"In the social sciences, though, often we write about our research as if theories and arguments are buildings. Theories have frameworks and foundations and they need support. Arguments can be constructed, shored up by facts and buttressed with a solid line of reasoning. Sometimes they can be shaky and even fall down. But as well as communicating what we mean, metaphors structure our thinking. Or, at least, the metaphors we choose when we write can reveal a great deal about underlying assumptions. The theories-as-buildings metaphor always makes me imagine an enormous wall made of rectangular bricks, orderly and straight, progressing upwards and onwards. The researcher's job is to climb the scaffolding, find a gap near the top and make a brick to fill it, or to knock a few crumbling bricks out and replace them with others, strong and freshly fired. Or rarely, to grab a spade and start digging a new foundation, because this metaphor doesn't work like Minecraft: bricks can't float, unsupported.
Why does this way of thinking about knowledge hold such sway over us? For one thing, it offers a comforting sense of progress and control. Buildings have blueprints; their construction appears to proceed in a predictable fashion; engineers can calculate precisely where the load bearing walls and lintels need to be; construction workers know how to mix the mortar so it won't crumble. Making buildings is also something that happens in the public sphere; even with houses, the insides only become private when the work is finished and people move in. And though we all know full well that knowledge creation doesn't actually happen in the controlled and predictable way the metaphor implies, this is the structure that it imposes on our writing: an activity that is orderly, involves rationality over emotion and inhabits the public sphere not the private."
(Katie Collins, 27 May 2016)
"The health professional education community is struggling with a number of issues regarding the place and value of research in the field, including: the role of theory-building versus applied research; the relative value of generalisable versus contextually rich, localised solutions, and the relative value of local versus multi-institutional research. In part, these debates are limited by the fact that the health professional education community has become deeply entrenched in the notion of the physical sciences as presenting a model for 'ideal' research. The resulting emphasis on an 'imperative of proof' in our dominant research approaches has translated poorly to the domain of education, with a resulting denigration of the domain as 'soft' and 'unscientific' and a devaluing of knowledge acquired to date. Similarly, our adoption of the physical sciences' 'imperative of generalisable simplicity' has created difficulties for our ability to represent well the complexity of the social interactions that shape education and learning at a local level."
(Glenn Regehr, 2010)
Regehr, G. (2010). "It’s NOT rocket science: rethinking our metaphors for research in health professions education". Medical Education, 44(1), 31-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2009.03418.x
"Practice-based Research is an original investigation undertaken in order to gain new knowledge partly by means of practice and the outcomes of that practice. In a doctoral thesis, claims of originality and contribution to knowledge may be demonstrated through creative outcomes in the form of designs, music, digital media, performances and exhibitions. Whilst the significance and context of the cl aims are described in words, a full understanding can only be obtained with direct reference to the outcomes."
(Linda Candy, 2006, Creativity and Cognition Studios)
"Metaphors facilitate the understanding of an unfamiliar situation in terms of a known situation (Ortony, 1991). By means of metaphors, it is possible to make reference to what is clearly understood in order to elucidate the unknown. Basically, metaphors constitute an uncommon juxtaposition of the familiar and the unusual. They induce the discovery of innovative associations that broaden the human capacity for interpretation (Lakoff, 1987, 1993). For that reason, metaphors are seen as valuable aids in problem–solving tasks.
The relevance of metaphors to problem–solving is pertinent to three fundamental steps (Gentner, Bowdle, Wolff, & Boronat, 2001). The first step consists of extracting a variety of unfamiliar concepts from remote domains, where possible relationships with the problem at hand are not always evident. The second step involves establishing a mapping of deep or high–level relationships between the metaphorical concept and the problem. Correspondences are identified by means of abstractions and generalizations. Relationships of secondary importance are discarded, and only structural correspondences between the metaphorical source and the problem are set up. The last step deals with transferring and applying structural correspondences associated with the metaphorical source to the problem at hand, which at the end generally leads to a novel solution."
(Hernan Pablo Casakin, 2007)
Hernan Pablo Casakin (2007). "Metaphors in Design Problem Solving: Implications for Creativity." International Journal of Design 1(2).
Reflection is an exploration and an explanation of events–not just a description of them.
Genuinely reflective writing often involves 'revealing' anxieties, errors and weaknesses, as well as strengths and successes. This is fine (in fact it's often essential!), as long as you show some understanding of possible causes, and explain how you plan to improve.
It is normally necessary to select just the most significant parts of the event or idea on which you're reflecting. ... If you try to 'tell the whole story' you're likely to use up your words on description rather than interpretation.
It is often useful to 'reflect forward' to the future as well as 'reflecting back' on the past.
(Martin Hampton, Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement, University of Portsmouth)