Visual images: a technique to surface conceptions of research and researchers

Patricia Bryans, Sharon Mavin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose – This article presents pictorial representation as an innovative and challenging technique for exploring how new and experienced researchers see research and researchers. Pictorial representation provides a means of exploring the various factors that may influence, limit or inhibit researchers in their practice. Design/methodology/approach – Three groups were engaged in creating pictorial representations of either “research” or “researchers”. Groups of new doctorate in Business Administration students, second year PhD students and a network of women academic staff from two UK university business schools described their drawings to their group and engaged in general discussion of the issues raised. Findings – Drawing and discussing pictures allows emotional and unconscious aspects of engaging in research to surface, helping drawers put into words what may be difficult to voice. Such images enrich and enliven the difficult area of research methods teaching and their personal nature helps to “acknowledge the individual in the researcher”. Research limitations/implications – This paper is based on research with a small number of participants. It focuses on the use of the visual image technique, rather than detailed analysis of the images generated. Practical implications – We offer the technique to teachers of research methods who can use it to make research methods more interesting and relevant to their students. Originality/value – The paper outlines an innovative approach to teaching research methods which engages students in discussion about the nature of research, the skills and qualities needed to become effective researchers and assists them to begin the difficult but essential process of reflexivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-128
JournalQualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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