Developments in Methodology
Our research interests:
The department is a leading centre of expertise in social research methodology with particular strengths in survey research methodology, particularly focused upon measurement and data collection, secondary analysis of cross-sectional, multilevel and longitudinal datasets, qualitative methodology, social simulation, statistical modelling, methodological integration, virtual methods, and new technologies for social research. There is a special interest in the use of mixed methods, methodological triangulation, and methodological marriages and issues of cross-national comparative research.
Current members researching methodological issues:
Victoria D. Alexander, Ian Brunton-Smith, Martin Bulmer,Jane Fielding, Nigel Fielding, Nigel Gilbert, Nicola Green, Christine Hine, Paul Hodkinson, Jo Moran-Ellis
Corinna Elsenbroich, Lynne Hamill, Christina Silver, Christopher Watts, Maria Xenitidou
Stella Chatzitheochari, Elio Marchione, Mauricio Salgado, David Anzola Pinzon
This work is integrated through its specialist advanced methodology centres, including CRESS, the Centre for Research on Simulation in the Social Sciences, directed by Prof. Nigel Gilbert and CAQDAS, the ESRC-funded Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Networking Project, directed by Prof. Nigel Fielding (co-director Emeritus Prof. Ray Lee, Royal Holloway University of London.
Thus, members of the group are closely involved in methodological research in fields such as the development of social simulation methodology, the improvement of social measurement in social survey research and the dissemination of good practice, and analysis of the use made by researchers of qualitative data analysis software.
Individual members of the Group are also engaged in the development and refinement of techniques of secondary analysis (both quantitative and qualitative), in using new online and web-based research methods, and in triangulation and exploring the complexities of multi-method methodologies in sociology.
Funding for our work has come from a variety of bodies, notably the Research Resources Board of the Economic and Social Research Council, but also from other diverse sources such as the German Central Data Archive, NATO, Research Talk Inc., Sage Publications Ltd and associated companies. Close links are maintained with Surrey Social and Market Research Ltd , the market research arm of the department.
Current and recent research
Current and recently funded research includes: .
- The QUIC (Qualitative Innovations in CAQDAS) Node of the National Research Methods Centre (NCRM), is an ESRC funded project concerned with the integration and analysis of multiple data sources using CAQDAS software and the dissemination of such techniques through a training and capacity building programme. Qualitative software support will be explored for integrating qualitative and quantitative data in mixed methods research, for the analysis of Access Grid multi-stream visual data and for the integration of geo-referenced data within qualitative analysis.
- The SIMIAN (Simulation: a Node) project, another NCRM Node, is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council to promote and develop social simulation in the UK. It involves three "demonstrator" simulations chosen to address important social science challenges: Repeated Interaction, Novelty and Norms. These three demonstrators will form the basis for a range of training and capacity building activities across the UK.
- An ESRC funded study investigating the methodological issues that arise in multi-method and multi-level approaches to a research question concerned with how ‘vulnerability’ is perceived, experienced, and responded to, in everyday life and at the planning/policy level (PPIMs);
- A comparative evaluation of the support provided by 25 qualitative software packages for data integration;
- An assessment of the implications for qualitative research practice of E-Social Science, including grid-based applications for work with streaming video, the role of Access Grid Nodes in research collaboration and HPC-based content analysis;
- An assessment of the state-of-the-art in the convergence of qualitative software (CAQDAS) and geographic information systems (GIS) software
Doctoral research in the group
Those research students working on thesis projects with a primary or major methodological component are automatically members of the Group. Many of the research students associated with the Group have continued to careers in academic research institutes and the applied research sector, including government research, social and market research.
Each year the Department of Sociology welcomes at least one distinguished International Visiting Fellow to the department to work on methodological topics. Recent visitors have included Tom Smith, NORC Chicago, Cesar Cisneros, UAM Iztapalapa, Mexico, Ming Yan, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Norman Blaikie from Universiti Sains Malaysia, David De Vaus from La Trobe University, Australia and Ed Brent from the University of Missouri. Strong outward links with international centres of excellence in different aspects of social research methodology are maintained.
To find out more, please contact:
Department of Sociology
University of Surrey,
Tel. +44 (1483) 689451
Fax +44 (1483) 689551