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About this book

Guiding students step-by-step through the research process while simultaneously introducing a range of debates, challenges and tools that feminist scholars use, the second edition of this popular textbook provides a vital resource to those students and researchers approaching their studies from a feminist perspective. Interdisciplinary in its approach, the book covers everything from research design, analysis and presentation, to formulating research questions, data collection and publishing research. Offering the most comprehensive and practical guide to the subject available, the text is now also fully updated to take account of recent developments in the field, including participatory action research, new technologies and methods for working with big data and social media.

Doing Feminist Research is required reading for undergraduate and postgraduate courses taking a feminist approach to Social Science Methodology, Research Design and Methods. It is the ideal guide for all students and scholars carrying out feminist research, whether in the fields of International Relations, Political Science, Interdisciplinary International and Global Studies, Development Studies or Gender and Women’s Studies.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Abstract
Abtract
Are you curious, skeptical, persistent, and surprised by the social and political world around you? These are often the conditions of a good researcher. Yet, we cannot be good researchers just by wanting to be. It takes reflection and practice.
Brooke A. Ackerly, Jacqui True

2. A Feminist Research Ethic Explained

Abstract
Abstract
A fundamental concern of feminist researchers across a range of social and political science subjects is the study of power and its effects. The distribution of power within families, the struggle for power by social movements, and the use of power in the classroom are just a few examples. We are also directly or indirectly actors in the social dynamics we study, such as the political economy and the classroom. In addition, our primary tool, academic research, is also a particular form of power.
Brooke A. Ackerly, Jacqui True

3. Feminist Roadmaps: Planning, Doing, and Presenting Your Research

Abstract
Chapter two set out the key elements of a feminist research ethic: (1) attentiveness to power; (2) attentiveness to boundaries of inclusion and exclusion; (3) attentiveness to relationships; and (4) commitment to self-reflection. In this chapter, we turn to the research process itself and show how a feminist research ethic can serve as a heuristic device for thinking through and documenting the full range of decisions – planned and unplanned – you make as a researcher over the life of your projects. This heuristic helps you attend not only to anticipated and unanticipated ethical dilemmas but also to the more conventional questions of research design, implementation, and analysis in a feminist way. We offer concrete suggestions for: (1) how to think through your research process; (2) how to keep track of your reflections and work throughout the project; and (3) how to show your work to others. We aim to make transparent what every researcher knows – that research is messy. These messy processes need to be conveyed in a non-messy way. Thus, we offer tools for thinking about exposition, too.
Brooke A. Ackerly, Jacqui True

4. Question-Driven Research: Formulating a Good Question

Abstract
In Chapter three we argued that you should always return to your original research question when you encounter unexpected deliberative moments where the choice of how to proceed is a difficult one. Your research question is the first principle of your research project: it is what orients and sustains it, and it is what makes it both compelling to do research and to learn about others’ research.
Brooke A. Ackerly, Jacqui True

5. Theory and Conceptualization

Abstract
Introduction
This chapter outlines the process of conceptualizing your research question in a theoretical context; that is, in the context of debates and conversations that other scholars are having in your field(s) of study. It is crucial that researching your question contributes to broader knowledge, and that it be of interest to others, even those who are researching very different topics. Therefore, the conceptualization of your research requires that you first consider the literature in your field(s) in light of your research question. Done well, your research will be considered; but it will be much more likely to gain attention if it is clear exactly to which piece in a bigger field or inter-disciplinary-wide puzzle it contributes. You need to be able to clearly answer the question, put rather crassly but aptly by one of our former course instructors, “why bother” with this research?
Brooke A. Ackerly, Jacqui True

6. The Personal and the Political: Constraints and Opportunities of Research Design

Abstract
Introduction
When a friend gives you advice, she tries to personalize it to you. In this chapter, we discuss the personal dimensions of methodological reflection. Before you can move on from asking and conceptualizing your research question to designing your research plan and methodology, it makes sense to figure out what kind of research suits you, your life, the particulars of your professional ambitions in institutional and disciplinary context, and your political, social, and economic context. Casually, many researchers talk with fellow researchers about the ways in which these factors weigh in on their research aspirations and plans. We think these factors are significant. In this chapter, we make explicit the range of constraints, politics, and opportunities that play a part in designing research. These issues should not be neglected merely because they may not figure in the final presentation of your research.
Brooke A. Ackerly, Jacqui True

7. Designing and Timing a Research Project

Abstract
So here you are, seven chapters into Doing Feminist Research. We have given you a lot to think about – ethics, mapping, question, theory, constraints! It is amazing anyone ever gets started let alone finishes a feminist research project. But we do. We start, we finish, and we hand in or even publish our analysis. And so will you!
Brooke A. Ackerly, Jacqui True

8. Sampling Cases, Operationalizing Concepts and Variables, and Selecting Data Requirements

Abstract
We began Chapter seven on research design underscoring the importance of having a research design that can answer your question. After your research is complete, you should be able to provide an account of your research such that your analysis and conclusions are credible to your audience. Because social scientists study complex social phenomena that do not fit within tidy boundaries, we either have to treat them as if they do or figure out creative ways to attend to the non-uniform dimensions of social science research while enhancing the credibility of our claims. Ways to do this include stating your question clearly (Chapter four), defining your concepts carefully (Chapter five), describing your research accurately (Chapter three – “Account of Your Research”), and describing and defending your choices of cases to study and data to collect using justifications that enhance the transparency of your thinking (this chapter).
Brooke A. Ackerly, Jacqui True

9. Generating and Collecting Data

Abstract
In Chapter seven we offered you a theoretically informed approach to research design and in Chapter eight we unpacked the issues associated with selecting populations, cases, and samples for empirical research. In this chapter on methods for data collection we offer you a theoretically informed approach to using research methods and to making them feminist methods. Whereas in Chapters seven and eight we discussed the kinds of reflection that inform your choices about the architecture of your research design, in this chapter we discuss the method choices that you make and how you make them.
Brooke A. Ackerly, Jacqui True

10. Common Techniques for Analysis

Abstract
We began Chapter seven by noting that the common expositions of research methodologies may confine your imagination. You don’t want to follow a road well-traveled just because it is well traveled. You want to find the right road for your project. This aspiration leads you to analyze your appropriate data with appropriate tools. In this chapter we ask: How does a feminist research ethic affect how you analyze? How does it guide your analysis and make you carry out your analysis in a feminist way?
Brooke A. Ackerly, Jacqui True

11. Structured Inquiry Research Designs

Abstract
In this chapter, we discuss six forms of what we have been calling “structured inquiry.” These are methodologies for research design in which the methods of data generation and the methods of analysis are inextricably linked. In these research designs, the kind of analysis you want to do is predicated on data created through a certain kind of data collection method; reciprocally, the kind of data you produce can be given meaning only through correspondingly appropriate forms of analysis. These methods of data collection and analysis may incorporate some elements of those described in the preceding two chapters; yet, in these six modes of inquiry, data production are structured so as to make specific modes of analysis possible. In ethnography, grounded theory, inferential statistical, and experimental design the data and analysis are co-constructed. In discourse and frame analysis the question and analysis are co-constructed. And in participatory action and field experiments the question, data, and analysis are co-constructed. In ethnography, grounded theory, (some forms of) discourse and frame analysis, and participatory action research, the nonlinearity of research is itself structured into the research design. This makes is suitable for theory-seeking research, but not always for theory testing research. In statistical inference and experimental design, linearity is built into the structure of the inquiry making it suitable for theory testing research, but constraining its appropriateness for theory-seeking research.
Brooke A. Ackerly, Jacqui True

12. Methods for Data Management and Field Research

Abstract
There is a broad range of methodological considerations as you generate and collect data that are not normally method-specific. In this chapter we review the practical issues surrounding data collection while you document your work, work away from home (or in the “field”), and collaborate on research teams. We offer tools for addressing these practical issues. Crucially, we offer the tools of a feminist research ethic for adapting your methods of data collection and generation so that they can respond to the dimensions of epistemological power, boundaries, and your relationships with subject-participants, research team members, and others.
Brooke A. Ackerly, Jacqui True

13. Writing and Publishing

Abstract
In this chapter we take up writing and publication in the broad sense of sharing your findings with other researchers, those affected by your research, and those who have contributed to it. In other words, with a great research project coming to completion, it is time to write up your findings for your field. Your “field” is the audience for your argument. Your field may be your professor, your class, your department, your discipline, others interested in the same question, others interested in related questions including practitioners and decision-makers, or your relative or friend who has always wondered what interested you. You define your field and its boundaries. You may share your findings in a course paper, an article, a book, a research report, a presentation, an Op-Ed piece, a blog, a podcast, a website, a video, etc. The possibilities are endless. We focus on the first three forms of writing for an academic audience, and give some attention to other forms of writing as a feminist research ethic guides us to consider these.
Brooke A. Ackerly, Jacqui True

14. Conclusion: Feminist Research Ethic, Review, and Evaluation

Abstract
We have organized this book to help you through the process of research from coming up with a question, through research design, specification of methods, analysis, and write-up. Throughout our exposition, we have cautioned that this chronologically linear exposition is not typically the experience of most researchers or the process of most research projects. However, this linear organization has enabled us to help you meet the expectations of an academic audience using the tools of feminists who work within political and social science disciplines. We have shown that you can challenge many of the ontological and epistemological underpinnings of these disciplines by doing rigorous feminist research. Such a commitment to challenging norms where appropriate does not leave feminist work without standards of evaluation and guidelines for improvement.
Brooke A. Ackerly, Jacqui True
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