The joy of research is one of discovery: the moment of surprise, wonder, or embarrassment that leads to a stronger understanding of the world we inhabit. The process of writing up your research is intended to share that joy, to communicate those discoveries to others in a language they understand. For a student, the former process of discovery can feel more natural. The process of questioning their preconceptions and opening themselves to new conditions is a learning that takes place throughout our lives. The process of writing up those findings in an ‘academic way,’ however, requires a parlance that takes time and support to cultivate. This manual was crafted to support your cultivation of research writing: to demystify research and provide the tools students need to conduct and communicate research.
No one begins as the perfect researcher or academic writer. There are vast educational institutions devoted to routinely socializing students to the customs of writing and speaking to a variety of different audiences. Research is no different; its successful practice is the product of many institutional supports, guidelines, practices, peoples, and wisdoms. It was the task of this manual to familiarize the uninitiated student with the customs of research writing, walking through its beginnings (generating a great research question), to its endings (publication, dissemination, personal improvement). Our intention in crafting this manual was to be there for every confusing step of the process with checklists, practical tasks, and tips for self-care.
We hope you are able to go through this process without the assumption of perfection but simply the courage to learn and discover research writing. The authors of this book attempt to balance a professional and emotional perspective of academic writing and research. On the one hand, we want you to strive for excellence. This manual attempts to outline as many of the common challenges and their respective solutions involved with conducting high-quality research. On the other hand, we understand that there is much more to a person than research. We highlight the emotional processes and dispositions in research – the stresses, anxieties, hopes, and joys – and do not dismiss these feelings as mere ‘distractions’ to research but consider them vital parts of the process. We want your research to find success without jeopardizing your emotional well-being.
We love social research and hope this manual is able to instill the same in you. Research writing is a cumulative social practice; it is something that we believe should be developed to be shared, never to exclude or isolate knowledge from the ‘uninitiated,’ but to provide knowledge and methods to all that are interested. This manual was our humble attempt at fulfilling this belief. We hope it guides you and others to better and better work.
Robinson & Wilson