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In attempting to tackle emerging phenomena this study is deliberately broad based. Considerable attention is given to explaining each methodological choice.

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3.1. Approach

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Mixed-method research combines qualitative and quantitative research within a pragmatist paradigm (Tashakkori Teddlie 1998).  Pragmatism offers both an epistemic framework focused on the ‘primacy of practice’ (Putnam 1995, p.52; Hookway 2008) and, from Dewey (1938), a democratic ‘logic of inquiry’ (Putnam Conant 1995, p.198). Pragmatic enquiry need not only ask how far OGD allows users to meet certain pre-specified ends, but can contribute to rational analysis of the ends to which OGD is put (ibid p.201).  In offering an empirically grounded descriptive story of often-overlooked processes of data use, and exploring the potential civic implications of OGD use, this study contributes to that analysis. It is, in Daniel’s terminology, ‘strategic research’: facing both academia and practice, seeking to balance a focus on “problems likely to emerge in the medium-term future” with concern for “the state of scientific knowledge” (1993, p.5). By adopting the role of participant-observer in activities and discussions around OGD use and by contributing draft findings from the study back into those discussions (including through project blogging) I have approached enquiry as a “process that helps to clarify, inform, stimulate and provoke” (Skolnick 1995, p.iv).

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3.2. Design

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The study centres on a core case: the data.gov.uk OGD directory. Using data from multiple methods it adopts Brewer and Hunter’s approach to multi-method research as a way to “attack a research problem with an arsenal of methods that have non-overlapping weakness in addition to their complementary strength” (2006, p.4). Fig. 3 illustrates the layered research design, in which data collection methods are deployed sequentially, progressively focusing in on data.gov.uk to understand the case in context, and then drawing on both survey data and generating a series of detailed embedded cases to draw out key themes within the core case.

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