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A Student’s Guide to Methodology Justifying Enquiry 3 rd edition P ETER C LOUGH AND C ATHY N UTBROWN.

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Presentation on theme: "A Student’s Guide to Methodology Justifying Enquiry 3 rd edition P ETER C LOUGH AND C ATHY N UTBROWN."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Student’s Guide to Methodology Justifying Enquiry 3 rd edition P ETER C LOUGH AND C ATHY N UTBROWN

2 Chapter 5 Reading: purpose and positionality Radical reading provides the justification for the critical adoption or rejection of existing knowledge and practices.

3 ‘The arrest of experience’ Radical reading is a process which exposes the purposes and positions of both texts and practices. Here we are concerned both with the understanding of written and semiotic texts and the more metaphorical ‘reading’ of situations. ‘What do certain signs, conventions and symbols mean?’ ‘How do you read this or that action or event?’ How, that is, do you interpret the events in the theatre of enquiry?

4 Criticality Criticality – ‘being critical’ – describes the attempt to show on what terms ‘personal’ and ‘public’ knowledges are jointly articulated – and therefore where their positional differences lie.

5 Academic critique Academic critique does not necessarily mean ‘taking issue’ with a text but rather ‘asking questions’ of it. Any critical account seeks to be rational, but will also reflect the values and beliefs of its author. It is the presence of the persuasive in a critical account which reveals the full range of values at work.

6 Six steps in critical social science enquiry

7 Six operational steps and their radical processes of critical social science enquiry Operational step 1 Framing a research questionThis cannot be successfully achieved without some radical reading of the research literature and/or the ‘theatre’ of research 2 Finding out what existing answers there are to that question Essential here is engagement with the research literature – critical reading 3 Establishing what is ‘missing’ from those answers Some radical looking is necessary here – seeing beyond the known – to find the precise focus of the study which makes your study unique. Criticality in the radical reading of literature and ‘theatre’ 4 Getting information which will answer the question More reading of the literature and radical listening and looking in the ethical generation of data. 5 Making meanings from the information which helps to answer your research question Radical looking and radical reading of the meanings within the evidence at the stage of analytical and ethical interpretation of data; critical reflection 6 Presenting a report which highlights the significance of the research report in your study Telling the research story. Accounting for the findings through persuasive ways which make explicit the findings, the purpose of the study, the position of the researcher and the political nature of the research act. The research report brings together these radical processes of Looking, Listening, Questioning and Reading and ultimately justifies the responsible and ethical enquiry

8 The critical literature review Practically radical reading means asking the following questions of what you read: What is the author trying to say? To whom is the author speaking? Why has this account of this research been written? What does the author ultimately want to achieve? What authority does s/he appeal to? What evidence does the author offer to substantiate the claims? Do I accept this evidence? Does this account accord with what I know of the world? What is my view? What evidence do I have for this view? Do I find this account credible within the compass of my experience and knowledge?

9 Electronic and digital sources of literature There has never been such an abundance of resources available to those undertaking academic writing and research. In addition to the well established academic libraries’ ‘hard copy’ resources there is now a proliferation of web based literature, e-books and e-journals being the tip of the literature iceberg. Many archives are digitised and accessible online, the number of free and open access journals is increasing. It is important to take advantage of such resources and benefit from the variety of Web directories, gateways and other resources.

10 Using research questions to identify sources for a literature review Research questions are pivotal in planning a suitably focused literature search and in writing a critical literature review. One technique for planning a literature search from research questions is to map the key themes on to a Venn diagram. It can help to try to identify three key themes from the research questions in order to develop sufficient focus for the search. If these are mapped on to the Venn diagram the focus of the literature search becomes clearer.

11 Literature and positionality One function of the critical literature review is to locate the positionality of the research being reported within its field and to identify how that research is unique. One way of positioning oneself in a study is to identify with a particular theory – or a set of theoretical constructs. Here, it can be tempting to rush headlong into data collection and the excitement of what we might call ‘the field’, but without a clear appreciation of the theoretical underpinnings of a particular study, little of value will emerge from those data – if they can even be called that, for data are only ever made sensible by the theory which is used to explain them.

12 Being critical in your own research A final form of critical response to texts and situations is in respect of researchers’ own radical reading of their research report. Whilst writing your dissertation or thesis, bear in mind the skills of radical reading which you brought to bear on the writing of others and employ these to read your own writing within a critical frame.

13 Ethics: pause for reflection We suggest that criticality – ‘being critical’ – is a matter of ethical practice and that a diligent and thorough critical review of the literature is in itself an ethical act. Consider the ethical issues at work in the act of radical reading to justify the critical adoption or rejection of knowledge and practices. To what extent is the need for theory in research a matter of ethics? What are the ethical implications of ‘taking readings’ from noticeboards and other documentation and events in institutions and public places? What are the particular ethical implications around researching gender, or age, or ‘race’, or disability (or any aspect of human difference)?


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