Semantic Web and Research Methodology

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NOTE: Due to problems with spam, this wiki is not currently editable.

This wiki is concerned with exploring the structure of research methodologies in computing fields of study.

Research methodology is often a problematic area for new researchers. This wiki presents a fairly technical way of viewing research and the philosophies/designs/methods that guide it. To do only this work is to reduce a researcher to a research technician. It must be remembered that research is much more than just identifying the various technical aspects of research.

Although research methodology includes aspects of research philosophies, designs, and methods, it is greater than just these aspects – it is more than just the sum of these parts. A research methodology includes each of the aspects discussed in this wiki, but it also involves the logic behind why certain philosophical world views are held, and the argument behind which is the best research design, and its related research methods, to be used in particular contexts and in answering particular questions. This logic/argument of why and how research choices concerning philosophies, designs, and methods have been chosen and implemented makes up a complete research methodology presentation and discussion.

So while a research methodology chapter/section in a dissertation, thesis, journal article, or conference paper should include a discussion of the technical aspects related to the chosen philosophy, design, and methods, it also needs to cover why these where chosen, and how they would lead to answering the research question and sub-questions. This wiki will, however, not explore the wider area of which is the best research approach for which context, or how it should be implemented.

A research scheme

So, how does one go about understanding a research scheme?

A Research Scheme is just a term used here to represent, or contain, the various components of a research methodology[1]. It is not a formal term used in research methodology. Going to the Research Scheme page will tell you more about what it is, and here you will also find a list of example research schemes that wiki users have added.

Following the diagram below, a Research Scheme has a Philosophical World View and one or more Research Designs. It also indicates whether ethical clearance is indicated for the research project it represents. This is the starting point for building a research methodology – decide on a world view and a research design that would be appropriate for your study. Remember also to factor in your ethical clearance. This diagram is discussed in more detail below.

ResearchScheme.png
  1. Firstly, you need to decide on which Philosophical World View or paradigm will underpin your research (and there will be only one of these) - see point 1 in the diagram above. The diagram shows various world views that are common in computing research, and each of these represents some view of what is truth, and how knowledge is accumulated. You can explore each of these to determine which makes the most sense for your research. Remember that this philosophical world view will have to be consistent with your research design; if you are going to take an absolute view of truth of one independent reality, where the researcher is an objective outside, you cannot then opt for an ethnographic research design which seeks an in-depth understandings of the various life-worlds of a group of people. Going to the Philosophical World View page and clicking on one of the specific pages will take you to a page where you can see which research schemes that use that specific world view.
  2. Secondly, you will also need to decide on the Research Design that will be used to structure how the research will be approached and organised. There is often only one of these in a research methodology, although more than one research design has been used in some methodologies. You can find the various typical research designs used in computing research under point 2 on the diagram above. You can find examples of where a design has been used in the pages that wiki users have added by navigating from Research Design to Empirical Research Design or NonEmpirical Research Design, and from there to the particular research design you want to explore.
  3. Finally, for each research design that you have chosen, you will need to select Research Methods that will be used to gather data – see point 3 in the diagram above for common research data gathering methods used in computing research. Sometimes you will have only one of these, but often there will be more than one. Sometimes, all the research methods will be Qualitative Research Methods, Quantitative Research Methods, or Theoretical Research Methods, but often they will come from more than one category. These research methods will be used to collect data that will then be analysed, leading to research findings (which are reported on in a findings chapter/section, and not in the methodology section).

Remember, though, that choosing specific elements for these three components does not make a research methodology. These components are the building blocks of the research methodology. You still need to provide a convincing, logical argument about why each of these is appropriate in the context of your particular study and research questions. Then you have a research methodology!

Using this wiki

There are two ways that you can use this wiki - as a consumer, or as a producer.

  1. As a consumer, you can use the links in the Explore menu in the sidebar to explore the various options for research schemes, philosophical worldviews, research designs, and research methods. See Exploring the wiki for some guidance as to what to look out for.
  2. There are two ways to act as a producer.
    • You can add content to the various wiki pages that describe the various options and attributes related to the concepts presented here, or you can add to the discussion of the topic by adding your views to the Discussions pages for each article. You can do this while exploring the various pages. See Editing articles and Adding citations and references for guidance.
    • You can add a new research scheme to the wiki, providing the data as you create it. Use the Create a research scheme page in the Create menu in the sidebar.

To note

The research methodology arena does not have a single, universally accepted terminology, and what some may call a research philosophical world view others will call a paradigm, and for some the research design is a research strategy. This wiki is an attempt to bring some consensus, and structure, to the terminology surrounding research methodologies, but it remains just one approach. You are welcome to adopt its use of terminology, or to ignore it completely and use another approach. How this wiki compares to other approaches is discussed on the Comparisons page.

You are unlikely to find detailed notes on any of the research philosophies, designs, or methods found in this wiki - that is not the intention of the wiki. Although some contributors may provide some detail in some cases, the aim of the wiki is to provide some background to the concepts involved, and it is up to each individual researcher to explore the detail for him- or herself.

Another important point to remember is that this wiki provides some guidance to how to structure a research methodology. It cannot be considered to be authoritative, and is not to be quoted in academic research. Citations are provided in places, and these can be followed up on where necessary. This wiki will give some idea of the sorts of topics that you will need to explore further in academic books, journal articles, and conference papers.

References

  1. Pilkington, C and Pretorius, L. 2015. A conceptual model of the research methodology domain. In Proceedings of the 7th International Joint Conference on Knowledge Discovery, Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management - Volume 2: KEOD. Pages 96-107