Woodhill Park Retreat

Research Resources

These items are mainly about research procedures.  However, from time-to-time, issues, debates and challenges which confront researchers are also introduced.  These resources may be freely used as long as they are acknowledged and do tell others about them too.  Feedback welcomed.

If the heading for any item is brown, it is a hyperlink and can be clicked on to go directly to the source document.

On Ethical Determinism - Five Uneasy Pieces

This is concerned with the vexed matter of ethics and the impact of ethics committees.  I argue that a latent consequence of the deliberations of ethics committees is that they change the design and behaviour of researchers in a range of ways.  I have labelled this as "ethical determinism" and propose that there are at least five variants to this phenomenon.  Click here to access the thinking I've sketched out so far.

In a paper currently being prepared by Jo Perry and myself with assistance from Manukau Institute of technology, we are proposing that Dr Tony English's Tension Concept is very useful indeed in understanding the ways in which ethics are dealt with, often in very unsatisfactory ways.   We believe that there is a need to develop 'win-win' situations between ethics committees and researchers and for that reason, we want to explore some possible common-sense strategies that could be trialed.  A preliminary phase of our current project involved the development of a (refereed) presentation for the most recent NZARE conference that was held in Auckland in December, 2010.  Anyone wishing to access the slide show we developed, can access the PDF version of our work by clicking here

By way of comment, we want to tell you that we have planned to seek funding for a somewhat more comprehensive study and in completing that investigation, we want to consider instances where ethical considerations have gone awry; we want to probe the consequences of such outcomes.  Please note that there is also a blog with this 'paper' and please also note that readers are once again free to use the material provided that they follow normal academic courtesies when they reference the materials.

A brief look at surveys.  This article introduces a power-point show on how to design a survey.  As viewers will find, there's a lot more to developing an effective survey than meets the eye.

A suggestion I'd seriously make is that readers may also find it useful to peruse the paper about approaches to research.  That paper, like this resource, resides in the free research resources folder and it's just below this item.   

This paper provides an account of a class activity that was undertaken with some research methods students which led to the development of a procedure that can help candidates frame their thesis topic.  (Click here to access this very brief paper.)  A slide show was subsequently developed that traverses the process. (Click here to activate that slide show.)

On Developing an Understanding of Approaches to Research

The trouble with research for most people is that it falls outside of their comfort zone.  Research, therefore, becomes something we take for granted until the imperative to actually do some kind of scholarly or applied investigation envelops us.  That's the time people begin to squirm more than just a little.  Their need is to move beyond knowing about research to understanding how it all works and where it all sits in the scheme of things.  They require, in order to achieve understanding, a framework that merges theory with principles of practice so that they locate what they wish to do against models of research and knowledge development.

This paper provides beginning and advanced researchers with such a framework for understanding.  It captures some of my thinking about research which has evolved over many years and which became even more clearly crystalized for me as I wrote this paper. 

Specifically, the commentary was developed as an accompaniment to a slide show I used for workshops at the César Chávez Institute (a community of socially engaged scholars working in partnership for social justice at San Francisco State University).  Others, however, have found it to be useful so I thought I'd include it here.   

The ideal way of using the material is to click on these links:

  • To see the notes and slides together as a PDF click hereYou may want to print them off to use whilst you are looking at the slide show.
  • To view the accompanying slide show whilst reading, click hereDo note that some of the slides are automated so be measured in your clicking-on rather than hasty.
  • My suggestion is that you work through the slide show and then read the notes whilst you re-examine the slide show.  Happy learning and do share this resource with others if you think it is worth-while.