Sunday, January 26, 2014

Re-engineering Philosophy - William Wimsatt

Re-engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to Reality
William C. Wimsatt
Harvard University Press, 2007 - Philosophy - 450 pages

Analytic philosophers once pantomimed physics: they tried to understand the world by breaking it down into the smallest possible bits. Thinkers from the Darwinian sciences now pose alternatives to this simplistic reductionism.

In this intellectual tour--essays spanning thirty years--William Wimsatt argues that scientists seek to atomize phenomena only when necessary in the search to understand how entities, events, and processes articulate at different levels. Evolution forms the natural world not as Laplace's all-seeing demon but as a backwoods mechanic fixing and re-fashioning machines out of whatever is at hand. W. V. Quine's lost search for a "desert ontology" leads instead to Wimsatt's walk through a tropical rain forest.

This book offers a philosophy for error-prone humans trying to understand messy systems in the real world. Against eliminative reductionism, Wimsatt pits new perspectives to deal with emerging natural and social complexities. He argues that our philosophy should be rooted in heuristics and models that work in practice, not only in principle. He demonstrates how to do this with an analysis of the strengths, the limits, and a recalibration of our reductionistic and analytic methodologies. Our aims are changed and our philosophy is transfigured in the process.

Google Book Link with Preview

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook - Book Information

Matthew B. Miles, A. Michael Huberman
SAGE, 12-Jan-1994 - Social Science - 338 pages

The latest edition of this best-selling textbook by Miles and Huberman not only is considerably expanded in content, but is now available in paperback. Bringing the art of qualitative analysis up-to-date, this edition adds hundreds of new techniques, ideas and references developed in the past decade. The increase in the use of computers in qualitative analysis is also reflected in this volume. There is an extensive appendix on criteria to choose from among the currently available analysis packages. Through examples from a host of social science and professional disciplines, Qualitative Data Analysis remains the most comprehensive and complete treatment of this topic currently available to scholars and applied researchers.

The book is referred to in Dan Remenyi's book  Chapter 15 Evauation of Masters and Doctoral Degrees.

The context is the statement that the researcher has to be fully conversant with the wide range of research methodologies available., which are discussed in Chapters 2,3 and 4 (Huberman and Miles, 1994).

Qualitative Analysis of Content - Introduction


Qualitative content analysis has been defined as:

• “a research method for the subjective interpretation of the content of text data
through the systematic classification process of coding and identifying themes
or patterns” (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005, p.1278),

• “an approach of empirical, methodological controlled analysis of texts within
their context of communication, following content analytic rules and step by
step models, without rash quantification” (Mayring, 2000, p.2), and

• “any qualitative data reduction and sense-making effort that takes a volume of
qualitative material and attempts to identify core consistencies and meanings”
(Patton, 2002, p.453).

These three definitions illustrate that qualitative content analysis emphasizes an integrated view of speech/texts and their specific contexts. Qualitative content analysis examines meanings, themes and patterns that may be manifest or latent in a particular text. It allows researchers to understand social reality in a subjective but scientific manner.

Qualitative content analysis was developed primarily in anthropology, qualitative sociology, and
psychology, in order to explore the meanings underlying physical messages.Qualitative
content analysis is mainly inductive, grounding the examination of topics and themes, as  well as the inferences drawn from them, in the data. In some cases, qualitative content analysis attempts to generate theory. Samples for qualitative content analysis  usually consist of purposively selected texts which can inform the research questions  The qualitative approach usually produces descriptions or typologies, along with expressions from subjects reflecting how they view the social world. By this means, the perspectives of the producers of the text can be better understood by the investigator as well as the readers of the study’s results (Berg, 2001).  Qualitative content analysis pays attention to unique themes that illustrate the range of
the meanings of the phenomenon rather than the statistical significance of the occurrence of particular texts or concepts.

In real research work, the two approaches are not mutually exclusive and can be used in combination. As suggested by Smith, “qualitative analysis deals with the forms and antecedent-consequent patterns of form, while quantitative analysis deals with duration and frequency of form”(Smith, 1975, p.218). Weber (1990) also pointed out that the best content-analytic studies use both qualitative and quantitative operations.

Qualitative content analysis involves a process designed to condense raw data into categories or themes based on valid inference and interpretation. This process uses inductive reasoning, by which themes and categories emerge from the data through the researcher’s careful examination and constant comparison.
Hsieh and Shannon (2005) discussed three approaches to qualitative content analysis, based on the degree of involvement of inductive reasoning. The first is conventional qualitative content analysis, in which coding categories are derived directly  and inductively from the raw data. This is the approach used for grounded theory development. The second approach is directed content analysis, in which initial coding starts with a theory or relevant research findings. Then, during data analysis, the researchers immerse themselves in the data and allow themes to emerge from the data. The purpose of this approach usually is to validate or extend a conceptual framework or theory. The third approach is summative content analysis, which starts with the counting of words or manifest content, then extends the analysis to include latent meanings and themes. This approach seems quantitative in the early stages, but its goal is to explore the usage of the words/indicators in an inductive manner.

Qualitative Analysis of Content by Yan Zhang and Barbara M. Wildemuth