The absence of information about the research process deters understanding no matter what level of research expertise the reader brings to the task. Indeed, acim doctoral students attending a recent conference session, given by one of the authors, expressed concern with inadequate information provided in research journal articles about the methods used, data gathering techniques and subsequent data analysis.
Comments such as “it is often not clear what is being reported when components, such as how the data were collected, are missing” and “I expect to read details on the data source or data gathering but sometimes this information is just not there”, as well as comments about the difficulties encountered by students in “identifying the type of research methodology used in educational research” (Knipe& Bottrell, 2013). It seems that pre-service teachers are not alone in their concerns about reading and understanding education research.
If particular types of research methodology are more frequently used by educational researchers, such as case study as claimed by Burns (2000), then there could be justification in placing an initial emphasis on case study methodology as a starting point in teaching research methods. As it is more likely that students and early career researchers would encounter this method in educational research journals, they would have a useful starting point for reading research and designing a research study. From the confidence gained through knowledge of one method of research, students could be encouraged to use that knowledge as a springboard into other research methodology.
Developing a “Mapping Tool”
Methods of classifying research into various categories and the development of instruments used have been reported in many disciplines, from early classifications by Cooper (1984) in social science to more recent classifications in areas such as Sports Science (Williams & Kendall, 2007) and Marketing (Ensign 2006). In categorizing educational research methods, an early attempt by Barr etal (1931) identified eight areas and, more recently, Isaac & Michael (1995) designated nine categories. Books on research are mostly organised by chapters that address the various aspects of research and tend not to be arranged by methodological classifications.