Research Question(s) and Methods
In social science, one of the significant choices one has to make when conducting research is to determine the best research method to use in answering the research question. The most likely option a researcher has is to determine between qualitative and quantitative to determine the best model that best suits a study. One of the essential elements that are generally used to determine the type of research method is determining whether research will use data or words. Most of the social science topics primarily studies in history, use documented works to come up with an answer to the research question. However, the determination of the research methods should not be exclusively based on whether the research uses statistics or relying on documented material. For instance, in qualitative research, one can convert the text into numerical for purposes of quantitative analysis. On the other hand, one can change quantitative data for purposes of qualitative analysis. In some cases, a mixed-method approach is used, which is referred to as methodology pluralism. It involves the use of quantitative and qualitative methods in collecting and analyzing data. The mixed-method approach is used after determining the type of data collected, as well as how data is analyzed. The paper will describe the research method to answer the question: When did American Political Development (APD) emerge? How is it different from institutionalism?
Qualitative research methods will be best to collect data that will be used in answering the research question. The primary purpose of qualitative research methodology is to generate theory from observation, or it is oriented to discovery through exploration. The research has the opportunity to discover what other scholars have discussed on the topic. Most of the research topics in social science are based on social aspects that do not require much of analytical data analysis. It is vital to ensure that the research method used provides a comprehensive understanding of the view of scholars on the topic, and as a result, the research question is answered comprehensively. Moreover, qualitative research focuses on merging data collection and analysis. It is a significant framework in research since it ensures the researcher understands the data collected and at the same time coming up with the necessary conclusions.
The use of qualitative research is essential for the research question since it emphasizes on meaning and interpretation. When analyzing the work of other researchers, the main focus is to have a better understanding of the meaning they create within their studies. One of the primary purposes of qualitative research is that it tries to understand the perspective of others regarding a particular topic. For instance, the research aims at exploring when APD emerged and how it differs from institutionalism. Such a topic has been researched by a variety of others, and each provides a comprehensive understanding of the topic. Some begin by critiquing the work of others and then providing an overview of how they believe APD emerged (Gerring, 2003). Qualitative research methodology becomes a favorable research method since it will ensure data is collected from a variety of writers. Additionally, having an understanding of the viewpoints of many authors that have written about the topic plays a central role in developing an informed study. Conclusions will be made as a result of a comprehensive analysis of the available data that has different viewpoints regarding the topic. Such an approach will ensure that the data collected and the analysis conducted are effective in answering the research questions based on a variety of viewpoints.
The procedures involved in the research process are excellent and would have a positive impact on ensuring the question has been addressed appropriately. The researcher is directly involved and is close to the data, which is one of the vital elements that the research method ensures is followed in the process of addressing the research questions. The researcher is the research instrument; hence, he or she does not rely on other tools to understand the data. The possibility of accuracy is high since the researcher is the main person that is involved in making the deduction based on the materials used for research. In research, the procedure is crucial since it determines the outcome of the data collected. The researcher is in control of the interpretation of the data collected. In such research methods, there is no possibility of deviating from the research questions. The data collected and analyzed is based on the research problem that has been identified (Gerring, 2003). Moreover, since the researcher is in control of the collection of data, he or she determines the appropriate data to use in answering the research questions. It is an important aspect of the research method because most of the data collected will be relevant to the topic. Moreover, it will be sufficient enough to discuss the different perspectives of various authors interested in the topic.
The use of qualitative research will have a positive impact on developing new knowledge on the topic or identifying a research gap that has not been addressed before. The role of research is to ensure that it pushes the frontiers of knowledge forward and provides a platform for other researchers to use and develop informative conclusions. Researchers are expected to develop an exploratory approach to the world. For instance, Desmond King and Rogers Smith (2005), in their work “Racial Orders in American Political Development,” provide an analysis of the APD in relation to racial orders. It is one aspect of the broader topic of APD. Understanding such a source of data would require establishing elements of interrogation for new patterns that the work has not addressed. It is the role of the researcher to determine the best research methods that will provide a new analysis of the topic and identify gaps that ought to be addressed. An exploratory research method is part of a qualitative method that would be vital in collecting data for use in answering the research question. In this case, the exploration of similar sources of information as that of King & Smith (2005) would be of great importance in ensuring the topic has been discussed comprehensively. Exploration is an aspect that requires critical engagement and aggressiveness to be able to identify any biases that may have been experienced in the collection of data by the initial researchers. As a result of the critical engagement, it becomes easy to identify the gaps in the different sources. The research method is vital in ensuring a comprehensive analysis of the sources discussing the topic. Moreover, the research method will play a role in providing a new perspective in understanding the topic.
In developing research, one of the critical aspects is truth and precision. A qualitative research method is a vital strategy of ensuring the data collected is accurate and valid; hence, it provides a truthful answer to the research question. Qualitative research allows the researcher to collect information that is valid and accurate in addressing the topic. Moreover, the precision that qualitative research allows is vital in ensuring the information described in the research is correct and addresses the concerns of the research. For instance, the article by Mettler & Milstein (2007) provides a chronology of political development in America. How the authors outline the events is vital for the study since it helps in addressing the main question. The precision of the information provided in the article would make it a significant source of data. It is through qualitative research method that such precise information can be used to address the research question and at the end of the research, come up with a comprehensive conclusion. Moreover, qualitative research allows for the generality of information, which is vital in generating theory. Most of the scholars in social science rely on different theories in making assumptions or describing various observations (Gerring, 2003). A theory may describe or explain different phenomena on social issues. Qualitative research is effective in providing a new method or theory in understanding the same phenomena. Therefore, the research methodology will play a role in providing a new perspective on the topic and enhancing a better understanding of APD.
In answering the research question, there is a need for coherence of the information provided by previous researchers. One part of an argument should be linked to the other, and there should not be any inconsistencies evident. Qualitative research is the best research method to point out any inconsistencies evident in similar studies. Since the researcher has the opportunity to read a variety of sources and come up with a comprehensive conclusion, it would be easy to determine any challenge regarding coherence and as a result adopting the necessary measures to address the anomaly (Gerring, 2003). Moreover, the qualitative research method is useful in addressing the research question since it determines the commensurability of data collected. In social science research, a theory needs to be in sync with other theories. It plays a significant role in aiding the accumulation of knowledge in the field of study. Qualitative research method helps determine whether a theory adopted in understanding an aspect in social science effectively relates to other social theories (Gerring, 2003). Since qualitative research borrows data from other researches that have had an interest in the field, it is easy to link different sociological theories to the research question. It forms a critical way of providing a better understanding of the research question based on new theories.
A qualitative research method is one of the most effective strategies used to collect and analyze data in social science. It proves to be effective since it provides an understanding of different perspectives to the researcher interested in the same field. Different authors provide a different analysis of a similar topic, which is a critical element in providing a better understanding of the topic. It becomes easy to identify the gaps in the previous researches and as a result coming up with conclusions that address the gaps.
Gerring, J. (2003). APD from a methodological point of view. Studies in American Political Development, 17(1), 82-102.
King, D. S., & Smith, R. M. (2005). Racial orders in American political development. American Political Science Review, 99(1), 75-92.
Mettler, S., & Milstein, A. (2007). American political development from citizens’ perspective: Tracking federal government’s presence in individual lives over time. Studies in American Political Development, 21(1), 110-130.
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