Joanna Spratt.

Workshop with world-leading experts

28 April 2014

In-depth research often requires the researcher to use more than one technique to get interesting results. But blending techniques in one project can be a complicated and mind-bending process.

One Crawford School PhD students, Joanna Spratt, has been given the chance to workshop her research design with leading scholars from around the world, making the journey ahead a little smoother.

Spratt is one of just three ANU students selected to attend the Consortium on Qualitative Research (CQRM) Methods to be held at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University, New York. CQRM promotes the teaching and use of qualitative research methods in the social sciences.

Participants are encouraged to create and critique methodologically sophisticated qualitative research designs, including case studies, tests of necessity or sufficiency, and narrative or interpretive work. The course explores the techniques, uses, strengths, and limitations of these methods, while emphasising their relationships with alternative approaches.

Leading researchers from across the world present at the two-week intensive course which is being held in June 2014.

“It is a great opportunity to get to learn with the people we read – people like David Collier and James Mahoney,” Spratt said.

“It is very pertinent to my preparation. The method I want to use is causal process training, as well as some comparative historical analysis. In causal process tracing you want to do as a detective does and follow the clues, try and understand the processes and pathways of causation.

“It is quite a new methodology and it has weaknesses. So I hope to learn more about what those weaknesses are and either avoid them or look to build in other methods.”

Spratt’s PhD focuses on foreign aid policy in New Zealand.

“Understanding how aid policy changes can shed light on ways to make the best quality policy possible, therefore improving aid’s positive impact on human lives,” she said.

“While scholars agree that domestic politics are important, the literature on aid policymaking shows multiple factors may be involved, with wide variation across countries and time.

“My research will involve within-case analysis of two cases of New Zealand aid policy change (2002 and 2009), aiming to uncover how actors, ideas and institutions interacted to create these two changes.”

The other students selected from ANU are Salmah Eva-Lina Lawrence from the School of Culture, History and Language and Benjamin Day from the School of International, Political and Strategic Studies.

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