Small culture shock

As I write about my time in Iran at the age of 23 for my new book, I have to accept that I underwent extreme culture shock. It had all the features that are commonly described in the literature except for one crucially important one. It was about dealing with …

Putting theory in its place

Especially when we are starting out as researchers, we are confronted with a number of theories about the world and about research. Often these are produced by well-known people. They can be intimidating, difficult to understand, and seemingly way above us. However, the people who make them are in many …

Café Naderi

A while ago I was leading a seminar on intercultural issues with a group of masters students in migration studies. They were particularly diverse with backgrounds from across the world. I showed them a photograph that I had taken myself of a café in downtown old Tehran, Iran. In the …

“Your English is so good”

What would be the conditions for it to be OK to congratulate someone on their English on first encounter? I don’t somehow think it’s enough that they might be just someone one meets in a country where English isn’t … and as soon as I begin to write this sentence …

Explaining things

This blog is partly from the common memory of what happens so often in doctoral vivas, when examiners say ‘why didn’t you explain that in your thesis?’ But it also comes from lots of situations when people just don’t tell you what you need to know. I was talking to …

How to write about data

Following my last blog, how should we write about data? There’s a chapter on this in my qualitative research book, plus another chapter on writer voice. Here though are some thoughts about basic principles. I’m writing about qualitative data; but I have also heard examiners make it clear that they …

Getting the data chapters written

Getting writing done seems often to be a major problem for postgraduate researchers. A common scenario is that half way through the programme excellent progress has been made – large parts of literature review and methodology chapters written, most of the data collected and analysed, and perhaps a third of …