Writing is a struggle against silence

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Writing your way to success

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(This is a picture Lee – looking sceptical – with Jacqui and a shy Kathryn)

November 18, 2016 Lee Fallin EdD, Space

reblogged with assumed permission from here: http://leefallin.co.uk/2016/11/writing-your-way-to-success/
Today I took part in my first writing retreat, organised by @azumahcarol as part of the University of Hull, Doctor of Education (EdD) programme. I have to admit that while I had read some literature on support of this process (Murray & Newton, 2009; Moore, 2003; Petia & Annika, 2012), I was sceptical about it in this context. Sitting down from 9am to 5pm and focusing on writing alone sounds like a great idea – but I had two main concerns:

  • The third year EdD students had not seen each other for weeks. In the case of our three Netherlands-based peers this was MONTHS. Surely after so much time apart we had too much catching-up to do to sit in silence?
  • We are all at the very start of our thesis stage and sitting and writing for a whole day seemed like a big commitment and something we may not be ready for. (Okay – I admit, moving house has seriously destroyed my reading time!)

Despite my concerns, I hit the ground running this morning. I was determined to make the most of this opportunity. It isn’t often that I get such a large block of time to work on EdD coupled with the guarantee of no distractions. I had to make the most of opportunity as it was costing a day of annual leave. If I was going to waste the time, I’m sure I could have found something more fun to do.
For the first session I was able to write over 1,200 words in the 90 minute block. In honesty, most of this was achieved in the first 60 minutes as my concertation seemed to stagger towards the end of the block. I had a similar record for my second session 90 minute session, taking my total to around 2600 words. I have to admit I was proud of myself. 2600 fairly decent words in 3 hours. Just some tidying and referencing to go.
We concluded the morning at 13:00 and set off for an hour break. I was certainly hungry by this point and needed the break. I have to admit I had some concerns about the afternoon as my head was rapidly running out of things to write about. My lack of reading was finally coming to bite me.
Strategically, I spend the third session in the afternoon looking at something different. I was recently rejected from a journal and had to respond to some comments. This wasn’t my best idea as after the first 40 minutes I was thoroughly depressed and it soured the rest of the session.
That brings me to the last hour. It gave me the opportunity to Mindmap some new ideas, add another 300 words to my total and then write this.
All in all, I’ve written 3460 words today (including this blog post) and I’m pretty happy with that 🙂

Yes – I’m completely sold on structured writing days and I look forward to the next similar opportunity. We also did pretty well at resisting the temptation to write so clearly we’re all very dedicated! The power of finding ‘space’ to work.



Moore, S. (2003) Writers’ retreats for academics: exploring and increasing the motivation to write. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 27(3), 333-342.

Murray, R. & Newton, M. (2009) Writing retreat as structured intervention: margin or mainstream? Higher Education Research & Development, 28(5), 541-553.

Petia, P. & Annika, C. (2012) Using structured writing retreats to support novice researchers. International Journal for Researcher Development, 3(1), 79-88.


Positionality Pit Stop … aka ‘Keeping it Real’

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Bice Lazzari, Ritmo, 1956 olio su tela via @Chiaralorin0 #womensart




Blog Post by Raona Williams @REFITClass, an #EdDBlogger

The excerpt found in the picture above is taken from Stein’s (1998) interpretation of words from the late Professor Stuart Hall into the concept of a topic that is close to my heart. I could write an enlightening post on this but the best place for this is on my reflective blog

This blog post instead is marking the notable focus of ‘looking inward’ to relate positionality in my doctoral journey. After this weekend of being inspired by students and professionals sharing poignant information I now will begin working on identifying my own ‘academic positionality’ within my work.

I remember coming across the word ‘positionality’ amongst a range of other ‘new words’ when I first began my doctorate journey.

I dismissed the word as just being a long unnecessary group of letters to extend the word ‘position’ and continued my focus of loving to write about topical interests that enlightened me from academic reading.

Over the course of the last year or so, I have continued to read this ‘P’ word in journal articles. I have continued to hear the word being spoken out of mouths of academic mentors, lecturers, and a new collegiate I am loving gaining a closer allegiance with.

Up until today I still thought ‘POSITIONALITY’ was just a ‘pretty’ word to provide an explanation of why you think the way you think. Or why you do what you do’. I guess in a way it really is that. BUT… it is more.

Positionality in my eyes is linked to place – think of this – can you describe the position of something without relating to its location?

Positionality in research is linked to a mental location not just an explanatory or physical place.

It relates to WHERE and HOW the researcher feels they are placing or shaping their input into the research.

This is fundamental to the research question(s) they are seeking to answer.

Put it simply: If you are choosing a holiday destination – what shapes/makes/places you into the position to want to take the holiday in the first place?

This weekend concept of positionality has become a clear and important component to research and understanding yourself really and where you are in ‘society’.

I honestly thought I could actually complete my doctoral research staying quite neutral and as a ‘fly on the wall’ looking in. Now I cannot dream of doing this – I need to fly to my location, state my place and ‘keep it real’ 🙂

Since completing a small pilot study linked to my doctoral research (empirical research as it is also called) and after this weekend, I have recognized the importance of stating your influence as a doctoral researcher to show how it affects your work – it is also termed, your ‘researcher bias’. Floyd and Artur (2012) relates the concept of positionality to the resultant impact being an ‘inside or outside researcher.

Not stating the inside/outsider researcher aspect to your work affects the validity to your critical argument. I believe it leads the reader into a false truth.

Similarly, not revealing your positionality can be even worse – this is because if the reader does not know where you are coming from – how on earth can they work out what you are trying to say and where you are going with your argument and point?

So I have reached a significant pit stop in my doctorate journey. In fact, I will go further. I am driving to a showroom and changing my vehicle all together! I feel like I’ve been in my sports car for a while now – loving the cruise and flossing in my ride into the doctoral sunset..but now I’m going to drive with an upgraded and different model, altered spec, greater purpose and to some areas where the new terrain may get rough!

I’m now embarking on revealing with a self made route-planner which sections of my life experiences, knowledge base and exposure to society have led me to ‘the positionality bias of my epistemology’ -TRANSLATION?….

I will now work on making the path clear in showing how my ‘world’ has shaped what/how/why I want to answer my research questions(s)

I am now excited about DISCOVERING MY POSITIONALITY: fine-tuning my research, reviewing my reflective diaries, unpicking my research passions and interpreting/uncovering my life and world influences in purposeful relation to my doctoral research.


Mark Stein (1998): The black British Bildungsroman and the Transformation of Britain: connectedness across difference

Alan Floyd and Linet Arthur (2012) Researching from within: external and internal ethical engagement

The “Thing-ness” Problem

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Hesse-Biber, S. (2015). Mixed Methods Research: The” Thing-ness” Problem. Qualitative health research, 25(6), 775-788

Welcome to the new academic year. I can’t help feeling that advocates of mixed methodology remind me of the united reformed church. Set up to transcend the binary between catholic and protestant, they simply add another division rather then a conclusive reconciliation. Mixed methodologists might reasonably claim to be pragmatists rising above the paradigm wars afray. This stance does not in itself mean that the deep differences surrounding methods and methodologies are resolved. It means that a new dimension has been added to the debate. Or rather, that some quite traditional ways of working have been rebranded and added to the debate.





The EdD Experience: love letter to a potato

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by https://twitter.com/s1mb0bw1tham

In this post Simon, The Headteacher writes a love letter to the EdD

Dear EdD

Never have I felt so confused, unsure and unstable in my working and professional life! I thought I had everything completely in hand and then I met you!!! Your flyer sat on my desk for weeks burying itself deeper into the recesses of my subconscious until I had to look at you. You are something I had never considered or thought I needed in my life…Now I cannot get you out of it!

I think about you and research 24/7. You have opened my eyes to the power of the written word.
I read.
I digest.
I define.
I define and redefine.
I modestly try to speak your language privately hoping that it makes sense and then, with confidence in public.

I have never read so much.
I have never read so much and felt so confused.
I have never read so much felt confused and wanted to understand anything more than you EdD.

You make me question every written, spoken and read word.
That is something to behold. You have taught me about conceptual frameworks, methodology and methods.
Positionality in Weekend 1 the mere word created panic.
Now it is a security blanket.
Paradigm = 2 months of utter dread.
Now I revel in the thought of developing my understanding of critical theory.

Seamus Heaney wrote

‘Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.’

EdD You are the potato patch and I have begun to dig.




Seamus Heaney, “Digging” from Death of a Naturalist. Copyright 1966 by Seamus Heaney. Reprinted with the permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC.

The EdD Experience: Dear EdD

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Dear EdD

Sometimes I really hate you. You get in the way of me having a normal life, of me helping my son do H&S homework, of me sitting in the sun and reading a good book, of me taking my dogs for a long walk on the weekend, of me sleeping.  You have made my brain feel like it’s melting and introduced me to loads of new words that I still don’t fully understand and some of which I can’t even say.  Sometimes, I wish I’d never met you.

Then sometimes I wake up in a morning with an idea or a new question and it makes me want to go and sit in my little room and read and explore and immerse myself and try to understand. You have taught me to read again, to always read with an open and questioning attitude. You’ve helped me to remember what I liked about studying when I was an undergraduate 26 plus years ago, and through you I am learning about really difficult things in a really positive, immersive and holistic way.  I am clearer too about why my work is important outside of my own understanding of it, and I want to be better at it.  I know my family is really proud of me and that they don’t mind me not being there all the time, and it helps a lot to know that they will be there when I walk across the stage at graduation.  Also I’ve met some truly lovely people who I hope will be friends for life.

So thanks EdD, for everything, and sorry for the times I hate you.