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E.25: Transparency in Research: Messiness, Rigor, and Ethics in the Conduct of Writing Research 

Reviewed by Samantha Cosgrove, University of South Florida, Orlando, FL

Chairs: Christiane K. Donahue, Dartmouth College; Universite de Lille III, Hanover, NH: France  

Rebecca Rickly, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 

Speaker: Peter Smagorinsky, The University of Georgia, Athens, GA 

Respondents: Christina Haas, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

Christiane K. Donahue, Dartmouth College; Universite de Lille III, Hanover, NH: France  

Pamela Takayoshi, Kent State University, OH 

Carl Whithaus, University of California, Davis, CA 

Rebecca Rickly, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 

In this session, Peter Smagorinksy reiterated the main concept from his article, “The Method Section as Conceptual Epicenter in Constructing Social Science Research Reports,” published in 2008 in Written Communication. Smagorinksy started by providing his general background as a scholar and went on to state that he has completed 478 manuscript reviews, averaging around four to five pages each. In these manuscripts, he has noticed a consistent lack of detail regarding the research methodology; there is often not enough information on how the study was conducted, such as details about coding. In order to create an effective and valid project, one must produce a replicable study. He believes many scholars are too critical of paradigms aside from the one under which they classify themselves; he asserts that no one method is best, and researchers should be open to all research models.  

Rebecca Rickly, who teaches a graduate-level research methods course, described her desire for students to understand the value of studies that fail; she also mentioned that she wants to know how to make research methods more accessible. In her classroom, she has asked students to imitate a study of their choice but on a local level as a two-week long microstudy. She believes there is a need for an “unsanitized” journal that publishes failed research and problematized research questions. Ultimately, she said she wants to know how we as researchers can make our research “funkier.” 

Next, Carl Whithaus acknowledged that when English studies researchers pull methods from other fields, these methods can be difficult to replicate in their entirety, making their use limited. This in turn makes our work fall into categories such as ethnography, and so forth. Instead, he thinks research should be framed through the terms field, lab, and archive. The field refers to anthropology and other social sciences. The lab is hard sciences that are replicable and have big data. The archive is close readings of texts, or a rhetorical analysis. Whithaus ended by posing several questions: (a) How do I conduct mixed methods, in terms of the three?, (b) Can I mix the three methods?, and (c) How do they come together? He also argued for data dumping to make results more accessible. 

Pamela Takayoshi noted that empirical research gives scholars an accountable way to examine something. She asserted that research is always incomplete because things are never static, but the data we collect is better than having nothing to work with. Like Rickly, she also seeks to understand how we know what we know and she reaffirmed the value in failed research. She mentioned her hope for a research database in which scholars could find and use others’ data. 

Finally, Christine K. Donahue discussed research methods as a way of accessing international scholars more than what has been already established today. She made several points, starting with the idea that research is messy, that transparency is crucial, and that our field is lacking a dominant paradigm. She felt that humanities researchers are not caught up with the focus on reporting methodology, but by improving our methods as scholars, we can help foster international exchange more effectively. 

 

Created by VictorEsch. Last Modification: Thursday 31 of December, 2015 21:32:40 UTC by ccccreviews.