Bernd Marin Discusses Comparative Research at the ESRC Research Methods Festival at Oxford University, published as SAGE video (29:07 min.) experts 2017


Comparative Research – background and theory.

  1. How would you define comparative research for any student who has not encountered the method before?
  1. How did you become interested in comparative research?
  1. Why is it important to compare across cases?
  1. Is there a discernible difference between comparative research and comparative inquiry? What is the role of theory in both these instances?
  1. How has the use of comparison, or thinking about comparison, changed over time?
  1. What are the common criticisms of comparative research? How would you respond to these criticisms?


The comparative method in practice – welfare, aging and social policy


  1. What makes comparative research a particularly attractive method when studying welfare, aging and social policies?
  1. Does “big data” and the proliferation of information make your research in to welfare easier or harder?
  1. Comparing social policy across EU nations must raise a number of practicality issues such as language barriers. Can you tell us a bit about these issues and how you overcame them?
  1. How do you deal with knowledge gaps in the data? How can we compare if there is no standard data collection or analysis procedures?
  1. Should comparative research have a normative agenda? What are the challenges of understanding norms in distinct cultural contexts?
  1. It is likely that students who use comparative research will be relying on existing, secondary data sources. Using examples from your work on aging, welfare and social policy, what methods and techniques can you recommend for finding and cleaning existing data?
  1. What are some of the more typical mistakes students make in comparative research? How might such mistakes be avoided.


Research Methods

  1. Many students hate learning about research methods, can you tell them why it is important to learn about methods?
  1. What’s the point of doing social research?
  1. Why do researchers often disagree so much about what methods to use or how to interpret results?
  1. What will social research methods look like in ten or twenty years’ time?
  1. Thinking back to a time before you yourself became a researcher, what advice would you give to your young self on how to do really good social research and become a skilled researcher?