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Introduction

Authored by: Patsy Healey

The Routledge Handbook of Planning Research Methods

Print publication date:  November  2014
Online publication date:  August  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415727952
eBook ISBN: 9781315851884
Adobe ISBN: 9781317917038

10.4324/9781315851884.ch2.1

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Abstract

Filled with a mixture of enthusiasm and nervousness, the novice researcher often feels the need to get immersed in empirical material at the start of a research project, to gather data and somehow build up a study from this. The chapters in this part of the book urge all researchers to resist this temptation! (See overall introduction.) Instead, it is important to stand back from the issues and problems which lead us to be interested in a specific topic and to consider the nature of the research to be undertaken. Such reflection will lead to some significant conceptual and methodological choices which will shape how a research question is set, the nature of the analysis undertaken and the way the validity of findings are to be judged. What issue or problem is the focus of the research study? What contribution will it make to the accumulation of planning knowledge, and/or addressing a specific, practical dilemma? What paradigms – perspectives on the world – shape the way you as the researcher are thinking about the problem or issue and how does this affect the relationships to be explored? How does this shape the methods which will be appropriate for the research? Who is the audience for the study and how will this influence how its robustness and validity will be judged?

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