Perks and Potential Pitfalls of a PhD on Secondary Data

Secondary data analysis can be a great way to study relationships between constructs, particularly when large, rich, longitudinal samples are important. It supports learning of more advanced quantitative methods and software, and does not have to be used exclusively, i.e. can be used to augment primary data. As with any method there are potential pitfalls, but they can be planned for and managed.

Read More

Reflections on Doing Educational Research in Business and Academic Contexts

If you’re interested in working as a researcher in an applied business or not-for-profit context in the future or are simply curious as to what the key distinctions are between conducting research in the two different contexts, I hope my reflections can be of use to you! I’ve whittled them down to five. These reflections are obviously based on my own personal experiences alone; I’m sure these would differ depending on the organisation you worked for and your reasons for pursuing a career in educational research.

Read More

The Power of the Felt Tip: Drawing My Way Through the PhD Process

It can be really hard to feel like you are good at anything when doing a PhD, and so when I heard the advice to do something you are good at to keep you sane during the process, I knew mine was drawing. Having used drawing in my role as child psychologist and a conference illustrator, I wanted to use drawing in my research with Colombian children with disabilities. What I hadn’t expected was that drawing would also become central to my own journey through the process. Not only did it help me navigate the ‘should I quit my PhD?’ moment, but it also helped me clarify, and communicate, my research proposal. This blog tells my story before giving some practical steps for building your own creative talents (yes, you have them) and inspiration for how you might illustrate your final thesis.

Read More

FERSA Oxford Exchange: Can Our Academic Life Be More Collaborative?

As one of the co-leads of this year’s FERSA Oxford Exchange, Carla Plieth is looking back to the first part of the exchange between the two Education Faculties and their theme ‘collaboration’. Many students find their graduate experience isolating and scary, which is why it’s important to use opportunities for collaboration. Being part of a student association is one such opportunity.

Read More

The Importance of Saying ‘Yes’ in Ethnographic Research

To prepare for ethnographic research, doctoral candidates learn a diverse set of skills. From observational techniques to critical discourse analysis, we study the best methodologies to engage in fieldwork studies and document the experience. I’ve taken many classes and read countless guides on best quantitative and qualitative practices, many of which I employ on a daily basis here in China, where I am conducting ethnographic research for ten months. Although I have studied, lived, and worked in China in the past, this is my first time in this country in a new role: researcher. I’m now learning to navigate the fine lines between asking questions vs. interrogating, observing vs. staring, and not being nosy despite trying to be invited to everything. Appropriately conducting oneself as a researcher takes a significant amount of cultural knowledge, aplomb, and to be honest, trial and error. Of all the skills I have studied, practiced, and employed, there is one skill that has provided far more opportunities and data than any of the prescribed methodological practices: always saying ‘yes.’

Read More

Being LGBTQ+ in Schools Today: a Researcher’s Brief Reflections

In this blog post, Charlotte describes how her own experiences during school have influenced her decision to study the secondary school experiences of LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other sexual and gender identity minorities) young people and the processes that enable resilience in response to challenges. She presents some of her initial findings and emphasises that despite recent improvements in the school environment for LGBTQ+ students, we cannot become complacent as there is still a long way to go.

Read More

The #FERSAResearch Challenge: five words or one image

On Nov. 4, 2019 the FERSA blog editors asked our followers on Twitter to participate in the #FERSAResearch Challenge: to explain their research in five keywords or one image. What we’ve learned since issuing that challenge is that, not only does our faculty have a very wide range of fascinating topics being explored under the broader umbrella of “education research,” but also, common interests and connections can be found in unexpected places. Take a look at a small curation of some of our participants’ self-descriptions – and maybe give them a follow if you want to learn more:

Read More

My #PhDShelfie: Lindsay Burton

As the intellectual cousin of the word selfie, a shelfie is a photograph of someone’s bookshelf. In July 2017, FERSA started a #PhDshelfie initiative on social media, encouraging PhD students to share photos of, and reflections about, important books on their bookshelf. In this blog post, Lindsay Burton shares her take on a shelfie that fails to be on a shelf but succeeds in reflecting the chaotic nature of her research topic and approach to study.

Read More