Innovative Book on Research Launched
Making Sense of Research, a book written by a selection of academics and edited by UKZN Fellow and Emeritus Professor Keyan Tomaselli, was launched at Ike’s Books and Collectables in Durban.
Speaking at the event, Tomaselli highlighted changes in the Higher Education landscape and society. ‘In today’s classroom, virtual or concrete, the lecturer is competing with texting, social media, smart phones, video games, augmented reality, short concentration spans, celebrity lust, substance abuse and other distractions,’ said Tomaselli.
‘Our volume, hopefully, offers stiff competition to these diversions.’
Tomaselli, a Distinguished Professor at the University of Johannesburg, said ‘research should be a task that students want to do, rather than something that they have to do’.
‘Our book acknowledges the mysteries and the frustrations of both academics and students when trying to make sense of a very opaque institution – the academy,’ he said.
Making Sense of Research includes chapters on academic architecture which unpacks, ‘strange rituals, mysterious administrative systems, inefficiency, and the history and philosophy of these. It examines the benefits of a Humanities degree, “Do not fear, a job is near”.’
The book looks at doing research in the digital age and also gets to the heart of academic issues facing students.
Topics explored include mediagraphy, autoethnography, semiotics and visual methodology, reception and discourse analysis, action research, content analysis, and so on.
Finally, the authors offer the ‘nuts and bolts of doing’ and the ‘how to’ dimension of reading, researching, writing, being supervised, doing supervision, negotiating administrative systems and of learning what works for supervisors and examiners.
Former Vice-Chancellor at the University of the Free State Professor Jonathan Jansen describes the book as unique in that no similar book has previously been published anywhere.
Jansen said: ‘The book gets behind the ahistorical and de-contextualised taken-for-granted techniques and procedures that are presented in conventional textbooks by adding layers offering critical perspectives on research, method, theory and practice.’
Director of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) Professor Ruth Teer-Tomaselli said the book was ‘not just a text-book, it’s an honest reflection of practice – how the authors approach their areas of expertise.’
CCMS’s Professor Donal McCracken remarked on Tomaselli’s ability to get books published. He commended Tomaselli who also pens UKZN’s online Griot column, for his ‘intellectual integrity’ and ‘old time scholarship and radicalism.’
UKZN academic Professor Nicola Jones referred to Making Sense of Research as one of life’s ‘aha’ moments, saying the book reminded her that research ‘ought to be fun.’
The launch was sponsored by UKZN’s School of Applied Human Sciences and hosted by the doyen of Durban’s book world, Cedric Sissing of Adams Bookshop, who invited academics to enjoy the facilities at Ikes.
Making Sense of Research is available at Adams Bookstore on UKZN’s Howard College campus.
Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer
Photograph: Marion Alina