Week 7 Lecture was focused on knowledge translation which to my mind has been a theme running through the unit.
Jack was using this lecture to alleviate our fear of the impending assessment, “Public Audience Essay”.
Knowledge translation is about the impact and practical use of research by translating research into action for the purpose of dissemination and communication of research to the public unfamiliar with it. The barometer of the quality of the knowledge translation would be to measure its impact on how readily it attracts funding as a result of clearly demonstrating its social benefit. In other words, unless the society or the funding authorities in particular, sees its social benefit, use or value, my research may remain irrelevant or obsolete.
Not all outcomes are tangible as conceptual outcomes form a backbone of their practical workings or applications but not necessarily available to visible scrutiny. This does not excuse me from being prepared to explain my research to non-specialists. My short-term research in this regard may not look terribly beneficial to the Australian community because of its heavily monolingual culture despite its increasingly multicultural scenery in metropolitan areas. Why should anybody care about my research on interpreter training or sight translation theories?
Jack’s challenge for us to ask ourselves the question why my research should be funded then seems to help me to face the ontological question levelled at my research.
Graham (2013) explains “this process takes place within a complex system of interactions between researchers and knowledge users which may vary in intensity, complexity and level of engagement depending on the nature of the research and the findings as well as the needs of the particular knowledge user” and this highlights the need to ascertain the potential users’ need and ensure that my research matches them in a convincingly clear manner.
How do I then achieve a convincingly clear translation of my researched knowledge to them? The whole purpose of the public audience essay and the Power Point presentation on my research field are brilliantly geared to facilitate this process. I am finding these exercises help to narrow the focus of my thinking and reading to produce an outcome that could be considered advantageous to the Australian audience.
Graham, I. (2013). Knowledge Translation: Where Are We? and Where Do We Go from Here? Retrieved from http://pram.mcgill.ca/i/graham-13feb2013-pram.pdf
Throughout the course of Research Literacies Unit, Jack asked us to do free writing on a number of occasions. At first, I was sceptical about its merit due to my apprehension of unplanned, unresearched and unrefined gobbledygook that will result from it. Murray (2011) lists uses of freewriting in p.108 of her book, How to Write a Thesis and some of them include ” To write in short bursts, to get into the ‘writing habit’, to clarify your thoughts, …To increase confidence in your writing” and three samples of the free writing activities I did in class demonstrate how my thoughts on my own research seemed to be flowing somewhat aimlessly at first but not without insights that I didn’t know I had. That is exactly what she says:
“These questions might be a useful set of prompts for short bursts of freewriting. This could help you to work out what you think, where you are at and what you think your supervisor is doing before you go into the discussion. You could also free write about the different interpretations you can make of the feedback and the different revisions they might lead to. This would also be an interesting talking or emailing, point for dialogue with supervisors. Use freewriting to start any new piece of writing arising from their comments ” (Murray 2011:98).
The first one was a response to the question about my research question. My research question is how a pedagogically more effective teaching program can improve student interpreters’ sight translation skills for optimal training as community interpreter. More specifically,
- Researchers who have looked at this subject are not many due to long neglect of the topic either because its importance as a stand alone skill is undervalued 9assumed knowledge or skill) or because it is simply never explored.
- They argue that no real research has been done on this and people are not aware how critical it is to interpreter training and I agree based on my initial literature review.
- Debate centres in the issue of lack of training/resources which are not shared by institutions – not many books around on it , so I must make at least a passing reference to this!
- There is still work to be done on what really constitutes as an effective sight translation skill and how it can be taught.
- My research is closest to that of “well, I don’t know really yet” in that I haven’t found anything really substantial that seems close to mine. So this question worries me.
- My contribution will be to come up with a teaching program or a group of teaching methodologies with clearly defined skill sets that can be taught immediately. I hope to be able to write some sort of workbooks for classroom use.
The next question I free wrote about was “How has your project changed since you started the M.Res?
- Well, it hasn’t changed much since I haven’t had a chance to sit down and go through my question methodically and thoroughly despite ongoing and increasingly powerful stimulation to do so. My question really needs changing because a significant part of my research hinges on a possible opportunity to carry out my experiments at a certain institution, i.e. TAFE and the course (Adv Dip) which are now defunct! Without independent variables, I am not sure how I can carry out experiments and collect reliable data. Qualitative methods may be then viable alternatives. Admitting my project is bound to change, I am not sure yet how it should change and what then can fill any gaps.
Finally, I was writing about codifying the context: Linguistic socialisation necessitates a huge amount of reading and thinking to get me into the mode of talking and writing in my own discipline with close attention to the convention established thus far. Codifying the text also relates to the need to write a text that is acceptable to my peers by clearly demonstrating that my research work has unquestionable relevance to the field, i.e., contextualised, and has also unearthed room for robust discussions, critiques, and other forms of improvement. This also means that there remains a gap that my research can fill whilst maintaining strong ties with the on-going conversations in the field. Skills needed to perform these activities inevitably hinge on academic literacy skills which have to build on my knowledge of the research area.
Doing freewriting without “the internal editor “(Murray 2011:105) whom I had to deliberately silence was quite liberating. I am quite sure that freewriting will become a regular feature of my research work, having witnessed its merits first-hand.
Murray, R. (2011). How to write a thesis (3rd ed. ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Setting aside the low mark I received for the critical review task, I admit I enjoyed the writing process itself. Jack’s provision of a clear structure for the task with individual subheadings made it easy to find the right content for each category. Reading literature and various resources was immensely interesting and enlightening as I have not engaged with such key literature on my field prior to this task. The mark was deeply disappointing but in hindsight, I realise that I deserved it. I had to go back to the work and find out what I needed to learn from my mistakes based on the marker’s comments.
One of the major issues was style. Judith as well as Jack pointed out that my sentences tend to be too long, which of course makes it hard to read the text and follow the logic. I guess I struggled to strike the balance between a presumably academic sentence and a readable style. Writing lengthy sentences betrays at least half-baked ideas or poor ability to articulate myself. Excessively long paragraphs, in turn, demonstrate that I have failed to divide my ideas when they ought to be separated due to their shifting focuses. Double spacing each line is a norm I am well aware of but different requirements by different lecturers confused me but I have no excuse for not referring to each learning guide thoroughly. Copying and pasting certain information were not done properly although I did not believe all of them needed paraphrasing but leaving different fonts as they were is not acceptable by any means. Besides, my English grammar needs fine-tuning as a matter of urgency.
My biggest mistake was concentrated on referencing. Both in-text citation and references at the end were conspicuously incorrect. None of the mistakes were not inexplicable as I went through the university style guide carefully and I regret I did not consult it carefully right at the outset. ‘Getting the basics right’ must haunt me throughout my research career if I were to become one ever.
Finally, an absolutely thorough and careful approach is the only way to ensure that whatever I write as a so-called academic will be worth reading. That is if my aim is to produce written work that offers a substantial contribution to solving real issues in our society at large and making a tangible difference in the end. Critically engaging with literature and bringing out ideas that I have thoroughly digested and applied to my existing knowledge base needs to happen and if that is what I have learned from this assessment task, the pain and agony was worth it indeed.
29 March 2016
The class discussion of the weekly reading was about Ch.6 of Writing analytically entitled “Finding and evolving a research question”. As I am starting to build my project, I need to think about my thesis which is an “idea you formulate about your subject” (Rosenwasser & Stephen 2015:147) or the main argument or claim of a work , whether it is is an article, book, talk, poster. Then we looked up the meaning of thesis in OED which made all very crystal clear. Its derivatives such as hypothesis and antithesis were also looked at. Meanwhile, a thesis statement is also defined as a clear articulation of my thesis, that is, what my project will investigate, demonstrate or argue.
With these two definitions firmly set in my mind, I had one lingering question:what then should I argue in a 25,000-word dissertation next year? It is a long and extended defence of one main argument that is designed to demonstrate that my research project is making a real contribution to a real issue in the society. The pressure to come up with a thesis and thesis statement as early as possible is mounting and I find it stressful because I am not still clear how clearly my project will prove useful to my field and the larger world. So what Rosenwasser & Stephen aptly remind me is quite comforting:
“One of the most disabling misunderstandings about thesis statements is that a writer needs to have a thesis before he or she begins writing. Arriving at claims too early in the writing process blinds writers to complicating evidence (evidence that runs counter to the thesis) and so deprives them of opportunities to arrive at better ideas” (Rosenwasser & Stephen 2015:148).
So without being stressed out about formulating a perfect thesis statement now, what I need is “lots of critical thinking , writing and experimenting (and frustration)” as Jack said to us. He added, “1,000 hours are needed to master something.” Surely if anything is worth mastering, that many hours or even more must be sacrificed and I am asking myself if I am willing to do that.
It is then my observation that to prove a proposition in my dissertation, I have to lay out all the valid points and arguments which are backed up by own research/ investigation into the matter through careful and scientific inquiries, so it is rightly called a thesis.
Rosenwasser & Stephen then (2015) go on to give another helpful advice about the thesis by presenting two ways to arrive at and use thesis statement that will foster inquiry and cut rather than avoiding complexity. Focusing on an area of my subject that is open to opposing viewpoint or multiple interpretations and treating the thesis at which I arrive as a hypothesis to be tested rather than an obvious truth (p.147). As I admitted earlier, it simply drives me on toward better investigation into and development of ideas but I do not allow it to dictates my thinking and stifling its potential to expand.
Jack quoted Aristotle twice and they are worth remembering: “excellence is not an act but a habit” and “Well begun is half done”. So well known but so easily forgotten. Getting in the habit of pursuing a well-developed argument based on relentless reading and thinking is what I need. Writing this blog itself makes it ‘well begun’. Didn’t William Zinsser say “the most important sentence in any article is the first one”? I think I have begun well. Let me make sure it is well done!