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N-of-1 in Social Science?

A one-day seminar will be held on the subject of N-of-1 in Social Science? This event is sponsored by the International Journal of Social Research Methodology seminar competition.

The N-of-1 approach, part of the single-case experiments family, has been used in Psychology, Education and Social Work, and there are some current tentative explorations in Medicine. It presents a criticism of, and an exciting alternative to, the ‘gold-standard’ of the Randomised Controlled Trial by re-focusing attention on the ‘case’. Instead of seeking generalizable findings based on random samples, N-of-1 research focuses on individualised/personalised outcomes and 'treatments' – i.e. what works, for whom, and when. The approach is very provocative because it smashes some of the methodological 'foundations' of inferential methods and seriously questions the overall utility of the 'experimental method' in general. It offers immense potential in applied social research settings and it is this aspect of the approach that the seminar will address. Questions that are raised include, for example:

  • What are the methodological/epistemological implications of using 'N-of-1' approaches in ‘practice based' applied social science research?
  • We cannot ‘blind’ social policy interventions in the way drug trials can be ‘blinded’. So, how might we repurpose 'N-of-1' such that we might administer an intervention, remove it, and/or subsequently replace it with an alternative intervention?
  • How might we provide robust evidence of impact in 'N-of-1' studies?
  • In N-of-1 studies, the 'case' is key. If all cases are treated as 'unique', how can results be compared/collated to enable the ‘treatment’ of other cases?
  • How are methods used to explore outliers similar/different to 'N-of-1' methodological approaches?
  • How does 'N-of-1' research differ from 'case study' research?

The International Journal of Social Research Methodology is a forum for on-going and emerging methodological debates across a range of approaches including qualitative, quantitative, mixed and comparative methods, as these relate to philosophical, theoretical, ethical, political and practical issues. In addition to the regular issues, virtual special issues on special themes are also published, including: Visual Resarch Methods, Feminist Research Methods, Survey Non-Response, Mixed Methods and Health Research Methods.

Follow the Journal on twitter: @IJSRM

When: Thursday 3 November 2016

Where: Westwood Teaching Building (Room WT0.04)
Westwood Campus
University of Warwick