CHAPTER THREE RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The chapter presents the philosophical foundations of research methodology adopted namely positivist and interpretivist research paradigms. Qualitative research paradigm which is the dominant research design is described. Other aspects covered in this chapter include: study target population, sampling procedure, justification of sample size, data collection methods, data validity and reliability, ethical considerations and presentation and analysis of data. Chapter summary is also provided.
Different scholars have identified various dimensions to describe and theoretically classify research studies (Panahi, 2014). Many popular methodology textbooks use common dimensions including: paradigm, logic of reasoning, outcome of research, purpose of the study, methodological approaches and time periods of the study (Neuman, 2007a; Tripord & Bender, 2010; Babbie, 2011; Creswell, 2014; Yin, 2014). These dimensions provide an appropriate lens through which a study can be better approached and described (Panahi, 2014:65). This section presents the study dimensions in which the current study is positioned.
A paradigm is a basic set of beliefs that guide action (Lincoln & Cannella, 2014). A paradigm encompasses four terms including: ethics (axiology), epistemology, ontology and methodology. Ethics ask “How will I be as a moral person in the world?” Epistemology ask “How do I know the world?” “What is the relationship between the enquirer and the world?” Ontology raises basic questions about the nature of reality and the nature of the human being in the world. Methodology focuses on the best means of gaining knowledge about the world (Lincoln & Cannella, 2014:189). Creswell (2014:6) uses an alternative term “worldview” instead of paradigm to refer to a general philosophical orientation that a researcher brings to the study. He suggests individuals preparing research proposals or plans to make explicit the larger philosophical ideas they espouse so that it helps them explain why they chose qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods approaches for their research. According to Creswell (2014), there are many research paradigms or worldviews in the literature including: positivism, constructivism, interpretivism and pragmatism. In this context however, only positivism and interpretivism are discussed.
Positivism had been for many years, the standard philosophical view of natural science. Comte came up with the philosophy of positivism in the nineteenth century. Positivism paradigm asserts the deterministic and empiricist philosophy, where causes determine effects, and aims to observe, quantitatively measure and predict relationships between variables (Hamersley, Mackenzie & Knipe, 2006). Positivists believe that social phenomena, like objects in natural sciences (e.g. physics and chemistry), can be treated in the same way (Lather, 2006). This view is sometimes called the scientific methods, or doing science research (Robson, 2011; Creswell, 2014). Positivists treat social reality as being absolute and independent of the observer’s perceptions. The positivists’ notion is that science becomes credible and possible because every scientist looking at the same bit of reality sees the same thing (Myers, 1997; Neuman, 2007b; Robson, 2011). Other positivists’ philosophical standpoints include:
Objective knowledge (facts) can be gained from direct experience or observation, and is the only knowledge available to science. Invisible or theoretical entities are rejected.
Science separates facts from values; it is value free.
Science is largely based on quantitative data, derived from the use if strict rules and procedures, fundamentally different from common sense.
All scientific propositions are founded on facts. Hypotheses are tested against these facts.
The purpose of science is to develop universal causal laws. The search for scientific laws involves finding empirical regularities where the two or more things appear together or in some kind of sequence.
Cause is established through demonstrating such empirical regularities or constant conjunctions – in fact this is all that causal relations are (Robson, 2011:21).
Generally, positivists’ studies formulate and examine hypotheses and causal relationships, consider quantifiable measures of variables, and involve generalization about a phenomenon from a sample to the whole population of the study. However, the positivism paradigm is criticised in number of issues including the question of separating the researcher from what is being researched as the researcher can observe without allowing values and interests interfering; and the notion of absolute truth of knowledge when studying the behaviour and actions of humans (Phillips & Burbules, 2000; Robson, 2011).
On the other hand, interpretivism is a way to gain insights through discovering meanings by improving comprehension of the whole phenomena. The assumption under interpretive is that the whole needs to be examined in order to understand a phenomena (Corbin & Strauss, 2008). Interpretivists assume that social reality is not independent of peoples’ interpretations and experiences. Rather, they believe that is always subjective and socially constructed by humans (Myers, 1997; Klein &Myers, 1999; Neuman, 2007a). Contrary to positivists, interpretivists believe that knowledge about social world can only be obtained by getting inside the world of those producing knowledge. In this paradigm there is acknowledgement that facts and values cannot be separated and that understanding is prejudiced as it is situated in terms of the individual and the event (Cousin, 2005; Elliot & Lukes, 2008). The underlying assumption on interpretivism is that all respondents involved in the study including the researcher, bring their own unique interpretations of the world to the research. As such, researchers need to be open to the attitude and values of the respondents, and suspend prior cultural assumptions (Hamersley, Mackenzie & Knipe, 2006). Further, interpretivists argue that, since human beings think and reflect, scientific methods are inappropriate for the study of society. Unlike objects in nature, human beings can change behaviour should they know they are being observed. However, interpretive approach in research is being criticized that it does not allow for generalizations because it encourages the study of small number of cases that do not apply to the whole population (Creswell, 2003; Lather, 2006).
Based on the review of the two research philosophical assumptions above, an interpretive paradigm seems more appropriate to achieve the goals of the study. Making it an interpretive, it allows for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon at hand as it relies on analysing and interpreting the respondents’ experiences and meanings related to the study. In addition, the researcher is also part of the research process as required by interpretive epistemology.
Philosophical considerations also demonstrate the logic of the study. There are two major types of reasoning in studies. These are inductive method and deductive method. Inductive takes a “bottom-up” approach that emphasizes drawing up conclusions and building theories through observations of events. In contrast, deductive method takes a “top-down” approach in which a study is conducted by first formulating hypotheses and developing a prior-model and then empirical data is collected to confirm or reject the prior-model (Neuman, 2007a). Positivist studies are predominantly deductive whereas interpretative studies and inductive by nature. This study therefore applied inductive method in which empirical data on the phenomenon under the study, and a conceptual framework model was developed through analysis of data collected.
Research approaches are plans and procedures for research that span the steps from broad assumptions to detailed methods of data collection, analysis, and interpretation (Creswell, 2014:3). There are three research approaches namely: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods (Neuman, 2007b; Babbie, 2011; Creswell, 2014). Subsections below presents a brief discussion on each of the three.
Qualitative research approach is concerned with non-statistical methods of inquiry and analysis of social phenomena in which themes and categories emerge through analysis of data collected through interviews, observation, videotapes and case studies (Creswell, 2009). It is an approach for exploring and understanding the meaning of individuals or groups ascribe to a social or human problem involving in-depth interviews, observations and document reviews (Dawson, 2002; Creswell, 2014). Qualitative research approach emphasizes acquiring and analysing qualitative data or meanings (words and sentences) in order to answer the “how” and “why” research questions related to the phenomenon under the study (Babbie, 2011). Furthermore, the process of research as cited by (Creswell, 2014:3) involves emerging questions and procedures, data typically collected in the respondent’s setting, data analysis inductively building from particulars to general themes, and the researcher making interpretations of the meaning of the data.
Quantitative research is an approach for testing objective theories by examining relationship among variables (Creswell, 2014:5). In Quantitative study researchers collect facts and study the relationship of one set of facts to another using techniques that are likely to produce quantified and generalizable conclusions (Bell, 2005). In other words, quantitative research uses quantitative data or numerical and measurable data with accompanying statistical analysis to answer the research questions of “what” and “how many” about the phenomenon under the study (Babbie, 2011). Quantitative researchers have assumptions about testing theories deductively, building in protections against bias, controlling for alternative explanations, and are able to generalize and replicate the findings (Creswell, 2014:5)
Qualitative and quantitative approach might sometimes be employed together to answer a specific research questions, this is called mixed method research. This approach involves collecting both quantitative and qualitative data, integrating the two forms of data, and using distinct designs that may involve philosophical assumptions and theoretical frameworks. Researchers using this approach assume that, the combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches provides a more complete understanding of research problem than any of the two former approaches alone (Creswell, 2014). The general differences between mixed methods, qualitative and quantitative approaches are summarized in Table 3. 1
CHAPTER ONE : INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the study
1.2 Background information on participating institutions
1.2 E-government in Tanzania
1.3 Statement of the Problem
1.4 Purpose of the study
1.6 Limitations and Delimitations of the Study
1.7 Justification for the study
1.8 Significance of the Study
1.9 Originality of the Study
1.10 Organization of Thesis
1.11 Definition of key terms
1.12 Chapter Summary
CHAPTER TWO : LITERATURE REVIEW
2.2 Theoretical framework
2.3 Electronic records and its related systems
2.4 Technology and records management
2.5 Information creation and capture in the digital era
2.6 A review of empirical studies on the management of e-records in the context of e-government
2.7 Chapter summary
CHAPTER THREE : RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.2 Methodological Context
3.3 Research Design/Approach
3.4 Target population
3.5 Sampling Procedure
3.6 Justification of sample size
3.7 Data collection methods
3.8 Data Collection Procedures
3.9 Reliability and validity
3.10 Data analysis
3.11 Pre-testing Research Instruments
3.12 Pre-test Feedback
3.13 Ethical considerations
3.14 Originality of the study
CHAPTER FOUR : DATA PRESENTATION
4.2 Response rate and respondents’ Profile
4.3 E-records readiness in the Tanzania public service
4.4 E-government implementation status in the Tanzania Public Service
4.5 Effectiveness of e-records legal, policy and regulatory framework
4.6 Knowledge and skills of public servants on e-records management
4.7 The involvement of RAMD in e-records management and e-government implementation in the public service
4.8 Chapter Summary
CHAPTER FIVE : DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
5.2 E-records readiness
5.3 E-government implementation status in the Tanzania public Service
5.4 The contribution of RAMD in e-records and e-government in the public service
5.5 Chapter Summary
CHAPTER SIX : SUMMARY OF RESEARCH FINDINGS, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.2 Summary of the study finding
6.5 Proposed framework for e-records management in support of e-Government in the Tanzania Public Service
6.6 Areas for further research
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