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Research Methodology Workshop for Doctoral Scholars

December 4-7, 2007

Theme: Critical Perspectives on Research Methodology

Research methodology, a critical component of training for any research programme, seldom receives the attention it deserves in most academic institutions in India.  Methodologies are often conflated with methods and techniques of data analyses, with limited understanding of the logic underlying the various techniques and methods. Even among techniques, use of quantitative data analyses is seen to be more scientific, more valid than other methods. Developments in the philosophy of social science research increasingly stress the validity of multiple truth claims with an emphasis on the location of the researcher and the importance of interpretive, ethnographic methods. Further, social sciences also increasingly draw from developments in natural sciences and technology studies to enhance its explanatory domain. This has also strengthened the scope for trans-disciplinary dialogue and research drawing upon perspectives from varied disciplines.  These developments are yet to find their way into coursework for researchers in many institutions. 

Choice of methods is guided by the nature of the research questions posed. Similarly, research questions posed arise from a set of perspectives that one is exposed to. For instance, a student wanting to measure the impact of a policy change will be guided by a different set of theoretical perspectives as compared to say, a student who wants to study policy outcomes as contingent upon processes of implementation. The methods adopted by each student too will vary accordingly, but the two studies complement and enrich our understanding of the effectiveness of policy change. However, in many academic institutions in India, there is little scope for the two streams of research to learn from each other, and importantly understand the validity of the approaches that each study adopts. It is also important to develop a critical awareness of the limitations of the respective approaches, especially of the assumptions made to validate.

The workshop will address some of these issues and serve as a forum for students to interact and exchange notes on their ongoing work. It seeks to expose research scholars to a) an understanding of categories like method, methodology and theoretical perspectives and the differences b) critical perspectives on assumptions underlying dominant strands of research b) the idea of validity of method in positivist and interpretivist frameworks and d) recent developments in the philosophy of social science research.

The workshop will be held in MIDS and will be tentatively structured as follows.  The proposals will be classified into different themes and the morning sessions will have resource persons making presentations on relevant research issues.  Students will make their presentations in the afternoon, which will be discussed by resource persons as well as by other research scholars.  The final day will have a set of presentations by distinguished scholars drawn from different disciplines so as to provide the scholars with inter-disciplinary perspectives on their research areas.

 Research Methodology Workshop for Doctoral Scholars

MIDS will hold a workshop for Ph. D research scholars from various ICSSR institutions and from other institutions in Tamil Nadu during 4-7, December 2007. The theme for this year’s workshop is Critical Perspectives on Research Methodology.  The workshop will be held at MIDS, Chennai. A concept note on the theme is enclosed.

This workshop seeks to bring research scholars working in different social sciences to expose them to a) the various conceptual and methodological issues involved in using specific research frameworks, b) research procedures adopted by other disciplinary streams and c) the possibility of using more reflexive methods in their research work. We request you to nominate students who would benefit from participation in such a workshop.  Students should have completed at least one year of doctoral work. Applicants can be from any social science discipline and we encourage students using multi-disciplinary perspectives to apply.  Scholars who are in their early stages of their Ph.D on any of the social science disciplines other than commerce are requested to apply. Around 20 to 25 students will be selected.

Applicants are requested to send a 1-2 page write-up on their doctoral work highlighting a) the objectives of their study and the research questions, b) justification for the objectives and c) proposed means of addressing the research questions. The covering letter from the applicant should contain the following a) Name of the Applicant b) Institution/Department/University of Affiliation c) Title of the Ph.D Dissertation d) Name of the Supervisor e) Date of Registration or date of joining  f) An Endorsement by the Supervisor and g) Contact email address and postal address.  Proposals are welcome in Tamil or English.

Applications should state clearly on the envelope “Research Scholars Workshop”. Applications can be sent by ordinary mail to the following address

M. Vijayabaskar,
Assistant Professor, Madras Institute of Development Studies,
79, II Main, Gandhinagar, Adayar, Chennai- 600020.
or by email to pub@mids.ac.in or baskarv@mids.ac.in