Flexibility in Research Design: How Unexpected Events Can Improve Learning and Research

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Conducting research requires an openness and a sensitivity with regard to the empirical material one finds while collecting data. In the following case, I discuss how episodes of unexpected events or experiences of something “going wrong” have, in hindsight, actually benefitted my research process in studying young unemployed people in the Danish welfare state. A fixed research design or a deductive approach does not have the flexibility required to take these experiences into consideration. These “unexpected turns of events” can become important aspects in the process of gathering data and they can ultimately improve findings as they help empirical sensitivity. Illustrating with my experiences of things getting out of hand or even going wrong and how I learned from these, I discuss the expedience of remaining open, sensitive, and willing to change design, ideas, and convictions to secure empirical sensitivity in qualitative research.
Translated title of the contributionFleksibilitet i forskningsdesign: Hvordan uventede begivenheden kan forbedre læring og forskning
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSage Research Methods Cases
PublisherSAGE Publications
Publication date2018
ISBN (Electronic)9781526435217
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Unemployed young people
  • Unemployment

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