I am doing a research study on the information behaviour (i.e., how do people find and use information for a variety of purposes) of women researchers. Information here has a subjective meaning and therefore can be interpreted differently. The study aims at identifying the information needs, information sources used and the process of finding information, the barriers participants may face and finally to describe how information found was put into use. Due to the exploratory nature of the study I will collect data by using diaries and interviews.
My question is in which methodological approach would you describe my study? It seems to me that it is not a case study because a case study is a bounded system and my topic is about information behaviour, and I could sample indefinitely. Ethnography is also a form of qualitative research examined but the emphasis in this study is not on the socio-cultural interpretation and observation will be not used due to ethical reason. A grounded theory study is also a form of qualitative research examined but the emphasis is not on building a substantive theory from the data, rather exploration, depth investigation and description.
Sometimes, I came to a conclusion that the research literature does not offer an answer with regard to what type of research methodology my study can be categorised. Because I am not a research methodologist, it is important for me to hear from you and learn from your experiences.
It looks to me you can benefit from the sense-making methodology developped by Brenda Dervin. Her approach is tailorred especially for situations you describe. That’s why her work is well known and used in librarian science. Look at this article to see if you can make some sense from it to “bridge your gap”: