It’s one thing to find other researchers (let alone PhD students) that share similar research interests in terms of content and/or methodology, it’s an entirely different matter when you find someone who has the exact same research interest in your specific research area!
Some researchers do find this threatening whereas I found it a relief! Finally – someone who has done some research into VEM-NESTs (visible ethnic minority, native English speaking teachers) or in his case, NESTC (native English speakers of colour). This researcher was recommended to me by @michaelegriffin, a Twitter peep. Like 6 degrees of separation, this Twitter friend forwarded my blog address to his friend who then emailed me. If this isn’t an example of the networking power of Twitter I don’t know what is!
That was the start of a very fruitful discussion, where we’ve exchange not only email addresses but our MA dissertations which were on examining VEM-NEST/NESTC experiences of being English language teachers! After reading his dissertation I noticed that despite our shared research interests we certainly had different methodological approaches. For example he primarily used interview data whereas I used written narratives; he used 3 different groups of research participants (NESTC, WNEST and NNEST) where I concentrated on VEM-NESTs. From a methodological standpoint, we were (qualitative) worlds apart.
However the positions we held in our research studies were very much “insider” or “research-participant” orientations, were we were both the research and the participant in our respective studies – a position that carries very interesting implications when it comes to the analysis and interpretation of the data. On this note, it was also very interesting that we reflexively accounted for our particular position as researchers in our studies. It was this aspect of his dissertation that I found the most interesting – not only was he researching in a similar area but he was a VEM-NEST as well, positioning himself within the research.
It was such a rewarding experience to finally read another study that was directly related to my own research interests. Directly related *rubs hands gleefully*! I don’t get to say that very often. A lot of the academic content that I read is closely related to different areas of my research, such as “nativespeakerism” or “racial identities” to name a few broad areas, but I have yet to come across a study that is done on VEM-NESTs/NESTC in TESOL, much less by a VEM-NEST/NESTC researcher. Thus, I was really invigorated to continue my PhD simply by his work. There were similarities and differences to our studies but the sheer fact that there is (present tense noted) another researcher in this ultra-specific area of TESOL means that there are, potentially, other individuals out there who may be impacted by this research, and that is an encouraging thought.