Reflections on Methodological Issues

  • Michael CorbettEmail author
  • David Kember


The book contains an extensive set of chapters which explain why a research student’s thesis has used a structure differing from the conventional one developed to suit the scientific method. The researchers explain how their findings, methodological approaches, paradigmatic leanings and the theories utilised guided their alternative structures. A common characteristic is that none of the research students use the scientific method, which is why the conventional structure was unsuitable. In this chapter, we reflect on the scientific method to see why it is unsuited to social science research (and indeed not adopted by much scientific research) and the alternative directions which have been taken. We define the scientific method as a linear positivist approach which proceeds from a well-defined question or hypothesis, substantiated by a literature survey, which is then tested. The problem with this positivist approach for the social sciences is that research in these disciplines deals with complex ill-defined issues, which are often so messy that research students find it difficult initially to formulate research questions. Their research, therefore, takes the form of a voyage of discovery. Interpretive researchers recognised the limitations of the scientific method and moved towards more naturalistic forms of research. In the early stages, at least, this tended to imply movement from quantitative to qualitative research. The chapters in the book suggest that over time there has been a degree of shift in interpretive research aiming to derive novel theory, grounded in the data, to interpret a limited case. Many of the researchers in this collection interpret their results in terms of well-established theories.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationAcadia UniversityWolfvilleCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of EducationUniversity of TasmaniaLauncestonAustralia

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