Author Archives: Jim Goes

Phenomenology as a Research Design


What is Phenomenology?

Phenomenology as a research design is growing in popularity, particularly among doctoral learners.  Departing from the traditional positivistic nature of most survey and quantitative research, phenomenology explores the lived experiences of individuals and groups, and can provide a means to uncover deep understanding of these experiences from the perspective of the individual actor or the group.  While many doctoral students gravitate towards this design, it can also be challenging to design and execute an effective phenomenological study–perhaps even more challenging than more traditional designs.

We recently added a resource to our “guides, tools, and worksheets” collection that provides a basic overview of phenomenological research, and can help you decide whether or not this design is appropriate to address your topic or problem of interest.  The following link will take you directly to this writeup.


Common Knowledge and Scholarly Research


How do you know what to believe?

This is one of the most common questions we receive from doctoral students.  Advances in online communications have led to a web that is awash in opinion, advocacy, distortion, and questionable “truths”, much of which is stated or implied as “common knowledge”.  Yet, how do we really know what knowledge is common, what can be accepted as true, and how can we wade through opinion and belief to get at the real facts?

Most doctoral programs require dissertation writers to primarily use peer-reviewed sources in the development of their proposals.  This most frequently takes the form of refereed journals of established quality.  However it is not always clear which sources are peer reviewed and which are not.  Moreover, what do we do about questions or problems that have received little or no credible research?  How are we to judge the sagacity of what we read?

We’ve recently added several resources to our website targeted at this concern:

Scholarly Research Versus Fact Finding

What is Common Knowledge?

Critical Review by Coutts


Conducting Effective Interviews


Many doctoral students, particularly those opting for a qualitative methodological approach, use interviews in gathering their data.  There is a variety of different ways to use interviewing in your research, and these are well reviewed in various methods texts.  However there is often not a lot of guidance in these texts about some of the basic mechanics of being successful in your interviewing.

We just added a resource in the Guides, Tools, and Worksheets section of this website that provides some practical guidance on effective interviewing, based on our own research and our work with doctoral learners who use interviews.  If you are planning on interviews as a part of your research, you might find this useful.  Here is the link:


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