The Centre is home to an international team of multidisciplinary researchers committed to conducting first-rate sustainability related research through the use of innovative techniques, methods, resources, and technology. Key to our success is our expertise within key multidisciplinary research areas that are founded on harmonizing with the global effort for a more just, sustainable world. Among our research areas we promote a scientific dialogue to maximize expertise and output findings. Our research often requires an acute understanding of societal changes from both human and non-human perspectives. It is our developments in these areas that help us to apply unique solutions for fields as diverse as the social sciences, engineering, physical sciences, biological sciences, and humanities.
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
ENERGY AND CLIMATE
NATURE AND CULTURE
POLITICS OF FOOD
POVERTY AND AID
MAPPING AND STATISTICS
RESEARCH: QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE APPROACHES
The Centre’s research is based within two interdisciplinary methodological approaches: quantitative and qualitative. The combinative use of the two has been a long goal of the Centre with attempted sustainability research that explores control and systematization of the biases of such an idea. The Centre’s expertise in both approaches is specialized in a vast array of multidisciplinary research areas, including: sustainable development functionality measures, environmental management and impact, geographic assaying and systems approach, and society studies. The difference between quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches has been well documented since Patton (1990) and Chisnall (2001) illustrated the table on the right; from an interdisciplinary standpoint, we strive to add to this knowledge base.
QUANTITATIVE APPROACH: From a quantitative research perspective, our approach is to strengthen the evidence base for our clients through the provision of rigorous, in-depth analysis which is fully grounded in the data. Quantitative research is concerned with testing hypotheses derived from theory and/or being able to estimate the size of a phenomenon of interest. Depending on the research question, participants may be randomly assigned to different treatments. If this is not feasible, the researcher may collect data on participant and situational characteristics in order to statistically control for their influence on the dependent, or outcome, variable. If the intent is to generalize from the research participants to a larger population, the researcher will employ probability sampling to select participants. Our expertise in quantitative data acquisition is first-rate and complimentary within the European research community.
QUALITATIVE APPROACH: The moderately low level of involvement of academic researchers in the European survey research industry has led to a state-of-affairs where best practice research methodologies are not as broadly implemented as they should be. It has also meant that the European survey research community is not well placed to respond to the various methodological challenges facing present survey methodologists, including issues such as the increasing proportion of ‘mobile phone only’ households and the inappropriate use of non-probability online panels via poor quality sampling frames. From this viewpoint there is a potential gap in the survey research landscape; this qualitative gap is where the Polo Centre of Sustainability attracts its services and strives to fulfil it Europe-wide.
Chisnall, P. (2001). Market research, Berkshire: McGraw Hill.
Patton, M.Q. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods (2nd Ed.), Newbury Park, CA: Sage.