consideration:

  • Can the variables examined be quantified?
  • Can the data derived from quantitative and qualitative approaches be cross validated?
  • Should the study be based on a qualitative or quantitative approach?
  • What are the benefits and disadvantages of each approach?
  • Do the disadvantages outweigh the benefits? If so how can the differences be reconciled?
  • Which approach yields the best results in terms of reliability and validity (face, content, predictive, concurrent, convergent and discriminant validity)?

Given the subjectivity surrounding the interpretation of the data from the qualitative approach, the quantitative approach is not one without its flaws.
It remains a fact that not all examinable and observable differences can be quantified.

When you have got to this stage, CONGRATULATIONS!
Your methodological frustrations have led you onto Stage 2 of the research process: Identifying the appropriate methodology for the study in an attempt to define and measure variables.

 

P.S. Despite the issues that surround the qualitative / quantitative debate, I am a strong proponent of the mixed methods approach, for I believe that having to adopt an “either or” approach can at times be inadequate; stifling academic thought and our understanding of the subject at hand.

We can only hope that further research into this area could amalgamate the bifurcation of contrasting views, allowing for a more cohesive framework for analysis.