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Literacy in Research

miaashley's picture

This week during the guest presentation on Thursday I wanted to ask a question relating to literacy in research. I was wondering how the professor communicated with participants in her research. I thought her research and findings were extremely interesting. I appreciated how she framed it as giving agency to women and discussed them as being resilient. Additionally, I liked how she discussed their agency and role in relationship/in the framework of macro systems and the involvement of SAPs, the IMF and the WB. But I want to know more about her research methods and process: What kind of language was used, what tone, what formality of words? Did how interviewees were talked to different based on their age or experiences or backgrounds? I wanted to ask, which I didn’t, how participants were told about the research they were part of. Did they know why they were being interviewed, what it was being used for and what story was going to be told about them? In research, what do participants get out of the experience? I thought it was a really interesting presentation not just in the content, but that the skill/ experience/ perspective she brought as a guest speaker was her profession and specific research interest. Being a researcher requires competency and literacy in how to do (in her case) qualitative in-depth interviews. Knowing how to frame questions, how to ask them, how to interpret data, code and analyze date are all part of a literacy in social science research. Yet it is interesting to think about research and literacy in research in terms of power between the researcher and the participants. Are the participants literate in this language as well? What benefits, short term and long term, do interviewees receive from participating. I think this is necessary to question throughout education and in life. As a student in a class you read countless articles written by researchers, as students who write a thesis, you are yourself a researcher. In questioning ethics or perspectives or the ‘danger of a single story’ or ‘deficit’ approaches it is important for us to think about the research we create and our actions during and after.


alesnick's picture

Power in research process?

I appreciate your asking about the relationships between researcher and researched, and about how transparent and participatory the process is/can/should be.

What happens when researcher and researched do not share literacies?  How do they create a third space, and a just space, of shared literacy practices?  Is it a problem that many zones are not shared?

vvaria's picture

Being a budding researcher

Being a budding researcher myself, I am really intrigued by this post. I am actually in a class (Junior Seminar) with Professor Osirim where we have begun to open up these questions, but I never thought of it as an aspect of literacy until we started the discussion in class about the difference of the two presentations. I really appreciated that we were able to observe and contextualize our theories on literacy as being multidisciplinary and existing in multiple facets of life through these presentations. Mary’s presentation especially was a first hand example of how the term and idea of literacy can be interpreted in many ways. For me, Mary’s presentation really validated our primary discussions in class.  In looking at how literacy is approached here, I think there are several factors we have to acknowledge.  For one, how the research is framed immediately gives you a spectrum of what kind of literacy one would use when creating a methodology. You bring up some very interesting questions in terms of methodology, and I think all the questions you pose are things that researchers should constantly keep in mind and continue to question as they pursue the research.  I think it is also important to keep these questions evolving as one continues there research since how they utilize literacy in terms of their methodology can impact what they are researching. I still think that it is important for the reader to acknowledge the literacy used because it tells you a lot about the constraints in the research. Maybe this would be an interesting thing for social science research to include in its methodology reports. Finally, I think it would be interesting to pose some questions about qualitative analysis and literacy and the intersection therein. (i.e. how do we become literate in statistics? What information has to be provided for us to be considered literate in this manner?) An overarching developing question that I have is what does it mean to be well-read? What connection does this have to literacy?