Handbook of Research Methods in Migration
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Handbook of Research Methods in Migration

Edited by Carlos Vargas-Silva

Covering both qualitative and quantitative topics, the expert contributors in this Handbook explore fundamental issues of scientific logic, methodology and methods, through to practical applications of different techniques and approaches in migration research.
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Chapter 24: What the Textbooks Don’t Tell You: Moving from a Research Puzzle to Publishing Findings

Irene Bloemraad


Irene Bloemraad During my undergraduate degree, I was a consumer of academic research. I read books and articles that my professors assigned, and I searched for more books and articles when asked to write a ‘research paper.’ My papers were analyses of other people’s scholarship: I compared, contrasted, and criticized theory and research, but I did not carry out my own studies. One of the harder parts of being a graduate student was becoming a producer of research. I had become so well trained in criticizing other people’s work that the thought of producing my own was unnerving. How do you map out a solid research plan when you had never done research before? The dissertation felt like a mountain of Everest-like heights, and all I had were hiking boots, but no other climbing gear. The methods textbooks, which were supposed to be the ‘how-to’ guides for this journey, tended to increase my anxiety rather than alleviate it. They invariably made the research process sound easy: identify a research question, review the relevant literature, pick an appropriate methodology, collect data, analyse the data, and then write up the results. The academic articles I read in class all seemed to follow the textbook format, describing a logical and orderly process that unfolded effortlessly. Over the seven years of my PhD, I learned that these templates, while accurate about the parts of a research project, obscure the messy reality of putting it all together and carrying out the project. In this chapter,...

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