“My Relation to my Research” 10th May, Prof Wendy Hollway (OU)

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This event is supported by ESW Doctoral Pathway Activity Fund and has just 12 places left… To register – or for any questions or enquiries about this event – please email Denise Turner at D.M.Turner@sussex.ac.uk.


“My Relation to my Research”

Supported by the School of Education and Social Work’s ‘Pathway Development Fund for Knowledge and Society: Wellbeing, Health and Communities’

Friday 10th May 2013
9.30am – 3.45pm
Seminar Room 18, Essex House, University of Sussex

Keynote Speaker: Professor Wendy Hollway, Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Open UniversityProfessor Wendy Hollway

Wendy is an internationally renowned academic and co-author of the seminal work: Doing Qualitative Research Differently, currently in its second edition (2013). Wendy’s academic work has spanned questions of identity change, gender relations, becoming mothers, the capacity to care, qualitative methodology and epistemology. A uniting theme in these areas is the development of a ‘psycho-social’ approach, that is one that does not reduce to exclusively sociological or psychological accounts of identity, experience and relationships. Wendy utilises psychoanalytic ontology and epistemology to inform her qualitative psycho-social research, substantively and methodologically, as exemplified in the ESRC-funded project which she led on women’s experience of becoming mothers and a subsequent fellowship, ‘Maternal Identities: Care and Intersubjectivity’. One example of her work on this project is in the article ‘Applying the “Experience-Near” Principle to Research: Psychoanalytically Informed Methods’ (2009), which has underpinned much of the planning for this one day conference and subsequent workshops.

Speakers and organisers:
Denise Turner & Claire Bennett – Associate Tutors / doctoral researchers, School of Education and Social Work

Purpose and background:

One of the core purposes of research is the generation of new knowledge. However, where topics are perceived as ‘sensitive’ or ’emotionally challenging’ they may be sequestered in favour of more ‘tolerable’ alternatives, thus minimising the opportunity for fresh knowledge-creation (Cooper, 2009; Hollway, 2009; Cooper & Lousada, 2005). Whilst much research involves complex ethical and personal decision-making, feedback from doctoral students engaged with ‘experience’ or ‘practice-near’ research has identified additional pressures. These include feelings of isolation from their peers, difficulty with separating emotionally from their research, and a sense that supervision was not the appropriate forum to discuss this. Additionally, problems of presentation and dissemination were identified – where the topic of research had caused distress to audience members, thereby increasing feelings of isolation in the researcher.

The Tavistock Clinic adopts a supervision/research group model for supporting doctoral students involved in ‘experience’ or ‘practice-near’ research which mirrors the model described by Hollway (2009). Researchers areencouraged to support each other in mutual learning and ‘metabolising’ experiences in order to produce enhanced research.

This one-day conference draws on the Tavistock model and the work of Hollway (2009), Cooper (2009) and Campbell (2002) in supporting improved emotional health and wellbeing within the doctoral research community at the University of Sussex.

Following the conference, there will be an opportunity to join a peer supervision/research group facilitated by Denise Turner and Claire Bennett which will provide a confidential space for exploring ’emotionality’ within research. Each group will have no more than 10 participants and will run on a monthly basis for an initial four sessions.

Themes of the day

To include:

    • The continuing effects of dominant notions of objectivity on research practice
    • Going beyond the binary objectivity-subjectivity
    • Affect/emotion as an inalienable part of meaning-making
    • Encouraging affective awareness plus supports for reflection
    • What does being ‘too close’ to your research topic mean and what should you do if/when it applies to you?
    • The cultivation of negative capability
    • Noticing and recording researchers’ emotional responses in the field: reflective fieldnotes and prompts
    • Structured opportunities to think the field encounter
    • Panels and supervision (support of other minds)
    • Ethics and com-passion

Attendance and registration

This event is open to faculty, doctoral students and any other interested parties at the University of Sussex. Participation/attendance is free, but places are strictly limited and will be assigned on a first-come-first-served basis.  For this reason we also ask that, if you register, you commit to attending.

To register – or for any questions or enquiries about this event – please email Denise Turner at D.M.Turner@sussex.ac.uk. If registering, please advise your name, position within the University and the School/Department to which you are affiliated. Please also advise any special dietary or access requirements if you have them.

Registration for the supervision/research groups is possible for doctoral researchers from any School/Department at Sussex who have completed, or are about to complete, their fieldwork and can commit to attending all four initial monthly sessions. Registration for these groups will be available on the day.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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