Keyword Groups: Research Methods

action research

Work contributing to wider understanding of any phenomenon through exploratory development of practice, whether kept within one organisation, or shared ( see ‘ evidence generating practice’)

participatory research

Participatory research uses members of the community or client group as equal colleagues in devising and then running the research exercise, and formulating any conclusions. (See also Experts by Experience)

participant observation

In sociology, participant observation describes a method of study in which a researcher joins in living, working or otherwise hanging out with the people whose lifestyle and thinking he or she is studying, in order to get an in-depth, insider’s view of what the world means to those s/he is studying. For non-academics, we can […]


Folksonomy is an approach to categorisation, for research or other systematic purposes, in which a community of interest contributes to the development of the categories to be used, simply by using whatever keywords they see fit. (See discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of fully open categorisation in ‘New Developments’)


Phenomenology is an approach to understanding which takes the subjective experience of the individual as central to understanding their thought, emotions, actions, and interactions in their social world.  There are a number of different applications of phenomenology as method.  For example, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis is a qualitative research method in psychology which entails analysing core issues through […]

idiographic account

A description by a third party of an individual case – person or situation – that explores and illustrates one or more wider issues in some depth. See also ‘ case study’ for an example chosen specifically to exemplify a specific issue; ‘personal reflection’ for a first person account; also ‘narrative’ and ‘life journey’ for […]