Working solo

Just Describe

By Anitra Nottingham


If you want to improve the place where you conduct your research, it pays to fully understand and document the current setting. This recipe works on the idea that the act of writing is a ‘lab tool’ of qualitative social research, and is a practice capable of generating data (Law, 2004), in the same way that a microscope produces data by enabling us to observe realities invisible to the naked eye. Here writing generates a narrative-style description of the field which is then used as data and subjected to analysis.

This dish is the fortuitous result of mixing a lack of human participants, a deadline, and a dash of panic. It springs from theories of the socio-material, in particular actor-network theory (ANT).   It is based on the idea that objects can be made to ‘speak’ – to tell us something of what they may contribute to the social – if we describe them well enough (Latour, 2005).


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Working environments

Work that space

By Siân Robinson Davies and Evgenij Belikov


We often take the arrangement of elements in our research space as fixed. Though we might rearrange the space when first moving in, after this first period we might not think again as to how our spatial needs change with our changing activities and environment, such as the changing of the seasons.

Some recipes in this book are based on the principle that changing spaces affects one’s creativity and aim at moving away from your workplace to a new space to induce creativity. This complementary recipe suggests rearranging the elements of the workplace itself to achieve a similar effect and to better reflect the requirements arising from the current activity.

By changing your environment you are expressing agency in that space – that you can effect change in your own immediate environment. This can be quite important in generating hope for creative thinking (Rego et al, 2009).

Similarly, change in and of itself has a few beneficial side effects for your thinking – basically, it makes you think, which in turn makes you come up with new thoughts.

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