19 April 2016 7 Comments
I’ve been seeing a lot of applications lately where the methods section starts something like this:
In this project, we adopt a mixed methods approach…
It is a statement that I’m coming to loathe, because the author is generally saying:
Warning: muddled thinking ahead.
In the following section, we are going to provide a grab-bag of methods. Their connection to the research question will be weak, at best. Hell, they probably won’t even be well linked to each other…
There are no mixed methods
In a grant application, the purpose of the methods section is to show how you’re going to answer your research question. Not explore the question. Not interrogate the space. Not flail about without a clue.
Your methods should present a road-map from not-knowing to knowing. If you are using more than one method (and, let’s face it, who isn’t?), you need to show that your methods will:
- Work (get you to your goal); and
- Link together (be greater than the sum of their parts).
You need to show me both of those things, not just one of them (or, as is sometimes the case, neither of them).