Methodological reflection

I have been considering two points raised during my seminar about the research design for the early career academics project. These relate to my reasons for selecting the constructivist grounded theory approach, and the data collection process within this framework.

Initial themes have emerged from data collected in the first round, which concentrated on the experiences of early career academics on one campus of a regional university. Responses are contextualised by this particular university’s overall strategy and climate, however the two major themes towards answering the research question posed are general themes which can easily be linked to the current global literature on this topic. This suggests that the themes are suitable for comparing to other university contexts, specifically the experiences of early career academics from a range of different universities.

At this point, however, a decision needs to be made regarding whether the second round of data collection should use the tested interview questions to explore the experiences of a range of early career academics from different types of universities, OR to concentrate on a group of early career academics from another university – another regional university or another type of university (technology or sandstone?). My initial reason for choosing to concentrate on participants from one other ‘site’ is because the first eight interviews were analysed within a specific context (including my own knowledge of this university), the next six to eight interviews should also be analysed within a specific uni context. During the early days of this study, I briefly considered the comparison of a regional university and a technology university (such as QUT or RMIT).

This raises another question: Why is this ‘two site’ comparison approach the best to use for a constructivist grounded theory study? Both context and background knowledge of the researcher are critical elements of constructivist grounded theory analysis. Exploring and comparing similarities and differences of a significant sample between two university contexts would potentially strengthen findings and the resulting ‘grounded theory’


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