Research Genres

(following on from Various Research Techniques)

Loosely, I have established three different information types; quantitative, qualitative, unsubstantiated. To recap I have described these as being measurable, observed and weighted opinion respectively. To begin to address the 6 questions we have been given, I am going to define a number of research genres to classify the questions under. The genre will help to provide a context for the question and thus, help us to target our research to a specific information type.

Defined research genres:

  • Factual science:    the collection of facts and data in a controlled environment through repeatable experimentation and observation
  • Social science:       the observation of social trends, supported by overwhelming support of qualitative information. Achieved through a logical and recordable process of data collection (though not necessarily reproducible).
  • Undefined:           it is completely possible to have a poorly defined question that is unable to fit into either of the above categories. I wonder if there is any situation where this might be beneficial? If I come up with anything, I will add comments to this post.

Using these three genres, we can classify the original 6 questions:

# ———— # ———— # ———— # ———— #

|                        |                       |                      |                       |

#  question   #    Factual    #     Social      #Undefined #

|                        |                       |                      |                       |

#      one        #          1          #           1         #          1         #

#       two       #          1          #           1         #          0         #

#     three      #          0         #           1         #           0        #

#      four       #          0         #           1         #           0        #

#       five       #          0         #           1         #           0        #

#       six        #          1         #           1         #           0        #

|                        |                       |                      |                       |

# ———— # ———— # ———— # ———— #

(where:    0 = False     and    1 = True)

If you can read my hashed-up table, then you will see that there are more than one category for some of these questions. I believe a question, like Question Six: ‘What are the common security issues related to cloud computing’, may fall either into a Factual genre, or a Social genre depending on how the question is defined. Similarly, Question 2: ‘Are virtual worlds, like Second Life, useful for teaching?’, could be either Factual or Social, based on how it is defined, see below:

Q2: ‘Are virtual worlds, like Second Life, useful for teaching?’

As stated, this question could be viewed from a Factual or Social perspective, depending on how the question is defined. On one hand, a group might be trying to collect data on the progress of improvement shown by students in a virtual learning environment, in this case a series of tests might be devised in order to collect an assortment of quantifiable data to measure key outcomes. Alternatively, this question could be considered in the Social genre, in which case a group might conduct a number of surveys, questionnaires and focus groups to try and trend user’s opinions and experiences on / within virtual learning environments.


It follows, that if a question may move between genres based on its context, then the techniques used to collect relevant data should also change depending on the context / genre. I will talk about this more in a future post…

# to be continued…


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