Aspects of the social research process

20 Feb 2018 / Leonardo Barichello

Martyn Hammersley is my favourite methodologist in the social sciences. His views are pragmatic without being superficial, simplistic or favouring certain tendencies or approaches.

Recently, he published the paper What is ethnography? Can it survive? Should it?. By the end of the paper, the author proposes a table showing the options for the design of research in social sciences and this table is complemented by a diagram attached in the end of the paper. Because the diagram was poorly designed, I contacted the author asking for clarifications. Martyn kindly answered and even provided some complementary notes on the table and diagram.

As a result, I compiled all the information in the diagram below.

Diagram based on Hammersley's view on research design

The svg file can be downloaded here.

I find it extremely useful to clarify ideas related to research design and choices that a researcher has to make during this process.

Some comments

Some choices in one stage may limit, or even determine, the options available in the next stages. So, it is not possible (or it just does not make sense) to combine all the possibilities freely.

The table is not a suggestion of order in terms of when the choices should be made.

The "Choice of cases" aspect is discussed in the chapter So, what are case studies? in the book What's wrong with ethnography?.

Hammersley recognizes that the item Data Analysis deserves more details, but he had " not even attempted to map the dimensions involved [t]here".


The content of the post was totally based on papers by Martyn Hammersley and should by treated/referred as usual in academic papers. When I contacted him, he was clear that I could use the extra material for whatever end I wanted. However, the diagram above is my reading of his work and was not extracted directly from his papers.

Public Money, Public Code in Barcelona

23 Jan 2018 / Leonardo Barichello

Another reason to love Barcelona: City of Barcelona Dumps Windows For Linux and Open Source Software.

This is the first result of the Public Money, Public Code campaign headed by the Free Software Foundation in Europe. Let's hope it is not the only!

Gong: two good bands under the same name

28 Dec 2017 / Leonardo Barichello

I discovered the band Gong about 15 years ago when I was more into psychedelic music in general. The albums from the Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy are a truly psychedelic experience somewhere between rock and jazz. Good stuff.

Time passes and interests change. Now, I am not so interested in psychedelic stuff, but when I decided to revisit some old albums I came across Gong. After some wikipedia research, I decided to have a go with Pierre Moerlen's Gong: a new formation of the band with more percussion, jazz-driven and less psychedelic. Also, they issued an album called Expresso II. I am not sure the name is a reference to coffee (it apparently was, but I could not find any reliable source), but of course it was enough to get my attention.

Although the style is completely different from the Radio Gnome Invisible albums, I really enjoyed the sound: somewhere between rock and jazz with a really good vibe.

Caernarfon castle

27 Nov 2017 / Leonardo Barichello

Recently, I visited Caernarfon castle and it was the most impressive castle I have visited in the UK.

It is located in Caernarfon, north Wales. The access by train is not simple, but it worth the trip!

If you go for it, I recommend to combine this visit with Conwy (another small walled welsh city with a beautiful castle - about 40 minutes away from Caernarfon) and Chester (a English walled city packed with well preserved Tudor houses - about 50 minutes away from Conwy).

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