Writing Studies Research in Practice: Methods and Methodologies

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Insights and alternative approaches that can enhance this discussion are welcomed in the comments of the online version of this paper.

Writing Studies Research in Practice: Methods and Methodologies

View all notes. The first two categories are likely the most familiar to the arts and humanities field: practice-and-research , and practice-as-research. This approach, practice-and-research , is the most established in literature departments, journals, and publishing houses. In some fields, particularly music, practice- as -research is also common, wherein the research consists entirely of the creative practice, with no explicit critical exegesis deemed necessary. The creative artefact is considered the embodiment of the new knowledge; emphasis is placed on creative exploration and innovation in the given artistic practice.

Where we begin to tread new territory is in the realms of practice-led and practice-based research. The outcomes of such research are intended to develop the individual practice and the practice of the field, to build theory related to the practice in order to gain new knowledge or insight Niedderer and Roworth-Stokes Niedderer, Kristina , and Seymour Roworth-Stokes. Linda Candy makes a distinction between these two, though it can often be a rather blurry line in actuality The distinction lies in the role of the creative artefact. For practice-led projects, the artefact is not as important as the process of creating it.

In practice-based projects, however, the final artefact is a key element. In my research, I was interested in how changing from a prose writing practice to a digital writing practice affected my process and the narratives I produced. The former is a practice- led element, while the latter is practice- based. View all notes Practice -led research focuses on the nature of creative practice, leading to new knowledge of operational significance for that practice, in order to advance knowledge about or within practice.

The results of practice-led research may be communicated in a critical exegesis without inclusion of the creative artefact, though the creative practice is an integral part of the research. In practice -based research , the creative artefact is the basis of the contribution to knowledge. This method is applied to original investigations seeking new knowledge through practice and its outcomes. Claims of originality are demonstrated through the creative artefacts, which include musical performances, musical recordings, fiction, scripts, digital media, games, film, dramatic performances, poetry, translation, and other forms of creative practice.

The creative artefact is accompanied by a critical discussion of the significance and context of the claims, and a full understanding can only be achieved through the cohesive presentation of the creative artefact and the critical exegesis. We create art to connect with others, to connect with ourselves, and often just for the sake of it. We experiment with our art in order to push boundaries, to ask questions, to learn more about our art and our role within it. This is nothing new.

What emerges, then, from this methodology, is the exegesis that accompanies the creative work: that knowledge that has remained implicitly within the artist, made explicit and seated within the context of the scholarly field. The first is theoretical , in which the practitioner-researcher is exploring research issues and problems; this paper can be seen as an exegesis of theoretical PBR, as the methodology it communicates was developed during the composition of a significant work of creative practice as experiment, in the absence of any existing methodologies that could be applied.

A writer may be interested in the affects of different narrative perspectives on a short story, or a sculptor might explore the affordances of different sculpting media; in my work, I am interested how constructing narratives in different media affects me as a writer, and the structures of the stories that result.

The final category is contextual , in which the practice is an effort to bring about social change morality plays, for example. The remainder of this model of practice-based methodology will focus on practice-based research as the foundation approach, primarily in the category of conceptual though, as noted, other results do arise serendipitously; the categories are not mutually exclusive. Embedded within this foundation are methods of observation and analysis that provide a far more robust framework than relying solely on post-composition reflection for translating the implicit knowledge practitioners naturally develop through their creative practice into an explicit exegesis that the field can engage with.

My Step by Step Guide to Writing a Research Paper

This framework consists of a modified ethnomethodology, cognitive analysis, and media-specific post-textual analysis. Reflective analysis is a method practitioners frequently apply to their creative projects. Reflection, however, dependent as it is upon memory, and conducted after the creative act rather than during or as close to as possible , can be an unfortunately fallible method, and often fails to offer insights into the cognitive processes of creation that are frequently the focus of PBR. Ernest A. Edmonds, et al. While some researchers decry any self-observation or reflection as inherently biased cf.

Bochner Bochner, Arthur P. Thus, I call for the employment of a self-directed form of ethnomethodology during the composition of the texts, in the form of a research log noting insights, process, difficulties , and draft materials and revision notes which can later be analyzed as in situ utterances. Richardson and St.

Methodologies and Methods for Research in Digital Rhetoric

Pierre Garfinkel is careful not to identify ethnomethodology as method, for, like PBR, its method must be designed on the basis of each individual study. The process of this continual sense-making is often expressed in notes, journal entries, and comments on revised drafts: observable documentation of the composition practice. The documentary method of interpretation — as applied to in situ notes and drafts — in combination with media-specific analysis of the resulting artefacts, offers aspects of theoretical interest to the practice of the particular art digital writing and the domain of its scholarly study transmedia narratology.

In many practice-based projects, autoethnography can also play a role, as creative research questions are often inseparable from artist identity, experiences, and culture. Autoethnography is an approach that seeks to describe and analyze personal experience in order to extrapolate understandings about wider cultural experience Ellis, Adams, and Bochner Ellis, Carolyn , Tony E.

Adams , and Arthur P. Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Many of the methods associated with autoethnography can be applied to PBR, including reflexive ethnographies, narrative ethnographies, and layered accounts Ibid. The method that I developed for my own practice incorporated aspects of autoethnography, as I documented and logged my experiences as research notes and observations. While I acknowledge the limitations of self-observation and reflection through autoethnography, it is important to note that PBR is impossible without them.

London : Routledge. A clearly defined research question not only helps to determine the scope of the creative practice, it provides a framework for examining the creative activity. This benefits not only real-time observations, but also reflection on creative activities and later interpretation of the observation notes, creative drafts, and research logs. Combination of methodological approaches, therefore, provides a more robust approach to examination of creative practice than reflection or post-textual analysis provide on their own.


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Not all PBR projects seek answers to questions about how the artist thinks and conceives of a work. Others still focus on creative outcomes: how do the materials shape the artefact, how do techniques influence the art, how does discourse enter into the work, etc. In order to pull apart questions about creative cognitive processes, it is important to establish a shared framework that allows analysis and ongoing discourse; my Practitioner Model of Creativity below builds upon previous models of cognition to provide a framework for these questions in PBR in the arts.

This model is a hierarchical model of composition, as opposed to a stage-based model: it describes the more fluid mental processes of composition, rather than a linear progression of activities from one stage to the next. The model is not a perfect one, as it is largely self-contained to the particular text currently underway, and does not explicitly account for external influences such as interruptions, long-term breaks in the creation process, or simultaneous work on other texts.

Flower and Hayes Flower, L. The argument can be made here that composing multimodally engages more naturally and fluidly with the planning process of composition. I discuss this in Skains Skains, Lyle.

Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice

View all notes Alan Sondheim Sondheim, Alan. Domain encompasses a set of symbolic rules and procedures that identify an area of knowledge; field is the individuals who act as gatekeepers for that domain; person is used to identify the individual engaging in the creative activity, which Csikszentmihalyi notes requires an internalization of the system — familiarity with the domain and field in which the creative act is engaged.

Throughout the course of this research, I gained knowledge and established long-term memory in digital fiction and digital writing.

I discuss how the acquisition of this knowledge to my long-term memory affected my creative practice in Skains Skains, Lyle. View all notes , offers a way to account for these external influences in the cognitive processes of composition. Theirs is an encapsulated model of composition, offering a useful overview of the major categories, but giving little attention to the age-old fan question: Where do ideas come from?

The generative process is a brainstorm of ideas pulling from existing examples, recombination of elements from those exemplars, and novel approaches to the rhetorical problem. The resulting pre-inventive structures can then be explored and interpreted, then reshaped as needed per rhetorical situation, which includes product constraints through further generative processes. For instance, this framework offered insight into how the cognitive effects of immersion in digital tools and environments led to fragmentation and layers of narration in my own work Skains b Skains, Lyle.

Journal of Documentation 68 5 : — Serendipity is likely behind the advent of many narrative evolutions, such as the combination of genres into new forms tech-noir, space opera ; the concept also enabled me to analyse the effects of digital appropriation in my multimodal fiction, digging deeply into how an idea developed and evolved through the processes of creation Skains a Skains, Lyle.


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I have gathered these cognitive and creativity models into a cohesive structure that best represents the composition context and cognition: the Practitioner Model of Creative Cognition. This is a model formulated from introspection, self-observation, and reflection upon my own artistic practice, based upon the models discussed in this section; it has not been drawn from larger ethnomethodological studies of other practitioners at work.

As such, it may be subject to future adjustments, and it may not be applicable to every individual. By drawing upon more widely accepted models, and integrating the insight of an experienced practitioner engaged in a targeted, practice-based project, however, the Practitioner Model of Creative Cognition gains validity.


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As such, several seminal theories provide a foundation for examining the creative texts. Narratology offers three key directions of analysis: transmedia narratology, largely based upon the theories of Marie-Laure Ryan Ryan, Marie-Laure.

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