Thursday, 7 January 2010

Writing up

"Are you writing up now?"
is a typical question asked of a third year PhD student. The term "writing up" implies the research is done, collected, analysed and the student now knows the findings and needs only communicate them in writing.

But I don't know what the findings are until I write them. I don't know what I think until I write it. Writing itself is a form of analysing and finding what the findings are. I am therefore grateful to Laurel Richardson for pointing out:
"Writing is a way of 'knowing' - a method of discovery and analysis. By writing in different ways, we discover new aspects of our topic and our relationship to it.".
She argues that the "writing up" approach where you don't write until you know what you want to say is a static writing model that
  1. "coheres with mechanistic scientism and quantitative research" and
  2. is a " sociohistorical invention that reifies the static social world imagined by our nineteenth century fore parents".
There are some difficult long words in there - I had to read it twice - but it sounds wonderful when you read it aloud.

Writing about qualitative research is a method of discovery so must itself be research and therefore fun. Like research is fun, writing is fun.

Oh er! Until I wrote down my thoughts on Richardson's paper, I hadn't ever realised that writing is fun, let alone found an argument for it. thus does writing release discovery.

Richardson, L. 2005. Writing: a method of inquiry. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research, Vol. 1370: 923-949. London: Sage Publications

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