Place for My Voice

Two-weeks of face-to-face classes (residency) in my Graduate Diploma in Learning and Technology program at Royal Roads have ended.  A year of online challenges begins. One of my challenges is reading scholarly research journal articles.  The dry objectivity of academic writing seems to squeeze out any soul or human interest, yet reading megabytes of artiasleep at computercles and eventually contributing significant soulless studies of my own is an inescapable element of this academic journey I have undertaken.  I am learning to read abstracts and conclusions and scan the rest of the article to see if it answers any burning questions from the current assignment.  Is it: holistic or reductionist; numbers, narratives, or both; talking to people or combing through text; fixing a problem or solving a puzzle; answering questions or creating questions?  This literature encounter of the mind-numbing kind should become less tedious as I learn to engage with burning questions of my own.

One assigned reading made me slow down and read with interest. Heide Estes (2012) writes about the scholar’s voice finding a more natural tone in scholarly blogs, presenting arguments for the importance of narrative in scholarly literature in a blogging voice, while suggesting that the scholar’s own blog is the place for narrative and voice.  Interesting juxtaposition.  Estes’ quote from Scott Slovak resonates with me; “Storytelling, combined with clear exposition, produces the most engaging and trenchant scholarly discourse” (2008, as cited in Estes, 2012).  She also refers to Natalia Cecire’s blog post about academia’s reluctance to show possible flaws in public, “we have a culture of making it look easy, and of concealing as much as possible ‘the raw material of poetry in all its rawness'” (2011).  I know academic writing is a language I must acquire to study and communicate at this level, but these scholars offer blogs as a place for exactly the rawness and storytelling I miss.  Here it’s safe to poke a pin into pompousness’s balloon.



Cecire, N. (2011). How Public Like a Frog: On Academic Blogging. Retrieved from

Estes, H. (2012). Blogging and Academic Identity. Literature Compass, 9(12), 974–982.

Slovic, S. (2008). Going away to think: Engagement, retreat, and ecocritical responsibility. In Placing the academy: Essays on landscape, work, and identity (pp. 217–232). Logan, Utah: University of Nevada Press. Retrieved from

About Jim

Community Adult Educator & Adult Literacy Instructor
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5 Responses to Place for My Voice

  1. Your post resonates with me – I find reading things in english **first** helps me interpret ‘academese’. In this, I fully agree with Rhonda “I have found that the more casual tone adopted in academic blogs offers increased insight that then allows me to further understand their research work. ”

    I like the stance Dan Ariely takes: “I do research in behavioral economics and try to write it in Plain English”

    Sign me up for the Plain Language revolution.

  2. Kristi says:

    Hi Jim,

    You’ve captured my sentiments on research and in such a clever way. I found the article, “Blogging and Academic Identity” by Heide Estes valuable as well. I was drawn to her idea of approaching different issues with unique identities. I also appreciated her comments on “invisible disability.” It inspires the continued need for educators to be more compassionate and less judgmental when engaging with and setting expectations of their students. Great blog.

  3. Darlene Bakker says:

    Being new to blogging I do appreciate the more informal tone. However, I do still like to get various points of view on academic articles. The blog is especially good for that.

  4. Marlas Kuiper says:

    You found the poetry in an academic article! I am finding that I too am finding certain journals and articles more accessible. I tend to glaze over when reading detailed descriptions of methodologies and data analysis but I am finding that even in the most ‘scientific’ articles some authors manage to make their studies sound beautiful 😉

  5. Rhonda Darbyson says:

    This post resonates strongly with me, Jim (as does this great picture of you sleeping at your desk). Reading an academic’s blog offers me the opportunity to understand their field of study far beyond any papers they have published. We do have to embrace academic writing in order to be successful in this program, but reading the research articles is an onerous task, as we strive to decipher some understanding of cultures of inquiry, theoretical frameworks, research methods and analysis tools. I have found that the more casual tone adopted in academic blogs offers increased insight that then allows me to further understand their research work. If only everything didn’t have to be peer reviewed and formal!

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