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One of the main colloquia aims is to foster greater awareness of why certain methodologies are favoured in certain research contexts and to provide opportunities for Faculty to gain a greater appreciation of challenges and opportunities for “mixed” or “blended” approaches. One of the main objectives of the colloquia discussions is to tap into the opportunities for collaboration among social science researchers representing different schools of inquiry. Thus, the presentations and responses shouldn’t be solely descriptive of techniques and outputs, rather raise the fundamental questions and facilitate an open and constructive discussion around the critical conceptual, methodological and practical issues.


Some features requested for colloquia presentations include:
  1. Introduce the intellectual problem and space in which this methodology has been created and used by you and others.
  2. Introduce the key paradigmatic assumptions underpinning the chosen approach/methodology and describe the types of knowledge that this approach produces.
  3. Summarise the main techniques of data gathering and analysis.
  4. Justify your favour for this approach in relation to specific research questions and/or contexts and outline major shortcomings or limitations. In short, evaluate the approach and techniques in relation to a chosen project or context (preferably use your own research examples).
  5. Introduce the major conceptual debates around this research approach.
  6. Outline major ethical implications of the methodology.
  7. Comment critically on the social and political contexts of your research and methodology.
  8. Discuss possible opportunities to extend this approach by “mixing” or “blending” with other research approaches and techniques.
  9. Link your presentation to the approaches and issues discussed in other colloquia (we are asking presenters and respondents to participate in (some) other seminars as well).

You may also want to consider how the demands of the knowledge economy and knowledge production affect the methodology and types of knowledge that research produces; how digital technologies shape this research approach and outputs; and how the tensions between applied and fundamental knowledge affect this methodology.

Ultimately, we want to stimulate thinking across the Faculty on the nature of research and you may shape your presentation with any other fundamental issues or information that you consider important.


We want to promote constructive exchange of ideas and suggest a dialogic presenter-respondent format. The aim of the presentations is to discuss epistemic assumptions of the approach, demonstrate its usefulness as well as to unpack its limitations and the complexity of the knowledge this approach produces. We particularly want to foster thinking on interdisciplinary approaches and discuss the possibilities to enhance social research by combining different disciplines of inquiry. Thus, we have invited respondents with related, but not necessarily the same methodological expertise asking them to respond to the presentation by constructively engaging with methodological aspects as well as providing deeper insights into the possibilities or challenges to enhance the value of this approach by combining it with other research approaches or techniques.

Typically each colloquium will include a methodological presentation (45-50 min), invited critique or response (20-25 min) and open discussion (20-30 min). However, each presenter-respondent team is free to organize the presentation and discussion in other ways (eg. make collaborative presentation or panel discussion and invite other people).

We expect that presenters and respondents will approach this task creatively and each session will provoke a deep and constructive discussion. We ask presenter-respondent teams to contact each other at least four weeks before the session and discuss the format and content, as well as share draft presentations/ responses before the session.

On the basis of colloquia material we plan to create an electronic resource and to publish a book on contemporary social research methods. To assist us, we will ask colloquia presenters and respondents to provide us with the following:

  1. A short list (7-15) of references, including seminal and/or classical papers, some basic readings “for beginners”, debates/critiques and high quality online resources.
  2. A short bionote outlining methodological research experience (~100-150 words and/or link to a personal webpage with this information).
  3. An abstract of the presentation and response (~100-200 words).
  4. Presentation/response file(s) (after the seminar).
The seminar schedule and due dates for sending the information requested above are below:


Send this information to Lina ( and Patrick (

After the colloquium we will invite all presenters and respondents to develop their presentations into potential chapters and contribute to the book.

Note: Note: These guidelines have been amended after the presenters meeting on the 20th February 2009. Meeting slides PDF FILE

Appendix: Initial rationale of the colloquia series, 2008 Nov-Dec


The disciplines informing Education and Social Work face unique challenges in defining the nature and purposes of research. Both areas have applied research approaches from many, often apparently incommensurable, disciplines of inquiry — psychology, sociology, policy studies, anthropology, history, linguistics, and so on. The increasing complexity of applied research contexts and heightened expectations concerning the role of research in practice and policy formation have led some commentators to advocate for problem-based, outcomes-oriented, cross-disciplinary research, arguing that mixed approaches are better adapted to the study of practical ill-structured problems. Further, collaboration across disciplines of inquiry is considered an important feature of contemporary and future research agenda. Amid these collections of specialist interests, research designs and analyses must maintain scholarly integrity, robustness and trustworthiness.

This raises a number of questions, including:
  • How are research approaches governed or affected by demands on the researcher to produce certain kinds of knowledge?
  • What is the optimal level of commensurability of techniques, data and findings from different paradigms around shared applied problems?
  • What level of sophistication can mixed-method applied approaches achieve without losing integrity and legitimacy?
  • What is the ethical context attendant to different methodologies and their assumptions?
  • How can the Faculty’s research effort be more than the sum of these parts?
  • Finally, how can we provide research students with the knowledge and experience needed to understand, judge and integrate methods and techniques from multiple disciplines of inquiry?


Drawing on its disciplinary diversity, the Faculty already claims expertise in a range of areas that are at methodological frontiers and thus has a distinctive potential for further enhancing its research by intensifying its collaborative efforts. This initiative is concerned with sharing expertise and enhancing the Faculty’s research effort. It aims to build on the methodological expertise and external connections of the Faculty, and is mindful of the need to continue to engage with both diverse fields of research and diverse disciplines of inquiry to sustain a collaborative and collegial research culture. More tangibly, the colloquia aim to create intellectual space for constructively challenging the established and contemporary methodological practices and innovations; and discussing the possibilities to combine and enrich them with methodological propositions and techniques from other approaches. We believe this will assist more informed approaches to our individual and collective success in competitive grant schemes.

Finally, being mindful about the issues and challenges of Research Higher Degree supervision and education, the sessions will be open for staff and RHD students. They will provide opportunities to participate in scholarly methodological debates and access additional resources on contemporary methodological issues and techniques.


We plan a series of 9 colloquium-style presentations, of 2 hours each, running from March 2009 through to December 2009 with possible extensions into new methodological domains in 2010. Each colloquium will include a methodological presentation, invited critical and constructive response and open discussion. A presenter (typically an experienced Faculty’s researcher) will introduce research approaches and techniques used in their current or recent work. An invited experienced respondent will respond to the presentation by constructively challenging methodological aspects and providing insights about the possibilities to enhance this approach by mixing or blending it with other techniques and approaches. This will open floor for general discussion.

As research methodology is not confined to the Faculty, cross-Faculty and inter-University links and possibilities for invited presentation-response discussions will also be explored. A blog space with resources, including audio file of the presentation and discussion, references and relevant literature will be made available following each session.

Invited topics for the colloquia include, but are not limited to:

  • action research
  • classroom interaction and ethnomethodology
  • comparative research
  • critical ethnographies and post-structural inquiry
  • design based research
  • eResearch
  • historiography and historical analysis
  • quantitative analysis and modelling
  • policy analysis

2010 (provisional list)
  • art-based inquiry
  • case studies
  • curriculum analysis
  • discourse analysis
  • educational data and text mining
  • indigenous studies
  • metaanalysis and metasynthesis
  • phenomenography
  • systemic functional linguistics

Chairs: Steering group:
  • Jude Irwin, Deb Hayes, Susan Groundwater-Smith, Aek Phakiti, Andrew Martin, Patrick Brownlee.
Organised by: