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Justifying research methods

Research Skills required by PhD students B6: Justifying research methods  ...

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4 March 2010

B6: Justify the principles and experimental techniques used in one's own research

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By the time students complete a PhD, they should be able to answer ‘Yes’ to most of these questions.

  • Can you articulate why your research is important in terms of what contribution it might make and what impact that contribution is likely to have?
  • Can you explain why the evidence you are trying to gather is the 'right' evidence, in the right form, of the right scope?
  • Can you specify the limits to generalisation of your findings?
  • Given a particular research question, can you identify methods appropriate to address it? And can you explain why those methods are preferable to other methods that might apply?
  • Can you compare your research design and methods to other published research designs and methods used by researchers in your field?
  • Can you describe an alternative approach you might have taken in addressing your research question? And can you justify why you chose your approach instead of the alternative?
  • Can you discuss the relative strengths and limitations of methods used in your domain?
  • Can you discuss how your research might combine with other research for greater benefit?

Evidence of this skill

These are examples of documents you can collect. Each implies a piece or work, which may be a good way for you to develop this skill.

  • Your probation assesment.
  • Survey of techniques, methods, or methodologies in the field, as reported in key research publications.
  • Table of methods in key publications, indicating scope, findings, and limitations.
  • List of the antecedents of the methods you propose to use, such as published examples of their application in comparable contexts, reports of pilot studies, and methods publications.

This cloud is based upon material produced by The Open University’s research school to support doctoral students.

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