I promised to report back on how my collaborative writing for the digital research methods text for Sage was progressing, so here are three observations thus far.
- Working with someone who thinks differently from you is great but challenging. The great part is that collectively you have more to contribute because you look at things from different perspectives. The challenging aspect is because this different world view offered by your writing colleague results in you questioning and revisiting your own knowledge and beliefs, in research methods terms I have had to re-appraise my ontological positions. So as I am writing with someone from a quantitative predisposition, I have been asking myself where my underpinning beliefs about research stem from, do I still hold the same beliefs now as previously etc – all of which is fairly important when writing a text about digital research methods.
2. Words as numbers. We set ourselves a target of 5000 words per day between us during our face to face writing time, generally we achieved this with a couple of lower days and a couple of higher days. These were 5000 new words rather than the editing or rewriting of existing text and I have become the word count enforcer in order to help us feel a sense of accomplishment on a day by day basis. Seeing the overall word count grow is satisfying, yes it is a draft but it is new material which as this stage is important.
3. Words and meaning. Some of our most lively and heated discussions have been around words and their interpretation – I resolutely refuse to have the word ‘object’ used in relation to research, instead we have settled for research ‘phenomenon’. Similarly people involved in research can not (in my view) be termed ‘objects’ or ‘subjects’ – as it de-humanizes research participants, something which actually my co-author agrees with me on. Until we started writing and using words we did not have these discussions about how value laden or how open to interpretation key research vocabulary is. We are also now back in discussion about the title of our text as neither of us are very keen on Sage’s proposed title (currently under wraps) as we feel is does not do the subject and content justice.
In the next progress reflection, structure and writing styles will be centre stage, as well as our caffeine intake.