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Visual Methods
In block 2 of the module, the seminar about visual methods provided satisfying insights about the future of visual research and how these methods can be applied effectively to research work. Mannay (2015, p.1) and Pauwels (2011.p. 68) contend that visual methods are critical components in contemporary research as they offer substantive improvements to research methodologies and varied techniques of data analysis as well as efficiency in carrying out empirical work. The seminar adequately examined how creative visual methods can be used as agents of improved communication in settings where the sender and recipient understand each other better through visual expressions. Visual methods have been used in electronic and print media communication through newspapers, internet and advertisements. The visual message is well organized and eye-catching to the recipient to encourage their participation (Kehrer and Hauser 2013, p.3). Similarly, these methods have proved effective when used for research and provision of evidence in various fields as well as policymaking in matters of national interest.

In research work, visual methods are considered highly interactive since the researcher is actively involved and prompted to incorporate participants in the work as opposed to the traditional methods where a researcher would only collect data from participants. Indeed, a joint research will achieve better results than when the researcher works alone (Mannay 2015, p.2). The seminar further demonstrated the need and importance of researchers strategically using visual elements at every stage of their work. In the data collection stage, the researcher should use visual elements that draw the attention of the participants and hence enable them to provide the necessary information (Mannay 2010, p.10). In the presentation of their findings, researchers organize their results in graphs, tables, charts and others. The commonly used visual elements by researchers to convey their information to audience include diagrams, photography and art among others.

Visual methods are useful tools in quantitative data analysis when making appropriate recommendations in various areas of study. Notably, when data is presented visually, it is easier for the audience to derive meaning on the researchers’ work. For instance, visual presentation of data from the current pandemic (Covid-19) is important for informing policy-makers about the disease and making them establish the best ways to impede the effect thereof. Therefore, visual methods are useful in evidence-based policy making.

The Imitation Game
This research method has been used to study various issues of interest and the trend therein. Collins et al. (2017, p. 5) describes the Imitation Game as a new method of research that is utilized in gathering qualitative as well as quantitative data. The seminar covering this method clearly illustrated how the Imitation Game has been used in research to gather crucial information in various fields. For instance, the method was effective when using software in a classic Three Player Game. The imitation game has also been used to compare various aspects in a society across different times. According to Wu and Ortega (2013 p. 689), to effectively use the imitation method the researcher must possess a good interactional expertise. This enables them to judge the predominant culture and engage in meaningful interactions with the participants. With such interactions, the researcher is certain to gather the appropriate information in his area of study.

The seminar also proposed that cultural relationships be established first as a basis for research. Once the target culture and cultural aspects have been established, the researcher chooses his/her participants and assigns roles to each. The team of participants in this case comprises of the researcher who may sometimes be the interrogator; a pretender and a non-pretender (Collins et al. 2014, p.1; Wehrens 2015, p. 254). While the pretender is from another culture, it is recommended that the judge and the non-pretender share a common cultural background. The interrogator asks strategic questions related to their culture to determine who the pretender is. According to Evans et al. (2019, p. 1561), this research method enables simultaneous determination of the diversity and the “groupishness” of the group of participants under consideration. This helps the interrogator in gathering the relevant data in that culture by considering the right source.

The Imitation Game has been used in research in different areas that are considered to be subject to cultural variability. These areas include social research, policy making and entrepreneurial fields. The method has indeed proven reliable in offering evidence-based research that significantly influences the particular fields. When the imitation game is used in policy making, it helps the participants by providing conclusive facts in the field of study and thus resulting in efficiency of the process. Similarly, when integrated in entrepreneurship, the Imitation Game has substantively influenced the behaviors of employees towards more productivity (Liñán and Fernandez-Serrano 2014, p. 6). Indeed, imitation game is highly applicable in most fields and cultures and has proven the best interactive method of research warranting accurate results.

Mixed Methods
The mixed methods approach in research methodology is one of the oldest methods of research. According to Creswell (2014 p.2), mixed methods approach helps researchers in gathering their quantitative and qualitative data distinctly, integrate the two methods and then drawing a conclusion in regard to the solidity of the two sets of data. In this case, the assumption is that the investigator combines the available statistical (quantitative) data with lived experiences (qualitative data) and provides a conclusive data that gives a better understanding to the problems that led to research (Hesse-Biber 2010, p.3). This data is considered truer than if one of the methods would have been used alone. This approach has been used in a conducting research work in fields such as health and social sciences.

The seminar on the mixed methods provided an extensive overview in the subject that was essential for better understanding of research. The seminar brought to my attention how mixed methods bridge the gap between positivism and constructivism by creating designs that include qualitative and quantitative approaches. The use of mixed methods in research has been associated with increased confidence and improved understanding of findings as well as the conceptualization and measurement (Mele and Belardinelli 2019, p.1). Creswell (2014 p.4) observed that while the two methods should flow into a mixed system, the scope of each method is not affected. Indeed, when the qualitative approach is used simultaneously with the quantitative one, the best strategy for resolving many research questions is achieved.

Mixed methods have been applied in various fields. For instance, in accounting, the use of mixed method with theoretical pluralism produces reliable resources (Richardson 2015, p.6). In health sciences, mixed methods are useful in conducting surveys for attitudes and beliefs, clinical trials and epidemiological research for better understanding of health problems (Creswell et al. 2011, p.2). Additionally, the method offers an in-depth analysis to medical data such as age groups, disparities in populations, behavioral factors and health needs among others. As shown above, mixed methods are highly applicable in many fields and provide reliable results to research.
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Collins, H., Evans, R., Weinel, M., Lyttleton-Smith, J., Bartlett, A. and Hall, M., 2017. The Imitation Game and the nature of mixed methods. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 11(4), pp.510-527.
Collins, H. and Evans, R., 2014. Quantifying the tacit: The imitation game and social fluency. Sociology, 48(1), pp.3-19.
Creswell, J.W., 2014. A concise introduction to mixed methods research. SAGE publications.
Creswell, J.W., Klassen, A.C., Plano Clark, V.L. and Smith, K.C., 2011. Best practices for mixed methods research in the health sciences. Bethesda (Maryland): National Institutes of Health, 2013, pp.541-545.
Evans, R., Collins, H., Weinel, M., Lyttleton‐Smith, J., O’Mahoney, H. and Leonard‐Clarke, W., 2019. Groups and individuals: conformity and diversity in the performance of gendered identities. The British journal of sociology, 70(4), pp.1561-1581.
Hesse-Biber, S.N., 2010. Mixed methods research: Merging theory with practice. Guilford Press.
Kehrer, J. and Hauser, H., 2012. Visualization and visual analysis of multifaceted scientific data: A survey. IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics, 19(3), pp.495-513.doi: 10.1109/TVCG.2012.110
Liñán, F. and Fernandez-Serrano, J., 2014. National culture, entrepreneurship and economic development: different patterns across the European Union. Small Business Economics, 42(4), pp.685-701.
Mannay, D., 2010. Making the familiar strange: Can visual research methods render the familiar setting more perceptible?. Qualitative research, 10(1), pp.91-111.
Mannay, D., 2015. Visual, narrative and creative research methods: Application, reflection and ethics. Routledge.
Mele, V. and Belardinelli, P., 2019. Mixed methods in public administration research: Selecting, sequencing, and connecting. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 29(2), pp.334-347.
Pauwels, L., 2011. An integrated conceptual framework for visual social. The SAGE handbook of visual research methods, p.3.
Richardson, A.J., 2015. Quantitative research and the critical accounting project. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 32, pp.67-77.
Wehrens, R., 2015. The potential of the Imitation Game method in exploring healthcare professionals’ understanding of the lived experiences and practical challenges of chronically ill patients. Health Care Analysis, 23(3), pp.253-271.
Wu, S.L. and Ortega, L., 2013. Measuring global oral proficiency in SLA research: A new elicited imitation test of L2 Chinese. Foreign Language Annals, 46(4), pp.680-704.