Discourses of the self: constructions of a woman researcher

Rodriguez, Jenny K. (2008) Discourses of the self: constructions of a woman researcher. In: Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis Across Disciplines (CADAAD), 2008-07-10 - 2008-07-12.

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The importance of reflexivity as part of the research process has been widely discussed yet literature that analyses the discourses constructed by researchers as a result of the reflexive process are scarce. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the implications of the use of reflexivity strategies on the way a researcher (re)constructs her identity throughout the research process. The paper uses personal research notes as well as the notes that informed the reflexivity process while conducting doctoral research. A reading of these notes will be made using discourse analysis. The analysis will focus on how the process of reflection impacts the articulation of discourses of the self. The case made by this paper relates to the case of women conducting research in male-dominated environments, where assumptions about their gender identities obscure their research roles, creating interaction conflicts and possibly compromising data gathering. The paper draws on the author's own experience conducting research on gender construction in the public sector in a developing country. The paper is keen to argue that the use of reflexivity strategies involves a re-construction of the researcher. As an ongoing process, reflexivity serves not only the purpose of self-reflection but also generates processes of self-articulation. As a result of the constant self-awareness brought about by reflexivity, the researcher produces multiple discourses of herself based on (re)interpretations of herself. This paper has significant implications for the discussion of the limits of reflexivity and the pressure it imposes on researchers as a means of legitimisation and validation of research practices and representations. The paper focuses on discourses of research(er) identity, which are generally acknowledged when discussing reflexivity but not specifically made the centre of scrutiny. The paper contributes to the limited discussion on researcher's constitution of self and research personhood.