In one of my challenges of another’s drafting was in a methodology chapter, when they were describing the process of thematic analysis, and said
The tentative themes were then categorized according to the research questions to reduce redundancy. This categorizing technique helped to make salient the points that the interviewees wanted to emphasize. One of the refining techniques in the process of interview analysis was comparing two interviews only to show similarities and differences between two teacher participants so that common themes and contrasts could be clearly identified.
I reacted badly to ‘This categorizing technique helped to make salient the points …’
My first reaction was ‘what does ‘salient’ mean?’ – I don’t know, without checking, what it means, how come this non-native English language speaker is using it?
Then I remembered: when I was working with my thesis drafting, and working intensively with the literature, I found my writing ‘mimicking’ the vocabulary of the writers I was reading. At the time, I shared, with a peer, my complaint with myself over this process, with: “whose thesis/ thinking is this anyway?”
One of my key perceptions of what science teaching (to school certificate learners, undertaking compulsory studies) involved, was that one aspect of the task is to teach vocabulary (eg carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, fibre: what they are; why and how they are different; and, then, what is the value of knowing this – how does it apply to an understanding of good nutrition?).
Similarly, I am seeing thesis studies being about (a) self-directed learning; and (b) functional literacy.
Research, for a learner, is going into the unknown. In the first instance it is an unknown to them, but may well be known by the ‘field’. Consequently, one of the roles of the literature review is to take this novice into the field, and to find out what the field already knows about the phenomenon being explored. Then, if the learner still has an unresolved question, the next step is to design the investigation and take themselves into that new territory, to explore it, and to come back and tell the story (write the report).
The thesis is then the evidence of managing that self-directed study, and developing the functional literacy involved in reporting findings back to the field. Part of the functional literacy task is to learn the privileged vocabulary of the field. Part of the functional literacy task is to learn how to be able to use that vocabulary, accurately and effectively, and to construct a report, for the field (peer review), demonstrating the achievement of certain standards of (a) data collection, (b) data analysis, (c) argument development and maintenance while retaining an appropriately open and ‘critical’ stance of one’s own work as well as the work of others.
My second reaction to ‘make salient’ was with the combination, and the ‘implicit’, for me, in the term ‘make’. I was reading this as a forcing process and by (me as) the analyst.
So, was the combination ‘make salient’ an expression of the non-native English language writer, or was it how a writer in the field of methodology had expressed it, which this learner, like me, was finding infiltrating their own native expressions as they worked at becoming an initiate of the field?
And my reaction to ‘make salient’?… Was it my tendency to try and disown bias? Was it me trying to give the impression of ‘objectivity’ when, in data analysis, particularly, it is the person of the researcher who is doing the ‘making sense’ of what is there, is doing the choosing of the category tag, etc?
So now, how do I understand the objectivity/subjectivity divide?
In research there is no capacity to separate the researcher (subject) from the research (object). Claims that this happens/ can happen are only claims.
And, further, when I am brought up against this issue, in drafting that is dealing with Engestrom’s Activity System Model (ex Leont’ev, ex Vygotsky), [and something which is new to me], how do I now understand how the ASM is seeing subject-object and via a mediating tool like language?