Research design and the Keeping Connected project

Year: 2008

Author: Yates, Lyn

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The initiative to develop a new approach to researching young people involved with the Education Institute of the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne came both from the Director of the Institute and from a number of the researchers who are now involved in the project. Those involved shared an interest in the perspectives of the young people themselves, and an interest in understanding how the different professional agendas and practices that they were subject to affected (or failed to affect or support) those young people. The 'industry partner' and the researchers were agreed on the need for a project that took continued connection to school and community rather than the health issue as its research focus. This paper discusses some issues of design and methodology relating to the project. One set of these are what might be considered pragmatic framing effects from external or contingent sources: how the shape of the project we designed is affected by politics of funding, institutional ethics processes, and strategic agendas of researchers working in different institutional contexts. A second discussion elaborates some of the methodological questions we face and debate in the process of the longitudinal qualitative case-study work: issues related to the appropriateness of different steps or techniques to the intent of the project and the possibility of producing good insights and evidence from it. Here the different research histories, interests and theoretical commitments of the large team of researchers, together with our experience of the first wave of the longitudinal case-study work itself, has produced an ongoing dialogue between us about the specific setting up of interviews and the use and limitations of different kinds of visual technologies and other narrative methods for the purpose of this project.