PCN 540 GCU Definition and Core Meaning of Research Literacy Paper

PCN 540 GCU Definition and Core Meaning of Research Literacy Paper

Sample Answer for PCN 540 GCU Definition and Core Meaning of Research Literacy Paper Included After Question



1. Read the “Social Communication Deficits in Conduct Disorder: A Clinical  and Community Survey” article in the required readings. What type of  research method was used? What questions/hypotheses were being  evaluated? What methods were used in the study to obtain results, and  describe how they were summarized and organized.

Read  “Social Communication Deficits in Conduct Disorder: A Clinical and  Community Survey,” by Gilmour, Hill, Place, and Skuse, from the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (2004).


2. Identify and discuss one possible research  project, it can be anything. What problem are you attempting to address with the research  topic? What are your research questions and hypotheses? Identify your  variables being explored in your proposed research topic.


1. What is the definition of and the core meaning of research literacy as it relates to counseling psychology?

2 .What specific methods would you utilize in beginning your review of the literature within counseling research? Discuss the steps and rationale for conducting a review of the literature. Include specific examples related to the methods and steps for conducting a review of the counseling literature in your response.

3. Read “Self-Maintenance Therapy in Alzheimer’s Disease,” located in the reading materials.

4. How would you define Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)? Discuss the inherent strengths and limitations of EBP. Be sure to include your comments regarding what is meant by “validity of treatments.”

5. Watch the Objectivity and subjectivity in social research video. What are the issues of objectivity and subjectivity as they relate to methodological issues in conducting counseling research?

6. What makes a counseling treatment empirically supported and validated? Include the description of at least two empirically supported and validated treatments from the course textbook and readings in your response. Include the mental health conditions that are treated by the empirically supported and validated treatments identified.

7. What were the variables under investigation by this study? What methods were used to obtain the study’s sample? What specific measurements were used to assess or analyze the study’s variables? Discuss any potential methodological problems in this study. Include specific examples in your response.

A Sample Answer For the Assignment: PCN 540 GCU Definition and Core Meaning of Research Literacy Paper

Title: PCN 540 GCU Definition and Core Meaning of Research Literacy Paper

Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research Video Title: Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research Originally Published: 2014 Publishing Company: SAGE Publications Ltd. City: London, United Kingdom ISBN: 9781473907638 DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781473907638 (c) SAGE Publications Ltd., 2015 This PDF has been generated from SAGE Research Methods. SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. I’m John Scott, Professor of Sociology at Plymouth. And I’m going to be talking about the first couple of chapters, which are the ones that I co-authored. And what are they about? They set the scene for the book in talking about the nature of objectivity and philosophical discussion and its relationship with [INAUDIBLE] relativism. So, John, you’re going to summarize the nature of objectivity and subjectivity in a foundational sense. Yes, what I did in the book was to look at the philosophical arguments about objectivity in the traditional form, which implied a very absolutist notion of objectivity, truth, correspondence with reality. And I take out some of the arguments from Kant in the philosophy tradition and try and show how they influence some of the debate within both natural science and social science. And threw into question the notion of objectivity. That for Kant, he argued that there was a basic difference between the world as it really is, independently of people and the world as we see it, perceive it. And he wanted to explore how it is that we can claim that our knowledge, our perception of the world is an accurate, truthful representation of that world. We clearly can’t, he said, have direct access to the things in themselves. They’re beyond human understanding. But we can try to construct ways of understanding them better. And I really try to show how that influenced quite a long tradition of analysis within philosophy and sociology that tried to explore the ways in which perceptions of the world, our understanding of that world, relative to our position from which we view it. So just as, when we’re sitting in a room, we look around, each person in the room is located in a different position, sees the world differently, sees a different shape of the room. It’s the same room. They’re seeing it in different ways. The argument here was that in the social world, we are all located differently. We are different in our sex, our gender, our class, our ethnicity. The social location is different and that gives us a particular perspective or standpoint on the world. And from that perspective, we construct out understanding of what the social world looks like. Therefore, these writers argued, all knowledge is relative to your location. So this therefore implied that there was some kind of huge contrast between an objective view of the world and a subjective or relative view of the world. From which I argued, was that we can actually start to find a way out of that impasse, particularly taking out the arguments of writer Karl Mannheim, who tried to show that whilst everything was relative to a particular location and had this particular standpoint behind it, nevertheless we could understand it as a more or less adequate representation or reflection of that unknown world. And his argument was that the way we do that is by trying to synthesize all of them together, different standpoints. That you get a better model of the world is if you can understand it from a whole series of different standpoints, synthesizing together into a larger picture. And that gives a more accurate representation. Each approach is authentic and valid to its own standpoint. But it’s only from the standpoint of Page 2 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. synthesis which he argues science has to achieve, that gives us an overall view of– a better picture of the world, a gradual approximate more and more to the reality of the world as it is. And I think that was what I tried to set out as our own starting point for the analysis in the book. I think one of the fascinating things about the book is that it is three voices and that the three voices are not entirely disharmonious. I think you agree on lots of things but there are also some differences between the three of you. So I wonder quickly, John, whether you could just summarize for people watching this film, where your position with regard to objectivity and subjectivity differs from that of Gayle and Malcolm. Well, this is clearly something that we explored quite extensively and we had to process it writing itself. And we did start out with some biographical reflections in the book that showed how we came to this position from our own experience of the social world. And I think we gradually clarified the fact that although it seemed as if we had sharply different views, what we were doing was actually using words in a different way from one another. So there was actually much more agreement than we might have perhaps initially thought. And we realized that ideas like objectivity, subjectivity, relativity, truth, standpoint, have multifaceted meanings to them. And we might use them in a particular way which implies a particular understanding, but in discussion, we gradually started to realize that these were intertwined together and that we could quite constructively develop that argument through our dialogues in the book. And I think we ended up actually with a substantial area of agreement, having explored our differences through the various discussions in the book. But how would you define the differences still between you, so that when viewers come to watch these films, that there are some differences still and could you perhaps summarize those from your perspective? I think if you wanted a caricature picture of the extremes, as it were, then I suppose– my coauthors may differ, but perhaps Malcolm’s caricature picture would be that of the hard-nosed, empirical researcher, getting to understand the world as it really is, strong objectivity. Gayle perhaps coming off from the standpoint of subjectivity and the authenticity of particular standpoints and perhaps her viewpoint. My position saying, well, yes, I can recognize truth in both of those, and perhaps we can bring them together, taking that standpoint of synthesis. But I think as I say, that’s a little bit of a caricature. It might have been where we started out in terms of our perceptions of one another, but we gradually moved toward a much more of an agreement [INAUDIBLE]. I’m Malcolm Williams. I’m a professor at Cardiff University and I’m going to talk about [INAUDIBLE] and objectivity. I’d like to start where John kind of left off and was sort of making caricatures of our positions. In some ways what he said about me is actually there’s some absolute truth about it. My starting point was from– perhaps contrasting to Gayle, my starting point was actually from [INAUDIBLE] social research, as somebody who’s worked with large data sets mostly quantitative work. We also taught research methods for many years. And I got thinking about this when I looked at a lot Page 3 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. of research methods, textbooks, which often did two things. First of all, they talked about objectivity as being something that quantitative researchers do. And subjectivity as something qualitative researchers do. And it immediately begs the question, what about mixed methods research, where the two very often come together? And the second thing they talk of, is objectivity value free then? And I don’t think it is. My argument for situated objectivity begins from a rejection of value freedom. And I’ll just say something about value freedom and values first. Value freedom in itself is a formative contradiction. Because if you say, I’m value free, it’s immediate that you have one value. But that’s a small point. The bigger point is that values, if we think of values, people often think of just moral values. Actually, values run right across from things like numeric values, right across the moral values and between that you’ve got things like methodological values and science and so forth. And the numeric values themselves, we can think of as being sort of reconstructive. So you might think of temperature for example, refers to real concrete things. But we could use the measure Celsius, Fahrenheit, even Calvin in extreme temperatures. So if we think of values as being something we as scientists in a broader m attribute to things, then one of those values, along with lots of other ones is objectivity. Objectivity comes out of the culture of science. If we didn’t have science, we wouldn’t have objectivity. So objectivity is a good making value in science. That’s my starting point. The second– but then two things I think are important. First of all, objectivity is a value. What kind of value is it? Well, I think there are some aspects of objectivity that will transcend time and place. And I think there are three things. First of all, when we’re conducting any kind of research in the natural or the social sciences, we have a purpose in doing them. And that purpose will be located in a particular social and historic moment. Secondly, we need to differentiate between things, at least at the level of saying, this is a glass and this is a pen. In the same way I need to say, this is John and this is Gayle. We need to make those basic differentiations of classes of things. And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the key value of science itself is a pursuit of truth. But importantly, not the perhaps arrogant belief that we can find truth, although I’m not saying that’s not possible in some limited sense, but the fact that we pursue it is of value. So those three things, purpose, differentiation, and truth, I think, lie at the heart of a socially situated objectivity. And social situation itself is not just simply a methodological one, but it’s also the context of the society that the sociologist for example is working in. So the sociologist will research those kinds of things that are important to our society at any given time. Now, that doesn’t mean that one maybe said this is almost very similar to what they would be saying. That doesn’t mean that when they’re researching them, they are partisan in what they find out. For example, I’ve done quite a lot of work on homelessness. Why, as a citizen, I’m very concerned that Page 4 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. we eliminate homelessness. But as a researcher, I wanted the truth about homelessness, not what I’d like it to be. I need to find the truth of it. So that’s really where I’m coming from. The difference between the [INAUDIBLE] perspective and my own one is that I think– and here I refer to the work of Alan [INAUDIBLE] I think that the values from outside of the discipline absolutely permeate what you do while in that discipline. So I’m like Weber, who believed you kind of metaphorically left them at the laboratory door. I believe you bring them into the laboratory with you. Again, Malcolm, reflecting on the writing of the book and the dialogue within the book between the three of you, again, if you could sketch out how your position approximately differs from Gayle and John. I actually think that the difference between myself and Gayle is much less one of epistemological difference but one perhaps of experiential difference. Gayle and I both respect the kind of research that each of us do. We’ve done very different kinds of research. Where in Gayle’s research, subjectivity becomes very, very important to the way you do research. The kind of research I do, objectivity becomes terribly important to the way you do research. But, during the course of the book, I’ve moved very close to Gayle’s position, that I think a necessary condition for objectivity is to begin from subjectivity. And I think John and I became much closer. We had a discussion about standpoints. And my starting point was to be very skeptical about standpoints because I felt there was a kind of a sense of relativism here, relativism to the individual. And I had to choose between those standpoints. But I think that we both quite coalesced around Mannheimian idea of an underlying realism. And probably the area where John and I still have some differences, and this is what’s been so productive about the book, is the around the notion of truth. I unashamedly hang onto a correspondence version of truth, where there is a logical correspondence between the truth of the matter and a statement that’s made. But it’s a logical rather than an empirical argument. And I think John would take a slightly different view to me on that one. My name is Gayle Letherby and I’m a professor of sociology at Plymouth. And I’m here to talk about a position that I [INAUDIBLE] subjectivity. OK. And I think I want to start really by saying that I think, far more for Malcolm, that I think my argument is similar to Malcolm’s, but that I begin in a different place. So I find it interesting that in almost all debates of this time, we start with objectivity and then move on to subjectivity and even we did that. What we don’t do is what often happens is, demonize subjectivity. So there’s often a demonization of subjectivity. It’s something that we need to avoid, something that we need to distance ourselves from. It’s always kind of the demon in the room, really. So my position, which I call theorized subjectivity, I first talked about in a earlier publication in 2003. And interestingly, since Malcolm and I met each other, we discovered we were writing about similar issues in slightly different kind of ways at the same kind of time. I think theorized subjectivity is Page 5 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. valuable because it recognizes that research is subjective, power laden, an emotional experience that’s shot through with– it’s relevant to our bodies and embodies experience, as it were. So it’s a position that recognizes both the personal world of the researcher and it also recognizes the complex relationship between the respondent and the receptor, so how that identity plays out in the research process. It isn’t a re-definition of objectivity. It’s starting from a completely different place, which admits that subjectivity is relative to all the research that we do. And this is another place that Malcolm and I differ a little bit. And that’s not necessarily an advantage or a disadvantage. It’s just how it is. I mean, we call it how it is. We need to acknowledge that at the very beginning. And ironically, I feel that an interrogation of the self in research, with reference to the other in research, gets us closer to the position that we won’t call objective. But if we didn’t do that in the first place. So by starting with subjectivity, we get closer to something that we might call objectivity. So, my work also, or my argument also, isn’t a rejection of objectivity, nor is it a support of the idea that we’re bound to positions, that we have objectivity here and we have subjectivity there. For me, they’re interrelated. And it’s recognizing the value of the subjective, both positive and negative in both kinds of research that we do. I’m not arguing, which sometimes some people think I am, but I’m not arguing that we necessarily need to be close to our respondents or close to the topic that we research. I have myself done research on topics that are very close to my own autobiography but on topics also that are very different from my own experience. But I am arguing that our autobiography is always relevant to the research that we do. And it’s always in there. So I’m arguing, essentially that we need to think about theoretical objectivity with reference to what we might call politics of the research process and the politics of the research product. So we’ve heard of the politics of the research process. We acknowledge that our identity as researchers, our position, our gender position, our age, our sexuality, et cetera, et cetera is always relevant in terms of what we do and what we get. And it also acknowledges that that can be– research is complex. So that, for example, while we accept that research is power laden, that power sometimes shifts. So we don’t always research down. We sometimes research up. We sometimes research elites. We sometimes, perhaps surprisingly find that people that we thought were vulnerable aren’t that vulnerable, and people that we thought were in privileged positions display a vulnerability. So it’s much more complicated than is sometimes suggested. Also, in relation to that, it acknowledges that not only do we have an impact on the research that we undertake, but the research has an impact on us. And I use the analogy of walking into a field. When we walk into fields, we leave footmarks but we also take away mud. So it’s a dynamic relationship, as it were. This common awareness, I think, is sometimes mistakenly seen as synonymous with involvement, which as I said, is not my position. And this in turn, is Page 6 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. sometimes seen as synonymous with bias. And bias again, is seen as inevitably a bad thing. My point is that we have to interrogate our bias and see what our bias is doing for the research, as it were, that we’re undertaking. It’s also very relevant as I said, in terms of the politics of the product. And this is a real kind of hot topic at the moment, where we’re all being expected to demonstrate the impact of the research that we’re doing, and to make evident the relevance and the usefulness of our research. And whereas we might from a position of theoretical subjectivity, we might cautiously embrace that, we also do need to think, well, who’s interests are necessarily being served in the research that we’re doing? And the impact of gender is taken up within the Academy and outside of it, will we end up only able to do research on topics that [INAUDIBLE] others define as important? Talking about questions of epistemiology, which is what we’re talking about with notions of objectivity and subjectivity, the question I’ve got, more than anything else was, why do I need to know about this stuff? So why? Why do I need to know about this stuff? I’ll start. I think it’s because so much of the critique of sociology and the social sciences is saying, either it’s all common sense or it’s all a matter of opinion or it’s just political bias. And therefore sociologists in particular need to give some kind of defense of what they’re doing. But what we’re doing does have a validity. It does have an objectivity. And it’s precisely because of that need to defend that of social science, I think, certainly that battle is one that’s my interest in this area. And I think although we have all sorts of differences amongst ourselves, even what we think of as science and what we like to describe our activity as science, we do all face that view of countering that kind of normal objection to much social science, sociology. And I think Gayle tapped into it earlier when she was talking about subjectivity and how that gets confused with the notion of bias and that’s the reaction that many people have. I think I’d actually agree with that, John. I suppose on some level we’re saying, why should you-why should somebody believe my account as a researcher of something, as opposed to somebody else’s? And then I would say, well, I’m providing some evidence of my account of the way the world is or what something is, and the what’s the basis on which I’m providing that evidence. Well, those values– and here, I think, this is where I think it’s so important to start with subjectivity, where you begin with that purpose. There’s a purpose and that purpose might be shaped from the outside. And I think that’s very important, that– you mentioned the impact of gender gap, the whole impact of gender is shaping this from the outside. But how can we do good sociology within that? And where I suppose I think all of us would proudly part company with the post modern views, we would not say that one account is as good as another account. Because there are better accounts than other ones. Would that be right? Would we agree with that? Well, what we’re talking about is research for accountability. I always talk to my students about they Page 7 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. need to be responsible for what they’re producing and the numbers that they’re producing. So I actually ask them to read some pieces of work where the researcher has written what I would call a really bland methodological section where they say, I talked to this many people. I gave out this many questionnaires and then they go on to say, and these are the results that I got. Unless we explain our intellectual as well as our practical process of how we got to what we got, then our knowledge is kind of meaningless, really. So, for me, thinking epistemologically is about thinking how what we do affects what we get. And how if the four of us all do it, and get something different, then what we might need to do is interrogate our process again to work out why we got to a different conclusion. And I suppose, picking up on something John said about showing that sociology and sociological science is effective, for me it’s about showing sociology and sociological science is working towards objectivity, although sometimes it doesn’t necessarily get there. Yeah. I think it comes through in multiple places in the book, that objectivity isn’t a state, it’s a long term destination that’s probably receding as you approach it. But we get better and better but we never get perfection, as it were. It’s a value. It’s a value. I wonder if you could each talk a little bit more about how we really embed these methodological concerns in our research practice, in designing a research project for ourselves. Because I don’t think it’s necessarily an easy thing to do. Well, to start your first point, I think actually sometimes the reason that methodology and methodological sections aren’t as rich as we would want them to, is [INAUDIBLE] because sometimes they’re not so– they think that the audience won’t be so interested in those topics. And it’s the same with colleagues. I remember when I was a PhD student, the British Sociological Association Annual Conference was on issues of method and methodology. And I did my PhD at the same institution that I did my undergraduate degree. And I met one of my lecturers in the photocopy room and I said, I don’t know why you’re going to that conference. It’s just going to be boring. Now, for me, I just think methodology is fascinating and unless we explain the relationship, as I said, between what we do and what we get, then essentially, we’re not doing a good enough job. And I think what we also should do is we should rethink– I talk about this in the book. We should rethink what we understand to be the process of research. And that often it starts before we begin to write about. So when we write up our methodology, we write about our– possibly our relationship with ethics committees and then our recruitment of respondents and then our relationship with respondents and when we collected the data. What we often don’t write about is how we got to write the grant proposal in the first place or how we met with the commissioners who funded our research and the process. And sometimes our subjective position on theorized subjectivity needs to start a long before the traditional research process started. And if we want to make an impact, probably needs to continue long after the time when we do the Page 8 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. traditional presentation of our findings. So it’s probably a much more extended process than the traditional textbooks tell us that it is. I’m not-what Gayle has just said is absolutely right. And I’m not going to say more about the external, those kind of externalities and thinking about our own attitude toward it because I completely agree with her. But what I would also say is that this can happen at the level of method as well. And a nice example is the work of Herrnstein and Murray many years ago who wrote The Bell Curve, which was I guess the philosophy was the neo-racist defense of intelligence. And the thing where objectivity failed in that book was not just absolutely the starting point about what counts as intelligence and what the question is you’re asking. But also the methods themselves because they used– their principle [INAUDIBLE] aggression. And the models themselves were very weak-fitting models. On the basis of the weak-fitting models, they made huge generalizations. So the level of method sometimes, there’s a lack of objectivity. I think probably the only thing I’d add to that would be I’d say that when it comes to actually designing the piece of research and getting involved in research in a particular area, you can’t detach it from the methodological considerations. They have to structure the way you go about that research. And in particular, for example, what’s highlighted our debate on objectivity, is the research doesn’t involve what’s been called the view from nowhere. There’s always a view from somewhere. We’re always seeing the world from our particular position. And the key question is how can you study whatever it is that you’re interested in without either resorting to a particular position or implying that somehow you’ve got a god-like stance above all those partial positions. And that raises all sorts of questions about the kind of sources that it’s appropriate to use, how you get to understand other people’s positions, and build them into your analysis. So you have to have a good understanding of objectivity and wider aspects of methodology if you’re going to do research. Otherwise, you do it unreflectively and I think you end up with bad research. Let’s say I’m a PhD student and I’m writing my methodology chapter. What [INAUDIBLE] for your expectations of my chapter? Do we want lots of accounts of Kant and Mannheim and Foucault and Weber ad nauseum in thousands of PhD theses? Or something else? What is that something else that you would be looking for as sophisticated and engaged in a methodological chapter? I think what you look for is, in the jargon, is called reflexivity, someone to reflect on the methodology they use when it comes to the stage of trying to writing it up. To actually talk about the process they went through in developing that research. Because it’s very unlikely that the ideas that they had in the beginning are what they had at the end. Even down to things like the construction of their sample, the people they interviewed. I think it’s important that in PhD source or any kind of account of research, people reflect upon what they did and give a rationale and justification as to why they did it in that way and that’s how you can, as a reader, assess the validity and reliability of what it was they’re doing. Page 9 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Is their understanding– it becomes the subjectivity of the researcher as part of the process. I think the starting point for them is perhaps to think about where did the research question come from in the first place? Why is it interesting? Why is it important? And then also to reflect on the methods or the methodological protocol and the methods that they used. Why are they using one particular method or methods rather than another? If we look at the differences for example, between the United States and UK, in the United States, the experimental method still remains terribly important, particularly in educational research. We hardly use it at all here outside epidemiology. Now, why is that the case? I’m sure the research questions are not so very different. And likewise, we, on the whole, use longitudinal data more than the Americans do. And again, why is that the case? Well, one of the answers to that is that the British government has invested very heavily in longitudinal data sets. For me, I think the reason why I really like working with PhD students, I really think at the time when someone begins to kind of understand methodology and sort of feel it in their bones, really, and what I hope is that a student will sort of understand that you can really [INAUDIBLE] which is a really useful thing to do, but until you do it yourself, you don’t really understand kind of like what it is to do research and what it is to be a researcher. Because something always happens that you don’t expect. And what I really like is when students realize for themselves is that research isn’t hygienic, and research is messy and complicated. And that they have a story to tell within that, and that they can make it clear and what their story is within that kind of messiness. And I think it’s also important that, not just PhD students, but all researchers, we understand, not all epistemological superiority to the people that we study because we don’t have that. But our epistemological privilege in that we do have all these resources at our hands. We do have all these books to read and other people to talk to. And we have access, usually, to many, many more accounts about an experience than our respondents have. So I think we need to good PhD students are a bit humble now, I think, and realize what a privileged position we are in. Because to be able to study some of these things the way we do. And I think there’s an interesting connection there with what I took from Karl Mannheim in the book, where Mannheim is often misunderstood but he talks about the role of people as a relatively unattached intellectual, free floating intellectual. And what he meant by that was precisely that the intellectual, a person working in the university has a privilege of their three years as a PhD student, or their career as a long term academic to actually have these kind of resources and discussion and so on, and is therefore able to sit back and take a longer term view, to engage with other people, try and understand the world from a different perspective and incorporate all these other views. And that is the privilege of the intellectual. And that’s what separates the role of the social scientist Page 10 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. from the person in their everyday world, who is locked into practical encounters and aren’t able to necessarily stand back and float in that same kind of way. But people do theorize on their own position in the world. We just go out levels. We were able to go to the next level because we have more resources. The TV journalists, particularly the BBC, will constantly talk objective reporting, objective– behind which is implicit this notion that there’s objective research behind the objective reporting. But the fact that you’re saying that’s a naive position. Well, sometimes that research is objective according to the criteria we would set out, but not always. Well, it’s a plea to think about what you mean when you say objective or subjective. And John Reed, the founder of the BBC, certainly had the view that objectivity was view from nowhere. It was the absolute truth. And yet I think the BBC charter, although it still refers to nation shall speak unto nation. And that implies this kind of dialogue and interchange from different positions, each nation has a different view. And therefore, strictly speaking, from that journalistic approach, you can’t achieve objectivity without that engagement, that dialogue that is subject to the [INAUDIBLE]. I wonder whether you might reflect on how the book might have been a little bit different had you gone at it from talking about a psychological perspective, I don’t know, mind-body duality or the historical perspective on how is evidence retrieved over periods of time. I’m not sure your starting premise for me– your starting premise is not entirely correct, Patrick. Because I’d actually applied a science that was a natural science was one of them. And much of what I’m saying actually has its roots in the philosophy of science, not sociology at all. [INTERPOSING VOICES] Yeah, I think it is something that should speak to those other disciplines. As a matter of fact, it is something we were aware of when we decided to talk about social research rather than sociological research. And this was sometimes a change in the language as we were writing to make a more general point. I think, having said that, different disciplines do typically utilize different sources and will raise those same questions in different ways. And again, they come at it from different directions. I think to them, there may be something distinctive about the social approach and the sociologist allies then with the historian more than say, the psychologist because of our emphasis that we are socially located and those values are social cultural values. Whereas the psychologist may take more of the side of embodiment, what is the other dimension we looked at than mind body idea. So I hope we cast a rather more general perspective. I would have thought theorized subjectivity would be good advice for psychologists. Well, interestingly, I have explored some of these issues in a multidisciplinary [INAUDIBLE] a multidisciplinary group [INAUDIBLE] issues. It was a course that was for PhD students across the university. So there would be psychologists in the room and medics and historians and sociologists. And I suppose that’s one of the things I think that’s pretty wonderful about our discipline, is that it really encourages critical debate. And so that’s Page 11 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. its strength, rather than something that needed to get rid of. And certainly when I’ve given scenarios to the multidisciplinary groups about how a medic might have a subjective position if he or she is researching cancer as opposed to researching nuclear fuel, then students can see it. They can see it. So I think a lot of what we have to say is relevant way beyond our discipline. Oh, exactly. And one detailed points about researching cancer. I think– I can’t even remember whether it was me or you said it– I think it was you. You could at some point, make a choice as to whether you’re going to put your resources into researching cancer or researching the conditions that create the cancer in the first place. So that starting point makes a difference in the science you do afterwards. And I think purely in terms of the sources and so on that we use, is it’s worth remembering that Max Weber, who we go back to so often on this question of objectivity and values, at the time he was writing– was employed as a historian, was writing as an economic historian, publishing the results in journal of social policy. So, it’s not a purely sociological argument at all. I think that’s interesting and that’s a good segue and I think into my next question, which is, we’re living in interesting times, aren’t we? I mean, political and social research is increasingly politicized. I mean there’s is the example of the US government now, which is no longer funding any political research whatsoever. So if you want funding for your research in that [INAUDIBLE] sense, you have to go [INAUDIBLE] and not to the government. And yet ironically it seems that the labor you’re engaged in in this work is demonstrating the theoretical and methodological oomph and credibility of social research in order to say, to perhaps people who don’t understand social research, look, we’re good at this, the research that we’re doing has a lot to offer society and potentially a lot to offer policy. And I think the cancer example touches on that. But the irony within that seems to me that the more social scientists talk about epistemology and philosophy, the more they’re accused by those who don’t understand social research of being naval gazing, of not actually engaging in the real world. So how do you counter that argument? It isn’t only external audiences, I don’t think, that offer that challenges. There are sometimes challenges within the disciplines within which we work too. Because I’ve certainly seen critiques from colleagues around epistemologically based pieces, let’s say, in terms of, well, you know why don’t you just get on with it rather than keep talking about what it means? But I suppose again, at the risk of repeating myself, I just think we can’t really justify what we’ve done without making it clear how we’ve got the answers that we’re telling the world is the truth or near to the truth. Because it’s only half the story, really. Yes, I think that’s exactly, the justifications that we come up with that unless you’ve got this kind of rationale and justification, then it simply become assertion. That’s what I think. And so if you venture and escape from that idea of, it’s all obvious. We know what the world’s like, we can come to our policy conclusions and come to these findings and say, there Page 12 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. really is something important here. And that our policy would be better, our practice would be better if based upon this knowledge rather than that knowledge. Then you need to be able to give a justification from it. And that justification has to be standing back, as a method story about the work itself, rather than simply asserting the account that you’ve given. I think also it’s that kind of area between sociology, philosophy of science, and methodology area we’re kind of working in in this book, is that it can be useful underlay where it’s in more than just specific disciplines, but across the piece– so not just us in this book, but those disciplines are doing I think some work that all of us need, in a sense. We’re doing a job there. Though I do have some sympathy for people who say, well, just get on with it. Because I think sometimes in multi-discipline, we do– because part of our duties as social scientists is to be answerable to, not just our own community, but the community outside. And so when you have terrible social problems, if we can’t provide some kinds of answers to those problems, there’s not really a point to what we do. Research is like a baton. It’s like a relay race. And we pass the baton on to one another. And it’s not linear. Because we sometimes track, as it were. But unless we really know what the baton that we’re holding looks like, then we can’t really do anything meaningful with the next stage of what we do. So it’s about research should provide guidance to people who are going to go on and do similar kinds of research. And that’s why methodology and epistemology are important. So, it is. I think it’s also important in justifying to those who might have very different views, I mean, politicians, for example, want the finding that will support their policy, rather than the findings that will give lead to a better policy. That’s a caricature, but very often the case. And if you’re going to really have an influence on what Malcolm was talking about, improving the [INAUDIBLE] and others, about getting on with the research. You’ve got to be able to justify why your findings are important and why people shouldn’t rely on simply their own prejudices or their expectations or the research seems to conform to what they think is the case. When you have the luxury of taking the long view, you say, Patrick, the United States government no longer funds the research. I raised the issue a few moments ago of The Bell Curve. History has shown that research to be rubbish. In the natural sciences, the classic example is the Lysenko Affair. For many years, people living in the Soviet Union worked to a Lysenkoist methodology in agriculture. And it initially produced some results. But before it’s time we were seen to be a completely bankrupt approach. So in a sense, the way we do ourselves in science, if we do it in a situation objective way will, in the [INAUDIBLE], show those things to be the case. I have a confidence. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be a social scientist. I hope you’re right. It strikes me that sometimes that the opponents of social research, by which I mean political opponents will just assert, so that while you undertake some meticulous theoretical and empirical work to demonstrate value of your research, that you will have political opponents who will just say it’s rubbish. That’s where it comes back to the question that Gayle and Malcolm discussed earlier about power, Page 13 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. that with these kind of questions about knowledge can’t be separated from ideas about power. And that’s become a bit tracked with Foucault’s work on knowledge and power. But it’s clearly the case. And that’s why, again, in the book we look the way in which these discussions about the validity of knowledge depend upon what Karl Popper talked about as an open society, and open area of discourse, which is what the ideal of the university should be like. Habermas talks about the ideal speech community. Mannheim talks about free discussion as that idea of arriving at knowledge in a context where power is as much as possible left outside the door, left outside the laboratory, the room, where we’re discussing. But once you then try to consider the social and political role of the scientist, you can’t escape that power relationship and you’re in a different context. And I think these are some of the kind of things that Gayle was looking at in the final chapter of about the public role of the sociologist and the audiences you address and how you convince and persuade. From ethics, as well, it seems like implicitly in a lot of what you’ve said in the discussion so far has been quite an ethical view of the role of researcher. And one could use the classic example of the Holocaust, that the responsibility on the part of the researcher to make sure that we understand as best we can what happened in these terrible situations. And people are still today, facing horrific situations in very many places. And it feels to me that like ethically, we owe it to them to do our very best to somehow account for the lives that they are leaving. Do you agree that that’s a valid example? Yeah. That certainly in my mind, my view, and what we were trying to get at in the book when Malcolm’s talking about objectivity as a value. I mean, ethics is all about values. So in a sense, that statement about objectivity is an ethical position. One should inquire into these notions of responsibility and obligations. And I think we would reject any kind of view that power is the ultimate arbitrator and that might doesn’t make right. And it is more hopefully going to be the ethical consideration, which might often make you seem the weak, the soft feeling approach rather than the hard-nosed approach. But I think it is important that that ethical dimension is present in our academic practice and in the way that we react really to politicians and policy makers. I would go even further and say, for me, it’s the ethic of the Enlightenment. And if there had been no science, if there’d been no objectivity, we have science, we can’t uninvent science. Science has made us what we are in the world. And it’s terribly important that we retain that ethical objectivity without-and that objectivity, let me emphasize, goes beyond method. It must go beyond method. I guess I think that ethically we have a responsibility to do the best kind of research that we can in the best kind of way that we can. And as part of that, personally, I have an ethical responsibility to make it clear my position as a constructor of the [INAUDIBLE]. I don’t have any more questions. But do you have questions that you think young, neophyte researchers will want to pose to you? I think we’ve covered– It’s more than I thought we would. Page 14 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. I suppose [INAUDIBLE] but some of the feedback that we’ve had is that what we’re doing is quite right. But could be scary for people? Because it’s challenging in a way. I suppose I do have sympathy for that but at the same time, find it quite sad that people would sort of feel that they’ve got to go on with traditional ideal, even if they don’t think that that traditional ideal, that dominant message is still relevant. And one of the things we say in the book is that we think that we’re just starting at the base, that we would like people to join in with. I think we don’t think our debate’s over. So we would like other people to join in the debate with us. But in a way that makes it more and more able to talk about these things. Because one of the things about our discipline is, as we’ve said, it allows this kind of debate that maybe is shut down in other disciplines, where it’s too scary to admit that your project simply might be a bit objective. [INAUDIBLE] if you had [INAUDIBLE] in terms of– what now, in terms of where the book is. You’ve made the point and you’ve- just like objectivity is that you’re moving towards our conclusion in the book, is actually the starting point for a larger debate on [INAUDIBLE]. Yes, I think it would be terribly arrogant to believe that somehow we have written about a position of objectivity and subjectivity and therefore we provided the answers. For us, it’s very much an ongoing project. Anything else would be arrogant. But a project that really should take place and not be pushed under the carpet, which it sometimes is. Yes. You know, the builders know that we’ve come to the end because they’ve stopped doing work. [LAUGHING] It’s also [INAUDIBLE] today, isn’t it? I think we’ve got some post-modernist builders out there. Was that last bit something you can edit down? [INAUDIBLE] We’ll just insert the question, and the question will come up on the slide. Unless you want me to pose a particular– [INTERPOSING VOICES] It felt reasonably whole as a little chunk. So I think that’s OK. Any other questions that I should be asking, or what were the common questions you got when you did it in Cardiff? What was Steve’s question? Steven was quite damning, wasn’t he? [INAUDIBLE] position, but– And the other thing we were asked about was the kind of [INAUDIBLE] thing that we touched on. But we haven’t got into it. Do you want to– [INAUDIBLE] kind of any truth indicators or social constructionist. Do we want to say something about that? Oh, We sort of have, haven’t we? [INTERPOSING VOICES] I think that what we’re [INAUDIBLE] so no one is ruling out social constructions. It’s just that social constructions can take on a reality where one social construction can create a very different set of conditions to another one. And we can’t make up the social world. The social world imposes itself upon us. Durkheim is still right, that there are social facts out there. I think when we were questioning on this before, we talked about this in terms of the natural world that people saw, the physical objects around them, and social constructions as well. Constructions are [INAUDIBLE] not fixed and immutable objective categories. Page 15 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. And I think I pointed out in the discussion that people can construct this in front of us as a table or as a chair, depending on whether they sit on it or sit at it. They can construct I guess doors and windows, but when it comes to it, they all leave the room through the door, rather than through the window. Yes, excellent. So there are constraints for the facts for the physical also. I think there’s also sometimes another argument that’s raised by people such as Norman Danzer. The world is infinite. The social world is infinitely variable. And I think that begs the question, what would make social life possible if that were the case? And social opportunity is possible. And at one point, I had referred to some of the work of Robert Nozick, where he’s talking about the physical world, about levels of invariance in the physical world, but I’ve also said that even in the social world, there are, different from the physical world, but there are levels of invariance also. There are things that we are able to conduct ourselves in our daily social intercourse where we can depend on the reactions we’ll get. There is that order. The social order is there. There is a level of invariance. [INAUDIBLE] science is full of very contentious debate. We are probably reaching a consensus now that global warming is man made. It’s a reality that’s going to impact on the future of human society. And the basis of that is a lot of data from very many sources. But it’s still contested in very many fora. And it’s a highly politicized debate. Yet it’s based on seemingly robust meteorological data and experimental data in the field of how gases react in certain environments. That’s an example I’ve used in all the papers I did on objectivity and natural science. My argument there was that it is not impossible that the people who have been saying there is global warming are wrong. It’s logically possible. But you probably have to adopt the Peter Principle there where you, because of the impact of being wrong, that there is global warming is much greater than the impact of being wrong that there isn’t. That’s right. There are also all sorts of very obvious constraints about everyday objects. That if we consider the table again, and the idea of the table being solid. It clearly seems solid. But if we were able to shrink ourselves down to the size of an electron, it would seem remarkably empty and spacious as the universe around us. So that the relativity of the standpoint is in the brain in the natural world. Yet, at the human scale, at that particular standpoint, clearly the table is a solid constraint. So I think you get back to some of the other things that we were talking about, that are arguments about objectivity not only counter some of these more extreme social constructionist and relativist standpoints. They are applicable to natural science and physical science and understanding the physical world [INAUDIBLE] And being aware of your subjective position is not just being aware of your identity as a person, but your intellectual reasonings, your intellectual processes, which determine whether or not global warming has occurred. You know, some of what, when you talk about the position of theorized subjectivity is pretty much what Barbara McClintock was talking about when she talked about the organism, feel for the organism in Page 16 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research SAGE SAGE Research Methods 2014 SAGE Publications, Ltd. All Rights Reserved. biology. Very much her kind of– examining your relationship to what you’re researching, even on the level of biology. It’s hard though, isn’t it, because there comes a point where one has to act. I mean, if the worst prognosis of global warming is correct, then we should be doing something about it right now. And at what point and how do we make those decisions about changing the way people’s lives are lived and economies are managed and how businesses are run. It could be sweeping. I think that’s an interesting point that you make for social scientists. And you know, to use the old cliche, where I say it’s above my pay grade as a social scientist, and as a citizen I think it is [INAUDIBLE] but as a social scientist. I think about your earlier point about what’s the point of doing this kind of theorizing around a process. And we deal with the fact that sooner or later, you’re right. We have to do something. So sooner or later, even if we’re not sure, that we’ve reached our objective truth, well, this is a good enough position for us to do something about it. Otherwise we don’t do anything. And what’s the point of doing it if we’re not going to do anything? And, if we don’t do something with the knowledge that we produce, somebody else will. Because knowledge is political too. So somebody might do something with it that we think, through our investigations is the wrong thing. So if one wants to stand by the work that we do then, it’s our responsibility to do something with it too, even if it means [INAUDIBLE]. No, but I think it’s important that if you have evidence, that you do your very best to get that into the fora that that evidence must go into. I think that’s your job as a social scientist, what they call dissemination these days. But I think also, equally, we have to be careful. Beckett talked about– [INAUDIBLE] talked about sociologists mostly being on the kind of the liberal political left. And it’s very easy for us to see government, capitalist society as imposing a set of values that shape our research in a way we don’t want it shaped possibly. But equally, we should not start from the position of thinking, this is the way we want the world to be as liberal, leftist citizens and try to shape our social science for that. Page 17 of 17 Objectivity and Subjectivity in Social Research