Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The trauma of research

Worn out but still serving its purpose.

The trauma of research

I don’t blog about my research because sadly things have been taken from my blog
and used without permission or citation. This is gutting because I believe in open access
and sharing knowledge outside of the academy. However given the nature of my data,
and the fact it is for my P.hD, I will only be publishing officially.
But today has made me muse on research itself.

Research can be traumatic. It can reach inside of us and expose our own fears, insecurities, experiences and weaknesses. It can bruise and scratch and leak down to our deepest layers.
It can expose what we are frightened of, the real life monster under the bed,
and it can expose ourselves. We face an authentic self in the mirror when it stares back
following a particularly harrowing visit. The self in research is not narcissistic.
It is not a fad or a trendy pastime for the qualitative researcher. It is necessity.

We bleed in words. It is where we are most vulnerable. My participants write, and I write.
I have found a way of processing the prison fieldwork experience has been to write poetry
and prose myself. It’s a way of scraping everything out, of revealing vulnerability and anger
that is part of the human condition. The objective researcher is a myth.
Transparency and self-reflection are essential for credible research,
but often we don’t know ourselves until we take up pen and write.

I am still digesting my research experiences thus far. Each time I listen to my recordings
to transcribe, I re-live my emotions. I might re-inhabit trauma.
This is important to admit and account for. Research is messy and chaotic.
Too much criminology has pretended to be stony faced and clinical.
But why would we celebrate sanitized research? Why would we pretend that the researcher
and participant don’t leak out and affect the other?
Research can be euphoric, revitalising, inspiring, uncomfortable, upsetting, angry, disheartening, disappointing, traumatic. We need to talk more about emotion in research
and let researchers know what to expect. Fieldwork has been the best part of my Ph.D,
but it has affected me in profound and confusing ways.
 And that’s ok. I’m not separate from my research. I’m glad it has struck me the way it has.
It should do. The issues I’m researching should bruise us all.
One way of coping and staying healthy has been to enforce a strict work/life balance.
I love my research, but it is a job. I have a full life outside of it and this is important to me.
When our research matters it is very hard to switch off and walk away.
But self preservation is important. Our fragmented identities are important.
The shards of glass remain, but removing ourselves away from our research role
outside of working hours, helps to preserve us. We cannot be useful witnesses to these narratives
 if we are not strong and looking after ourselves.

Research takes it’s toll. It can be heavy, like a millstone round the neck as we wrestle the words,
the feelings, the sights, the sounds that make up a picture we cannot and mustn’t forget.
This doesn’t mean we are bad researchers, but rather we heard the stories.
We leak into our research as it leaks into us.
We need to open an accessible dialogue about trauma in research.


Introduction to Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
A practical overview of Turbo Charged Reading YouTube 
How to choose a book. A Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
Emotions when Turbo Charged Reading YouTube
Advanced Reading Skills Perhaps you’d like to join my FaceBook group ?
Perhaps you’d like to check out my sister blogs:
www.innermindworking.blogspot.com         gives many ways for you to work with the stresses of life
www.ourinnerminds.blogspot.com               which takes advantage of the experience and expertise of others.
www.happyartaccidents.blogspot.com         just for fun.

To quote the Dr Seuss himself, “The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn; the more places you'll go.”

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