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extensive research

  Research that is directed towards discovering common properties and empirical regularities and that aims to offer generalizations about them. The term is derived from the philosopher Rom Harré, and in geography would apply to much of the work conducted under the signs of empiricism and positivism with spatial science and behavioural geography. Sayer (1992) suggests that extensive research typically relies on quantitative methods — including descriptive and inferential statistics and numerical analysis — and on large-scale questionnaires and formal interviews. The term has been widely used in discussions of realism as a more appropriate philosophy for human geography, where it is contrasted with strategies of intensive research (cf. the figure accompanying that entry). \'Extensive studies are weaker for the purpose of explanation not so much because they are a “broad-brush” method lacking in sensitivity to detail\', Sayer (1992) argues, \'but because the relations they discover are formal, concerning similarity, dissimilarity, correlation and the like, rather than causal, structural and substantial\'. (See also qualitative methods.) (DG)

Reference and Suggested Reading Sayer, A. 1992: Method in social science a realist approach, 2nd edn. London: Routledge, 241-51.



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