Yesterday, this blog post by the Research Whisperer landed in my inbox. It couldn’t, in the words of Luka Bloom, have come at a better time. At the moment I am up to my neck in applications. No sooner is one post-doc fellowship application out of the way than I’m on to the next one. And what’s more, they’re all different, so trying to keep my thoughts on one at a time is proving to be a challenge! Anyway, these step-by-step instructions on writing about your research methods have been an absolute boon in the last 24 hours. We can but hope that the advice pays off, as being paid a stipend to do the extra research needed to write up my thesis into a book would be absolutely brilliant. Job applications are somewhat thinner on the ground, but still on my radar.

I’m also thinking about my work on John Roberts and the Gatehouse Prison. As soon as these applications are out of the way, he is my next priority.

The Research Whisperer

Photo by Mel Hattie | Photo by Mel Hattie |

Yesterday I read a research application that contained no research methods at all.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

In an eight-page project description, there were exactly three sentences that described the methods. Let’s say it went something like this:

  • There was to be some fieldwork (to unspecified locations),
  • Which would be analysed in workshops (for unspecified people), and
  • There would be analysis with a machine (for unspecified reasons).

In essence, that was the methods section.

As you might imagine, this led to a difficult (but very productive) discussion with the project leader about what they really planned to do. They knew what they wanted to do, and that conversation teased this out. I thought that I might replicate some of that discussion here, as it might be useful for other people, too.

I’ve noticed that most researchers find it easy to write about the…

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