Sunday, November 22, 2009

ALEX Questions - Nov. 23

Q1 – Potter writes (p. 249) that researchers “rarely build on each others work,” in systematic ways that lead to a shared definition of concepts, adding to “clutter.” This seems like a critique, but there are advantages to redefining concepts. The criticism implies that research is haphazard and doesn’t add to collective knowledge. Isn’t that the point of research? To add to collective knowledge and to build on each other’swork? Or is Potter’s point merely the fact that methodologies are so varied that it’s almost like comparing apples to oranges?

Q2 – Potter goes on to comment on the “barriers to entry” within qualitative fields and how lowering the barriers promotes a diversity of approaches and fresh ideas. Is this practically true or a romantic ideal? At the very least, it assumes one has to have a PhD to be allowed entry, or at the least be a PhD student or candidate. Can any neophyte who learns the language and ways of the system and the correct academic jargon reaally have entry into these fields?

Q3 – It seems that Potter’s early point is that definition is everything. He makes semiotic arguments of how appropriate technical language is used by different researchers within different fields. Proper use of technical terms as opposed to common language seems to be the academic code to participation. Is this the key to acceptance?

Q4 – Potter’s whole question about “community” whether it be national or regional or technical or academic or subcommunity is easy for me to understand as a Latino. The concept of dual-indentities or even multiple identities is not difficult for me. I can be a Mexican, Mexican-American, Tejano, Chicano, Latino, Austinite, UT-football fan, Texas football fan, Mexican futbol fan, etc., and still be an American. Much of it depends on the context. Does Potter believe that the context is unclear in his criticism of community?

Q5 – Potter criticizes poorly written justifications for use of methodologies in qualitative studies, and I believe rightly so. Well-written justifications are extremely helpful. I always thought that the method depended on the research goals. Obviously, external practical considerations also play into it. Are there researchers who focus on just one method and try to make all of their studies fit their method simply because they find they can do that method well?

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