There are pros, cons, opportunities and limitations with every method or combination of methods. In the next few post I will explore some of the big ideas I have been considering in order to focus my methods and make sure I will report what I am actually measuring.
At my comprehensive exam a professor suggested I read a book entitled Case Study Research: Design and Methods by Robert K. Yin. As this committee member is by far better versed in social science methods than I am, I took his advise.
The key points I took out of the book:
- It is better to have more than one case study site if you can
- Don’t over generalize your findings
- Be sure you are taking very good notes as you go along
- Control when possible and ALWAYS report sources of bias (more on this in another post about sources of bias although you will see me talking about limitations of certain methods and these can be sources of bias)
As mentioned in post “Selection methods [part 1]” in each case study city I am then using SFA to look at P flows and I also need to look at local context factors if I want to compare cities or even glean about what might facilitate of constrain the future role of UA in sustainable urban P cycling in a single city. For each “method” I try to look at key points about their use for SFA and local context.
I think it is wonderful (and necessary) to build on work that has already been done. That said, when its not your own work you don’t know where the mistakes are (we have the peer-review process for quality control as well as supplemental materials to give more detail on methods, data, and analysis but you are often still left with a certain level of “mystery”).
Key points I take into consideration for SFA:
- The reference year might be different than your target year. Urbanization does not only change the magnitudes of flows, but can also change the relative magnitude of flows through technologies, preferences, and management of the city as it changes. Having data from different years, although often necessary, can lead to error.
- The objectives of the cited study may be so different from your objectives that using the data in your context is inaccurate
- The data might be better and more accurate than what you could collect yourself (even if it is on a slightly different scale or system that you are looking at)
Key points I take into consideration for local context:
- Particular advantage on the possibility of better data and analysis than what I could do because there are articles that focus solely on collecting data about biophysical variables or motivations about participation in UA practices.
- May still represent some issues, as with SFA, about note knowing the exact research design and about differing goals.