about research writing

I’m reading Wolcott’s Writing Up Qualitative Research and he makes many points which resonate with me and are helping me find footing as a writer, researcher, and writer about research.

First point: write often, write lots, write everything! I’ve been someone who like to externalize as part of my thinking processes and this has typically taken the form of me talking either to myself or with colleagues. Wolcott believes there is value in doing that, but in this profession where we are only as valuable as our publications, which requires writing, we need to work and work hard at making writing easier on ourselves. For some of us this may mean that we practice, practice, practice, and write the things we would otherwise think about or talk out with colleagues. This writing may not be pretty, but it will definitely be valuable in developing our voice as a writer. And this is the second point for me so far…my writing voice.

I’ve struggled for the past several years with writing as a “budding researcher”. I come out of rhetorical tradition of expository writing. Now on the one hand, this could be an excellent preparation for writing as a researcher. I know well how to present an idea, explain and analyze information, and offer relevant evidence to develop and support my ideas, but I’ve long done this without the burden of being perceived as an “authority” on subjects. The work in which I’m currently engaged and the world I’m working to gain entry that of authority. Frankly I find the prospect of writing in a voice of authority very intimidating. Wolcott, however, offers a perspective on writing about qualitative research. The space where “thick description” can be a highly valued attribute of good qualitative write-up is a space where I might find my voice as a writer in  and of research.

Write often, write lots, write everything and be descriptive…I sense something formulating.

Referenced text: Wolcott, H. F. (2009). Writing up qualitative research. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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