Network, Critique, Conversation: Towards a Rethinking of Educational Research Methods Training

Naomi Hodgson, Paul Standish

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Much attention is currently given to the improvement of the methodological training through which graduate students are inducted into educational research. At one time students& competence to embark on their research was assumed already to be derived from their previous studies and experience or to be gained through working with their supervisors, perhaps alongside other students. Recently, the gaps in students& theoretical and practical knowledge have been more widely recognised, and participation in some kind of research training has become the norm, even de rigueur. The cogency and value of educational research as a practice and field of study is perennially challenged, and so it is not surprising that the construction of methods courses, to fulfil this preparatory role should be contested terrain. The breadth of the field — with its internal demarcation disputes and with its various contributing, often disarticulated disciplines, in tandem with anxieties recurrently occasioned by this lack of unity — has tended to issue in a striking self-consciousness about methodological propriety, the adoption of somewhat dogmatic stances, and more than a little confusion. (The so-called paradigm wars between qualitative and quantitative approaches — though it has been fashionable to say that these have waned in recent years — have manifested these weaknesses.) It is our purpose in this chapter to diagnose certain aspects of this malaise, especially in relation to the prominence of networks and network thinking, and to suggest ways towards both a more coherent conception of educational research and a better induction into this. We begin by acknowledging the prominence of networked relationships and the theorisation of these in the celebrated work of Manuel Castells. We go on to identify the ways in which networks figure in both practices within and induction into educational research, and expose what we take to be the orthodoxy at work here. We challenge this orthodoxy in terms of its lack of openness to critique, claiming that, to the extent that it does incorporate or promote a critical approach, this is critique that has been domesticated.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducational Research:
Subtitle of host publicationNetworks and Technologies
EditorsPaul Smeyers , Marc Depaepe
Place of PublicationDordrecht
PublisherSpringer, Dordrecht
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4020-6613-9
ISBN (Print)978-1-4020-6612-2
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Publication series

Name Educational Research (EDRE, volume 2)
PublisherSpringer Dordrecht
ISSN (Print)1878-9447
ISSN (Electronic)2543-0653


  • Educational Research
  • Railway Track
  • Social Anthropology
  • Network Society
  • Social Research Council


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