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Research methodology: everything is relative

Some quotes that are not likely to be included in the Methodology chapter of my PhD, but pretty much explain how I think about methodological choices:

…the validity of scientific claims is always relative to the paradigm within which they are judged; they are never simply a reflection of some independent domain of reality (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1994, p. 12)

…methods rest on philosophical presuppositions. These remain embedded in them, even if they are not taught or discussed or attended to explicitly. (Yanow & Schwartz-Shea, 2006, p. 370)

No context is value-free. Academic disciplines promote particular ways of observing, dissecting, measuring, interpreting, and otherwise making sense of the phenomena under investigation. One’s decisions may emerge within or resistant to these disciplinary structures. One’s decisions also derive from one’s research goals, which are seldom acknowledged in research reports but which meaningfully affect the design, process, and outcome of a study. (Markham, 2006)

…all research is a practical activity requiring the exercise of judgement in context; it is not a matter of simply following methodological rules (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1994, p. 23)


  • Hammersley, M. & Atkinson, P. (1994). Ethnography: Principles in Practice. (2nd ed.) Routledge.
  • Markham, A. N. (2006). Ethics as method, methods as ethics: A case for reflexivity in qualitative ICT research. Journal of Information Ethics, 15(2), 37-54.
  • Yanow, D. & Schwartz-Shea, P. (2006). Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Methods and the Interpretive Turn. M.E. Sharpe.
{ 4 comments… add one }
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