Episode 6

David D. Perrodin

My dear fellow applied linguistics researcher friends…

At the end of Episode 5, I asked you to stay tuned for the next episode when I would share my eureka moment and the challenges of finding a theoretical framework to work within for my research. So, here we go….

Sometimes as Ph.D. candidates, we need downtime to refresh our outlook about our research. One of our lecturers (my darling Ph.D. supervisor) told us that we should do wide-reading if we want out-of-the-box research ideas. Wide-reading is nothing more than reading academically and leisurely about topics different from our research focus. During my Ph.D. journey, I have spent many hours reading academic papers and books related to my research topic. And to be honest, I was burned out after two years of fervent reading. 

I knew that if I did not stop reading for a few days, I would no longer have the passion for continuing. I did not stop leisurely reading; I stopped academically reading. I have an eclectic reading palette. I love to read about any topic that strikes my interest.

About two weeks after I began my academic reading sabbatical, I read an article about dealing with Ph.D. research stress and anxiety. While reading, I came across a statement by a Ph.D. candidate who mentioned feeling worthless. Worthless? Why would someone think that they did not have any value when pursuing a Ph.D.?

As I continued reading, I saw that the Ph.D. candidate referred to their supervisor as “ruthless.” They continued that their Ph.D. supervisor was maniacally hostile towards them and other students. The Ph.D. candidate ended by saying that if their supervisor would just offer one positive comment about their work, they would change their whole outlook.

I know that each person experiences their Ph.D. journey differently and that the feelings this Ph.D. candidate expressed towards their supervisor were their feelings. I can tell you that my Ph.D. supervisor challenges me, BUT they would never be cruel.

I recalled when I chatted with the English teachers. Some said that they felt invisible or not seen as a person but as an object. They were saying was that they felt worthless…. NO VALUE!!!!!! I sat back in my chair for a few minutes thinking that if their experiences at their job and in Thai society affect their feelings of value, those feelings of value must affect how they feel about themselves.

Eureka!!! I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall when they rebooted his brain. I started searching for research about the feelings of personal value and how this value may be determined by employment context or social interaction. I came across Social Capital Theory by Pierre Bourdieu, a French philosopher, and sociologist.

I found my theoretical framework to work within…

Stay tuned for the next episode of “From the Mind of a Developing Researcher,” when I will share with you the challenges of adapting Social Capital Theory for use in my research.

My Favorite Books

  1. Paltridge, B., & Phakiti, A. (2015). Research Methods in Applied Linguistics. Bloomsbury Academic.
  2. Straus, J., Kaufman, L., & Stern, T. (2014). The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation: An Easy-to-Use Guide with Clear Rules, Real-World Examples, and Reproducible Quizzes (11th ed.). Wiley.
  3. Wintergerst, A., & McVeigh, J. (2010). Tips for Teaching Culture: Practical Approaches to Intercultural Communication (1st ed.). Pearson Education ESL.
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