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Vignette Methods in Interpretive Research

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.

Recently published articles include:

  • Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy 
    An Approach to the Development of Comparative Cross-National Studies of Street-Level Bureaucracy (2019)
  • Qualitative Studies
    Health Care Professionalism without Doctors (2018)
  • Administration and Society
    Welfare State Regimes and Caseworkers’ Problem Explanation (2017)
  • Profession and Professionalism
    She isn’t someone I associate with a pension (2016)
  • Public Management Review
    Prevention at the Front Line: How home nurses, pedagogues, and teachers transform public worry into decisions on special efforts (2015)
  • Critical Policy Studies
    Constructing at-risk target groups (2014)
  • Social Policy and Administration
    Disciplining Disability (2013)

Course Dates and Times

Course Dates and Times

Friday 3 March: 13:00-15:00 and 15:30-17:00
Saturday 4 March: 09:30-12:00 and 13:00-14:30
7.5 hours over two days

Prerequisite Knowledge

Introduction to qualitative courses.


Short Outline

This course is intended for PhD students who want to use vignette method to address causal explanations or systematic comparisons in an interpretive or qualitative research project. The course is primarily aimed at students of political science, sociology, international relations and public administration, but students of other social science disciplines such as public policy and anthropology will also benefit from it. The course is organized around the typical steps of a vignette method process - from how to develop one or more vignettes to how to use them in data collection and how to analyze reactions to vignettes and how to interpret and draw valid conclusions from vignettes analyses. The short course introduces what a vignette and a vignette method is by focusing on reasons for using it, how to use it and not least when to use it both in respect of in the data collection process and more general in respect of understanding when vignette method is the optimal choice of method. Students will come to understand the logic of vignette method and students will be able to decide if, when and how to develop vignettes suitable with their own research question. The course provides students with a working knowledge of vignette method, including insights into how they can be used in practice in an interpretive or qualitative research process.


Long Course Outline

This course provides students with knowledge about vignette method. Students will learn to develop vignettes while becoming familiar with contemporary thinking about deliberative manipulation to integrate experimental logic into an interpretive or qualitative investigation. During the short course we will focus on understanding the scientific criteria behind vignette method, and variance theory versus process theory as forms of causal explanation and we will address the pros and cons of stimulation in an interpretive or qualitative research design.

The course is organized with the following five objectives in mind: (1) To examine the scientific criteria of vignette method and to give students basic training in how to develop vignettes suitable for interpretive or qualitative research questions. (2) To expose students to issues of conceptualization, theory, research design, and strategies of framing vignettes and selecting attributes and wording of the vignette’s profile description.  (3) To assist students in how to organize and process vignettes through the phase of data collection, analysis and conclusion drawing. (4) To provide students with knowledge about how to choose the best strategy of vignette method for the research question. and finally (5) how to draw conclusions from vignette analyses.

The short course will cover the basic techniques for collecting, interpreting, and presenting analyses of vignettes. Throughout the short course we will operate on two interrelated dimensions, one focused on the theoretical approaches to various types of vignette method, the other focused on the practical techniques of how to formulate, develop and validate the vignettes used in the interpretive or qualitative research design.

Theoretically, the course considers questions such as the following: What is a vignette and what is vignette method? What questions is it best suited for? By what criteria does it meet or fail to meet the standards of scientific evidence? What is the role s of causality in interpretive or qualitative research? Can vignette methods be used to verify hypotheses, or only generate them? Can vignettes support making and analyzing thematic connections? Do vignette analyses have a small-N problem? In what ways is vignette research “grounded”?

Practically, the course considers questions such as the following: What scientific criteria apply for vignette method? How do researchers construct the ‘right’ vignette to the ‘right’ research question? What collecting techniques can be used to enhance the quality of vignette analyses? What scientific position ground the vignette analyses? What is the unit of analysis? How do researchers organize the vignettes and how do they use them in practice? How can they make sense of their interpretations of vignette analyses in a transparent, authentic and inclusive way?  And how can they draw conclusions from their vignettes analyses?

The short course will focus on a realist approach to causal explanation. The explicit focus being oon two approaches of profiling versus manipulation in vignette method, which is chosen in order to expose students to methods which put rather different weight on causal explanation by using vignette method. This is expected to strengthen students’ general knowledge on vignette methods as well as to give them a solid basis to choose the ‘right’ strategy of vignette analysis after the course.

After the course students will have knowledge of how to choose between vignette methods, including insight into hands-on tools that can be used during an research process using vignettes. Students will subsequently be able to follow advanced courses in interpretive or qualitative methods with a more specialized focus on e.g. ethnographic method, grounded theory, narrative method, discourse analysis or process tracing.

Learning goals:

After the course, the participant should have a basic understanding of:

  1. The scientific criteria of vignette method and how to develop vignettes suitable for interpretive or qualitative research questions,
  2. issues of conceptualization, theory, research design, and strategies of framing vignettes and selecting attributes and wording of the vignette’s profile description, 
  3. how to organize and process vignettes through the research phases of data collection, analysis and conclusion drawing,
  4. how to choose the best strategy of vignette method for the research question and,
  5. how to draw conclusions from vignette analyses.

Day Topic Details
1 Introducing vignette methods
  1. Welcome
  2. What is a vignette?
  3. What is vignette method?
  4. Why use vignette method?
  5. When do you use vignette method?
2 Positions in vignette methods (1) Hands-on strategies for vignette analysis (1)
  1. Vignettes as result or treatment?
  2. What’ should be in your vignette and how to find out?  
  3. Horizontal or vertical constructed vignette variance?
  4. How to interpret vignette responses in systematic ways?
  5. How to draw valid conclusions from vignette analyses?
Day Readings
1

Maxwell, Joseph A., 2004: “Using Qualitative Methods for Causal Explanation”, pp. 243-264 in: Field Methods, Vol 16, No. 3.

Mark Bevir, 2006: “How Narratives explain” in: (ed. Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea) Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Method and the Interpretive Turn, New York: M.E. Sharpe. PP. 281-290.

Sayer, A., 1992: Method in Social Science: A realist approach. 2nd ed. London: Routledge. or:

Archer, M., R. Bhaskar, A. Collier, T. Lawson, and A. Norrie, 1998: Critical realism: Essential readings. London: Routledge.

Barter, Christine & Emma Renold, 1999: “The use of vignettes in qualitative research” in Social Research Update. Vol. 25.

Finch, Janet, 1987: “The Vignette Technique in Survey Research” in Sociology. Vol. 21, pp. 105-114.

Møller, Marie Østergaard, 2009: “Research design data collection and data processing”, in Solidarity and categorization, Aarhus: Politica.

Ejrnæs, Morten, 2012: Vignetmetoden, København: Akademisk forlag

2

Seidman, I. E., 1991, Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences. New York: Teachers College Press.

Thomas, David R, 2006: “A General Inductive Approach for Analyzing Qualitative Evaluation Data”, American Journal of Evaluation vol. 27 no. 2, 237-246.

Miles, Matthew B.,Michael A. Huberman and Johnny Saldana (2014): Qualitative Data Analysis. A Methods Sourcebook, 3. edition. London: SAGE. (Excerpts).

Charmaz, Kathy, 2006: Selected pieces from: Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis.  London: SAGA publications.

Literature

Archer, M., R. Bhaskar, A. Collier, T. Lawson, and A. Norrie, 1998: Critical realism: Essential readings. London: Routledge.

Barter, Christine & Emma Renold, 1999: “The use of vignettes in qualitative research” in Social Research Update. Vol. 25.

Charmaz, Kathy, 2006: Selected pieces from: Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis.  London: SAGA publications.

Ejrnæs, Morten, 2012: Vignetmetoden, København: Akademisk forlag.

Finch, Janet, 1987: “The Vignette Technique in Survey Research” in Sociology. Vol. 21, pp. 105-114.

Mark Bevir, 2006: “How Narratives explain” in: (ed. Dvora Yanow and Peregrine Schwartz-Shea) Interpretation and Method: Empirical Research Method and the Interpretive Turn, New York: M.E. Sharpe. PP. 281-290.

Maxwell, Joseph A., 2004: “Using Qualitative Methods for Causal Explanation”, pp. 243-264 in: Field Methods, Vol 16, No. 3.

Miles, Matthew B.,Michael A. Huberman and Johnny Saldana (2014): Qualitative Data Analysis. A Methods Sourcebook, 3. edition. London: SAGE. (Excerpts).

Møller, Marie Østergaard, 2009: “Research design data collection and data processing”, in Solidarity and categorization, Aarhus: Politica.

Sayer, A., 1992: Method in Social Science: A realist approach. 2nd ed. London: Routledge. or:

Seidman, I. E., 1991, Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences. New York: Teachers College Press.

Thomas, David R, 2006: “A General Inductive Approach for Analyzing Qualitative Evaluation Data”, American Journal of Evaluation vol. 27 no. 2, 237-246.


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 in due time.

Note from the Academic Conveners

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, contact the instructor before registering.