Some of the posts on this blog offer general advice to researchers, whether aspiring or existing PhD students or early-career academics. I will continue to add to this collection as new posts are created. Much of the content has a social science slant, since this is my interdisciplinary location: however, it also raises general questions and discusses broader themes, which may be helpful to all researchers.
Writing a PhD proposal (social sciences)
This post sets out a suggested framework for a PhD research proposal, with details and reflections on what should be in each section. It may also be helpful to early-career scholars writing grant applications. The post was intended for social science colleagues, but those in the arts and humanities or natural sciences may also find it relevant.
Doing intersectionality in empirical research
Students are often familiar with the theory and politics of intersectionality but unsure of how to apply it in their projects. This post sketches out some protocols for ‘doing’ intersectionality, based on the idea that it is an inherent, rather than an additive, principle which needs to shape our ontologies, our research questions and sampling, and the knowledge claims we make.
Arguing from qualitative data
One of the most common questions I get from students is about how to construct an argument with their data. This post gives tips on how to develop arguments from a dataset while not losing complexity and allowing participants to speak for themselves as much as possible. It also highlights some common pitfalls, such as a disproportionate focus on novelty and a lack of substantive theoretical engagement.
Researching marginalised groups: some difficult questions
This post raises general questions about the ethics and politics of working with marginalised communities for research purposes. It encourages scholars to question their own motivations and social locations, and discusses the ethics of data collection and representation, with complex power relations in mind.
Responsible self-promotion: negotiating the relationships between self and Other, myself and ‘my’ work
Using the figure of the ‘public intellectual’, this post asks questions about what it is responsible for us to talk about, beyond our own research work and areas of expertise. It also explores what can happen when the ‘self’ begins to consume the work in problematic ways.
This post argues that the ‘will to impact’ in academic research has created individualistic, competitive forms of public scholarship. It encourages researchers to forget about the demonstrable ‘impact’ of their work and focus instead on their communities and what they want to change.
Juggling the balls, having it all: advice from a mother and part-time Professor
This post offers a series of tips based on my experiences of juggling academia, part-time working, and motherhood, while trying to challenge the ‘superwoman fallacy’. It argues that we can apply the idea of ‘good enough’ at work and at home. The key point: be (very) kind to yourself.