“Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t.”
– The Tragedy of Hamlet, William Shakespeare (Act 2, Scene 2)
The chapter “research method” is mandatory in many papers, but usually neither the author nor the reader is in any case excited about it. I want to change that. Method, coming from Greek μετ᾽ (met᾽) + ὁδός (hodós) means “considering the road”; and thinking of the road that we follow while conducting our research, lies at the heart of answering any question, be it academic or not.
Method (for me) is answering: “How are we going to do that?” The ongoing struggle with this difficult and exciting question during my PhD in the field of Early Modern history is the topic of this blog.
My own journey started during my MA-thesis (Müller 2017) with a method called “Qualitative Content Analysis” (qualitative Inhaltsanalyse). I have since come in touch with many different – mostly qualitative but also quantitative – ways of conducting research. As I have presented and instructed QDA research software such as MAXQDA at several conferences and workshops, I have come into personal contact with many students and researchers that follow very different ways of answering often strikingly similar questions.
Time and again I am struck by the creative ideas and specific approaches of my students and colleagues. Teaching them never leaves my own methodological repertoire unchanged. Instead, I sometimes I learn more from my students, than they do from me. Therefore, I am constantly expanding and re-evaluating my own methodological toolbox, while gaining insight on how to answer research questions in a structured, reliable and transparent way.
With this blog I will tell about my own background and experiences especially concerning “Qualitative Data Analysis”. For this approach software functionalities and my own methodological opinions will be elaborated. Furthermore, I will include new ideas, questions and changes of perspective that I encounter while (re)considering the road.