All entries for Friday 04 August 2017
August 04, 2017
Critical Paper on the University of Warwick Interdisciplinary Conference 2017 experience
The edited version as requested by the journal’s reviewers has been sent in for a further round of peer reviewing for any further editing before the final copy of the paper is due in October.
It has been such a useful experience writing this paper because it has encouraged me to explore my thinking as a postgraduate; consider the very being of a postgraduate researcher; and reflect on my thoughts of the way our identities as postgraduates, and the research that we engage with, are formed, shaped and altered due to our conference experiences.
The paper is a critical review and the first time I wrote the paper I had not considered that it would be appropriate to situate my thoughts within existing conference literature. Essentially, I found out that I could use the critical review to engage, reflect upon, and critique existing literature on conferences based on my experiences. Writing the paper has not only enabled me to become accustomed to a previously unfamiliar body of literature, but also helped me to define further who I am as a researcher. The experience of writing the paper has enabled me to reflect upon the conference experiences as building blocks of becoming more aware of my identity as a postgraduate researcher and, fingers crossed, an emerging social scientist.
The core of the critical review, and therefore the basis of my perspectives of conference experiences, revolves around my epistemological beliefs. As I was writing the paper, I found that the way I perceive conferences epistemologically is the same as I perceive epistemological aspects of my research design. Essentially, I perceive knowledge as being dynamic, changeable, uncertain and never fixed and therefore, our perspectives that reflect what we know, how we know, and what can be possibly known are forever changing. For the research design, I hold that whilst there are elements of social reality that exist independently of our mental activity (ontology), our knowledge and perspectives of these elements are continuously changing based on our experiencing these elements in, for example, different contexts. With conferences, because of my epistemological beliefs, I perceive conferences as being useful means by which we can alter our conceptions and knowledge about reality or about the phenomenon of research interest through engaging with the social and cognitive opportunities that a conference provides. These social and cognitive opportunities enable us as researchers to think critically and reflectively on our work, on the work of others, and who we are as postgraduates and eventual researchers. This, it is not only our knowledge of reality and phenomena of interest that can alter because of our conference experience, but also our identity as researchers.
There is obviously much more to this than what I express here (the paper is about three thousand words!) but the above presents my thinking in a nutshell.
This is coming along fine, as previously mentioned I have written a draft form of the ontological and epistemological sections, and shall be working on the next drafts at some point in the future where I build on the concepts, arguments and ideas that I have begun to develop. Currently however, I’m writing about general characteristics and nature of qualitative research, and writing brief notes about various aspects of the research design that is directly influenced by the fact of the research being qualitative. Details include the role, features and characteristics of qualitative research; type of investigation; use of theory; form of logic; role of the researcher, the idea of sensitised concepts, and some notes of methodological justifications and the role of technology as a qualitative research facilitator, among others.
I’ve written over four thousand words of rough notes and I think I shall be ready within the next week to write the first draft of the qualitative section of the methodology chapter, consisting mostly of discussions of the way in which qualitative research is characterised in my research. Because I have been reading through and still going through specific qualitative research methodology books, I find writing a full draft a little pointless till after the relevant sections of relevant books have been read. This way, as I read through the sections I am simply writing down initial conceptions, thoughts, notes, useful terminology, critiques of published ideas, and details and reflections of my own research design. I have approached this using categories to separate ideas, thoughts and so on using separate headings so that when it comes to writing the full draft I have a rough idea of the order in which I am to write the section and relate each idea to each other. Therefore, when it comes to writing out the full draft of the qualitative section I will be able to analyse, synthesise and organise my existing ideas, thoughts, reflections and critiques and situate them as necessary within existing published literature.
I obviously cannot do what I do without books and research papers, and before writing this blog post I came across a couple of qualitative books (the first couple of books listed) that proved their weight in gold as they confirmed ideas that I have been considering, and assisted with intense idea development. If you are thinking about engaging with qualitative research in any fashion, I recommend the following books:
Cresswell, J (2007): Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches. SAGE Publications: USA
Flick, U., Kardoff, E.V., Steinke, I (2004): A Companion to Qualitative Research. SAGE Publications: UK
Flick, U (2007): Designing Qualitative Research. SAGE Publications: UK
Lapan, S.D., Quartaroli, M.T., Riemer, F.J. (2012): Qualitative Research: An Introduction to Methods and Designs. John Wiley and Sons: USA
I have other qualitative books lined up to read through, but so far these four books have been helpful with the first two being especially useful!