Discuss The Importance Of Language Or Voice When Writing The Research Narrative

Discuss The Importance Of Language Or Voice When Writing The Research Narrative

Discuss The Importance Of Language Or Voice When Writing The Research Narrative

A few events took place as I was working on this dissertation that served as a
reminder of the relevance of voice in our increasingly complex and changing society.
While I was writing the literature chapter, a gunman entered a cafe in Denmark1
shot people because they were discussing freedom of speech. This came weeks after
the shooting of eleven people working for Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris2
. These
attacks raised questions about our tolerance of difference in society and the right for
individuals (and groups) to voice their opinions. These attacks were directed at
freedom of speech and were essentially an attempt to silence voices. The voices in
question were both physical presences – the speakers in the cafe – as well as written
presences – the writers and artists who worked in a controversial magazine
commenting on society. While this dissertation specifically focuses on voice in
academic writing, my objective here is to draw attention to voice in its broadest
sense, as an issue of contemporary social, cultural and historical significance that
exists beyond the academy and as one which merits more of our attention and
Some of the questions raised in this dissertation have relevance to wider society.
Voice, a complex topic in itself, casts light upon the complexities and challenges of
living in today’s world. Voice matters because we have to navigate our
understanding through a multitude of voices, opinions and perspectives on a daily
basis. Voice matters because we need to be able to listen to other voices but also,
within the melee, to find our own convictions. Voice matters because we need to be
able to understand how and where our own voices are informed and often
overshadowed by others. Voice matters because we need to consider context and
motivations and perhaps to ask more frequently (as Bakhtin might), who is the
speaker? In an era of rapid developments in digital communication our access to

information and to the voices of others is greater and more immediate than ever.
Nowadays we have the ability to communicate more widely and routinely through
Twitter, blogs, Facebook and to send emails and texts. Writing and having a voice
have become a part of our world and technology gives us a platform to voice our
views and feelings in the moment. Voice matters because thinking about it can help
us be more discerning about what we write and how we communicate.
Voice matters because it lies at the nexus of social and educational debate and, over
the past forty years, reflects some of the shifting paradigms and priorities in
education and society. Voice matters because it tells an insightful story. Part of this
story is about the individual and individual expression. Part of this story is about the
context – educational, cultural and societal – and part of the story is about the
relationship between the individual and the context. Voice raises key issues that need
to be discussed more openly and more prominently.
This thesis focusses on voice within the context of higher education and specifically
in relation to academic writing. It touches upon the stories of individuals and the
relationships between the individuals with their immediate institutional environment
as well as the wider context of higher education and society which also have a
bearing on what and how they write. The stories and discussions are about the
process of writing and they are also about the joys and woes related to this process.
What emerges in this research is that academic writing is an emotive subject. The
interview discussions charted individual writing journeys reminiscent at times, of
fairy tales or ancient tales of a hero’s journey capturing moments of challenge,
misadventure, rites of passage and victories alike.
By asking people about their writing and about voice – questions never previously
considered by most of the research participants – this research offers useful insights.
During the interviews, it provided an opportunity for those involved to reflect upon
their own writing practice as well as the assumptions they had about academic
writing and the expectations of the academy. In some cases, this had an immediate
and tangible impact on the participants and they commented that the interview had
been beneficial to them. The stories and discussions presented in this thesis have, in
turn, a value for the reader.

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