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Professor Martyn Hammersley

Professor Martyn Hammersley

Professor (Educational & Social Resrch)

The Open University Faculty of Education and Language Studies Department of Childhood, Youth and Sport


 My early research was in the sociology of education. Later work has been concerned with the methodological issues surrounding social and educational enquiry. These include objectivity, partisanship and bias; and the role of research in relation to policymaking and practice.  Most recently I have investigated how the news media represent social science research findings.


BSc (Sociology), MA (Econ), PhD

Teaching Interests

In recent years my teaching has been in the field of research methods. I have been production and presentation chair of E835 Educational Research in Action, and chair of E891 Educational Enquiry. For many years I have been involved in teaching on the MSc and MRes in Research Methods.

Research Interests

I have an interest in most aspects of research methodology, especially but not exclusively qualitative inquiry. In recent years I have been particularly concerned with the role of research in relation to policymaking and the work of the service professions, against the background of calls for evidence-based practice.

Current Research Projects

I am currently working on notions of causation and their relationship to measurement and the comparative method, and on research ethics in the context of increased ethical regulation.


Authored Book
Hammersley, Martyn (2013). The Myth of Research-Based Policy and Practice. Social Research Methods. London: Sage .
Hammersley, Martyn (2013). What is Qualitative Research? What Is? Research Methods. London: Continuum/Bloomsbury.
Hammersley, Martyn (2011). Methodology: Who Needs It? London, UK: Sage.
Hammersley, Martyn (2008). Questioning Qualitative Research: Critical Essays. London, UK: Sage.
Hammersley, Martyn (2002). Educational Research, Policymaking and Practice. London: Paul Chapman.
Hammersley, Martyn (2000). Taking sides in social research: Essays on partisanship and bias. London: Routledge.
Foster, Peter; Gomm, Roger and Hammersley, Martyn (1996). Constructing educational inequality: An assessment of research on school processes. Social research & educational studies, 15. London: Falmer.
Hammersley, Martyn (1995). The politics of social research. London: Sage.
Book Chapter
Hammersley, Martyn (2012). Am I now, or have I ever been, a Symbolic Interactionist? Autobiographical reflections. In: Denzin, Norman ed. Blue Ribbon Papers: Behind the Professional Mask: The Autobiographies of Leading Symbolic Interactionists. Studies in Symbolic Interaction (38). Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 153–174.
Hammersley, Martyn (2010). Is Social Measurement Possible, and is it Necessary? In: Walford, Geoffrey; Tucker, Eric and Viswanathan, Madhu eds. Sage Handbook of Measurement. London, UK: Sage, pp. 409–426.
Hammersley, Martyn (2009). What is evidence for evidence-based practice? In: Otto, Hans-Uwe; Polutta, Andreas and Ziegler, Holger eds. Evidence-Based Practice - Modernising the Knowledge Base of Social Work. Opladen: Budrich.
Hammersley, Martyn (2009). Objectivity. In: Williams, Malcolm and Vogt, W. Paul eds. Sage Handbook of Methodological Innovation. London: Sage.
Hammersley, Martyn (2008). Troubles with triangulation. In: Bergman, Manfred Max ed. Advances in Mixed Methods Research. London: Sage, pp. 22–36.
Hammersley, Martyn (2006). Systematic or unsystematic, is that the question? Reflections on the science, art, and politics of reviewing research evidence. In: Killoran, Amanda; Swann, Catherine and Kelly, Michael P. eds. Public Health Evidence: Tackling Health Inequalities. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Boulton, David and Hammersley, Martyn (2006). Analysis of unstructured data. In: Sapsford, Roger and Jupp, Victor eds. Data Collection and Analysis. London: Sage, pp. 243–259.
Hammersley, Martyn (2005). Ethnography, toleration and authenticity: ethical reflections on fieldwork, analysis and writing. In: Troman, Geoff; Jeffrey, Bob and Walford, Geoffrey eds. Methodological Issues and Practices in Ethnography. Studies in Educational Ethnography, 11. UK: Elsevier, pp. 37–55.
Hammersley, Martyn (2005). Is social research political? In: Pole, Christopher ed. Fieldwork. London: Sage.
Hammersley, Martyn (2005). Taking sides in research. In: Pole, Christopher ed. Fieldwork. London: Sage.
Hammersley, Martyn (2005). The rhetorical turn in ethnography. In: Pole, Christopher ed. Fieldwork. London: Sage.
Hammersley, Martyn (2004). Should ethnographers be against inequality? On Becker, value neutrality and researcher partisanship. In: Jeffrey, Bob and Walford, Geoffrey eds. Ethnographies of Educational and Cultural Conflicts: Strategies and resolutions. Oxford, UK: Elsevier, pp. 25–43.
Hammersley, Martyn (2004). Teaching qualitative methodology: craft, profession or bricolage. In: Seale, Clive; Gobo, Giampietro; Gubrium, Jay F. and Silverman, David eds. Qualitative Research Practice. Thousand Oaks: Sage, pp. 549–560.
Hammersley, Martyn (2002). Obvious, all too obvious? Methodological issues in using sex/gender as a variable in educational research. In: Francis, Becky and Skelton, Christine eds. Investigating gender: contemporary perspectives in education. Open University Press.
Hammersley, Martyn (2002). Ethnography and the disputes over validity. In: Walford, Geoffrey ed. Debates and developments in ethnographic methodology. Studies in educational ethnography (6). New York, USA: JAI Press.
Hammersley, M. (2002). Ethnography and realism. In: Huberman, Michael and Miles, Matthew B. eds. The Qualitative Researcher’s Companion. London: Sage.
Hammersley, Martyn (2002). The relationship between qualitative and quantitative research: paradigm loyalty versus methodological eclecticism. In: Richardson, John T. E. ed. Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods for Psychology and the Social Sciences. Oxford: BPS Blackwell, pp. 159–174.
Hammersley, Martyn (2001). Some questions about evidence-based practice in education. In: Pring, Richard and Thomas, Gary eds. Evidence-based Practice in Education. Open University Press, pp. 133–149.
Hammersley, Martyn (2001). Ethnography and realism. In: Emerson, Robert M. ed. Contemporary Field Research (Second edition). Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press.
Hammersley, Martyn (2000). Evidence-based practice in education and the contribution of educational research. In: Reynolds, Shirley and Trinder, Liz eds. Evidence-Based Practice. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 163–183.
Hammersley, Martyn (2000). Taking sides against research: an assessment of the rationales for partisanship. In: Scott, David ed. Values and Educational Research. Institute of Education, University of London.
Hammersley, M.; Foster, P. and Gomm, R. (2000). Case study and generalisation. In: Gomm, R.; Hammersley, M. and Foster, P. eds. Case Study Method: Key Issues, Key Texts. London: Sage, pp. 98–115.
Hammersley, M.; Foster, P. and Gomm, R. (2000). Case study and theory. In: Gomm, R.; Hammersley, M. and Foster, P. eds. Case Study Method: Key Issues, Key Texts. London: Sage, pp. 234–258.
Hammersley, Martyn (1998). Partisanship and credibility: the case of anti-racist educational research. In: Connolly, P. and Troyna, B. eds. Researching "Race" in Educational Settings. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Hammersley, Martyn (1998). The profession of a 'methodological purist'? In: Walford, Geoffrey ed. Doing Research about Education. London: Falmer Press, pp. 139–153.
Hammersley, Martyn (1998). Get real! A defence of realism. In: Hodkinson, Phil ed. The Nature of Educational Research: Realism, Relativism, or Post-Modernism? Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University.
Hammersley, Martyn (1997). Educational inequality as a social problem: The case of England. In: Cosin, Ben and Hales, Margaret eds. Families, Education and Social Differences. London: Routledge, pp. 102–115.
Hammersley, Martyn (1994). Ethnography, policy-making and practice in education. In: Halpin, David and Troyna, Barry eds. Researching Education and Policy: Ethical and Methodological Issues. London: Falmer, pp. 139–153.
Conference Item
Hammersley, M (2004). Causality as conundrum. In: ESRC Research Methods Programme, Research Methods Festival, 2004, St Catherines College, Oxford.
Journal Article
Hammersley, Martyn (2012). Troubling theory in case study research. Higher Education Research and Development, 31(3), pp. 393–405.
Hammersley, Martyn (2011). On Becker’s studies of marijuana use as an example of analytic induction. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 41(4), pp. 535–566.
Hammersley, Martyn (2010). The case of disappearing dilemma: Herbert Blumer on sociiological method. History of the Human Sciences, 23(5), pp. 70–90.
Hammersley, Martyn (2010). Aristotelian or Galileian? On a puzzle about the philosophical sources of analytic induction. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 40(4), pp. 393–409.
Hammersley, Martyn (2010). Reproducing or constructing? Some questions about transcription in social research. Qualitative Research, 10(5), pp. 553–569.
Hammersley, Martyn (2010). A historical and comparative note on the relationship between analytic induction and grounded theorising. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 11(2), article no. 4.
Hammersley, Martyn (2009). Against the ethicists: on the evils of ethical regulation. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 12(3), pp. 211–225.
Hammersley, Martyn (2009). Challenging relativism: The problem of assessment criteria. Qualitative Inquiry, 15(1), pp. 3–29.
Hammersley, Martyn (2009). Why critical realism fails to justify critical social research. Methodological Innovations Online, 4(2), pp. 1–11.
Hammersley, Martyn (2008). Troubling criteria: a critical commentary on Furlong and Oancea's framework for assessing educational research. British Educational Research Journal, 34(6), pp. 747–762.
Traianou, Anna and Hammersley, Martyn (2008). Making science education evidence based? A brief reply to Millar, Leach, Osborne and Ratcliffe. Oxford Review of Education, 34(4), pp. 489–492.
Hammersley, Martyn (2008). Reflexivity for what? A response to Gewirtz and Cribb on the role of values in the sociology of education. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 29(5), pp. 549–558.
Hammersley, Martyn (2008). Causality as conundrum: The case of qualitative inquiry. Methodological Innovations Online, 2(3),
Traianou, Anna and Hammersley, Martyn (2008). Making science education evidence based? reflections on a Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) study. Oxford Review of Education, 34(4), pp. 461–481.
Hammersley, Martyn (2008). Paradigm war revived? On the diagnosis of resistance to randomized controlled trials and systematic review in education. International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 31(1), pp. 3–10.
Hammersley, Martyn (2007). Reflections on linguistic ethnography. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 11(5), pp. 689–695.
Hammersley, Martyn (2007). The issue of quality in qualitative research. International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 30(3), pp. 287–306.
Hammersley, Martyn and Treseder, Peggy (2007). Identity as an analytic problem: who's who in `pro-ana' websites? Qualitative Research, 7(3), pp. 283–300.
Hammersley, Martyn (2006). Ethnography: Problems and prospects. Ethnography and Education, 1(1), pp. 3–14.
Hammersley, Martyn (2006). Philosophy's contribution to social science research on education. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 40(2), pp. 273–286.
Hammersley, Martyn (2005). What can the literature on communities of practice tell us about educational research? Reflections on some recent proposals. International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 28(1), pp. 5–21.
Hammersley, Martyn (2005). Countering the 'new orthodoxy' in educational research: a response to Phil Hodkinson. British Educational Research Journal, 31(2), pp. 139–155.
Hammersley, Martyn (2005). Should social science be critical? Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 35(2), pp. 175–195.
Hammersley, Martyn (2005). The myth of research-based practice: the critical case of educational inquiry. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 8(4), pp. 317–330.
Hammersley, Martyn (2005). Ethnography and discourse analysis: incompatible or complementary? Polifonia(10), pp. 1–20.
Hammersley, Martyn (2004). Action Research: a contradiction in terms? Oxford Review of Education, 30(2), pp. 165–181.
Hammersley, Martyn (2004). Towards a usable past for qualitative research. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 7(1), pp. 19–27.
Hammersley, M. and Gomm, R. (2004). Recent radical criticism of the interview in qualitative research. Developments in Sociology: Annual review, 20 pp. 91–102.
Hammersley, Martyn (2004). A new political arithmetic to make sociology useful? Comments on a debate. British Journal of Sociology, 55(3), pp. 439–446.
Hammersley, Martyn (2003). Conversation analysis and discourse analysis: methods or paradigms? Discourse and Society, 14(6), 751- 781.
Hammersley, Martyn (2003). Media representation of research: the case of a review of ethnic minority education. British Educational Research Journal, 29(3), pp. 327–343.
Hammersley, M. (2003). Can and should educational research be educative? Oxford Review of Education, 29(1), pp. 3–25.
Hammersley, Martyn (2003). Social research today: some dilemmas and distinctions. Qualitative Social Work, 2(1), pp. 25–44.
Hammersley, Martyn (2003). Recent radical criticism of interview studies: Any implications for the sociology of education? British Journal of Sociology of Education, 24(1), pp. 119–126.
Hammersley, Martyn (2003). "Analytics" are no substitute for methodology: a response to Speer and Hutchby. Sociology, 37(2), pp. 339–351.
Hammersley, Martyn (2003). Doing the fine thing: A rejoinder to Johnathon Potter. Discourse and Society, 14(6), pp. 795–798.
Hammersley, Martyn (2003). The impracticality of scepticism: A further response to Potter. Discourse and Society, 14(6), pp. 803–804.
Hammersley, Martyn (2002). Research as emancipatory: the case of Bhaskar's realism. Journal of Critical Realism, 1(1), pp. 33–48.
Hammersley, Martyn (2001). On “Systematic” reviews of research literatures: a narrative reply to Evans and Benefield. British Educational Research Journal, 27(5), pp. 543–554.
Hammersley, Martyn (2001). A reply to partisan reviews. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 22(3), pp. 417–421.
Hammersley, Martyn (2001). Interpreting acheivement gaps: Some comments on a dsipute. British Journal of Educational Studies, 49(3), pp. 285–298.
Hammersley, Martyn (2001). On Michael Bassey's concept of the fuzzy generalisation. Oxford Review of Education, 27(2), pp. 219–225.
Hammersley, M (2001). Whose side was Becker on? Questioning political and epistemological racialism. Qualitative Research, 1(1), pp. 91–110.
Hammersley, Martyn (2000). Varieties of social research. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 3(3), pp. 221–229.
Hammersley, Martyn (2000). The relevance of qualitative research. Oxford Review of Education, 26(3-4), pp. 393–405.
Foster, Peter; Gomm, Roger and Hammersley, Martyn (2000). Case studies as spurious evaluations: the example of research on educational inequalitites. British Journal of Educational Studies, 48(3), pp. 215–230.
Hammersley, Martyn (1999). Sociology, what's it for? A critique of Gouldner'. Sociological Research Online, 4(3),
Hammersley, Martyn (1999). Not bricolage but boatbuilding: Exploring two metaphors for thinking about ethnography. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 28(6), pp. 574–585.
Foster, Peter and Hammersley, Martyn (1998). A review of reviews: structure and function in reviews of educational research. British Educational Research Journal, 24(5), pp. 609–628.
Hammersley, Martyn (1997). On the foundations of critical discourse analysis. Language and Communication, 17(3), pp. 237–248.
Hammersley, Martyn and Gomm, Roger (1997). Bias in social research. Sociological Research Online, 2(1),
Hammersley, Martyn (1997). Educational research and teaching: A response to David Hargreaves' TTA lecture. British Educational Research Journal, 23(2), pp. 141–161.
Hammersley, Martyn (1997). Qualitative data archiving: Some reflections on its prospects and problems. Sociology, 31(1), pp. 131–142.
Hammersley, Martyn (1996). Post Mortem of Post Modern? Some refelctions on British sociology of education. British Journal of Educational Studies, 44(1), pp. 395–408.
Hammersley, Martyn (1995). Theory and evidence in qualitative research. Quality and Quantity, 29(1), pp. 55–66.
Hammersley, Martyn (1994). On feminist methodology: A response. Sociology, 28(1), pp. 293–300.