Culture – How much do we think about it?

This semester I am enrolled in a unit called Methodology and Culture: Issues and Applications in Educational Research. Last night we had our second class that considered an article called Scholars Before Researchers: On the Centrality of the Dissertation Literature Review in Research Preparation by David N. Boote and Penny Beile. The question we started with was ‘How does culture influence doctoral research in the process of literature review’.

This led to a fascinating discussion around the culture of academia in America and does it differ in other countries. When we travel we are very aware of cultural differences between countries, but how often do we consider the cultural differences that exist in academia between countries? What is the impact of this on research? How does culture within academia in a country and within specific institutions impact on the literature review one undertakes when getting to know and understand an area before defining a gap?

This class left me with more questions than answers. I did walk away with some interesting things to consider with regard to the USA context. On one level this is about word usage and the message delivered and received. Due to different word usage sometimes we miss articles that may be of importance to our research focus, refining searches can be difficult when we don’t have a good mastery of the words used in particular spaces. This is highlighted to me in everyday interactions, not only in academia. Last week I was left wondering over the term power strip (power board), luckily the person pointed to it as they mentioned it.

On another level more deeper cultural aspects come into play. It was indicated that an academics article (and this is in the USA context) published within a USA journal held more weight than if published in an international journal. Furthermore, it was also indicated that literature reviews often only consider USA research. These are cultural norms that exists within the space of academia within this context. So the questions I am considering are what does this mean and what needs to be considered as a result, along with what is the impact of this in a world that is so connected? Beyond this there are other things that we need to consider regarding how cultural influences impact in relation to choosing articles for a literature review. For example, what reasoning do I use to discount something. Does the gender of the writer/researcher play a part. Does the country of origin play a part. Are these relevant things to consider? How often do these factors influence in a subconscious manner and are they relevant?

2 Comments

  1. annadelconte says:

    If we only consider our own cultural context it’s narrowing our field of reference and our ideas. It reminds me of the conversations we have had around who we follow on Twitter and the danger of it becoming an echo chamber. Like attracts like.

  2. dbatty1 says:

    Thanks for commenting Anna. Yes, the echo chamber is an interesting concept. What are we missing if we are surrounded by an echo chamber? 🙂

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