As Geographers and associated professionals such as planners there is a time when we will need to begin to look at a subject matter and have a need to delve deeper into the merits of a matter or the issues that we are dealing with.

Often we are much too busy just doing the job and practising the arts that we have had the opportunity to learn at university or have learned on the job and through natural processes of professional development. But there comes a time when that is just not enough and we want or need to know more about a subject.

So, How do we go about that, how do we begin to add to the knowledge base that we have accumulated or that our profession has accumulated?

Ultimately there are three things that we need to do when we research an issue:

  • find out what is known and work out what we think the gaps are in the knowledge,
  • find a method to fill the gaps we have identified,
  • Write up the results of our findings.

To add to the knowledge base we need to work out how we know what we know and then work out how we are going to add to the knowledge we have.

To understand this process we first need to work out: How do we acquire knowledge and add to it?

Critical research and thinking is essential to the social scientist. There are some fundamental things that we need to be aware of when we read and analyse articles that try to influence our thinking and when we prepare documents for others to read.

Social research is about the study of society and  the people and institutions that make it up. So what we do and read and write here is focussed on social structures and issues.

There are a number of ways to think about knowledge.  We gain knowledge through  epistemology, axiology and ontology.

We acquire knowledge through observation, analysis of existing data, or we can run an experiment.

Other ways we can add to our knowledge is through the development of an idea or thesis and a method to test it. This is a scientific approach to the issu.

Critical thinking is reasonable  reflective thinking focusing on a task’ people or belief and excludes creative thinking. It involves the analysis of the source and the way the issue is put together.

Researching existing information

When an analysis is done who wrote it, who checked it and why should we believe them?

Who is the intended audience and what is the main point the author is trying to make?

When I pick up an article, why should I believe the article, is it written to persuade me or to make a point.

When was it written and have things changed in the mean time?

Academic articles should be well referenced, address the audience, present the augment in a logical and ordered manner and be understandable.Research design Creswell

Quantitative will use variables that can be measured.

Qualitative research will involve less clear cut issues and be subject to interpretation.

A mixed method approach will include the two methods above and apply them to appropriate parts of the question that is being asked. Lets say we are looking at the impact of climate change on society, you might look at the way people feel about climate and then look at the evidence and see if peoples views match the reality of the situation.</p><p>

So what might happen to beaches on the north shore of Sydney? Surfers and adjacent land owners might have very different perspectives on what should be done to ameliorate the impact of climate change perception.

Post positivist methods  will use the scientific methods, to look for correlations between the theory and the ability to reject or accept the theory.

Can this be applied to community health and how far can we take the scientific method. Planners and geographers are under pressure to use Knowledge based planning as the basis for the future planning of cities, and there is a growing body of knowledge that claims to be scientifically founded but the actual basis for the information may be partly or more nearly qualitative information claiming quantitative basis.</p><p>

Advocacy based information is closely related to the political context and is used to try to convince the reader how important this issue is.

Pragmatically based arguments are not always based on p purely theoretical organised framework.