Episode 14

David D. Perrodin

My dear fellow applied linguistics researcher friends…

At the end of Episode 13, I asked you to stay tuned for the next episode when I would share with you the challenges of managing biases in your research. So, away we go….

Psychology Today defines bias as a tendency, inclination, or prejudice toward or against something or someone. Bias is often based on unfounded beliefs, faiths, opinions, or stereotypes rather than actual knowledge or validated data. As a result, biases often lead to rash decisions in accepting or rejecting corroborated evidence or information.

When I did a quick search about biases on Google Scholar, I found that most literature focuses on avoiding bias from the researcher side. However, during my PhD journey, I have encountered a form of bias that is not well discussed in the literature; interpretative bias from the reader.

My PhD research focuses on privilege and marginalization in the working contexts, social perception, and self-image of extralocal teachers of English in Thailand. If you recall from one of my earlier blogs, “extralocal” simply means non-local non-native and native teachers who are not part of the nation in which they teach.

In my research, I must continually consider that although I am an insider as a member of the community of practice of English teachers in Thailand, I am also an outsider as I do not share the same ethnicity or nationality as many of my teacher colleagues. I am also not a member of the Thai society, Thai ethnicity, or Thai nationality.

Considering the above information, when I write, I have to reflect on how I can present my data in an unbiased manner to where the reader will accept the validated findings from my study.

Walden University summarizes well the basics of avoiding bias in academic writing. They say that academic writers should write objectively and inclusively to receive respect and trust from readers and avoid alienating them. Being objective means writing with curiosity, rather than having a preset opinion, and engaging with objective data rather than presenting a personal preference. Therefore, it is essential not to let your passion for your topic overshadow the substantiated findings.

As a developing researcher, you have to keep in mind that everyone is affected by the interpretive bias of research evidence. Being inclusive and objective in your academic writing is a skill you will develop, just like your scholarly voice.

Stay tuned for the next episode of ‘From the Mind of a Developing Researcher,’ when I will share the challenges of dealing with academic journal editors and reviewers.

My Favorite References

Bitchener, J. (2010). Writing an Applied Linguistics Thesis or Dissertation: A Guide to Presenting Empirical Research. Palgrave Macmillan.

Gorvine, B., Rosengren, K., Stein, L., & Biolsi, K. (2017). Research Methods: From Theory to Practice (1st ed.). Oxford University Press.

Henrich, J. (2021). The Weirdest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous. Penguin.

Kahneman, D. (2013). Thinking, Fast and Slow (1st ed.). Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Pohl, R. F. (2005). Cognitive Illusions: A Handbook on Fallacies and Biases in Thinking, Judgement and Memory (1st ed.). Psychology Press.

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