Your research story
What’s your research story? Did you always want to be a researcher? Is it something you got into by accident? Do you actually wish you weren’t doing any research at all right now? Or do you feel while you might be doing research in your job you wouldn’t call yourself a researcher (or perhaps don’t feel you’ve earned the job title – yet).
While we’re all busy rushing ahead with our projects, studies, interventions, report writing, teaching etc we may never consider why we got into this area of work – or what the stories of those working alongside us might be.
This means we can miss out on considering what core skills we might be bringing to our research from things we have done or learned before, or do not share with others what the process of research feels like to us.
Research in the social and health sciences and development has the reputation of being dry, dusty and boring. But the stories of our research journeys often paint a different picture.
If asked to describe your “research story” or “research journey”, which doesn’t happen often enough, people are often encouraged to talk about the work they have done. To describe their topic, research question, methods, participants, findings and so on. Which is interesting, but what is not talked about as much and is well worth hearing is the backplot to all this work.
I’d like to hear from anyone doing research in the social/sciences, humanities, health and development. Wherever you are in your life/career, what have been your experiences on your research journey? You may be studying research methods at pre-university/college/A level, or be an undergraduate or postgraduate, perhaps someone doing research as an activist or advocate outside of academia, maybe you’re employed as a researcher on a project, or perhaps you’re retired but can look back over your experiences of doing research.
Here are some questions that might shape your reflections, or you can simply share the story of your research life in the comments below. You can talk about the research you’ve done, but I’d like it if you could talk more about how it felt to do this work, what you learned from it, and what you think others might find interesting from your experience that they won’t find out in any standard research methods text book or course. (Remember confidentiality and anonymity so don’t reveal things about participants, data or colleagues that aren’t already in the public domain). This exercise is to share our stories and experiences to give a broader flavour of what the life of a researcher is like. That way, other people who’re doing research or perhaps considering it as a job or teaching/telling others about it might be able to get a fuller picture of people’s lived experiences of the research process. [I have been asked if I am using these stories in my own research or subjecting them to any kind of analysis. The answer is no, I am not analysing them. I am collating them as an archive others might use in their own teaching, learning and personal reflections].
Things to think about….
– How did you know you wanted to be a researcher – or is this something you’re still unsure about?
– Did you even plan on this being a job/area of study for you?
– When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Researcher? Probably not, so what did you want to be and how did you end up here?
– Would you call yourself a researcher?
– What are the skills, qualifications and experiences that have helped you on your research journey?
– If you could be something different/do a different job what would it be?
– What are the best and worst things about doing research?
– What are the things you’re most proud of about your research/studies/work?
– Would you encourage someone else to be a researcher/do research?
You might want to write a brief description or perhaps represent your story in a cartoon or drawing you’ve created. Maybe your story is better summed up in a single photograph you would like to share? Or perhaps you have a film of yourself talking about your research journey you’d like to link to.
Over to you……What’s your research story?
[Image is a black and white diagram of different stages that might occur along a person’s life, marked out in a linear fashion by significant events]