Tag Archives: conducting research

Grad school is like…

I (Clare) was at an orientation for new graduate students. And some of these metaphors about grad school were shared. Thought I would share them with you. It is worth reading the whole post because some are quite hilarious. Will only take a moment.

What's in a Brain

Now that I’ve survived my first full week of classes in grad school, I am clearly a grad school expert.


But I have been spending quite a lot of mental energy trying to figure it out – noticing how it’s similar to, and especially different from, undergrad; working to figure out what’s expected of me, by others and myself; and trying to articulate what exactly my goal(s) is/are.

This look is pretty consistently on my face. Image: http://janiebryant.com/blog/265/ This look is pretty consistently on my face.
Image: http://janiebryant.com/blog/265/

I’ve also been a bit preoccupied with metaphors, as I’m working on a metaphor-based research proposal for a fellowship application. I guess the two have become intertwined in my subconscious, because my first (coherent) thought upon waking up this morning was, “grad school isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon!” Not long after I began giving myself credit for this clever analogy, I was racking my brain for more. As a firm…

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Feedback: To Help the Author or Show Off What the Reviewer Knows?

checkmark imagesAll of us in academia are subject to the peer-review process. I (Clare) was revising a book chapter this past weekend and although rewriting is not pleasant, this time it was not a hard slog. The two reviewers provided sensible advice – give an example to clarify this point; please round out the point in this paragraph; connect the two tables … Their feedback was to improve the piece. This has been a good experience because the chapter is definitely clearer and more compelling. But this experience is not typical of the “peer review” feedback process. Far too many times I have had feedback that left me shaking my head. We submitted a paper to a journal and the feedback was a 3 page rant on the limits of a grounded theory method (which was appropriate for a study of literacy teacher educators’ experiences). What was the point of the feedback from someone who was clearly a quantitative researcher? Another time the feedback on a grant proposal which was studying teachers’ use of a digital technology – how their pedagogy and identity changed (or did not change) — was so off-base. The reviewer wanted us to include data on the children’s (student’s) use of technology in their personal lives. That is a different study. So why do reviewers provide comments that are not relevant or connected to the actual piece in hand? Did they not actually read it? Are they trying to show off what they know? (The latter is a bit ironic since the review is anonymous!)

I do not have answers to these questions. I would like to thank the reviewers who take the time (and park their ego at the door) to provide useful advice.

Longitudinal Study of Teacher Continues: Multiliteracies Teaching in a Digital Age: Balancing the Old and the New

Clive and ClareClive and I (Clare) along with our amazing research team (many of whom have posted blogs) having been following 40 teachers, some for 10 years and others for 8 years. This has been incredibly rewarding research because we have seen how teachers change over time. In Growing as a teacher: Goals and pathways

Growing as a Teacher book cover
Growing as a Teacher

of ongoing teacher learning we reported on their first 8 years of teaching. We are VERY happy to report that we have received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to continue our research for another five years. The title of our proposal was: Multiliteracies Teaching in a Digital Age: Balancing the Old and the New. Click here to see the Description of Research that we submitted to SSHRC. Final Detailed Description 2014We could not have conducted this research without the work of our research team and the cooperation of the teachers. We look forward to seeing how our teachers change and develop as mid-career to later-career teachers.

Introduction to Social Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches by Keith Punch

If you looking for an outstanding book on conducting research you might want to consider Keith Punch’s new book, Introduction to Social Research: Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches. Keith has lonKeith Punchg been a leader in research methodology – his in-depth knowledge, his accessible writing style, his concise descriptions, and his realistic approach make his work outstanding. I (Clare) have found his work very helpful. You might find his chapter on grounded theory very useful. Below is a review of the book and here is the link:


This is a beautifully understated and highly accessible book. It focuses on the issues and practicalities of doing social scientific research, introducing a wide range of methods and approaches to get students thinking and a project underway. This new edition has been thoroughly updated, and there are welcome new chapters on theory, literature searching, research ethics and the internet. The book is authoritative and will be well used by students and teachers of social science research methods. — Amanda Coffey, Professor 20131007 Comprehensive, thoroughgoing and well organised, Punch’s book has a deservedly high reputation among social science researchers. This third edition, with new material on literature searching, ethics, theory and the Internet makes it a must-have for students and professional researchers alike. — Gary Thomas, Professor of Inclusion and Diversity 20131007 In this work, Keith Punch covers all the essentials of social science research with clarity and an obvious command of the subject matter. His coverage of quantitative and qualitative methods from design through to collection and analysis offers breadth and depth perfect for any undergraduate attempting to navigate the research world. I look forward to putting a copy of this latest edition on my shelf and recommending it students. — Dr Zina O’Leary, Unit of Study Coordinator, 20131007 This 3rd edition provides an accessible yet comprehensive and detailed framework for understanding social research. The clear layout with chapter objectives and summary questions offers a robust and practical learning structure for students which guides them through both theoretical and methodological approaches to contemporary research. No research methods course should be without it!! — Dr. Emma Bond, Deputy Director 20131007 All in all, this book is incredibly well structured and free from jargon and over complication. It is a joy to read, and it guides the reader step-by-step towards understanding what social research is all about. — Dr Sophie Lecheler LSE Book Reviews Website

5 rookie researcher mistakes

As we get ready to start a new academic year, I (Clare) found this advice for new graduate students extremely helpful and accurate. Excellent suggestions relevant to all graduate students.

The Thesis Whisperer

One thing I have learned over the years I have been Whispering is, although the problems they face are similar, no two research students are alike. What works for one person may not work for another. For this reason I have developed a habit of ‘reverse advice’ lists, for example: “5 classic research presentation mistakes” “Are you getting in the way of your PhD?” , “5 ways to fail your PhD” and “5 ways to poster = fail”.

I like a reverse list because it highlights the problem more than the suggested solutions, leaving you free to choose your own.

This time of year I attend a lot of research student orientation sessions around RMIT, where I usually give my  ‘top five newbie mistakes’ talk. I tell students there’s no need to take notes because I have blogged it (yet another reason to keep up a blog by the way)…

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