Historical research

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  • #5536
    elsie lee
    Participant

    I would like to learn more about writing a historical research as I am interested in documenting the development of medical social work practice in Malaysia from the early 1950s.

    #5546
    Kerry Brydon
    Member

    Hi Elsie – I am interested in your topic. Have you enrolled in a study programme as this is the best way to develop understanding of your selected methodology.

    #5545
    elsie lee
    Participant

    Hi Kerry – Yes I have but it appears I’m the first post-graduate student doing a historical perspective in the field of local social work and even though my supervisor is great, there isn’t much I can find in local libraries to refer to. I thought I should explore this with others who may have done similar research.

    #5544
    foong mary
    Member

    hello Elsie,
    I have the same problem too. I propose to do a historical study. But I can find limited information in the library related to this methodology. Does anyone share their experiences?

    #5543
    Paddy Dolan
    Member

    Hi,
    Well there is a lot of literature on ‘historical methods’ but it depends what you want to find out. I use historical data for my research but as I’m a sociologist (who follows Norbert Elias), I don’t collect the same volume of data that historians would. If you’re taking a sociological approach, I think you’d do better to infer methods from the theoretical perspectives you follow rather than a text exclusively on method. That way, hopefully, you won’t get bogged down in epistemology. Ben Gidley has a good introductory chapter in Clive Seale’s edited book, Researching Society and Culture (2nd ed) and I’ve got a chapter on using historical documents in a book I edited with colleagues – Hogan, Dolan and Donnelly (2009) Approaches to Qualitative Research (Oak Tree Press – http://www.oaktreepress.com). Also, many American historical sociologists like Charles Tilly, Craig Calhoun and James Mahoney have published on building explanations through the use of historical data.

    Best,
    Paddy

    #5542

    Hi Elsie,
    Paddy’s reply is spot on. I would add too that it remains curious that there has been so little written by historians on questions of methodology when they clearly have so much to offer on the topic. Paddy is correct in pointing out that much of what is out there is written by historical sociologists and he has noted some good places for you to start.
    To add a few suggestions of my own I would suggest that you are quite lucky that your study period is the 1950s. This raises the possibility that you can combine a documentary study (based on social work records both official and unofficial) with the prospect of conducting some oral history interviews yourself with retired social workers and perhaps even with users of social work services in the 1950s. You could then also ask your interviewees whether they have diaries and documents of their own that you could borrow and study. Contemporary historians (which is what effectively you will be) often seek to design this type of mixed-method and mixed-data study based on a mix of official stats, official and unofficial documents and data generated from their own sources through oral history interviewing.
    Good luck with it.
    Patrick

    #5541
    elsie lee
    Participant

    Thank you, Paddy. I’ll certainly look up the books and writers you’ve mentioned.

    Cheers!
    Elsie

    #5540
    elsie lee
    Participant

    Hi Patricik,
    Thank you for your very relevant suggestions. I will be conducting oral interviews with retired and current medical social workers. Fortunately a number of the local pioneers of medical social work are still around. I’m not so sure
    about ease of access to official records and documents, and whether relevant data has been properly documented or filed. Guess I’ll find out as I move along!
    Regards,
    Elsie

    #5539
    elsie lee
    Participant

    Hi, Mary
    I’ve just read the responses from Paddy Dolan and Patrick Brindle which have been very helpful. Perhaps you could refer to that. I’m not sure if you can read them but if you can’t, I’ll copy and paste on this message –

    “Well there is a lot of literature on ‘historical methods’ but it depends what you want to find out. I use historical data for my research but as I’m a sociologist (who follows Norbert Elias), I don’t collect the same volume of data that historians would. If you’re taking a sociological approach, I think you’d do better to infer methods from the theoretical perspectives you follow rather than a text exclusively on method. That way, hopefully, you won’t get bogged down in epistemology. Ben Gidley has a good introductory chapter in Clive Seale’s edited book, Researching Society and Culture (2nd ed) and I’ve got a chapter on using historical documents in a book I edited with colleagues – Hogan, Dolan and Donnelly (2009) Approaches to Qualitative Research (Oak Tree Press – http://www.oaktreepress.com). Also, many American historical sociologists like Charles Tilly, Craig Calhoun and James Mahoney have published on building explanations through the use of historical data.”
    Best,
    Paddy

    “Paddy’s reply is spot on. I would add too that it remains curious that there has been so little written by historians on questions of methodology when they clearly have so much to offer on the topic. Paddy is correct in pointing out that much of what is out there is written by historical sociologists and he has noted some good places for you to start.
    To add a few suggestions of my own I would suggest that you are quite lucky that your study period is the 1950s. This raises the possibility that you can combine a documentary study (based on social work records both official and unofficial) with the prospect of conducting some oral history interviews yourself with retired social workers and perhaps even with users of social work services in the 1950s. You could then also ask your interviewees whether they have diaries and documents of their own that you could borrow and study. Contemporary historians (which is what effectively you will be) often seek to design this type of mixed-method and mixed-data study based on a mix of official stats, official and unofficial documents and data generated from their own sources through oral history interviewing.
    Good luck with it.”
    Patrick

    #5538

    Since you are in Malaysia, don’t forget to register with QRAM, hope it will benefited you in term of moral support.

    #5537
    foong mary
    Member

    Hey, I still have another query. I read several historical research report but many of them did not have the literature review section. Any comment on that?

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