The sixth day of the ICSSR research methodology workshop started with a session by Prof. Biswajit Das, Director of Centre for Culture, Media and Governance. He began with a fundamental question about whether communication research is meant for legitimation or for critical self-reflection. He highlighted that most of the research undertaken in this field are for the purpose of legitimation- be it for the State, market or for policy groups. Communication research has rarely focused on the contribution of knowledge and epistemology.
Prof. Das highlighted that whether it is social science or communication, there is always an attempt to bridge the gap between the subject and object of research. This has been addressed by different philosophers in different ways, like Kant mentions about nomena and phenomena. However, despite all these discussions, solutions have not yet been arrived at to understand the gap He underscored that communication research adds potency to social science research. There are certain grey areas in social sciences such as the idea of content, making of content and the inter-textuality within content which are never explored within conventional social science research.
Namrata Mehta of Centre for Knowledge Societies in the second lecture of the day looked at the ethnographic methods and how it is employed in the field. She made her session very much interactive by linking different experiences of participants to her pointers on ethnography.
Ethnography, she pointed out, is to understand and represent the peculiar practice through the experience of the observer. It unveils multiple truths that exist on field. Then Ms. Mehta explained the various steps that are employed in the process of ethnography. She emphasized certain points like the importance of establishing a strong connection with the people being studied, formulating the research problem properly, knowledge and appropriate usage of one’s own strengths and weaknesses, the usage of field guides, field preparation etc.
She then moved to a whole new terrain of ethnography that is emerging, i.e. online ethnography. The online communities have emerged as a rich area of data mining though there are methodological problems and ethical issues related with it.
The post lunch session took a turn towards the statistical methods of data analysis. Dr. Abhishek Singh of Indian Institute of Population Sciences, Mumbai elucidated the various aspects of regression analysis and factor analysis in social sciences research. He gave the examples of socio-economic surveys like District Level Household & Facility Survey, National Family Health Survey which make extensive use of the statistical methods.
Regression, he said, gives the opportunity to develop mathematical relationship between data which further allows for estimation. He explained the concepts of linear regression, T-statistics and P-Values.
Dr. Singh then proceeded to the concepts of variance, multi-linear regression and multi-colinearity. He emphasized that the issue of multi-colinearity has to be addressed while doing regression analysis of any data. In the last session of the day he dealt with concept and factor analysis and the usage of SPSS for this technique. Factor analysis is something that helps in reducing the number of variables to be analysed without compromising on the information to be collected.
In this session, he dealt with the statistical concepts of frailty Variables, Quintiles, Eigenvalue, Factorloading and Screeplot. As already mentioned, these concepts were amply displayed with the help of SPSS for the benefit of the scholars attending the workshop.