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-  2019 

Timing Is Everything: The Utility of Time

DOI: 10.1177/0002764218819692

Keywords: public policy,higher education policy,policy inquiry,qualitative methods,time-series,case study

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While policy researchers call for new approaches to support the analysis of complex policies, the dominance of experimental and quasi-experimental designs limits the field’s possibilities. Innovative yet rigorous qualitative methods have been overlooked, despite strong arguments by seminal qualitative methodologists about the appropriateness of qualitative research for inquiry situated in particular contexts and that recognizes the influence of time, place, people, and belief systems on outcomes. We argue that qualitative time-series analysis is one such overlooked approach that has greater potential for educational policy research because of its ability to address complexity in causal relationships. This article contributes to the policy and methodological literature in two ways: First, by providing a synthesis of available methodological literature on qualitative time-series analysis; and second, by providing two illustrative qualitative case studies that used different time-series approaches to examine policy development over time while accounting for the contextual factors and meaning-making that inform policy and shape the policy process. The article concludes with a discussion of the contribution of qualitative time-series analysis for policy research with examples from the cases


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