Positioning yourself as a researcher

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An important skill that all researchers develop is the ability to present research as an ongoing discussion amongst a group of scholars. When researching you will need to read widely and it may seem to you that your peers are often discussing the same thing. Sometimes the authors of these sources will explicitly know each others’ work and reference one another in their own texts. This is common in research writing, where explicit conversations between different scholars are expected and valued.




Note the way these researchers position themselves in relation to the work of others in their field

Critical literacy is not synonymous with critical thinking, although critical thinking is clearly part of critical literacy [a]. Critical thinking can be described as independent thinking that uses information as the starting point (Klooster, 2001) [b]. It often begins with questions, builds on reasoned arguments and can involve social thinking. While this view of critical thinking is participatory and metacognitive, it remains personal inquiry and does not necessarily require the reader to question the purposes of the text [c]. To be critically literate, one must move beyond individual response and personal discovery to interrogate the curriculum and the everyday world (Cardiero-Kaplan, 2002) [d]. Harste (2001) asserts that readers must question, redesign, and create alternate worlds [e]. They should disrupt the commonplace, interrogate multiple viewpoints, focus on sociopolitical issues, and take action to promote social justice (Lewison, Seely Flint, Van Sluys, 2002) [f].

“Student Views of Learning: Perspectives from Three Countries” by Beach, S. A., Ward, A., & Mirseitova, S.Language and Literacy, 9(1), 2007, https://doi.org/10.20360/G2ZW2W is licensed under CC BY 3.0

In the passage above about ‘critical literacy’ the writers signal their approach to the topic by contrasting two very similar concepts.  Statement [a] tells us what the concept isn’t (note the use of the phrase not synonymous with) and go on to provide a nuanced definition with the use of although.  Statement [c] signals the limitations of our understanding of ‘critical thinking’ (note the use of it remains and does not necessarily) and prepares the reader for the writers’ position presented in the statements [d], [e], and [f]. (Also note, the use of other writers to give weight to these writers’ position).

The next chapter provides another example of the way a researcher positions themselves within their field by identifying the gap in the field.


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Research and Writing Skills for Academic and Graduate Researchers Copyright © 2022 by RMIT University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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