“This excellent book fills a significant gap in the literature supporting planning education by providing clear, succinct advice on the design and implementation of small-scale student research projects.” – Chris Couch, Professor of Geography and Planning, University of Liverpool “A perfect text for supervisors to give students so that they plan their research projects carefully rather than leap headlong into data collection.” – Jean Hillier, Emeritus Professor of Sustainability and Urban Planning, RMIT University, Melbourne “Highly recommended... Ranging across topics such as planning a research programme and data management and the handling of ethical issues, the book will be very helpful to those embarking on a thesis or dissertation in the field.” – Peter Fidler, President of the University of Sunderland Research Design in Urban Planning is a short, accessible, and clearly written text on how to design research for a dissertation planning project. Aimed at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, this text will:  • discuss research design, looking in detail at how researchers make their choices of methods  • examine these in reference to case studies/examples from the planning research literature  • explain to students how to interpret policy to define researchable questions  • review the issues comparatively  • situate the methodological questions in terms of research ethics. Packed with case studies, exercises, illustrations and summaries, Research Design in Urban Planning is an invaluable resource for students undertaking their first substantial, individual investigations.

Post-positivism and Planning Research

Post-positivism and Planning Research

Key questions

What sort of view of the nature of science, as practiced in the natural sciences, is commonly held?

What contribution did planning theorists think research on this model could contribute to the justification of planning policies?

What criticisms have subsequently been made of this view?

What alternative assumptions about research do we find amongst planning researchers today?

Key concepts

Positivism, post-positivism, value neutrality, framing, social construction, interpretivism, expert knowledge, paradigms, ontology, epistemology, methodology, methods, control, naturalism, ecological validity, realism, naïve realism


This chapter starts with a discussion of a widely held view of science, a view which underpins positivism and which has also influenced thinking about the nature of social research, the type of research that planners and planning academics conduct. ...

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