Group of Beginner/Future Researchers

On Being A Novice in A Doctoral Research Community of Inquiry

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    Bonnie Taylor

    As a doctoral student preparing my dissertation research proposal, I feel that if anyone counts as a novice, I certainly do! As an educational researcher interested in the cultivation of academic communities of inquiry, it seems logical to seek out a digital community of similarly situated scholars. What I’m looking for as a nascent researcher and learner is a virtual space to further my educational experience with a social, teaching and cognitive presence (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000).

    So far joining the Group of Beginner/Future Researchers is an exercise in doubt and trepidation: am I doing it right? Where is everybody? How do I figure out what’s going on? What might I be expected to do?

    To learn from other people’s experiences in comparison to one’s own, I propose this topic for an ongoing discussion in this group. If nothing else, it might offer a safe place for practice to become comfortable interacting with other “newbies” before moving on to other groups in Methodspace.

    Rourke, L. & Kanuka, H. (2009). Learning in communities of inquiry: A review of the literature. Journal of Distance Education,23(1), 19-48. Retrieved from


    Thank you Bonnie for your honesty. For me, the more I know, the more I determine I need to know more, lbs. However, I have found this journey to be a marathon, not a sprint. Respect the process, and you will be all the better for it. Best to you and yours.

    Dr Ann Lawless

    Hi Bonnie,
    I hope your studies are progressing well.

    Methodspace re-launched itself recently and not many of the previous “community” have re-entered the forums yet, which ahs been disappointing but to be expected. Even when it was an active and populated place with lots of discussion, there were quiet and busy times (and I found this unpredictable).

    I have often wondered where is everyone!! I think SAGE is going to do more promotion soon, and their active advertising and support will help regenerate discussion. They used to have competitions, book reviews, eminent academic guests (such as David Silverman and others) and so on which made this a very attractive forum for me and others. They need to return to that and I am hoping they will soon. It is also up to us to promote it among students, scholars and friends and try to give the discussion a boost from time to time.

    I agree that the learning during formal postgraduate studies is a marathon, and you will need to train and prepare yourself for that marathon, not least of all by knowing how to care for yourself and measure your pace so as to sustain a very very long experience. In addition to self-care for the long haul, I also believe in mutual care and making the effort to create a generous culture in our community. We create the road by walking it.

    Also to make methodspace work well for you if you have questions, it is helpful to others if your questions are as precise as you can make them, and if you disclose a little of what your current thoughts are. I know a number of senior academics who left methodspace because the questions from novices seemed to vague and even…. well….. lazy – eg we used to get a lot of “design my research for me” to which my reply always is “what are your current ideas?”. It can feel very risky and emotional to reveal that in a world-wide forum such as this one but the risk of disclosure emans that of us who want to engage can see you are trying, and can be more focused in our efforts to assist. Of course this is also just a place for a chat! But I have found it has thunderous silent periods as well as busy periods.

    Bonnie Taylor

    Hi Dr. Lawless,
    I agree with all your points and am optimistic that this resource will gain traction, hopefully especially among novice researchers. I also participate in ResearchGate to some extent, which for me has a very international feel. Sometimes the quality of questions is somewhat poor, and I get the feeling that people are using the resource as “Thesis Google” as in, “I have to write a paper and I have no idea how or why to go about it. Can you just go ahead and write my thesis for me? ‘k thanks ‘bye.”
    On the other hand, I once as a novice tried to ask for authentic feedback for a project I was doing. I was trying to get some experience with grounded theory data collection and analysis, so I was trying to craft a “spill question” appropriate to my study–not too form-fitting, but not vague, and aligned with my goals for generating a theory. Frankly, I felt like I was getting beat up in the forum, with a couple of people denigrating my question by accusing me of trying to get them to write my research for me, and others reacting with essentially “if you don’t already know that’s a crappy question, I won’t be able to explain why in a way you’ll understand.” It was a lot like the mean girls’ table in the high school cafeteria. Anyway, I ended up contacting the moderator and asking them to remove the question from the forum and delete it from my history, or else remove my profile completely. I have not felt motivated to contribute to that community at all since then, and I would certainly hope not to treat people that way there, here, or anywhere else. I would also hope that the lack of participation is not something I would be causing.

    Dr Ann Lawless

    Hello Bonnie
    Thanks for your reply! I am so very sorry you had such a horrible experience and such cruel treatment.

    It was courageous of you to return to a social media space after that experience!

    I really hope we can all contribute to a safe space in this group for each of us!

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