Research Design and the New Research

Day 1 of the Workshop was a thrilling experience. First, I am recognizing that teaching research methods across disciplines is a very hard (but worthy!) task. There are so many different traditions and paradigms, and I am trying to avoid a lot of theoretical discussion of paradigm wars and the like. But it is easy (even for the teacher) to get jumbled by all the different research approaches and traditions.

Still, I came away from the first day convinced that research methods are converging , and that we are approaching an era when qualitative and quantitative strategies can and probably should work in concert.

The participants — from organizations including SASANE, HART, Welcome to My Yard, Skylark Trekking, and Star Children — were amazing with their attentiveness and insights. Many of the participants have a background in research or data collection; some are totally new to the subject or just learning. One thing that should have been obvious to me earlier is that the contexts for research activity and design in Nepal are so different. As one of the world's poorest countries, Nepal suffers from major infrastructure challenges, political instability, and corruption. Workshop participants pointed out that achieving any level of objectivity in Nepal is difficult, given the on the ground conditions. More on this later.

Today, we covered the scientific method and how that method unites many research traditions. We discussed what makes a good research question. The students then formulated their own research questions. We also talked about common research terms, such as validity and sampling.

Tomorrow, we journey through qualitative research!