Methods Resources

To develop critical research designs

This resource provides ideas for creating research methods designs that reflect the critical ideological considerations raised through the readings lists.

  1. Potential methodological approaches
  2. Critical methodological readings
    1. Researching internationalisation in higher education
    2. Positionality and relationships to participants
    3. Decolonising research in higher education
    4. Multilingual research
    5. Research in international and intercultural contexts
    6. Ethical considerations for research

Potential methodological approaches

There is a tendency for research with international students to stick to a classic “semi-structured interview + questionnaire” design. While these methods are tried and tested, we argue that more innovative and creative methods may help align critical conceptual perspectives with practice through research designs. Below are a collection of approaches that might be alternatively considered.

Methodological approachPurposefully over-simplified descriptionResources or example(s) in practice
Photo elicitation interviewsAsking participants to take or share photographs that symbolise their experiencesElliot et al. (2016);
Wang & Hannes (2014)
Walking interviewsInterviews conducted while walking with participants in their daily livesStevenson (2015)
Participatory or community mappingAsking participants to draw maps of places that are important to their experiencesSimoni & Georgoudaki (2020)
Solicited diariesUse of audio, video, or visual diaries over a period of time to document experiences Cao & Henderson (2020)
Drawing, painting, and artistic approachesAsking participants to draw or paint their experiences, or else use other artistic approaches Huang (2020)
Narrative collageAsking participants to develop short stories Kostera (2006)
Video or documentary creationThe creation of videos or documentaries by participantsArkoudis et al. (2013)
Participatory or community-based researchCo-designing research methods approaches with participants Dollinger et al. (2021)
Mediating artefact interviewsThe use of an interactive tool as a discussion piece in an interviewJones et al. (2021)
Timeline interviewsAn approach to discussion the temporal order of events or experiencesSpangler (2022)
Theatre or drama methodsAsking participants to develop and perform in plays or theatre productions about their experiencesFrimberger (2016)
Social network analysis A visual mapping of social connections based on surveys data Héliot et al. (2020);
Rienties et al. (2018)
Multimodal discourse analysisDiscourse analysis approach to analysing multiple forms of media or informationZhang et al. (2020)
Art gallery visitingTaking participants to an art gallery and asking them to select pieces which symbolise their experiencesHuang (2021)
Media analysisAnalysis of discourses or ideologies present in mediaAbelmann & Kang (2013)
Nexus analysisAnalysis which focuses on the intersection of language / discourses and social actionAarnikoivu (2020)

Methods for Change project:
This helpful website also has a bank of step-by-step guides to different creative research approaches, many of which will be relevant to reserach with international students:

Critical methodological readings

This reading list includes critical scholarship which focuses on different aspects of research design, providing helpful reflections and critical considerations for designing a methodological approach. This list is an ongoing work in progress.

Researching internationalisation in higher education

Deuchar, A. (2022). International students and the politics of vulnerability. Journal of International Students.

Khoo, S-M; Haapakoski, J. and Hellstén, M. (2018) Moving from interdisciplinary research to transdisciplinary educational ethics: Bridging epistemological differences in researching higher education internationalisation(s). European Educational Research Journal, 18(2): 181-199.

Lipura, S. J., & Collins, F. L. (2020). Towards an integrative understanding of contemporary educational mobilities: A critical agenda for international student mobilities research. Globalisation Societies and Education, 18(3), 343–359.

Positionality and relationships to participants

Adriansen, H.K., & Madsen, L. M. (2009). Studying the making of geographical knowledge: The implications of insider interviews. Norsk geografisk Tidsskrift – Norwegian Journal of Geography, 63(3), 145-153.

Driessen, H. (1998). The notion of friendship in ethnographic fieldwork. Anthropological Journal on European Cultures. 7(1), 43-62.

Dwyer, S. C., & Buckle, J. L. (2009). The Space Between: On Being an Insider-Outsider in Qualitative Research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 8(1), 54–63.

Egharevba, I. (2001). Researching an-‘other’ minority ethnic community: reflections of a black female researcher on the intersections of race, gender and other power positions on the research process. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 4(3) 225-241.

Folkes, L. (2022). Moving beyond ‘shopping list’ positionality: Using kitchen table reflexivity and in/visible tools to develop reflexive qualitative research. Qualitative Research.

Frers, L. & Meier, L. (2022). Hierarchy and inequality in research: Practices, ethics and experiences. Qualitative Research.

Holmes, A. G. D. (2020). Researcher positionality – A consideration of its influence and place in qualitative research – a new research guide. International Journal of Education, 8(4), 1-10.

Kamlongera, M.I. (2021). ‘So what’s arts got to do with it?’: An autoethnography of navigating researcher positionality while co-creating knowledge. Qualitative Research.

Kun-Ting Hsieh, J. (2018). Positioning the researcher in the studies of international student identities. Journal of International Students, 8(2), 659-676.

Milligan, L. (2016). Insider-outsider-inbetweener? Researcher positioning, participative methods and cross-cultural educational research.
Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education
, 46(2), 235-250.

Torres-Olave, B., & Lee, J.J. (2020). Shifting positionalities across international locations: Embodied knowledge, time-geography, and the polyvalence of privilege. Higher Education Quarterly, 74(2), 136-148.

Yakushko, O., Badiee, M., Mallory, A., & Wang, S. (2011). Insider outsider: reflections on working with one’s own communities. Women & Therapy, 34(3), 279–92.

Decolonising research in higher education

Barnes, B.R. (2018). Decolonising research methodologies: Opportunity and caution. South African Journal of Psychology, 48(3).

Chilisa, B., Major, T.E., & Khudu-Petersen, K. (2017). Community engagement with a postcolonial, African-based relational paradigm. Qualitative Research, 17(3).

Held, M.B.E. (2019). Decolonizing research paradigms in the context of settler colonialism: An unsettling, mutual, and collaborative effort. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 18.

Moosavi, L. (2020). The decolonial bandwagon and the dangers of intellectual decolonisation. International Review of Sociology, 30(2), 332–354.

Muñoz-García, A.L., Lira, A., & Loncón, E. (2022). Knowledges from the South: Reflecting on writing academically. Educational Studies, 58(5-6), 641-656.

Ndlovu-Gatsheni, S. (2017). Decolonising research methodology must include undoing its dirty history. Journal of Public Administration, 52(1).

Woldegiorgis, E.T. (2021). Decolonising a higher education system which has never been colonised. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 53(9), 894-906.

Multilingual research

Andrews, J., & Fay, R. (2020). Valuing a translingual mindset in researcher education in Anglophone higher education: Supervision perspectives. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 33(2), 188-202.

Arafat, N. & Woodin, J. (2022). Opening up spaces for researching multilingually in higher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 27(4), 593-600.

Costley, T., & Reilly, C. (2021). Methodological principles for researching multilingually: Reflections on linguistic ethnography. TESOL Quarterly, 55(3), 1035-1047.

Gobbo, F., & Russo, F. (2020). Epistemic diversity and the question of lingua franca in science and philosophy. Foundations of Science, 25, 185–20.

Holmes, P., Fay, R., Andrews, J., & Attia, M. (2013). Researching multilingually: New theoretical and methodological directions. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 23(3), 285-299.

Preece, S. (2019). Postgraduate students as plurilingual social actors in UK higher education. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 33(3), 1-16.

Stelma, J., Fay, R., & Zhou, X. (2013). Developing intentionality and researching multilingually: An ecological and methodological perspective. Journal of Applied Linguistics, 23(3), 300-315.

Research in international and intercultural contexts

Banks, J. A. (1998). The lives and values of researchers: Implications for educating citizens in a multicultural society. Educational Researcher, 27(7), 4–17.

Chadwick, R. (2020). Theorizing voice: toward working otherwise with voices. Qualitative Research, 21(1), 76-101.

Honan, E., Obaidul Hamid, M., Alhamdan, B., Phommalangsy, P., & Lingard, B. (2013). Ethical issues in cross-cultural research. International Journal of Research & Method in Education, 36(4), 386-399.

Mullings, B. (1999). Insider or outsider, both or neither: Some dilemmas of interviewing in a cross-cultural setting. Geoforum, 30(4), 337-350.

Rosa, J., & Flores, N. (2017). Unsettling race and language: Toward a raciolinguistic perspective. Language In Society, 46(5), 621–647.

Shah, S. (2013). The researcher/interviewer in intercultural context: a social intruder! British Educational Research Journal, 30(4), 549-575.

Subreenduth, S. (2008). Deconstructing the politics of a differently colored transnational identity. Race Ethnicity and Education11(1), 41–55. 

Xu, X. (2022). Epistemic diversity and cross-cultural comparative research: ontology, challenges, and outcomes. Globalisation, Societies, and Education, 20(1), 36-48.

Ethical considerations for research

Pascoe Leahy, C. (2021). The afterlife of interviews: Explicit ethics and subtle ethics in sensitive or distressing qualitative research. Qualitative Research.

Hammett, D., Jackson, L., & Bramley, R. (2022). Beyond ‘do no harm’? On the need for a dynamic approach to research ethics. Area.

Nind, M., Wiles, R., Bengry-Howell, A., & Crow, G. (2012). Methodological innovation and research ethics: Forces in tension or forces in harmony? Qualitative Research, 13(6), 650-667.

Oyinloye, B. (2022). Reimagining the researcher-participant ethics relationship: A participant-centred, values-based ethics approach in comparative and international education. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education.

Skerritt, C. (2022). A sinister side of student voice: Surveillence, suspicion, and stigma. Journal of Education Policy.

Traianou, A., & Hammersley, M. (2021). Is there a right not to be researched? Is there a right to do research? Some questions about informed consent and the principle of autonomy. International Journal of Social Research Methodology24(4), 443-452.

Zhang, J.J. (2017). Research ethics and ethical research: some observations from the Global South. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 41(1), 147-154.

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