Adaptive methodology. Topic, theory, method and data in ongoing conversation

Kristof Van Assche, R. Beunen, Martijn Duineveld*, Monica Gruezmacher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)


This paper explores the concept of adaptive research design, in which topic, theoretical framing, method, and data are in principle open to adaptation during the research process. The main premise is that adaptations in one element of the research process can trigger changes in other elements. Both positive and negative reasons for adaptivity are discussed along with various valid reasons for limiting adaptivity in particular cases. Grasping the different couplings between concepts, theories and methods is useful to discern the possibilities and limits of adaptive methodology in situ. To deepen the understanding of the adaptive capacity of methodology, we broaden the discussion to look at the embedding of methodology in academia and its disciplines. In our perspective, methods appear as devices structuring thinking and observation and are well used and placed if they enhance and enable the continuation of observation and reflection and if they allow the researcher to remain open for alternative observations and interpretations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-49
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology
Issue number1
Early online date24 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Adaptation
  • Disciplines
  • couplings
  • disciplines
  • method
  • methoden
  • methodologie
  • methodology
  • research design
  • theory


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