The Messy Process of Research: Dilemmas, Process, and Critique

Charlotte Clark, Michael Brody, Justin Dillon, Paul Hart, Joe Heimlich


The unabashedly messy aspects of the research process are often hidden from
published view, and are therefore not available to encourage and instruct. The
authors tell specific stories about “messy” research, arranged around:
• evolving research questions,
• methodology or methods surprises,
• problematic answers, and
• publication dilemmas.
These stories are from work amongst diverse categories and frames of
inquiry, and are meant to encourage fellow students to persist and problem-
solve mid-process. We hope that having real researchers tell their own sto-
ries of mucking around the methodologies and ethics of inquiry can encour-
age others to engage and persist, and can be the beginning of a more
process-oriented and perhaps more nuanced conversation that opens active
discussion and scrutiny amongst critical friends.

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