Research Methodology Selection of Women Faculty in the Social Sciences
Brown, Tiffany Jeanette
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The purpose of this study was to understand and reconstruct the research methodology selection process of women faculty in the social sciences. An explanatory sequential design was used in which the quantitative survey data was collected first, followed by in-depth qualitative interviews to further understand the phenomenon of research methodology selection (Creswell & Plano-Clark, 2011; Creswell, Plano-Clark, Gutmann, & Hanson, 2003). The participants for both phases of the study were women faculty in the social sciences at a systematic random sample of 25 research universities with very high research activity according to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The women held appointments in education, sociology, psychology, and women’s studies. During the initial phase, quantitative survey data were collected using the Survey of Research Methodology Selection of Women Faculty in the Social Sciences (SRMS) which was designed by the researcher. This survey was used to (1) identify variables predictive of research methodology selection; and (2) identify relationships and experiences that differed by race and ethnicity. Multinomial logistic regression was used to analyze the survey data of the 198 participants. In the second phase, in-depth phenomenological interviews with a purposeful sub-sample of six women were selected to represent a variety of experiences including different research methodological approaches, the disciplines and fields of interest, and unique identity characteristics. The in-depth interviews were used to further explore the process, experience, and the impact of research methodology selection on the careers of women faculty in the social sciences. The key educational experiences that were found to influence research methodology selection were undergraduate major and doctoral degree in psychology compared to other undergraduate majors and a doctoral degree in sociology, education, or other social science areas, the quantity of methods courses taken during their graduate programs, and the doctoral advisor’s primary research methodology. The socialization process into a particular methodological approach began during undergraduate study through early research experiences and was solidified during graduate study through the practice of research. This socialization process continued after the completion of the doctoral program into the women’s faculty careers influenced by their work with students, their disciplinary communities, and coming into their own faculty research identity.
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