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Speaker Jim responds to AC:

Although there are some sub-fields or particular kinds of research in social anthropology that require quantitative methods, the field as a whole is usually seen as having a qualitative approach, specifically, an ethnographic approach to research.

In evaluation there has been a long history of "culture wars" about the relative superiority of quantitative or qualitative research methods. Some of the leading academics in the field have proclaimed that those wars are over--but word has not reached some of the troops.

Overall, there is a bias toward quantitative methods in evaluation research; nevertheless there are many opportunities for qualitative researchers who can synthesize discursive text or create compelling (and relevant) narrative from interviews, focus groups, and open-ended survey questions. The skills needed for that work are perhaps similar to those required for certain kinds of literary criticism. The principal criterion of success is pragmatic: do your clients find the reports relevant and useful to their needs?

Ah, yes. There are always evaluation reports (and sometimes evaluation-based articles). The ability to present evaluation findings in a clear and interesting manner is rare. That in itself might be the foundation for building one's own niche in the field.

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