Bringing ideas to life

Textbooking: Research and education

Published in Method by Mark Murphy on December 5, 2013

researcheducationThis year I wrote ‘Research and education’ with Will Curtis and Sam Shields and it was published last month by Routledge. Given the pressures of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) I have to admit I thought twice about producing a textbook ostensibly for undergraduate students – I’m not the first to second guess myself when it comes to textbook publishing and I won’t be the last I’m sure. But having got a copy in my hand I’m glad I did, and remember the reasons why I decided to take on the project in the first place. I don’t want to disparage other publications, but it’s hard to find a single source that covers all the topics I believe are relevant to research training in education. There are some decent books out there, but I’ve often felt that they offer either too little or too much, or overdo the theory side at the expense of the practical side (or vice-versa). But having produced this publication, I’ve realised that writing this kind of textbook, or at least one that manages to balance the different objectives, is not an easy task. In fact it was a lot harder than I thought it would be (well my one-third contribution anyway). Having said that, I’m quite happy with the book – I don’t mean that in a complacent way, I just mean that I think the effort was worth it. I think it was worth it because the book at its core is an educational book; I’ve always believed that publishing is a form of teaching and this book I hope is a good example of this connection.

If you go to the publisher’s page you can view the contents of the book, which are organised around 4 sections:

  • Planning an education research project
  • Research strategies
  • Methods of data collection
  • Theorising research

Each section includes a range of relevant chapters such as the ones focusing on ‘reviewing the literature’, ‘action research’, ‘the position of the reseacher and so on. Each chapter also includes a range of features, such as:

  • Extension tasks
  • Case studies
  • Practical advice and tips
  • Annotated further reading lists

Of course these are the kinds of features that publishers and students are keen on, and rightly so. But all three co-authors were keen on including these as core features also – not to spoon feed students but to provide what we think are valuable bridges between the theory of research and its actual practice.

I hope it proves to be a decent addition to the education research literature – feel free to comment on the book if you bought a copy, I would be glad to hear from you, Mark



Mark MurphyMark Murphy is a Reader in Education and Public Policy at the University of Glasgow. He previously worked as an academic at King’s College, London, University of Chester, University of Stirling, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, University College Dublin and Northern Illinois University. Mark is an active researcher in the fields of education and public policy. His research interests include educational sociology, critical theory, accountability in higher education, and public sector reform.

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