The and present events in the context of the

 

The research methodology
to be used for the topic will be based on a descriptive research with
qualitative data which is collected, analyzed and interpreted by the researcher.
Contrarily to the quantitative method that derives numerical data, the
qualitative method focuses on actual text. Qualitative methodology recognizes that
the subjectivity of
the researcher is intimately involved in the scientific research. Subjectivity guides
everything from the choice of topic that one studies, to formulating the
hypotheses, to selecting the methodologies, and interpreting the data collected.

 

The research question
and sub-questions focus on the development of a social structure of a community
of people over a number of years up to date; thus a historical research will
allow the researcher to discuss past and present events in the context of the
present environment. It will ‘provide
a systematic and objective evaluation and synthesis of evidence in order to
establish facts and draw conclusions about past events’ (Walliman, 2001). This will also allow
one to reflect on the importance of interactions and their effects, and provide
possible answers to current issues ongoing in the community being researched. The historical data is almost entirely
qualitative data in nature and this will include documentary analysis of
different sources of the past supported by statistics. It is vital to carry out
tests in order to check the authenticity of such sources.

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The sources of data to
be analysed will vary from official documents deriving from public and also
private sources, archives and mass-media outputs including virtual resources
found on the Internet about the community of Zejtun and its residents. Media
may include newspapers, magazines and blogs. Clearly, these documents have not
been produced for the researcher but contrarily, the researcher has to search
and indulge the data waiting there to be put together and analysed. An
empirical approach will be used by the researcher in this regard for inductive
reasoning of the knowledge gained.  This
process is still time consuming like in other types of primary data collection,
and moreover can prove to be a frustrating process to recollect and assemble. Eventually,
‘document analysis is
often used in combination with other qualitative research methods as a means of
triangulation’ (Bowen, 2009). This will help the researcher to converge the
data and this can be done through semi-structured interviews with key persons
like historians, politicians, etc. about the sub-themes to support and
corroborate to the parallel findings from both sets. This process also assists
in challenging the researcher’s bias and over-relying on just the documentary
analysis.

 

The ontological status
of document analysis has a distinctive way in which the reality is viewed and
forming a separate reality. (Atkinson and Coffey, 2004). They argue that
documents need to be recognized for what they actually are, ie texts written
with a distinctive purpose in mind. And that is why the researcher needs to
reinforce it with other sources of data as discussed before. This gives rise to
the epistemological assumptions which are the views on how to study that
particular reality, what methodologies are best used for data collection and
its methods of analysis.  ‘The choice of research methods in education
is more than a technical exercise but is concerned with understanding how the
researcher views the world’ (Cohen et al, 2000).

 

Theoretical
perspective will steer the researcher on a route to investigate the particular social
world in the study. A relativistic approach will be taken for this research
because unlike the positivist approach which takes no account of human
phenomena, one has to bear in mind that the community is made up of humans, different
people with different ways of perceiving the society. This approach will guide
the researcher to delve deeper into the complexity of the experiences and the
behaviour to gain a truthful understanding of the community under research. A constructivist research considers that the nature of reality
is a social construction and that it is the role of the researcher to make
sense of the multiple social constructions in play. The research will be heavily
influenced by a constructivist perspective with the belief that the knowledge
being acquired cannot be truly objective and that understandings can be reached
by discussing also with others. The role of the researcher is similar to a
detective with a quest for knowledge. The philosophy of the research will be
driven with the belief that the nature of the truth is influenced by those who
perceive it. The Constructivist paradigm emphasizes how different stake-holders in
social settings construct their beliefs. This perspective has both its pros and
cons, namely it provides the researcher with the advantages of understanding
the how and why while allowing complex factors. The disadvantages include
complexity and challenging data analysis and unclear patterns in analysis.

 

The research as
discussed earlier will primarily focus on the search for documents relevant to
the community of Zejtun since 1800 up to date and relate to the research
questions. These documents refer to visual material that can be read and might
also include photographs. Unobtrusive measures are ‘any methods of observation
that directly removes the observer from the set of interactions or events being
studies’ (Denzin, 1970). The main area of data for document analysis will be in
fact unobtrusive and this will be retrieved from personal or public documents,
visual images, reports and records produced through the Internet, including
message boards, chat rooms and blogs. Official documents from the State and
personal documents are very important sources of information to address the
research questions. They will provide potential significance complimented with
statistical information and findings. Private documents that might relate to
the topic are additional material which is not necessarily in the public
domain.  When it comes to photographs,
Scott (1990) argues that a photo must not be taken at its face value but the
researcher needs to have considerable additional knowledge of its social
context. This will help in further probing beneath the surface. Mass-media
output is yet again another potential source for social scientific analysis.
This will range from printed media to virtual documents. The latter are the
ones that appear on the Internet, which is a rather vast space but very
accessible for this qualitative analysis.  

 

A detailed planning
process of the document compiling is required. It is primarily necessary to
establish a division of the documents in categories, like documents, photographic
images and mass-media. These categories can be further segmented into distinguished
sub groups between private and public documents, and between printed newspaper
articles and virtual media output. The number of the sample will depend on how
many there are available documents in the first place. One of the most relevant
criteria to underline during the sampling of documentation is that it must
relate to the community of Zejtun and/or a community member or members. The
sampling then shall be based on various key points, including the author of the
document, the audience it was intended for and the reason why it was written,
the reliability and its storyline. Secondary data from the semi-structured
interviews with a number of key persons will be done after document analysis to
substantiate the findings and their interpretations. These may include also
primary testimonies, meaning that they were present at the events or
experiences being discussed.

 

Thematic analysis will
be the most viable method to use for this type of research. A framework will be
set up with notes for each document being reviewed. It is very essential to be
systematic in this process to be able to distinguish the different themes,
similarities and patterns across the group of documents. It will include a
search-out for underlying themes of interest waiting to be identified and
retrieved. Thematic segmentation will form a pattern recognition which will
become the categories for further analysis to address the research questions.
This coding will also be supported by the supplementary data that can be
referred to from the semi-structured interviews. Codes are feasible because
they help in the differentiation between settings, meanings, activities and
acts.

The strength of
document analysis in search for historical evidence is efficient and effective
to gather data which is not known to persons that can be easily interviewed.
Since this research will go back in time from the 1800s onwards, persons outlived
those eras and thus, only historical reporting can be raised. This type of
analysis can be considered as more time and cost efficient than conducting
quantitative or other types of qualitative researches and experiments. It can
also provide a wide coverage of data and can be a fruitful experience for the
researcher in terms of discovering and exploring data that has been hidden or
forgotten. Many questions will be asked if the researcher is inquisitive enough
to explore deeply.

Documents can uncover
underlying social realities, thus it important that the researcher investigates
the documents and the understanding of the data thoroughly to preserve the
credibility of the research (O’Leary, 2014). Documents can provide considerable
data yet one may argue that not all data is not necessarily valuable for the
research in itself. Scarceness, inaccurate and/ or incomplete documents might
also be the case once one starts researching. The researcher has to prepare a
Plan B beforehand in case of these types of challenges during data collection.

 

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