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Investigative Research

With its unique modelling and mapping of social processes, Investigative Research offers an alternative approach to social research. This book guides you through the theoretical grounding and rules you need to effectively combine the evidence-based explanations of social behaviour and distinctive strategies of data collection associated with investigative research.

It helps you answer key investigative questions like:

  • How are models and maps of social reality crucial to the formulation of research problems and questions?
  • What are the main phases, challenges, and theories of investigative research?
  • How does investigative research compare with other research approaches, like surveys, case studies, grounded theory, and mixed methods?
  • How can you control the quality and validity of your investigative research?

With its clear focus on investigative research exploration, description, and explanation, this book gives you the solid building blocks needed to manage and integrate the theoretical and practical issues in your work.   

Chapter 1: Research Models, Problems and Questions
The Importance of Models and Maps

Closing Gaps in Knowledge

Influential Models of Social Reality

Should Models be Eliminative or Integrative?

Entangled Domains and Research

Restoring Lost Domains: Investigative Research Problems & Questions

Research Problems, Topics & Questions

Adaptive Method &Theory

Having a Solid Back-Story: Top Soil or Taproots?

Summary of Key Features of Investigative Research

Chapter 2: Dimensions, Quantity & Quality
Some Basic Dimensions of Research

Survey Research as Mono-Method

Theory-Testing Research

Qualitative Approaches

Action (or Transformative) Research

Using IR: Some Practical Suggestions

Chapter 3: Case Studies & Mixed Methods
Case Study Research

Mixed Methods

Using Investigative Research: Some Practical Suggestions

Chapter 4: The Limitations of Grounded Theory
Essential Differences between Investigative Research & Grounded Theory

Different Unfolding Strategies

Data, Concepts & Theoretical Discovery

Conceptual Generation & Theoretical Discovery

The Cul-de-sac of Not-Knowing

Discovery or Innovation?

Ground Theory Mark 2: One Step Forward & Three Back?

Constructionist Grounded Theory: An Even More Limited Version?

Practical Limitations of Constructionist Grounded Theory

Coding, Concept-Formation & Sampling in Investigative Research

Chapter 5: The Arc of Investigative Research
The Research Arc: Phases & Cycles

Models of the Research Process

An Overview of the Investigative Research Model

Cycle-Phase Dynamics

Flexibly Structured Adaptation

Problem Formulation & Orienting Scaffold

A Multi-Strategy, Multi-Method Approach

Phases of Research: An Integrative Framework

Complementary Aspects of Reality

Blending Life-world & System Phenomena

Research Design & Data Types

Data Analysis as Nascent Explanation

Constant Reformulation: A Concluding Comment

Chapter 6: Theory in Investigative Research
Variable Theory & Theory-Testing

Applied General Theory

Empirical Theory: Substantive & Formal

Orienting Concepts (Single or Multiple)

Emergent Concepts

The Deployment of Theory in Overall Research Strategy

Developing Theory in Investigative Research: An Overview

Modifying and Creating Theory and Concepts

Generic Research Outcomes

Cumulative Knowledge & Theory-Development

An Appropriate Model of Social Reality

Chapter 7: Networks & Domains: A Research Guide
Activities and Settings: A Central Pairing

Social Behaviour & Social Reality

Distinguishing Settings from Locations/Locales

Primary & Secondary Settings: Transition Zones

Networks & Social Domains

Organized Settings & Networks

Informal Settings & Networks

Research Questions for Networks and Domains

Matching Concepts with Empirical Indicators

Selecting Data Threads within Domains

Identifying Settings from Data

Variations in Organized Settings

Work Organizations as Social settings

Smaller ‘Organizations’ & Informal Settings

Selective Focusing

Examples of Selective Focusing

Causal Influence & Causal Explanation

One-Dimensional Causality: The Case of Gender & Intimacy

Intimacy & Situated Activity

Social Settings, Gender & Intimacy

Researching Causality

Research, Causality & Theory Building

Chapter 8: Continuous Quality Control
Quality Control: The Central Importance of Validity

The Research Process: A Two-Tiered Model

The Research Matrix (or Grid)

The Preparatory Phase

The Data Gathering Phase

The Analytic /Explanatory Phase



Derek Layder's advocacy of an holistic, context relevant approach to social research which is multifaceted, brings together many traditions of field-based studies in a coherent and imaginative way. His Investigative Research approach offers a framework for real-world explorations that is of value to many social scientists.

Professor David Canter
PhD. Director of the International Research Centre for Investigative Psychology, University of Huddersfield

Layder convincingly explains that becoming aware of how underlying maps of social reality influence design, analysis and findings is a perquisite for thoroughly reflective research. Moreover, he devises clear strategies for practicing "investigative research” that continuously integrate both data and theory in multidimensional ways. A true advancing of methodological reflection within social science.

Poul Poder
Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Copenhagen

Combining adaptive analysis with domain theory, Layder has developed an elaborate approach to investigating today’s social dynamics and complexity. This book provides a precise and reliable compass to doing research that both works and matters. 

Daniel Perrin
Applied Linguistics, Zurich University of Applied Sciences

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ISBN: 9781526422361

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