Methodologies for Practice Research

Edited by Carol Costley & John Fulton

This book  contains a collection of original chapters and is a text book resource for the individual who is engaged in work based research.

This book is aimed at post-graduate students on work-based masters or doctorate programmes of study designed for professional or practice-based candidates. This particular group transcends professional boundaries and the book will therefore be aimed at a multidisciplinary audience. The underlying premise of the book is to provide an overarching rationale for practice-based and practice led approaches to research and this is discussed in depth at in the first chapters; following this a clear distinction is made between research methods and methodologies, methods being an approach to data collection and methodologies the overarching conceptual framework which can shape and direct their research project.  One of the key challenges is to develop the research project systematically, against the complexities of everyday working life with all its challenges, thus ensuring the final product is a coherent body of work which develops a specific area of practice.

A range of methodological approaches are covered. Whilst emphasising methodological rigour, the book aims to demystify and demonstrate flexibility. The aim of the book is to serve as a theoretical guide exploring principles and how these principles relate to the use of a particular methodological approach in practice. It does not aim to be a comprehensive or definitive statement on the approach but rather an attempt to outline the key principles and demonstrate its applicability by providing frameworks for the development of practice.  It will allow the student to understand relevant concepts in doing research as an ‘insider’ in an organisation or professional field and read about a range of methodologies in order to select a particular approach in an informed manner.

An additional way in which this book is different from other reference works is because it sets out some well-known research approaches but in a contemporary setting where practice-based courses have moved beyond what was hitherto known as ‘applied’ aspects of method.  The book approaches practitioner-led research through the current arguments that are being made about the ‘practice turn’ in research and how this has manifested for practitioner-researchers undertaking degree programmes in higher education institutions. Practitioners, who are experts in their professional fields, use research to develop their professional work. Methodologies are thus transformed in that they are constrained by resources, time-frames and strategic objectives of the workplace. They are also liberated to include a long-term aim to produce something tangible and creative for real application. They therefore extend to practical dissemination and do not end with the written dissertation.  Ethical issues in the research become more concerned with the character of the researcher and relationships with their colleagues who may also be subjects of the research as well as the more traditional concerns of truth and merit.

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