Reflectivity in Research Practice: An Overview of Different Perspectives

The article grounds on the assumption that researchers, in order to be not mere technicians but competent practitioners of research, should be able to reflect in a deep way. That means they should reflect not only on the practical acts of research but also on the mental experience which constructs the meaning about practice. Reflection is a very important mental activity, both in private and professional life. Learning the practice of reflection is fundamental because it allows people to engage into a thoughtful relationship with the world-life and thus gain an awake stance about one’s lived experience. Reflection is a crucial cognitive practice in the research field. Reflexivity is largely practiced in qualitative research, where it is used to legitimate and validate research procedures. This study introduces different perspectives of analysis by focusing the discourse on the main philosophical approaches to reflection: pragmatistic, critical, hermeneutic, and finally phenomenological. The thesis of this study is that the phenomenological theory makes possible to analyze in depth the reflective activity and just by that to support an adequate process of training of the researcher.

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Posted in Reflection, Reflective inquiry, Research, Research methods | Tagged , , ,

Processes of Reflectivity: Knowledge Construction in Qualitative Research

The aim of this article is to suggest a useful approach demonstrating the focal role of processes of reflectivity in qualitative research. In particular, we distinguish between levels of analysis and analytical procedures for generating and organizing the interpretation of data and meanings in knowledge construction. We argue that reflective processes simultaneously involve both a state of mind and an active engagement. Within this context, reflective processes may refer to deliberate awareness involving both a contemplative stance (state of mind) and intentional activity aimed at recognizing differentness and generating knowledge (active engagement). Specifically, we identify four levels of reflection: observation, informants’ accounts, text deliberation, and contextualization and reconstruction. Simultaneously, we suggest several practical analytical procedures of reflectivity, which emanate from a dialectical line of thinking, including figure and ground, pre-existing expectations, apparent contradictions and opposites, and turning points (epiphanies). The dialectical approach to qualitative inquiry presented here maintains that discrepancies and opposites found at one level of analysis may be reconciled at a higher level of conceptual integration. During this process, the researcher becomes aware of the emergence of new knowledge by being attuned to a sense of differentness. We demonstrate the application of this model utilizing a concrete example taken from a research project evaluating a rehabilitation program for imprisoned male batterers.

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Posted in Qualitative research, Reflection, Reflective inquiry | Tagged , ,

Academic Writing: A Practical Guide for Students

Ideal for overseas students studying at English-medium colleges and universities, this practical writing course enables international students to meet the required standard of writing and use an appropriate style for essays, exams, and dissertations. Newly revised and updated to include extra exercises and material suggested by teachers and students, Academic Writing explains and demonstrates all the key writing skills and is ideal for use in the classroom or for independent study. Useful at every stage of an academic career and beyond, this indispensable book features.

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Why is it so hard to write the methodology section of a PhD thesis?

I have worked with many students, particularly humanities and social science scholars, who have found writing the methodology chapter a hugely agonizing experience. I recall my own experience as a mature-aged student, acutely aware of my ignorance and uncertainty: I read and wrote blindly for weeks and weeks before showing anything to my supervisor. Like me, for many, the task of coming to understand methodology begins with reading. In the main, research methodology textbooks are big and dense, and it isn’t uncommon for students to disappear, like Alice, into Research Methodology Wonderland only to reappear months later, dazed and confused.

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The Handbook of Academic Writing

Book – If you are an academic, the chances are that your career development is defined by what you write. This simple fact is often the basis of cynicism and hostility within the academic world. Despite the inevitable problems associated with how writing is evaluated and rewarded across the disciplines, academic writing continues to be seen as the fulcrum on which many other aspects of scholarship depend. In light of this, it is extraordinary that the process of academic writing continues to be an under-explored, unexamined and poorly reflected-upon process. If it is a process that lies at the very center of academic performance and success for both academic teachers and their students, then surely its dynamics and challenges need to be subjected to more thorough analysis. This book engages in that analysis in order to provide an empowering framework for academic writers. It aims to help you to develop effective approaches to your own writing challenges. It offers insights and lessons that we think will be particularly useful for those who are new to the academic environment but will also help with the re-conceptualization of writing-related issues for those who have been operating in academic environments for some time.

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Posted in Academic, Thesis, Writing | Tagged , ,

Authoring a PhD: How to plan, draft, write and finish a doctoral thesis

Book – Authoring a Ph.D. is a complex process. It involves having creative ideas, working out how to organize them, writing up from plans, upgrading the text, and finishing it speedily and to a good standard. It also includes being examined and getting published. Patrick Dunleavy has written Authoring a Ph.D. based on his supervision experience with over 30 students. It provides solid advice to help your Ph.D. students cope with both the intellectual issues and practical difficulties of organizing their work effectively. It is an indispensable and time-saving aid for doctoral students in the humanities, social sciences, education, business studies, law, health, arts and visual arts, and related disciplines, and will also be a great help to supervisors.

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How to Write a Thesis

Book – Since the first edition of this book was published in 2002, things have changed. It is now expected that students will receive some form of training in writing during their doctorate. There is now broad agreement on the need for training and development in the wide range of skills in a wide range of doctorates, although there is debate about what form that training should take, whether it should be taught in courses, whether these should be credit-bearing, and so on. An update on doctoral skills development has therefore been added to the Introduction, along with guidance on the Training Needs Analysis component of doctoral training programs, which is one way of ensuring that they meet individuals’ needs.

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Advice for successful Academic Research

This document brings together six popular posts I have written over the past few years for my blog This Sociological Life. These posts provide pithy advice drawn from many years of experience about how to successfully engage in various aspects of academic research – from using social media to revising journal articles and many things in between. Some of the content has been written with sociologists and other social researchers in mind, but much of it will be relevant across the disciplines. The original blog posts were designed to be open access and shared with anyone who was interested. In this spirit, please feel free to share this document widely and to use it for your own purposes, but please ensure the original authorship details are acknowledged.

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Building a research impact culture

What sort of research culture underpins effective research impact on policy and practice change?

As part of a research program on inclusive economic growth in low-income countries, we commissioned four case studies to help understand how researchers had engaged with policymakers and practitioners and what happened as a result. We were particularly interested to understand whether specific types of knowledge activity (simply providing the information, translating knowledge, brokering it within the policy environment, or facilitating innovative approaches to engagement) led to different types of impact.

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Posted in Research, Research relevance | Tagged ,

Qualitative Research on Children’s Well-being

This Special Issue of the International Journal of Emotional Education brings together papers on the topic Qualitative Research on Children’s Well-being Across National and Cultural Contexts. The inspiration for this Special Issue emerged from recent developments in child well-being research. Three developments, in particular, are relevant for this Special Issue. Firstly, we have seen an increasing number of studies on children’s well-being that involve a multinational or transnational dimension, providing opportunities for comparison of different domains and dimensions of children’s well-being across national contexts. Prominent among these is the Children’s Worlds Study (or ISCWeb study), which collects subjective well-being data from tens of thousands of children from over 45 nations. This research provides rich comparative data at the national level on a range of well-being domains including children’s living arrangements, material possessions, time-use, activities, life-satisfaction, school-satisfaction, sense of self, safety, family relationships, peer relationships and assessment of neighborhood.

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Posted in Children, Quantitative research | Tagged ,