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Virtuous Educational Research

Conversations on Ethical Practice


Julian Stern

This is a book of conversations with researchers working across Europe, the USA and Africa. It aims to illuminate the lived reality of educational research on a wide variety of topics, including family life in rural South Africa, support for self-harming students in the UK, character development in the USA and Korea, educational leadership in the UK and China, philosophical analysis of education policy, and much more.
The book is for and about researchers and is built around a set of conversations with the author – a fellow researcher. Researchers work at the frontiers of our knowledge and understanding of the world, and frontiers can be dangerous places. How are the researchers’ personal qualities – virtues such as courage, honesty and kindness – tested and exemplified in their work? The conversations presented here explore the experience of research and ask what qualities are needed, or wished for, in order to successfully face its challenges. There are many books that include lists of what to do and what not to do when carrying out research. Here, in contrast, we find out what really happens and why – and what it takes to keep going.
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Chapter 9 99 Per Cent Perspiration: The Virtues of Hard Work


← 152 | 153 →


99 Per Cent Perspiration: The Virtues of Hard Work


Research is hard work: there’s no disguising it. This is the impression of research held by those who have not yet researched – the students just about to start a final year dissertation, the mid-career educator deciding to get a doctorate, the newly appointed academic realising that teaching and administration takes up a lot of time and energy and research has to be completed as well. A theme running through this chapter is that experienced and senior researchers also find research hard. Some things become easier (perhaps knowing which journals and book publishers to approach), and some things are less off-putting (perhaps negative feedback from peer-reviewers, or failing to get a grant). On the whole, however, the research is just as hard (as in Fitzgerald and White 2012). This chapter, based on conversations with two successful researchers, attempts to explore the reasons why research is – and should continue to be – hard work. There are good, positive, reasons, and there are some that are simply unavoidable frustrations. As Edison said, genius is 99 per cent perspiration, 1 per cent inspiration. But don’t even think about it without the 1 per cent. There are many more themes in these conversations, of course, from being caring to being impolite, and much in between. ← 153 | 154 →

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