I found your post thought provoking, especially your final question about any possible effect of a methodological stance vis-a-vis status as a researcher. The ‘paradigm wars’ (Denzin, 2010) in the late 20th century point to a clearly pejorative placing of qualitative research below what had been to then a set of techniques lauded as the “gold standard” (Conrad & Serlin, 2013, p. 7) of research design, the experimental method. In present day academia, the situation seems to be more complex. I’ve looked at a number of Ed.D. theses from the Open University (see the url below and attached file) and found that constructivist and mixed methods studies are frequent. However, just last week The Chronicle (2016) discussed the difficulty that “alternative dissertations” have in securing jobs in the US context. I don’t have access to the full article and can’t see how they define ‘alternative’.
I’d like to address your comment that prioritises the construction of an argument over the decision of how to research that argument. This matter lies at the heart of many issues in this course. You use the word ‘construct’ (which is fine), but I wonder if the metaphor implicit in ‘building’ an argument may be slightly unhelpful. Alternatively, ‘drill down’ may be equally limiting. The process of ‘understanding’ a question is the result of an iterative process that searches within (through techniques like deconstruction or Wagner’s  blank spot analysis) and outside (Wagner’s  blind spot or Cassie’s “Windows”) (see the general chat forum for that). Since beginning this module, I’ve come to a position where the understanding the concept of a research question is rather akin to reverse grounded theory, where the question emerges from the data but not through what’s explicitly there, but where the gaps are. This is what Drake (2011) had in mind. At any rate, during engagement with the question is the time to investigate our own predilections, preferences and biases. The former two may lead to powerfully personal research designs (i.e. questions that we feel a strong value for and attachment to), and knowing our biases can help us overcome potential pitfalls in research methodology.
Taking your example of separating keystroke number from cognitive load, you say that your interest lies in qualitative methods. If you ‘drill down’ on the notion of cognitive load, there comes a point at which you need to define cognitive load. I can see easily how it can be represented in a numerical value (e.g. time space between keystrokes or number of typing errors during a task). How will you operationalize this? If such a numerical focus isn’t helpful to you at any point in your study, do you have other methods of discovering cognitive load? I ask this because of the necessity to define such a key element, variable, or construct in any kind of study.
Conrad, C. C. F., & Serlin, R. C. (2013). The Sage Handbook for Research in Education Comparative Education : An Approach to Educational Inquiry.
Denzin, N. K. (2010). Moments, Mixed Methods, and Paradigm Dialogs. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(6), 419–427. http://doi.org/10.1177/1077800410364608
Drake, P. (2011). Approaching Grounded Methodology. In Practitioner research at doctoral level: Developing coherent research methodologies (pp. 33–46).
Patel, V. (2016, February 28). Ph.D.s Embrace Alternative Dissertations. The Job Market May Not. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved on Mar 6 2016 from http://chronicle.com/article/PhDs-Embrace-Alternative/235511
Wagner, J. (1993). Ignorance in Educational Research: Or, How Can You “Not” Know That? Educational Researcher, 22(5), 15–23.
Open University Ed.D. Thesis Repository. http://oro.open.ac.uk/view/thesis/edd.html