Session II: Didactic Panel Discussion

Lynn Mather (SUNY Buffalo Law/Political Science)

Anya Bernstein (SUNY Buffalo Law/Anthropology & Law), Shari Diamond (Northwestern Law/Psychology & Law), Kathryn Hendley (Wisconsin Law/Political Science & Law), Ajay Mehrotra (Indiana Law/History & Law)

Program :
The session will begin with a 8-10 min. presentation by each speaker on the “essence” of a particular method of research: ethnography (Anya); experiments, quasi-experiments, and surveys (Shari); interviewing and focus groups (Kathie); and historical analysis (Ajay) — including the strengths and limits of the method. To facilitate interaction, the moderator (Lynn) will then pose questions to the panel, with the expectation that some questions might be answered briefly by all, and other questions by only 1 or 2 speakers (as appropriate).
Discussion questions will include:
1. What other method(s) works especially well with the one you have just described? What overlapping questions lie at the intersection of quantitative and qualitative research? For example, how do you design questions for survey research? How could these work together with questions designed for interviews, or for experiments?

2. What’s the difference between formulating hypotheses in advance vs. generating them in the field? When/why would you prefer one over the other? Explain the process of grounded theory research and compare it to deductive testing of hypotheses.

3. How do you select your field site and then gain access to it? How might geography limit the generalizability of your findings?

4. How do you gain access to an organization for interviews or historical study?

5. Compare and contrast large “n” vs. small “n” studies. Advantages and disadvantages of each.

6. How do you determine the parameters of your research? How large should your sample size be? How many interviews or surveys should you conduct? How many case studies do you need? What should be your historical periodization?

7. How do you select your respondents for surveys? For interviews? Participants’ selection for experiments? Discuss random sampling, stratified random sampling, and snowball sampling.

8. How do you ask “good” questions? — On surveys? In interviews? What should you think about in the order of questions asked? How do you deal with sensitive topics? Compare structured with unstructured interviews. How does a historian formulate questions to ask of historical data?