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Comparing responses

Gracia (2009) and Mignot (2002) are discussed in turn. This section concludes with some brief remarks and a further activity.

Employability and higher education: contextualising female students' workplace experiences to enhance understanding of employability development
Louise Gracia

Epistemological position

Gracia uses the term 'social construction' in the framing of the overall research question (p.302) and refers to gender as 'socially constructed' (bottom of p.303). This suggests a constructionist epistemology.

Theoretical perspective
There are references to 'the qualitative research methodology and subsequent interpretive discussion' (p.306) and to not being concerned with 'hypothesis' testing (p.307). This suggests an interpretivist perspective. Gracia also makes reference to 'feminist closure theories' (p.306). These form a key part of her argument and indicate a specific feminist theoretical perspective.

Research strategy
Gracia states that 'data was collected from a sample of 33 students' (p.307). This suggests a survey strategy. The strategy is informed by the perspectives above.

Data collection method
Gracia elects to undertake a series of 45-90 minute semi-structured interviews informed by the literature review (p.307). This indicates that semi-structured interview is the principal data collection method employed.

Framework for data analysis/interpretation
Gracia explains her method of data analysis (p.307). It refers to exploring linkages between women's experiences and the context of the social structures of professional employment. She states that all references to the experience of gender, student workplace experience and employability were extracted and used to identify patterns of student experience and explore how these impact employability. Later, the patterns identified are indicated by sub-headings such as gendered roles and organisational structure.

Metaphor and 'career'
Phil Mignot

Epistemological position

Mignot states that metaphorisation is a social constructionist term and that he wishes to highlight the personal and social constructions that constitute Suman's career (p.457). Later, he refers to bringing together subject and object as a duality (p.460). In broad terms, Mignot's position suggests a constructionist epistemology.

Theoretical perspective
Mignot refers to undertaking multiple readings of Suman's career and taking a 'hermeneutic' view of career (hermeneutics being in simple terms the science of interpretation) (p.457). This suggests an interpretivist perspective.

Research strategy
Mignot seeks to use metaphor to represent career in a form other than purely words (p.465). His research strategy is to use visual methods to encapsulate what he terms the irreducible hermeneutic and non-linear characteristics of career.

Data collection method(s)
Autophotographic data collection methods are identified (p.465). Suman is asked to take photographs of things that are significant to him and a subsequent conversation takes place. One year later, the process is repeated.

Framework for data analysis/interpretation
Multiple readings are brought to bear on Suman's career and it is argued that, with the final representation incorporating both words and images, the images come closest to encapsulating the irreducible characteristics of his career. In this sense, Suman is a co-participant in the research process.

Concluding remarks
Please consider any similarities and differences between your responses and the ones above. You are welcome to share thoughts in the forum or discuss these with your supervisor. The articles have been selected as relevant examples from peer-reviewed journals. It is not expected that your research project will be as complex as these. It is likely, however, that you will encounter similar material as part of your literature review and you will cover broadly similar topics within your research project, namely:

  • epistemological position
  • theoretical perspective
  • research methods (i.e. research strategy, data collection methods and framework for data analysis/interpretation)

You are now invited to continue this work on close reading of peer-reviewed journal articles by participating in an 'Extension activity' (next page). This is to develop further comfort and skill in encountering, reading and responding to the kind of scholarship that exists in our field.