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Interpretive Research Methods

Marie Østergaard Møller
mol@dps.aau.dk

Aalborg Universitet

Marie Østergaard Møller is Associate Professor at Aalborg University in Denmark.

Her research interests include social and political categories, categorisation, frontline work, welfare state research, classic social theory of solidarity, and systematic qualitative methods.

Read more about Marie here.

Twitter icon @MarieOeMoeller

Course Dates and Times

Monday 9 – Friday 13 August 2021
2 hours of live teaching per day
09:30 – 12:00 CET

Prerequisite Knowledge

No prerequisite knowledge is required, though basic knowledge of qualitative methodology and methods is an advantage. The commitment time is approximately 40 hours, including readings and online participation.


Short Outline

This seminar-type course provides a highly interactive online teaching and learning environment, using state of the art online pedagogical tools. It is designed for a demanding audience (researchers, professional analysts, advanced students) and capped at a maximum of 12 participants so that the Instructor can cater to the specific needs of each individual.

Purpose of the course

You will gain a practical understanding of the typical steps of an interpretive research process – from how to formulate an interpretive research question to how to present and document interpretive analyses. 

The course introduces a broad spectrum of interpretive approaches, including narrative methods, discourse analysis, and deconstructive analytics. These approaches provide a good representation of different interpretive strategies, and by understanding their logics and uses, you will be able to select and perform a research strategy that fits your own research question.

ECTS Credits

3 credits Engage fully with class activities 
4 credits Complete a post-class assignment


Long Course Outline

Key topics covered

The course covers different interpretive methods. You will learn to ‘read’ texts while becoming familiar with contemporary thinking about interpretation, narrative, and discourse. During the course we will focus on narrative method, hermeneutics, phenomenology, discourse analysis, deconstruction method and genealogy. The course is organised with the following six objectives in mind:

  1. To examine the scientific criteria of interpretive research and to give you basic training in how to formulate an interpretive research question
  2. To expose you to issues of conceptualisation, theory, research design, and strategies of framing questions and selecting cases
  3. To help you organise and process material through interpretive coding strategies
  4. To teach you how to choose the best strategy of interpretation for your research question
  5. To explain how to condense and present interpretations
  6. To draw conclusions from interpretive analyses.
Day 1

Introducing interpretive methods

  1. Welcome
  2. Interpretation of what? Asking the ‘right’ question to the ‘right’ material
  3. Selecting and collecting data suited for interpretation
  4. Introduction of written assignment
  5. Group exercise
Day 2

Interpretive strategies, positions and methods I
Hands-on strategies for interpretation and analysis 

  1. Narrative methods
  2. What’s your unit of analysis? Organising your data
  3. What’s in your data? Reading your data
  4. Group exercise on narrative, interpretive research strategies
Day 3

Interpretive strategies, positions and methods II
Hands-on strategies for interpretation and analysis

  1. Narrative methods
  2. What’s your unit of analysis? Organising your data
  3. What’s in your data? Reading your data
  4. Group exercise on narrative, interpretive research strategies
Day 4

Interpretive strategies, positions and methods III
Hands-on strategies for interpretation and analysis

  1. Discourse analysis
  2. How to make sense of it?
  3. Sorting your data using interpretive research strategies
  4. Group exercise on contextualised, interpretive research strategies
Day 5

Condensing and presenting interpretations
Drawing conclusions from interpretive analyses

  1. Presentation of interpretive analyses
  2. You only know what you (can) show – citations and displays
  3. Scientific criteria
  4. Documentation
  5. Publication
  6. Group exercise on conclusion drawing and presentation of interpretive analysis

How the course will work online

The course will include a combination of pre-class activities, post-class activities and live, online interaction. Pre-class activities include readings of course material, watching pre-recorded lectures and formulation of topic-related questions to be sent in advance to the Instructor. Material and lectures will be available on Canvas.

Online interactions include small lectures, classroom feedback, and group exercises in breakout rooms. All our online interaction will be via Zoom.

Post-class activities include preparation of project presentations in breakout rooms followed by personal Instructor feedback on projects.


Additional Information

Disclaimer

This course description may be subject to subsequent adaptations (e.g. taking into account new developments in the field, participant demands, group size, etc). Registered participants will be informed at the time of change.

By registering for this course, you confirm that you possess the knowledge required to follow it. The instructor will not teach these prerequisite items. If in doubt, please contact us before registering.