How to get clear about method, methodology, epistemology and ontology, once and for all

Video recording from a workshop by Professor David James at the ESRC First Year Student Conference in Cardiff, January 2015.

Watching this video will take just under forty minutes.

By definition, doctoral research is of high quality in the conventional senses of having a robust design, appropriate techniques of data-gathering and analysis, being original, having high ethical standards, having clear links with previous research and so on.  In the social sciences, good doctoral research is often reflexive as well: this may take the form of a straightforward assessment of strengths and weaknesses, or it may mean a stronger kind of reflexivity (such as that advocated by Bourdieu and some feminist scholars).

In this workshop, Professor James asks us to consider a further sense in which doctoral research on any topic can be reflexive and ‘critically self-aware’,  starting with the question ‘what’s the link between the concrete details of my method and more abstract matters, such as values and world-views?’  He looks at the necessary inter-relationship of four elements, namely method, methodology, epistemology and ontology, and some practical implications of this for the integrity and coherence of doctoral research.  The workshop is NOT designed for people doing philosophy doctorates.

The slides for Professor James’s talk, along with an archive of social media discussion, can be found on the conference website.