Narrativity-Reflexivity Day (18th Feb 2011)

Reflexivity and Narrative Seminar poster

(This is an edited version of the introduction to the collection of texts which we circulated in preparation for the day. The texts contributed by particpants were then extensively discussed on the day itself …)

A Second Narrativity-Reflexivity Seminar

We have (so far) texts from the following participants: Magdalena, Julian, Richard, Lou, Juup, and Vivien. We also have texts from virtual participants – Tanya, Susan, Helen and Magda – and we may also still get some from Mariam, Shaun and Clare.

In family-name alphabetical order, these texts are reproduced in the resource below, face-to-face participants first and then ‘absent friends’.  Last Friday, we had a series of engagements (involving presentation and clarification of the texts’ purpose etc, and then individual and collective engagement with them) with the participants’ texts.

The main objective was that through these discussions and readings each of us would have an enriched sense of how the process of writing ourselves into our accounts of (parts of) our research/ scholarship might work in different hands and thereby bring this enriched set of perspectives into our own ongoing developing practice in this regard. It is this personalised writing agenda that could now form the basis of the blog follow-up activities. So, enjoy the readings …

(To download the texts please click here. Reactions, observations and comments welcome from one and all: the was-there, the wished-you-were-there and the curious-more-info-please.)


  • Richard Fay

    It’s funny how ideas that you voiced previously then strike you afresh as they bounce back to you from another colleague etc) 🙂

    Julian reminds me that I am “not so much interested in the personal/ developmental side of reflexivity”. And now I realise, through this restatement by him, that my original statement was incomplete.

    I am, in the context of researcher competence and of researcher operationalisation of a reflexive stance (in their thesis for example), less interested in the personal development side, it’s true. But I am interested in it. 🙂 It is very hard not to be professionally interested in it given my language teacher educator and researcher competence development roles. So, with such roles to the fore, I should note that I am interested for example in personal development. For example, I am interested in personal development about reflexivity in research (hence the desire to help run these seminars) ….

    Having said a thing in one way – and thereby positioning ourselves thus, nuancing the issue in a particular way – we so often need to then say it another way to provide a more balanced positioning and nuancing. And then it gets so complicated. Recently, I started writing a tricky email. The first sentence was easy. Then I added a clarificatory sentence or two, and this then necessitated a further nuancing statement or two, and before long the simplicity and clarity of the original sentiment was lost. So, finally, I cut back to the original one-liner and hit ‘send’. But at least I knew what I had cut out ….

  • Magdalena De Stefani

    Wow! Like Eljee, I feel that there is so much more…Thanks for all the enlightening comments and explanations. I feel I understand the issue better now.

    I also found Achilleas’s quote about personalisation quite useful, I hadn’t seen it that way!

    And I very much agree with Magda’s

    ‘So, using “myself” in that context is justified and even necessary as long as it explains those choices and my thinking behind them, thus showing the workings of the research and its complex inner connections.’

    though I would personally omit the ‘even’ 🙂

    Feels good to understand better. Thanks!

  • Hi everyone,

    I think it’s really good that this discussion has brought out the fundamental situatedness-in-interactivity of reflexivity as we encounter it in communication. Rather like Laila’s beauty, it is best understood as found in the eye of the beholder.

    One line that struck me on the day of the seminar was when someone introduced their contribution by saying,

    “Well, this idea that reflexivity involves the researcher shaping the research and then the research coming back to shape the researcher, that’s pretty obvious. That’s like Reflexivity 101. But beyond that . . . ”

    It seems to me that, obvious as it may be, that second aspect of reflexivity is still mostly neglected. Richard said earlier that he was not so much interested in the personal/developmental side of reflexivity, and I very much am, so I guess that that’s where the difference of emphasis comes in.

    I do also well remember that particular use of ‘self-serving’ coming up, and its being useful in the discussion. More generally, however, and beyond any given moment in discourse, I doubt the usefulness of trying to redefine, for specific, technical purposes, expressions that already have their own currency and well understood meanings. I think we might be better advised to devise a transparent neologism, such as ‘self-revealing,’ to contrast with ‘self-indulgent’ with regard to what we want to say. Indeed, there may well be one or two already out there.



  • For my own clarity of thought, I’d like to summarise what I consider to be SOME of the main points regarding reflexivity.

    For starters, I like what Holliday says in Doing and Writing Qualitative Research (2007) that the written study must show the workings of the research. He gives an example of solving a maths problem at school when one was expected to show how one had arrived at the correct result, step by step, instead of just providing the final answer by itself as that would have been considered invalid without showing the exact path to it.

    Similarly, the reader needs to know the researcher’s rationale for choosing a specific social setting, research activities, themes and focuses, ideologies (i. e. those present in the discussion of issues, as H puts it and those that are part of the researcher’s position) and how one leads to another, or the step-by-step thinking process that has prompted the researcher to make certain (methodological, ideological, approach- and attitude-related, etc.) decisions which have resulted in the way the final study is written.

    Many of those choices can be accidental (H mentions an account of Watson’s research into DNA – involving “the lucky turns of events”, etc.). Many are deeply personal and coloured by emotions, even passions. But that’s how research is “really done”, particularly that the social worlds we are engaged with consist of people and not abstractions. H talks about “the messy reality of the scenarios being studied”.

    So, using “myself” in that context is justified and even necessary as long as it explains those choices and my thinking behind them, thus showing the workings of the research and its complex inner connections. This is where the link between the researcher and her/his research lies and where reflexivity comes in, as Achilleas said. And ultimately, that’s what makes the final written account interesting, readable and convincing (I think) – as long as the extent of the reflexive input thus interpreted is controlled by its purposefulness.

    The rest is writing skills – be brief, be bold, be clear, as Strunk and White recommended…

    I hope I got it right. Or just about right – it’s all a work in progress of course…


  • Eljee Javier

    Hi everyone!

    I’ve been re-reading the posts and following along as best I can. I left the day with a heightened sense of “man, there’s SO much more” kind of overwhelmed feeling that is both a little unnerving and exciting at the same time.

    One of the points I took away that day was following on the current discussion of what Viv brought up about self-indulgent / self-serving. From a writing perspective, I find that audience guides the degree to which I am “self-serving”. Some texts that I write need more signposting (as Achilleas aptly points out) than others in order to demonstrate to, perhaps, an audience that isn’t used to reflexive texts and may need further clarification as they read. With other texts I choose to use less signposting because of the audience that I’m writing for, BUT in both cases when I introduce a reflexive element into my text, I use some kind of indication to frame what I’m about to say.

    I make this point because I find writing reflexively something difficult to do. I look at my previous texts and due to various reasons I’ve kept the reflexive element out of my texts because it was comfortable for me to do so. Over the years I’ve had to learnt that writing about yourself and what you learn in your research should be considered automatically narcissistic (as I used to think) but is a crucial endeavour given the nature of my topic. Thus I find signposting a useful and effective way of not only making the bridge for the audience but also a good process to see if/when I am/am not being self-serving.

  • Achilleas Kostoulas

    I hate myself sometimes. It took me 2,000 words over two weeks to say just this:

    Reflexivity is not the same as personalisation, […] it always needs to be purposeful, and one such purpose might be related to the researcher’s demonstration of the value of their work as research.


  • Achilleas Kostoulas

    Hi Magda 🙂

    I was thinking the same thing: most of the contributions were excerpts from larger works, and most had been written for other audiences, so clearly the criteria we are working towards cannot apply strictly in this case. Even so, the reflexive comments in the texts seemed to work, for me at least.

    The reason why the absence of explicit linkages was not a problem (at least it didn’t seem like a problem to me), I guess, was that I was broadly familiar with the work of many of the contributors. As a result, I was usually able to locate the excerpts within the research to which they belonged, and to trace possible connections even when these were not explicitly articulated. Even so, I will admit that there were a few cases where unfamiliarity with someone’s research made me pause and ask myself: ‘why am I reading this?’ or rather ‘why is the author sharing this information about themselves?’

    I imagine that there is a certain danger, at some point, to get so involved in reflexivity that one imagines that the links between self and research are self-evident. If this happens, I suppose that it’s all too easy to embed personal information in an account of one’s research without making this link clear. This is what, I suspect, happened here. I am using this article as an example on the grounds that, having been written by someone outside our immediate scholarly community, it better exemplifies the lack of overlap between writer’s and the readers’ knowledge, and also because it might prove easier to be critical of absent parties. According to Ramanathan (2005):

    [T]he editors of a journal scheduled to publish one of my articles had deleted an entire paragraph in which I directly addressed my relative positioning vis-à-vis the teachers and students about which I was writing. […] When asked about it, the editors informed me that the paragraph was deemed “irrelevant” by all the reviewers. […] I regard the […] paragraph as crucial.

    The author’s explanation of why the controversial paragraph was in fact important spans several pages and is fairly compelling, but I think it is fair to say that the rationale stated in the paragraph itself was somewhat less convincing. The argument laid there seems to focus on the moral question of why this research is needed (preaching to the converted?) and less on the methodological issues of how the research is impacted by the authors’ identity. This paragraph seems to have failed not because of problems with reflexivity as such, or the way it was reported (narrativity) but because of a failure to communicate the importance of the reflexive outlook that the author considered crucial.

    The point that I am trying to make, I guess, is that one cannot always assume a sympathetic audience, nor should one limit the impact of their work by writing in a way that would make their research inaccessible or unacceptable to parts of the academic community. To put this in terms of Viv’s dilemma, when a reader criticizes my research text as “self-indulgent”, that is not just their problem: it is also an indication that I, as a researcher, have failed to explain my methodology.

    The implication, for me, is that if a reflexive outlook is epistemologically beneficial, this places three different kinds of burden on the researcher: the duty to conduct said reserach reflexively, the duty to report such reserach transparently, and the duty to educate readers on the implications and benefits of this outlook. The first two duties relate -if only loosely- to Richard’s axes of reflexivity and narrativity respectively. I would add that the third duty could be viewed as one more dimension in the ‘reflexivity-narrativity nexus’, although I am not sure how to call this continuum (‘elucidativity?’ That sounds awful!) or what to place at its two ends. This third axis seems to me equally important to the other two, because it might help to answer questions such as the one raised at the end of the seminar: How can I present my reflexivity in my research without being interpreted as self-serving?

  • Achilleas, you wrote: I would argue that the more a writer highlights her self alongside her research, the greater the onus on her to explain the linkage between the two.

    I couldn’t agree more – you hit the nail on the head, and some of us managed to make that linkage clearer than others in the selection of texts provided for the seminar. It has occurred to me that perhaps the connection between self and the research appears clearer to a reader if the text itself is a coherent unit of writing as opposed to just an excerpt taken out of context, or a bunch of loose notes.

    Still, it goes to show how valuable this whole exchange is as it helps to articulate such issues.


  • Achilleas Kostoulas

    To build on Richard’s thinking: I think that the February 18th event very much fits the Richard’s definition of ‘an outlet and audience that is well disposed towards purposeful reflexivity’. But, for me at least, each paper occupies a distinct space in the ‘self-serving’ – ‘self-indulgent’ continuum. I am not sure that this differentiation is due to of my perspective as a reader (at least not exclusively so), since I am not conscious of bringing different dispositions to the reading of each paper.

    It follows that, at least at some level, the success of a reflexive outlook depends on the writer’s ability to create and manage the readers’ expectations. By this, I mean the degree to which the writers communicate to the audience the need for a reflexive outlook, delimit the boundaries of the reflexive, and explain how this outlook contributes to the overall trustworthiness of the narrative. I think that the following extract from Richard’s second text provides a good example of what I have in mind:

    These threads also help explain what I bring to the research, and maybe reveal some possibilities for what I hope to gain through it. These interwoven threads carry the linguistic, contextual, methodological, musical, and personal.

    This is not to say that such explicit signposting is always necessary and useful, although I would argue that the more a writer highlights her self alongside her research, the greater the onus on her to explain the linkage between the two.

  • Richard Fay

    “Could it be that we find a text self indulgent because we cannot interact with it in the way the writer intended? ”

    Isn’t this what Viv is talking about? i.e. That ‘self-indulgent’ is a characterisation flowing from a reader’s perspective on the text, an indication that on this occasion, in this text outlet, with this reader, the writer has not successed in being purposefully reflexively.

    Now, it may be that the outlet is wrong (e.g. a journal with a more ‘traditional view of academic register, style etc) or it may be that the reader is not well-disposed to the reflexive, and so on – and we as writers can make our best guessses about registers, audiences, outlets etc but will sometimes misjudge things etc.

    That said, we can also think about it from a writer’s perspective. Let’s assume we are writing for an outlet and audience that is well-disposed towards purposeful reflexivity. If we get it wrong with such a text then the problem may lie more with us as writers than with them as readers. We may have slipped from purposefully reflexive into self-indulgent and this is somehing I try and guard against in my own writing these days ….

  • Magdalena De Stefani

    Hi Everyone

    I have just finished reading all the different posts and you have already discussed lots of very interesting issues!

    Thanks for the metacommenting suggestion Achilleas. I do attempt some metacommenting at a later stage but I can see how it could be useful to include some of this earlier on. I actually gave it some thought when writing that bit but in the end left it at that because I was afraid it would get too convoluted…

    One of the points I have been thinking about since the seminar is the issue of self indulgence. To be honest, the points all of you make, and in particular Viv,s very clear explanation do make sense to me at first sight, but then I cannot really understand how a writer could be self indulgent. Maybe because the idea of a different take on narcissism makes good sense to me, I feel that when we say someone is self indulgent we might be unfair. I mean, how do you tell the difference between self indulgent and reflexive? Could it be that we find a text self indulgent because we cannot interact with it in the way the writer intended? Maybe it is back to reflexivity basics for me…

  • — When a reader criticizes a research text as “self-indulgent”
    because there is “too much” description of the researcher’s
    own story, then whose problem is it?

    The distinction between “personalisation for the sake of self” and “personalisation for the purposes of the text as a research text” makes a lot sense to me. Following the line of discussion in the previous postings, I also use “self-indulgent” and “self-serving” to indicate the two kinds of personalization respectively. Below, I discuss some of my post-seminar understandings and questions regarding this distinction.

    A question I keep thinking about is how to “manage the boundary” between the two kinds of personalisation. I agree to Achilleas that this “boundary” is sometimes (or perhaps always!) fuzzy. Or in other terms, this “boundary” is often subjective and interpretive. Therefore, I consider that the “boundary” is negotiated through the interaction between the writer and the reader, i.e. to what extent the writer wishes to present self (purposefully in relation to the research) and to what extent this particular reader accepts such presentation. This may be linked to a comment by one of the seminar participants that “reflexivity requires both a writer and a reader to be successful” (although the meaning of this comment is not yet fully clear to me…).

    Based on the point regarding the subjective and interpretive aspects of the “boundary” between “self-serving” and “self-indulgent” presentation, I see two cases in which a text may be seen as “self-indulgent”. First, as the term itself suggests, the writer focuses on self for the sake of self. Doubts and criticisms of such presentation raised in the seminar and elsewhere lead me to assume that there do exist chunky research texts that give readers the impression that the writers are being “self-indulgent”. Then I wonder:

    a) Are there any writers at all who, in writing about their RESEARCH, would intentionally reserve a considerable space for the sake of his/her narcissist self? I don’t think there are many as I cannot see the value of doing this in a research text (certainly there can be mavericks in any field…). As Achilleas comments, as researchers, “we are all too clever to fall for that pitfall”.

    b) When the reader considers a text to be “self-indulgent”, can it be the case that he/she is from a particular school and is not used to reading personalized accounts of research decisions etc. so that he/she chooses, unconsciously, to ignore the reflexive purpose of these accounts and refuses to see the connection between such accounts and the ingredients of the research itself?

    Therefore, to me, the distinction between “self-serving” and “self-indulgent” is firstly about the writer’s intention in writing a text. In addition, it can be about the interaction between the researcher’s/writer’s and the reader’s beliefs and preferences.

    To summarise my view: the terms “self-serving” and “self-indulgent” lay an emphasis on the writer’s part. On the one hand, these terms can refer to two kinds of self-presentation delivered by the writer: serving the purpose of the research text, and serving the purpose of the narcissist self (the latter case perhaps being unusual). The distinction between these self-presentations can be a useful tool for researchers to explore narrativity-reflexivity in their writing. On the other hand, “self-serving” and “self-indulgent” are terms readily available for readers to label and evaluate certain text that they feel comfortable / uncomfortable with. However, it can sometimes be an interactive matter rather than the writer’s ‘problem’ only. Therefore, I believe that the “boundary” between “self-indulgence” and “self-serving” cannot be solely “managed” by the writer without negotiation with the reader. To take this argument further, I believe that researchers’ exploration of reflexivity cannot be separated from considerations of readership, especially when we wonder that “is our concern with reflexivity still only a minority interest? Do we assume its ‘importance’ because in interests us (only?) or is this a ‘big thing’?”

  • Richard Fay


    A “thin line” ?? Yes, hence the value in sharing our practice, sharing our emerging texts, so we can see how our own efforts (with their particular purposes etc) seem when placed alongside others’ texts (with their particular purposes). We made a start with this at the seminar on the 18th I think ….

    One thing I am trying to do is write the same ‘stuff’ twice, with differing levels of self made explicit (as if I were writing for different audiences with differing expectations in this regard) and I then compare my two versions. This shows me how thin the line might be I think ….

  • Magda Rostron

    I meant to use a slightly different emoticon, sorry, the winking was unintended… I’ll leave it out this time, to be on the safe side.


  • Magda Rostron

    Hi Richard, thanks, that broad distinction you talk about is clear to me in theory, but it changes into a very thin line in writing… ;-)))


  • Richard Fay

    Yes, Magda, I can see what you mean about ‘self-serving’ being in need of a gloss or two if this +ve connotation is to work. We were being a bit playful I guess and trying to work our way into some useful kinds of understanding by so doing … but the broad distinction (between personalisation in the text which focuses on self for the sake of self rather than for the purposes of the text as a research text) is useful for me whatever terms we use for it 🙂

    Yes, Achilleas, I agree 🙂

  • Magda Rostron

    My reflexive attempts veer from self-indulgent to, I hope, research-serving (not sure about “self-serving” – that is, I like it with Richard’s explanation that supports its use, and of course it “rhymes” so nicely with self-indulgent, but like Achilleas i was initially confused as to its meaning – and it seems it can only be used with the proviso above which makes it a slightly fragile construct, I think…).

    As a teacher/researcher I feel I need to be reflexive about both these activities as they seem to impact each other quite significantly. What reflexivity means to me in the context of my research is the ability to extract the various strands coming mainly from those two directions and inter-fering/acting with each other. In addition it is also my awareness of what I bring into this double-layered work as a person, an individual with a specific linguistic, cultural and historical background.

    Finally, as an extra ingredient, there is a passion-frustration relationship I’m having with the world I am trying to describe and understand. The underlying emotive thread adds another dimension to it all, maybe the least important or visible one, but present nevertheless and to some extent or potentially colouring other dimensions, and as such worthy of mention.

    My aim is to provide a description without an evaluation but with an empathic (is this a word?) explanation to clarify the “whats” and the “whys”, but with a clear indication that I care about what I research.

    At the end of the day, we all try to find the right words to write about the world that puzzles us, without pretending that we can write ourselves OUT of it in the process. And it’s a struggle…


  • Achilleas Kostoulas

    Yes, that is very clear. I understand the concept; it was the terminology that gave me trouble. To rephrase, you (pl.) recast ‘self-serving’ into a concept similar to the purposive self-reference I described above, and you used ‘self-indilgent’ to differentiate from that. Is that what you mean?

  • Richard Fay

    Achilleas, this distinction I was making came out of the seminar discussions on gthe day itself so I apologise for being a bit cryptic. I was speaking about the negative connotations that reflexivity can have – e.g. the ones my supervsor warned me about – and, to begin with I used the terms ‘self-indulgent’, ‘self-serving’ and other terms also, all to capture these same negative connotations where the text becomes more about the researcher than about how they researched a particular topic/context etc.

    In our discussion of such negative connotations, we played around with such terms a little, and, in doing so, we were mindful of how Julian is trying to re-connotate ‘narcissism’ in his new book on reflexivity (I hope this adequately summarises some of his complex intentions in ths regard). In this spirit, ‘self-indulgent’ kept the negative load whereas we tried to reload ‘self-serving’ as something which has roots in ‘self’ (at least in part) but which ‘serves’ the purpose of the text, e.g to present the research to the reader.

    So, I hope to avoid self-indulgence, and to avoid making the texts about me, but also hope to make any reflexive aspects of the text serve the purpose of making my research (and what I bring to it, what happens to me during it, what it does to me, etc) as transparent as possible to my readers. In this sense, I see one main purpose of reflexivity in (some kinds of) research (texts) as being a means of establishing rigour, hence my other points.

    Does that bring you more fully into my thinking from the day?

  • Achilleas Kostoulas

    I find the distinction between self-serving and self-indulgent helpful.

    I’m afraid that you’re thinking a bit too fast for me, Richard: I am not sure I understand the last point. Could you please clarify what the distinction between self-serving and self-indulgent means for you, in relation to reflexivity, and why it seems analytically useful?

  • Richard Fay

    What I was left with (after this seminar) in terms of my own agenda of being refexive and of writing reflexively can be summarised in terms of a couple of points – I am now much more aware:

    1 …. of the difference between being reflexive in the process (of research for example) and of writing reflexively (about such processes).

    2. … that I primarily concerned with reflexivity in the research process rather than more broadly with reflexivity in professional development/reflective practitioner thinking etc – this is not to say that I am in any way ‘agin’ such zones of reflexivity, rather this is not where my current concerns lie; also, the very attempt to draw a line between these zones may be problematic (eg in Action research studies) but, at a simple level, this works for me.

    3. … that I do tend to think about reflexivity as a way of transparently managing the researcher’s relationship with the research(ed) and vice versa, and thus see it as being one way of establishing rigour in certain types of research process.

    4. … that I find the distinction between self-serving and self-indulgent helpful.

    Onwards …..

  • helen lindman

    This is all very interesting!

    Eljee – thank you for putting these questions up for those of us unable to attend. Firstly, I find myself wondering where/when I am being reflexive. Is it in the process of researching and gathering data or in the process of writing my thesis?

    I do feel that my Introduction (displayed here with the other texts) is in many ways ‘self-serving’ but I don’t see this as negative because it has a definitive purpose and isn’t, I hope, self-indulgent. But is it reflexive?

  • Achilleas Kostoulas

    I find the second of these questions (“How to manage the boundary between narcissist self-presentaion and reflexive account?”) quite interesting, since the line between the two seems quite fuzzy some times.

    For me, the key difference is the degree to which the reflexive comments help to further the purpose of the paper. What is being achieved through reflexivity that wouldn’t be achieved so well absent reflexivity? I will try to illustrate this by drawing on some texts that were presented at the event. For reasons of brevity, I will confine this discussion to the first contributions of the first three participants. I hope it’s clear that this selection of papers is not intended to suggest the other contributions were less successful.

    Magdalena’s (first) contribution was taken from her PhD thesis, which is an account of an action research programme she personally designed and implemented. Her involvement in the programme she is researching is such that the latter cannot be fully understood without reference to her. If the action research programme was being studied by an outsider, it would be unthinkable not to include the perspective of the person at its heart, so it follows that Magdalena’s reflective introspection is epistemologically requisite in this case. Actually, I am left wondering whether Magdalena’s narrative could be enhanced with the addition of some kind of meta-commentary on reflexivity, i.e. an account of how she coped with her multiple roles, but I am digressing. Regardless of whether Magdalena makes these comments elsewhere, the point I am trying to make is that her goal (the description of the action research programme) is enhanced through the addition of her reflexive narrative, because it provides a necessary perspective.

    Julian’s extract is also interesting because it uses reflexivity in a text about reflexivity. This is, in a way, reminiscent of Tesa Woodward’s loop input, whereby trainee teachers learn e.g. how to teach listening through exposure to listening tasks. In this case, Julian complements the definitions of two constructs (prospective and retrospective reflexivity) by relating them to himself, the reader and the acts of writing and reading his book. In this case too, I would think that the addition of the reflexive comments furthers the goal implicit in this text, namely to help readers understand what reflexivity is by means of an example that draws directly on experience.

    A similar point can be made about Richard’s first contribution, which is also the last text I will look into. This text appears to be an opening gambit for an ethnographic project. The outcome of this gambit depends on the degree to which Richard can convince readers (presumably the people responsible for approving and evaluating his research) that this project is worthwhile and feasible, in the sense that he can carry it out. The reflexive account of how current research relates to his experience, and how he can capitalise on his existing resources should be read, I think, in this light. So once more, Richard’s intention (?) to persuade is facilitated through his reflexive comments.

    By looking into these three examples, I tried to put forward the point that reflexivity facilitates the realisation of the communicative purpose implicit the text. Its value lies in that it helps writers to describe, explain, persuade and so on, by highlighting the interconnectedness between self and context and drawing upon it. Conversly, I would argue that a personal narrative that does not connect to the communicative purpose would probably not fit my definition of reflexivity – it would indeed be closer to ‘narcisistic self-presentation’. Fortunately, we are all too clever to fall for that pitfall.

  • As a closing ceremony-type of activity, the participants wrote down one sentence about the day (a reflection, a question, a statement, etc.) on a piece of paper which was thrown into a mug. Each participant then picked one at random and read it out loud to the rest of the group.

    So in no particular order…

    “Reflexivity requires both a writer and a reader to be successful.”

    “How to manage the boundary between narcissist self-presentaion and reflexive account?”

    “Thanks to this session I feel more comfortable about my own interpretation of reflexivity.”

    “I feel both overwhelmed and excited by the amount of work ahead of me, and am realising yet again how much the PhD makes me want to explore myself and bores me with the constant introspection.”

    “How can I present my reflexivity in my research without being interpreted as self-serving?”

    “Is our concern with reflexivity still only a minority interest? Do we assume its ‘importance’ because it interests us (only?) or is this a ‘big thing’?”

    “Reflexivity is not the same as personalisation, it can be an overall stance as well as consist of particular discourse moves, it always needs to be purposeful, and one such purpose might be related to the researcher’s demonstration of the value of their work as research.”