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27 JUNE 2016

The Materiality of Research: 'Woven into the Fabric of the Text: Subversive Material Metaphors in Academic Writing'

"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)

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TAGS

2016academic writingaffordances • building metaphors • conceptual metaphorcreative practicecultural practicesfeminine voice • generative practice • integrative practices • Katie Collins • material metaphors • metaphors structure our thinking • needlecraft metaphors • piecing together • predictable fashion • progress narrativesresearch activitiesresearchersewingsocial sciencestitching • theories-as-buildings metaphor • theory building • thinking about knowledge • underlying assumptions

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
15 DECEMBER 2015

The place and value of research modelled on generalisable simplicity

"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

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applied researchappropriately complex representationclinical situationscomplex phenomenacomplexity • contextually rich solutions • devaluing of knowledge • dominant research approaches • education • education and learning • epistemological positionsgeneralisabilitygeneralisable simplicity • generalisable solutions • generalised models • Glenn Regehr • health education • health professional • health professional education • ideal research • imperative of generalisable simplicityimperative of proof • local research • localised solutions • multi-institutional research • myth of neutralityperils of reductionismphysical sciences • place of research • questioning assumptions • research in the field • research modelresearch-practice gulfrich descriptions • role of theory • role of theory-building • social interactions • soft science • theory building • unscientific practices • value of research

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
17 APRIL 2015

A Guide to Practice Based Research

"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)

TAGS

2006Creativity and Cognition Studios (CCS) • invention of artefacts • invention of ideas • invention of images • invention of performances • knowledge and understanding • knowledge is embodied in an artefact • Linda Candy • new or substantially improved insights • original investigationpractice-based researchresearch by or through designresearch for designresearch through designresearch through practicetheory building

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
12 NOVEMBER 2014

Metaphors as Problem-solving Aids

"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).

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abstraction and generalisationaid to understanding • analogous correspondence • Andrew Ortony • Brian Bowdle • Consuelo Boronat • Dedre Gentner • George Lakoff • innovative associations • International Journal of Design • metaphorical concept • metaphorical representation • metaphorical source • novel solution • Phillip Wolff • problem abstraction • problem at hand • problem-solving • problem-solving aids • remote domains • structural correspondences • theory buildingthinking tools • uncommon juxtaposition • unfamiliar concepts • unifying metaphorunifying strategyvisual punvisual rhetoric

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
12 JANUARY 2014

Reflective writing: a basic introduction

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)

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academic skills • academic writingcritical explanation • descriptive commentary • explicit knowledgeexploration oriented design processhow-to guidesinductive reasoninginformal languageinterpretation of experiencelearning guides • Martin Hampton • naming and rehearsal • ongoing progress • ongoingness • personal diary • post-hoc analysis • practice narratives • practising professional • professional developmentreflective bloggingreflective journalreflective practitioner • reflective thinking • reflective writing • social interdependence theory • structured method • structured writing • structuring reflective writing • theory buildingtheory-in-use • think reflectively • thinking through writing • University of Portsmouth • vocabulary aid • writing

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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