Learn from Research Cases: Coordinating a Mixed Methods Study

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Five SAGE Research Cases were featured in a series of posts on the topic of collaboration. We used the selected cases to explore various ways researchers and academic writers work together. In a new series of posts we will go back to these cases and look at the research designs and approaches used to conduct each respective study. 

The cases are open access until the end of February, 2019.  If the links have expired you can access them through with a 30-day free trial of the Cases platform, using your academic email address.

What is a “research case”?

The purpose of SAGE Research Cases is to provide a behind-the-scenes look at researchers’ thoughts and experiences related to any and all stages of the study, from designing the study to disseminating the results.

Unlike articles that typically focus on the findings and convey a sense that the research proceeded as planned, research cases should reveal the obstacles as well as successes. Cases help readers learn from trials and errors, decision-making and problem-solving strategies of experienced researchers.

What can we learn from research cases? Mapping the analysis.

Visual maps make it easy to see and analyze concepts or parts of a complex system. The “Knowledge Map” shown here offers a way to visualize elements of a study (Salmons, 2010, 2015). We can use this kind of mapping exercise to show interrelationships across elements of the design, and to highlight alignment of the design as a whole.

This map is oriented toward qualitative or mixed methods studies, but can be adapted to include additional details as needed.

Create a Knowledge Map to Show Elements of a Research Design

Let’s map the elements of the case.
A demonstration of Microsoft OneNote as a tool for collaboration, as well as data management, is the focus of the case Coordinating diverse research practices using digital research notebooks: A case study in science education (Fernandes & Barbeiro, 2017). The authors used Digital Research Notebooks created in OneNote to coordinate the many plans, notes, and records associated with a mixed methods study with multiple researchers.

Visual map showing elements of the study
The Case at-a-glance with a Knowledge Map

A demonstration of Microsoft OneNote as a tool for collaboration, as well as data management, is the focus of this case. The authors created Digital Research Notebooks in OneNote to coordinate the many elements and records associated with a mixed methods study with multiple researchers.

The study under discussion used qualitative data collected through interviews and observations, and quantitative data collected through a survey. Given this focus, the case did not cover epistemological or theoretical foundations.

What can we teach and/or learn from this case?

Based on my experience as a researcher and dissertation supervisor, keeping all the bits of a research project organized in ways that meet the needs of all collaborators and stakeholders can be more challenging than conducting the actual study! Fernandes’ and Barbeiro offer practical steps and advice that could be valuable to researchers, regardless of discipline.

Since the basics on the specific methodologies and methods are not fully explicated in this research case, it would be valuable to use in courses or seminars intended for later-stage graduate students who are trying to plan research projects. See the MethodSpace post A Case for Teaching Methods for more ideas about using research cases in the classroom.

Fernandes, J., & Barbeiro, L. (2017). Coordinating diverse research practices using digital research notebooks: a case study in science education  Retrieved from http://methods.sagepub.com/case/diverse-research-methods-digital-research-notebooks-science-education doi:10.4135/9781473993983

Salmons, J. (2010). Online interviews in real time. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

Salmons, J. (2015). Qualitative online interviews. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

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