The Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research (IQMR) promotes the teaching and application of qualitative research methods and their combination with complementary analytic techniques in political science and cognate disciplines. The associated Research Group is an authors' workshop that seeks to help scholars publish in the field of methodology, thereby adding to the core canon of published research on which the wider academic community draws.

With the tenth Institute (June 2011), roughly 250 instructors will have taught advanced qualitative methods to over one thousand graduate students and junior faculty. Topics covered include case study methods, archival research and fieldwork, the intersection of qualitative and quantitative methods, ethnographic research, and experiments. Moreover, Institute attendees will have the opportunity to present research designs in small-group discussion sessions. The sessions offer students feedback on their own original research, as well as valuable practice presenting their work and critiquing that of others.

While the distinctive focus of the Institute's faculty and teaching program is qualitative methods, instructors and participants are strongly concerned with how qualitative methods undergird and complement alternative analytic approaches. Accordingly, the Institute maintains a broad methodological focus that reaches across--and seeks to bridge various--epistemological divides. To that end, IQMR regularly features faculty with a background in statistical theory, experimental methods, and interpretive methods.

Beyond training graduate students and junior faculty in the use of qualitative and multi-method research techniques, the Research Group held at the same time as the Institute encourages young scholars to develop their methodological skills and become fully engaged in producing (and not just using) qualitative research methods. It is a catalyst for the continued expansion of the burgeoning literature on these methods. Meeting during the break between the two weeks of the Institute, this authors' workshop offers an excellent opportunity to present work on qualitative and multi-method techniques and to receive feedback on ideas from the Institute's highly-regarded faculty. As a result of the Research Group, the core group of scholars developing new qualitative research methods has grown, and the menu of available research technologies has been enhanced.

While the training and feedback benefits provided to attendees are substantial, the Institute and Research Group also have an impact on the broader academic and policy-making communities. Past attendees have gone on to develop courses in qualitative methods at their own universities, and research group participants have published books and articles that are widely read across various disciplines. NSF support has enabled the Institute to offer scholarships to students who would otherwise not have been able to attend.

The Institute has helped to ensure that the qualitative and multi-method research that makes up a substantial portion of political science and related fields is conducted in a rigorous, transparent, and productive way. In turn, this helps to increase our confidence in the conclusions scholars reach about the world's most pressing matters, and it aids policy-makers in devising well-informed prescriptions for tackling them.

Project Report

The Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research (IQMR) is a two-week training program held each summer at Syracuse University. The institute promotes the teaching and application of qualitative research methods and their combination with complementary analytic techniques in political science and cognate disciplines. The canon on qualitative and multi-method research has expanded dramatically over the last two decades, and will likely continue to grow at a rapid pace. The Institute has contributed significantly to this expansion, developing and disseminating new analytic tools for practicing researchers. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, the NSF’s support for the institute directly contributed to the broad range of intellectual benefits that derived from participation, including: • intensive training in qualitative and multi-method research methods; • an enrichment benefit from sharing, receiving feedback on, and improving research designs for ongoing and future qualitative and multi-method work, as well as from learning to analyze and constructively critique those of others; • a networking benefit, fostering a community of scholars who employ qualitative and multi-method research designs, and supporting interchange and collaboration among them. The institute arranged and promoted several formal and informal opportunities for attendees to build valuable and productive relationships. • a multiplier benefit produced by the attendees who will go on to teach courses in qualitative and multi-method research; and • a demonstration benefit, raising the profile of qualitative and multi-methods and highlighting the need for systematic training in their application. Through advancing this program, the Institute conveyed valuable new methodological understandings and sparked productive methodological debates, challenging a new generation of scholars to advance the field in productive directions. The grant supported the 2012, 2013, and 2014 institutes, at which a total of 529 graduate students and junior faculty participated. Of these, 50% (263) were female, an extraordinarily high percentage for advanced methods training. NSF’s support for the institute has been a vital component in its success. Most directly, the grant contributed to an open pool competition for fellowships to attend the institute. These slots were in great demand, with more than 200 applicants in each of the three years covered by the grant. The acceptance rates were 7%, 12% and 6% respectively. NSF’s support also served as an indispensable external meritocratic indicator, providing essential leverage in persuading academic departments and research centers to nominate participants to the institute. In addition, NSF’s grant also helped support the Research Group in Qualitative and Multi-Method Analysis, an authors’ workshop which typically meets during the two-day break between the two weeks of the Institute. One of the authors’ workshop missions is to help younger scholars step into the role of publishing actively in the field of methodology, thereby adding to the core canon of published research on which the wider academic community draws. The workshop has also been centrally important in developing books that have been submitted to Cambridge University Press’ book series on Strategies for Social Inquiry.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Brian D. Humes
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Syracuse University
United States
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