Getting the words right

I’ve got my coffee, and I’m ready to start with the rewriting of The Research Companion. I’ve spent the past two months going through the book to highlight what’s missing, needs changing or updating, and reflecting on reviewer feedback As you can see from the festival of post-it notes that now decorate the book.

Some of the changes will be small, others involve altering the text quite considerably. There’s a whole big chunk about writing letters to participants that probably will disappear, and a lot more to add on the internet, social media, and new methodologies. Bits of the book I still really like and there are other sections where I really don’t know why I felt particular issues seemed so vital to explore at length. Maybe they seemed more important a decade ago. Having really focused on the text, what seemed to be a fairly straightforward upgrade isn’t quite that, there’s a lot more that has changed in the past decade than I initially believed. And there’s a lot to do to make the book even more hands-on and practical.

I will be using this blog to include useful things that don’t make the book, or additional reading materials and exercise that will run alongside sections of the text. I’ll particularly be using those for areas that are liable to change or update (for example ethics). Or to unpack in more depth the practical aspects of doing research. They will be linked to in the second edition.

In the coming months you can expect to see a lot of ‘how to’ posts here. Including how to write a research question, recruit participants ethically, do a literature search, write an essay, or present your findings. I’ll also be creating archives of resources and tools on specific methods, sampling, and analysis. These will be accompanied by real life researcher questions and dilemmas you can help answer, plus occasional guest posts from people talking about their own research and practice.

Every day you’ll find tips, resources, job adverts and conference information all about research in the social and health sciences and development on The Research Companion’s friendly Facebook group. This blog will be updated as-and-when my revision of the book happens.

You may want to look back over past posts that cover topics including:
What is research (and are you doing it)?
Disclosure and reflection in research
Taking care of confidential research material
Research presentations from hell

Or have a rummage through the regularly updated list of tools and resources for researchers.

If you’ve got the time, please tell me – and other readers – your researcher story – how did you get into research? What are the things you’ve learned or experienced they don’t tell us about in regular methods texts?

Although I have revised papers prior to publication on more occasions than I care to recall, revising and updating a book is a new experience for me. Others who have been through this before me will doubtless recognise how I am currently swinging from feeling like there’s only a bit to do and I’ll manage it easily, to having the fear over how much work is required and whether the task of rewriting a book and blogging the process is going to be achievable in the time remaining.

Luckily my resident Research Assistant Melly Moo Bops will be on hand to ensure things get done. Probably.


[The quote used in the title of this post is attributed to Ernest Hemingway’s description of the book revision process. The photo at the top of the post shows a cup of coffee beside The Research Companion book, covered in post-it notes. The photo at the bottom of the post is the same book but with a Tortoiseshell cat ‘helping’ with work (not actually helping).]

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