Approaches & Practical Examples

II.d Research Approaches and Types

Introduction to research information leaflets

The following pages offer specific examples of research methods that might be relevant for NAIP projects. Choosing which methods to use in any enquiry is a critical part of the process. Research methods need to be ones that will help to answer the questions that have been articulated in a focused way. For example, if a research process is seeking for detailed understanding from a small group of people, a survey that asks respondents to answer yes or no to questions, or to rate certain statements, is unlikely to be satisfying, and much more will be gained from focus groups or individual interviews that allow the nuances of individual voices to come through. If a research process is seeking to develop a new form of performance or interaction with an audience, then an action research model may be more appropriate. Here small steps will identified through the process of the project, with each step being evaluated in whatever ways seem appropriate, such that what is learned can inform the next steps and the artistic work.

Research methods also need to be manageable in practice. It is therefore essential to think through exactly how any research method will be implemented, what steps will need to be taken and how these will be made possible. Research of almost any kind usually ends up taking more time and generating more material than first envisaged! It can be very tempting too, to plan several different research methods within a project, which make a great deal of sense in theory, but just become overwhelming in reality. It is vital to be pragmatic, to focus efforts and to be careful not to become swamped by much more data than can actually be reflected on in detail. Interviews and focus groups, for example, may well need to be transcribed from audio/video recordings, a process which in itself takes quite some time before they can really be used to inform the research.

 Once a particular method is chosen, it is well worth consulting relevant research methods manuals for further detail about the ways in which it may be used, challenges that may be encountered, and ethical implications. This will help to plan a project such that it can be successful and fully contribute to the enquiry. Time spent in the early stages of planning to map research out as far as possible will undoubtedly reap benefits later on.

These research leaflets have been written by dr. Evert Bisschop Boele, professor of New Audiences at Prince Claus Conservatoire, Groningen.

Research leaflets

Literature on Methodology