My research persona

There may be nothing new under the sun (to quote the old adage), but how we understand what’s under the sun keeps changing. There are so many ways of knowing (epistemology) and each perspective gives new insights.

In my 20s and 30s I was involved in the Independence Movement for people with disabilities in South Africa. I was part of the group that established the first Independent Living Centre (an information and support centre), and an active member and advisor in the National Accessibility Programme in Gauteng region around Johannesburg and Pretoria. Our group also established the Disabled People South Africa organisation.

In my 20s I was a rehabilitation nurse for people with spinal cord injuries and brain injuries and associated disabilities. It was exciting to help people carve out a new way of living as a consequence of the catastrophic changes that one has to adjust to. As an advanced nurse practitioner I had my own nursing practice and contracted to the Quadriplegic Association of South Africa (QASA), providing home-based nursing care for people with complications of spinal cord injury.

We changed the world! We defined how disability parking spaces should be designed. We created the code of practice for the Architecture Act in which toilets and other accessibility features of buildings were defined. We started a movement. For a while I was an activist, making a difference. I keep returning to these roots because they were so satisfying.

How does this influence my research persona?

– Research is all about learning something new, and Grounded Theory is for me the best way to do it. Grounded Theory gives me access to points of view that don’t usually get heard or acted upon.

– Research should be about making a difference. Once we have new insights we can change the world. Action Research is a way of including research contributors, participants and users in the research process. It offers unique opportunities to apply research findings as they emerge and modify the research plan to keep it relevant.

– Being part of the road less travelled in terms of exploratory research is more exciting than conducting confirmatory research. You can change my mind if you want to – there’s a place in Grounded Theory and Action Research for us to conduct both exploratory and confirmatory research!

Come play with me!

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