My initial preoccupation in this course, as I imagine many others up until this point have shared, has been the inward looking process of 1) figuring out what my research interests are and 2) refining those interests into a workable question. This week’s readings from both Luker and Knight remind us that the development of a research question is more than a strictly personal endeavour. As Knight points out, “Personal interest is valuable but it is unusual to do a study for personal interest alone” (p. 22). Knight uses an example of a graduate student collecting copious amounts of data only to find that she did poorly on the assignment because she failed to make explicit the importance of the study to her academic audience (p.19).
Similarly, Luker describes the need for social science researchers to “slither” into ongoing conversations in order to frame research questions in a fashion that will get the attention of an academic community (p.66-67). Luker’s previous chapters made me apprehensive about jamming a research question to fit the specifications of an established academic perspective. I am concerned that if I focus too much on piquing the interest of an academic sub-specialty I may have to make larger methodological compromises.