Critical Friend

This week we have been working on analyzing different journal articles and looking at consistencies and inconsistencies within the articles. We have been asked to be the author’s critical friend. I didn’t think it was appropriate to criticize these types of publications before. I thought that, because their were in peer-reviewed journals that they were the gospel. With this assignment, our instructor, Elizabeth Childs, provided us with the freedom to be critical, review the data, that methods, the conclusions, etc. and to form our own opinion on how relevant the information provided might be. I also thought that being in a peer reviewed journal meant that these articles were read by many people.  That again is not true.  In their blog, Biswas and Kichher (2015, April 9) suggest that many articles are never read and some maybe only 10 times. They also suggest that even though the article has been cited, it may not have been read all the way through. In completing this assignment I was surprised at how critical my reading was – I went in a bit bias I must admit to finding something wrong. I guess that isn’t always a bad thing. Blindly following isn’t a good way either.

So, to the authors I have criticized – I hope you will consider me a friend.


Biswas, A., & Kirchherr, J. (2015, April 9). Citations are not enough: Academic promotion panels must take into account a scholar’s presence in popular media. [Web log post].


The Digital Learning Journal

IMG_0225The process of blogging has brought up some interesting stresses for me in the form of self reflection and creating things like learning journals.  The digital form of the learning journal has been no less arduous than the written one.  However, now that I am five posts in, I am seeing the light.  Blogging is a place where I can extend my ideas and, as Heide Estes (2012) puts it, where I can “write and think out loud” (Estes, 2012, Introduction section). I am also aware that, because my blog is public, I have a responsibility as well with what I post. Learning to write concisely, respectfully and a bit more formally can be helpful here in my blog as well as my academic submissions. Although I do ‘think out loud here’, the context of what I post will be different given each assignment and class.

So far my learning has been steep and I can’t begin to post it all. But what I have found with this digital learning journal that I am enjoying the process and that I will continue throughout my MA program. This journey will be epic and I don’t want to miss a thing!


Estes, H. (2012). Blogging and academic identity. Literature Compass, 9(12), 974-982. doi: 10.1111/lic3.12017

Theoretical Frameworks and how I see them

The subject of Theoretical Frameworks has befuddled me for the entire last week. Having read multiple definitions and ideas and had a plethora of discussions with faculty and my classmates, I have come to the conclusion that, like theories, these frameworks are dependent upon the research question and who’s asking it.  It is the lens in which the researcher views the information they collect. It determines how the data is interpreted and what conclusions are then reached.

I struggled so hard trying to find a ‘list’ of frameworks to go by so I could pick the one that applied.  What I discovered is that there really isn’t a ‘list’ and that researchers may create a new framework based on their ideas and projects. I understand that there are some that are more known or common, such as behavioral, feminist, or gender frameworks but many are related strictly to the project. In my search however, I did find a few articles helpful, one of which was by Cynthia Grant and Azadeh Osanloo (2014). They took this process and likened it to creating a blueprint for a house. The framework is the underpinning, the base of which your research (house) is built. If the framework is wrong, the entire project can be in jeopardy. The article provides a list of commonly used frameworks but more importantly, provides sections on selecting and integrating your framework.

As I move into future courses with an eye on my final research project, understanding the concept of a theoretical framework is very important. Identifying where I am coming from and what I believe will inform all that I research and how I view the information coming my way.

I am beginning to understand….


Grant, C., & Osanloo, A. (2014). Understanding, selecting, and integrating a theoretical framework in dissertation research: Creating the blueprint for your “house.” Administrative Issues Journal, 4(2), 12–26. Retrieved from

Imagining Research

During the past week I have been in residency at Royal Roads University along with 16 other MA hopefuls and three fabulous instructors. We have been working on epistemologies and research theories to try and uncover what we believe, what we want to know and how we might go about discovering that. I have not thought about myself as a researcher before so this is new territory for me. I didn’t realize that there were so many cultures of inquiry and methods in which to research a question.

One of the topics we covered was the difference between qualitative and quantitative methods and why you might use one or the other or possibly use both. I believe that I am personally attracted to a mixed method favouring the qualitative side of the fence. I would most likely use a narrative approach to a question to gather usable information in my area of interest. I always want to know what is going on and why people feel and/or think like they do. Personal interviews and anonymous feedback forms would likely be my choice to gather the information. (Bentz & Shapiro, 1998)

Looking at Phenomenology and Ethnography cultures of inquiry was equally as interesting and I would be tempted to use these types of inquiry if I was looking at a historical or cultural issue. Hermeneutics feels like a very complicated and intense way to research. Although I know it can be a valuable method, it is most likely not for me.

As for the quantitative side, I do understand that you need data to back up your claims. The methods I would use would vary based on the question posed but most likely I would go the survey route.

In the end, it is all about the question you ask. This will dictate what methods you use to gather your information.


Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful inquiry in social research. Sage Publications Inc. Retrieved from {

Cultures of Inquiry & Learning Theory – OH MY!


I don’t know about anyone else but working on these two subjects together is both crazy confusing and very interesting at the same time.  There are three terms/concepts that I need to unpack before I go any further on this journey.

Cultures of Inquiry: “A culture of inquiry is a chosen modality of working within a field, and applied epistemology or working model of knowledge used in explaining or understanding reality” (Bentz & Shapiro, 1998, p. 83).

Learning Theory: Learning theories are frameworks that describe how information is absorbed, processed, and retained during the learning process.

Epistemology: ‘Epistemology is a branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and justification of knowledge’ (Bates, 2015, p. 44).

All of these terms/concepts are about how we know what we know and why we want to know it. The way I understand it – cultures of inquiry are the how we find out; learning theory then is how we understand and transfer our new knowledge; epistemology is both, it is the overarching why and our way of knowing based on the inquiry and theory.

For example, what if we want to know why we celebrate Christmas. We might create a study based on historical and phenomenological inquiries to determine the significance of Christmas in the past and how it became the culture it is today. Then, we might use a constructivist model to teach that information to others to help them understand how we got to today.

I think I am beginning to understand….



Bates, A. W. T. (2015). Teaching in a digital age. Glokalde, 1(3), 501.

Bentz, V. M., & Shapiro, J. J. (1998). Mindful inquiry in social research. Sage.

What I know about research.. and what I don’t

For me, research is about finding the background to either prove a theory already defined or explore a new theory not yet formed. For example, I think this, who thinks the same or what are the other opinions. Or I don’t know what I think about this, what information is out there. This may seem to be a simple definition but is how I have come to view the term.

I haven’t taken a hard look at any methodologies to date nor have I stopped to consider where my queries have fit into the existing methods. This brings up some interesting ideas about who I am as a researcher and what is my way of knowing.

What I did already somewhat understand was qualitative vs quantitative research. I worked in a medical research office for a while and so was exposed to quantitative research papers based on clinical trials and controlled experiments. Qualitative research practices are what I have based my earlier small research projects on. Looking at case studies and historical research to make meaning of current trends. I am also familiar with Appreciative Inquiry methods of gathering data based on experiences as part of many focus groups.

What I don’t know is vast. “Cultures of Inquiry” is a new term for me. As I read the information I can see how it connects all the qualitative modalities into a framework of methods. Within these cultures, there are different theories, methods and research techniques that help to mold and frame the individual research project and data gathering process.

In this blog I will unpack my understanding of these methods of research and share my learning with you.

Big topic, Big learning…..