Research Identity Memo Assignment

Research Identity Memo Assignment
“The hearts of social scientists exercise a cogent influence on research questions,
findings, concepts, generalizations, and theories.” – J.A. Banks
“The grain of truth in the traditional view is that your personal (and often unexamined)
motives as researcher have important consequences for the validity of your conclusions”
– Joseph Maxwell
Purpose: The purpose of this memo is to allow you to examine your goals, experiences,
assumptions, feelings, and values as they relate to your research interests. The memo
will help you to explore how your identity may serve as a resource or potential source of
concern throughout the research process.
The memo is for your benefit. It may be a good idea to begin the memo writing process
by brainstorming whatever comes to mind when you think about your prior experiences
as they may relate to your site or topic. Feel free to write these ideas without
immediately trying to organize or analyze them. Doing so will help you raise implicit or
unchallenged beliefs, which can then be analyzed and integrated into a written as a
memo. End by identifying the issues most likely to be important in your research,
exploring the implications of those issues, and organizing your reflections.
Initial Questions to Explore: Use Lumsden (2012) and Banks (1998) as guides and
stimuli to respond to these questions and generate others. What are the research topics,
setting, and populations that interest you? What drives your passion for your interests?
What prior connections (social, intellectual, and/or professional) do you have to the
topics, people, or settings you are interested in studying? How do you think and feel
about these topics, people, or settings? Do you feel that you want to “prove” something,
balance perspectives in the eyes of others, or change something? If so, what and how?
What assumptions are you making, consciously or unconsciously, about your topic of
interest or setting as a result of your experiences and connections? Whose voice or
perspective resonates with you most and why? What are the potential advantages and
disadvantages of your beliefs and experiences for conducting research in your topic area?
Generate other questions in this process.
It is important to identify these as your beliefs, rather than as “truth.” They are not beliefs
to be set aside; but understood. How could these influence the way you are approaching
your work as a researcher?
*In your answers to these, try to be as specific as you can.
Guidelines: 4 - 5 pages in length. Due September 8, 2015 through Canvas (be sure to
keep a personal copy for yourself) and be ready to discuss and share during class.
Key words/concept to explore in this memo: values, bias, partisanship, reflexivity,
identity, positionality