Literature review

I have compiled lists of reference books for a bibliography, with a line or two describing the work, but not as a critical standalone piece of work. Indeed an online study guide from Leicester University site notes:  A critical review: It is important that your literature review is more than just a list of references with a short description of each one. and quotes “Merriam (1988:6) describes the literature review as:  ‘an interpretation and synthesis of published work’.

I’ve had a look around some online reading: Royal Literary Fund, and some YouTube videos posted by various universities – but decided against those due to uncertainty of their quality and relevance to the academic context I work in now.

Having now done some reading around it,  I understand it to be a different beast to what I’d envisaged.

The University of Leicester Study Guide site is comprehensive and really useful. It explains timelines – when you should do it, choosing the time frame, the types of materials and how to approach them ie books, journals, online works and kind of work you have to do. Keeping a record, when to stop and writing it up – and even when to write:

It is also important to see the writing stage as part of the research process, not something that happens after you have finished reading the literature. Wellington et al (2005:80) suggest ‘Writing while you collect and collecting while you write.’

(my emphasis).

Then organising it into a structure and making a summary. Here are some key concepts in the Study Guide:

Wakulenko, I. Screenshot (2019) University of Leicester

Subsequently, looking over Machi and McEvoy, I’ve determined that I don’t need to do a complex review, as I’m not going to propose original research based on this work, I’m going to “produce a position on the state of that knowledge”.

Machi and McEvoy p3

I have realised that I should have known to approach the review right at the beginning of this project – I have been perusing and reading but not in a systematic way that I understand is required now. Also, it is a useful tool in helping to form the research question.

As 3D filmmaking in its current iteration is a new field (although it does have a long history) there’s not a lot a writing about the intersection between that and 2D storytelling – but perhaps my literature review can reflect that. I would like to produce something that the students can use in further collaborations between the courses.



Leicester University Doing a literature review : Study guide Available at:

Machi, L.A.  and McEvoy, B. T. (2016) The Literature Review: Six Steps to Success 3rd ed. Corwin / Sage


Mixed methods review: “the two main bodies of love in the enquiry”

When I’m in a hurry or my thinking gets too tangled I like to record my thoughts on my phone – it’s a useful method to download those things out of my conscious brain and use the instantly translated transcripts as source material.  Also, it’s appropriate source material for the autoethnography method I’m experimenting with, in regard to my personal process.

I love accidents and flashes of inspiration in scientific or artistic practice – they can really turn around a project.. though the accident has to be followed through to a conclusion. (Loria, 2018). The instant transcriber of my verbal stream of consciousness audio recording on my phone is pretty good but not infallible. One of the accidental transcripts (in bold below) it made really appealed to me.

“I went along and looked at it (narrative enquiry) I didn’t want to tell a story about telling stories in 2-D or 3-D I thought to be better it’s about me more, to be reflective about the process, so I think my methodology is going to be a one where I keep a journal I keep subjective thoughts I talk about the creative thoughts that come to me and I like, and so the two main bodies of love in the enquiry that I want to look at in this project are the mechanics of of how you make something happen” Wakulenko, I. (2019) Reflective note transcription  

If I use the accidental simile “the two main bodies of love in the enquiry” and replace it with the two main bodies of work research enquiry – one “body” being subjective – and the other, an objective “body”.

The “bodies of love” that had turned up – the accident in my transcript made me recall the brilliant philosopher Gillian Rose’s autobiographical treatise “Love’s Work” (2011). In it there was a section that she wrote on the boundaries between two people – and rather than a boundary, she proposed love as a permeable membrane that expanded and contracted between the two. Perhaps within the theory of knowledge, knowledge may be described as a permeable membrane between subjectivity and objectivity – I think they are connected and relational.

There are multiple debates in research and in philosophy around subjectivity and objectivity – essentially centring around the question – can there be anything truly objective. Here’s one that says it can, in opposition to a post-modernist stance:

This article argues that subjective processes, social relations, and artifacts (including research instruments and methods) enable researchers to objectively comprehend psychological phenomena. This position opposes the postmodernist contention that subjective processes, social relations, and artifacts interfere with objectivity. (Ratner, 2002).

In Research Methods in Education the authors comment on  a rise in recent years of a third path approach to research, a new paradigm of a mixed methods review where both objective (quantitative) and subjective (qualitative) are used. This, to me, seems both pragmatic and a reflection of the greater complexities of the world that binary approaches offer. According to Rick Reis at Stanford (undated);

 “Creswell and Plano Clark (2011) date the beginnings of mixed-methods research back to the mid- to late 1980s. Methodology experts and writers from all around the world seemed to have been simultaneously working on similar ideas regarding the combination of quantitative and qualitative methods”.

As another approach to my research, I’ve been thinking about using David Kolb’s experiential learning cycle analysis, which would integrate the subjective parts of the process into the learning.

  • as the concrete experience, describe the development and effectiveness of the Coldharbour partnership of two MA courses, Documentary Film who do 2D and MA courses, Virtual Reality, 3D storytelling (with an external organisation
  • the reflective observation – the recordings & blog journal thoughts I write
  • adding qualitative interviews with students/filmmaker to my journal, the conceptualising / learning from both and a review of the literature of 2D and 3D storytelling.
  • active experimentation process will, however occur out of the range of this exercise but I can plan what is next in conjunction with the project partners

I was interested too, in visualisation as a method but was afraid that understanding it as a research method would possibly be too risky and would take up too much time working it out..though images have suggested themselves to me: the moire pattern when visualising the creation of new knowledge, the hourglass shape of a research project (starting out wide, narrowing, going out wide), an apple (a Christian knowledge transgression myth by the female sex resulting in being cast from paradise, a poisoned apple – Snow White, Fermat, a reward, the Judgement of Paris, a gift for the teacher), the beautiful silvery fish (representing my elusive research idea falling back into the water of my subconscious), it could really be a rich area of enquiry. It wouldn’t work for the aim of my research, to produce a written reference for students.

Grading & Reproducability of research
I was fascinated to hear Catherine’s description of the meta study of grading across subjects – with the result that they could not objectively be mapped to standard criteria, there was so much variation in the results.

“Catherine shared her insights from External Moderation Forum with Margaret Price, who has been doing a large piece of work with a sample from across the HE sector, including a range of subject disciplines. Price (2005) found that parallel grading of samples of work varied widely, which leads her to fundamentally question the ‘standardising’ tools that are used.  ” Martin, J.  Formative Assessment Presentations email 18.02.19: Summary Tue 19/02/2019 10:30

Similarly, something I read recently in ScienceAlert about the poor statistics of reproducibility of scientific & social science experiments is currently precipitating something of a reproducibility crisis – by extension, a ‘questioning the standardising tools’ (but with also other factors in play..)

 Context is everything, and a different conclusion might not make the data or even some of the findings bad (Mcrea)

Author of Autoethnography as Method Heewon Chang writes about inserting the personal into the academic, as a “research method that utilizes autobiographical data to analyze and interpret their cultural assumptions”. Critic Sue Butler reviewed Chang’s book and wrote:

To support her central assumption of self, the author draws on the principles of social constructionism proposed by Ken Gergen (1999/2000): What we take to be knowledge of world grows from relationship, and is embedded not within individual minds but within interpretive or communal traditions. In effect, there is a way in which constructionalist dialogues celebrate relationship as opposed to the individual, connection over isolation, and communion over antagonism.

(my emphasis) (Butler, 2009 p. 122)

 The auto-ethnography resource of my recordings / my writing is reflective and personal, yet it is connected to wider cultural knowledge, and in a critical analysis.

A Gillian Rose (and I don’t know yet if they were the same author) wrote a work on Visual Methodolgies – which even if I don’t use Visual Research as methodology, I do want to explore when researching the right project.



Butler, S. (2009). Considering “Objective” Possibilities in Autoethnography: A Critique of Heewon Chang’s Autoethnography as Method1. The Qualitative Report, 15(1), 295-299. Retrieved from

Chang, H. (2016) Autoethnography as Method London & New York : Routledge

Cohen, L.,  Manion, L., Morrison, Keith (2011) Research Methods in Education Routledge 

Kolb, D. A. (2015) Experiential learning : experience as the source of learning and development Upper Saddle River, New Jersey : Pearson Education

Loria, K. (2018) These 18 Accidental And Unintended Scientific Discoveries Changed The World Science Alert.

Finnigan, T. , Aronstam, D.  (year) Visual Directions (bad link)

Mcrae, M. (2018)  Science’s ‘Replication Crisis’ Has Reached Even The Most Respectable Journals, Report Shows 

Ratner, C. (2002) Subjectivity and Objectivity in Qualitative Methodology FQS  Vol 3, No 3  Access here:

Rose, G. (2001) Visual Methodologies Sage

Rose, G. (2011) Love’s work New York Review of Books
Pixabay Apple, Red, Red Apple, Apple Orchard
Pixabay License

Free for commercial use
No attribution required

18 February: Formative assessments

If I don’t sleep enough it has a disastrous effect on my thought process, I am very scrambled. I’d been working so deeply and late into the night on a project for a client I felt unable to engage in the class and the task. I struggled to focus and even scribing to record feedback for others in our group was difficult but I did send them all.

Also, a major obstacle currently, the collaborative project has had to be scheduled down at the end of the Term, close to the submission of my findings, so there’s nothing I can observe yet, but keep up with my reading.


Another view

As I was unable to attend the following week’s session (11 February) due to pressure of work, I took the opportunity to consult an Academic Support advisor about my research question whilst I was in work at a meeting 8 Feb.

In trying to meet my teaching committments, even though they are part-time, starting up a new collaborative project with another MA, the other outside professional activities I take on and having a new Course Leader is a challenge. Trying to balance all the things part time staff do is a situation  acknowledged in the HEA report Shifting landscapes; Meeting the staff development needs of the changing academic workforce (p76)  in many  academic institutions.

“Workload and a particular challenge for part-time staff…  For fractional staff this also creates a problem in that a 0.5 FTE academic post may require working hours far more than half a 37-hour week. This puts pressure on part-time academic staff, either to subsidise their employer by working in non-working time, or in limiting themselves to their contracted hours and not performing all the tasks normally expected of an academic. “

Part-time staff have to spend (even more) time tracking their time, and trying to be vigilant about not “subsiding” their employers using strategies like arranging meetings on teaching days, trying to schedule full days teaching – as the rest of half days’ work is inevitably rendered unusable by time (willingly) spent talking to students or with colleagues or travelling – and remote electronic sessions.

So while I was in work for a meeting I was able to make a consultation with Academic Support and spent time with a person at a remove from my immediate group, was so useful. As ever, having to communicate a project helps to sharpen the focus of my thoughts.

But then later my idea slipped away from me like a beautiful silvery fish off the hook, down into the murk.


Locke, W., Whitchurch, C., Smith, H. and Mazenod, A. (2016) Shifting landscapes; Meeting the staff development needs of the changing academic workforce Higher Education Academy. Available at: (Accessed 9 February 2019).

Fishing in Wales: By Anglers for Anglers (2017)  Sea Bass Catch Limit Zero in 2018? Available at: Accessed (9 February 2019).





4 February: Presenting my project

I shared my ideas so far with my two fellows and our tutor.

I’d started with sharing the setting up my workflow page with the skeleton of the required elements for submission, so I could remember what the goal was while wandering through the research process.

I described how after our last session on Methods and Methodology, I’d been thinking about visualisation methods and the two disciplines involved in my enquiry, documentary film and 360 VR film.  I’d been thinking of them as two distinct lattices of information, yet one having another dimension, and the possibility of intersections between them.  I walked into my kitchen and had seen the sun shine projecting through the colander on the washboard, a moire pattern, which to me was a serendipitous visualisation of the possibility of new knowledge created in the intersections / spaces between the two disciplines. Just like moiré patterns, the creation of new knowledge can’t be anticipated, the pattern that is generated can’t be controlled.

moire clip 

I shared my blog pages with them too. After using this format last year I found the reflective platform really useful way to develop thoughts, helps me keep track of what’s happened in the course, and show the stages of work I’ve addressed so far:  but I’ve kept the posts private until I got some feedback and sharpened the writing.

My current version of my research question:

  • How does 360degree VR filmmaking impact on Documentary Storytelling is based on a collaboration between MA DF MA VR and the Independent Film Trust and Michael Groce.

It’s always good to get feedback, but you have to evaluate it too, for what is useful to you.  As it’s still early, well it feels early in the process for me, I am somewhat uncertain about it all. I don’t know how or if to sharpen or change my question and I’m confused and surprised at how it makes me feel despondent.

So, after a few days  I return to Curran to refocus on documentary storytelling:

“A documentary story may begin as an idea, hypothesis, or series of questions based on real world people and events

It’s a conceptual process that starts with an idea, continues to be applied, and re-applied as a project is shot and edited, conceived and re-conceived, structured and re-structured creative arrangement without sacrificing the factual”

Using familiar storytelling elements I’d like to see how these intersect in between the disciplines.

  • Identifying a topic responding to the workshop we did 21 Jan utilising the 5 whys and the mind map
  • Storytelling in documentary film and virtual reality
  • Methodology and methods
  • Action plan
  • Research ethics


Bernard, S. C. (2011] Documentary Storytelling: Creative non-fiction on screen (3rd ed.)  Amsterdam ; Focal Press


Research ethics

Much of the research on ethics arises from the well established sectors of medical ethics and social research norms – which in turn rest on the law as the highest expression of culture.
Historically, the post WWII Nuremburg trials established a world wide medical ethical code:
The judgment by the war crimes tribunal at Nuremberg laid down 10 standards to which physicians must conform when carrying out experiments on human subjects in a new code that is now accepted worldwide. This judgment established a new standard of ethical medical behavior for the post World War II human rights era.

The Nuremburg Code

The UK government has ethical standards for all sectors of government across the whole of public life.

My approach

Having got approval from the Dean to investigate this project, my first steps to addressing the ethical concerns of my project are:

– to seek permission from my Course Leader to undertake this research as part of the Course work I undertake for the MA
– to brief and ask permission from other project partners, the other MA Course Leader, and the project initiators from outside the College.
– then I will brief the students about what I am doing, and ask for in principle agreement to participate in the research that I will devise as part of their work

I’ll give my interviewees a project information document, and ask them to sign a participant release form.

Once those things are determined I’ll be able to fill in the ethics forms and submit for approval.

Responding to the following reference, I will ask myself:
– will this project be worthwhile?
– who will benefit from it?
– what are the potential risks for the participants?
–  what are our roles and responsibilities as researchers?
– who are we accountable to and what are we accountable for?
Ethical reflexivity is a core feature of qualitative research practice as ethical questions may arise in every phase of the research process (Von Unger, 2016). For example, researchers ask themselves: will this project be worthwhile? Who will benefit from it? What are the potential risks for the participants? What are our roles and responsibilities as researchers? Who are we accountable to and what are we accountable for? Some of these questions have already been the focus of the FQS debate on ethics (see link above). These questions do not generally have easy answers, as ethics are intertwined with (university, state, field) politics in many ways (Roth, 2004b) and remain open to re-interpretation and debate in fundamental ways.
British Educational Research Association [BERA] (2018)
Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research, fourth edition, London.
Available at:
Roth, W-M., Von Unger, H. (2018) Current Perspectives on Research Ethics in Qualitative Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research
(Accessed: 3 February 2019)
FQS is a peer-reviewed multilingual open-access journal for qualitative research, established in 1999.


28 January 19: Methodology and methods

Methodology: an over-arching approach to research, strategy (war)
Method: a tool used to answer your research question and or collect data (battle)

I’m really pleased to be working with Adam, a knitwear designer and practitioner based in Paris, and Glen, a theatre designer based at Wimbledon in our re-configured group.
We were assigned to research the Narrative enquiry methodology from the following list:
Case study
Practise based research
Narrative enquiry
Action research

All the groups researched their own topic and posted the three most salient points from available books and online searches on a Padlet page. It was really useful to promote discussion in an informal manner, being able to consult books and online research to create knowledge collaboratively, and such an elegant place to collate the results.
We found the reference FQS Qualitative social research website very useful.

Having heard feedback from the groups and read their summaries, I thought that practice based research and possibly auto-ethnography would be relevant methodological approaches to investigate my question.  Why would I choose these approaches?

“the justification for the choice of any specific strategy must depend on having a clear vision of the particular purpose for which it is being used. Unless we know what the research is trying to achieve it is impossible to judge whether it is likely to be useful or appropriate.”
(Denscombe, 2010, p5)

I anticipate that Lorraine and Julia’s descriptions of Practice based research dovetails into my question, in particular:
“Understanding different practices using one’s own practice to contrast and compare”, and “Knowledge transfer between different fields within an academic research framework” – and in a way the description of practice based research IS also what it is for.

Drawing and Visualisation
I am assuming that video can be part of this method, though Sharon, Nicola, Nicolas had this as a question in their summary.

Our cohort of students will be collaborating with another MA course, and utilising texts from both arenas, I can seek out nodes of similarity or spaces of difference. Perhaps moiré is a visualisation of what might happen where two patterns / fields are overlaid but have a different angle / disjunction.

As I was thinking about the narrative threads in the storylines of both practices and where they intersect, a shared node. If the 2D linear structure of storytelling in film and the curvilinear structure of VR 3D were transparent patterns overlaid with each other – a Moire pattern a third unpredictable pattern may emerge. As I was thinking about this in my kitchen my colander and sunlight gave me the perfect illustration of shape moire.. in the analogue world line moire occurs when two grids intersect, though there are many instances of moire in the digital world too. Here’s a reference that describes the many instances of moiré .

As I’m thinking of geometry I think about clothing and Adam’s work in knitwear. I love the Missoni 50s Italian zig zag patterns and these patterns have then to become dimensional in their design when worn. Perhaps we can discuss these kinds of thoughts. He referred to a text The Ecological University: A Feasible Utopia Ronald Barnett, Routledge as an inspirational reference.

See the link to the video I recorded.
I don’t know if this moiré metaphor will hold on the road of research but as an example of imaging the idea I am considering it to be visual research.

Auto-ethnography would also be a useful way to approach the subject in order to track my own learning and record the evolution of this experimental work by the two student cohorts.  At the same time it would encompass the reflection requirement of the study.

“it is about being both outward and inward looking on the part of the researcher”.
Definition researched by: Yi, Max, Beth and Stella.

Interviews are a staple method of enquiry for documentary film, but I’m not investigating that directly in my question, though it might be an obvious way to collect data from students involved in the collaborative project.

FQA: Forum: Qualitative Research Available at: Accessed: 28 January 2019).

Moiré pattern Available at: (Accessed 2 Feb 2019).