Article acceptance

I’ve had news today of acceptance (with revisions) of an article I submitted to International Journal of Research and Method in Education. The article is called ‘Beyond member-checking: A dialogic approach to the research interview’, and is based on my methodological approach to my doctoral work.

The reviewer comments were very thorough and helpful (which is not always the case!), and very supportive of my perspective. There’s one piece of feedback I’d like to share, however. One of the reviewers noted that I am open about my status as a research student, suggesting that I should be more ‘assertive’ and make my work more relevant to most/all qualitative researchers in education. So far, so fair. However, the reviewer goes on to say:


By submitting this manuscript to this particular international journal, the author is fully participating in the academic community as a competent researcher who really has something important to say. Therefore, I suggest the author to remove references to ‘trainee researcher’ on page 2 and details about submitting research procedures to a panel’. Such references trivialize the significance of this manuscript. 


I infer from this that ‘trainees’ are less likely to be considered as having something important to say, and that an article by a trainee is less significant to the academic community than one by a ‘competent’ researcher. I take issue with this on two counts. One, the idea that the researcher’s level of experience has a bearing on the significance of their work over and above the content, and thus trainee researchers don’t have anything really ‘important to say’which, incidentally, is refuted by the acceptance of this article, so why ask me to obscure my trainee researcher voice? Two, that there comes a point at which we cross a line from ‘trainee’ to ‘competent’ researcher, which seems to me more of a discoursal point than anything else, in keeping with our current system of targets, competencies, measurable outcomes etc. I don’t mean to suggest that we do not become ‘competent’ – my beef is with the notion of ‘competence’ being opposed to that of ‘trainee’, as though there is a clear division, and that trainees may not also be competent and competent researchers may not also be trainees. I’d rather see these as a dialogic relation (appropriately enough); as our ‘competence’ develops, so do our ‘training’ needs. There is no end point to learning and developing, after all…

But still – good news!


  • Magda Rostron

    Congratulations, Lou!

    I agree with the points you make. You are right to question the logic of your article’s acceptance, if “trainees” are seen as somehow “less acceptable” for publication than experienced researchers. At what point exactly does one become an experienced researcher? I’m guessing that being awarded a doctoral degree could be that threshold – but isn’t it also true that in order to get there one becomes very deeply involved in research, as a “trainee researcher”? Anyway, very well done indeed!



  • Congratulations Lou! I see the point you are making about the perceived tension between ‘competent’ and ‘trainee’ identities, but I am wondering whether the reviewer’s comment was intended in response to what might have seemed, to them, as a defensive tone. It’s of course hard to say, without having read your article…

  • Susan Dawson

    Firstly, congratulations – another published article is great news. Thanks too for that reflection on your reviewers comments which as you point out are very revealing – I’m with you completely. The use of ‘fully’ to describe participation seems odd too, as if you can only ‘fully participate’ once you have ‘passed’ the trainee stage which as you say is a complete contradiction as far as your article is concerned. Emmm – not sure how well this bodes for the future.

    By the way Lou – could you send the full reference and I’ll add it to the collection. Thanks.