Thoughts, writing & snippets

Marguerite Koole, PhD

Connected Papers

mkoole, · Categories: E-Research, Educational technology

I stumbled upon this interesting tool just this morning. Connected Papers allows researchers to see how a paper is related to other papers that have been published. It’s not a means of seeing who has cited the paper, but to see works with similar references.

To test it out, I submitted a title of a book chapter that I published back in 2009: A model for framing mobile learning.

The interface looks like this:

Papers similar and connected to the chapter, A model for framing mobile learning
See in detail: Go to site

Again, the papers that appear do not necessarily cite each other, but they discuss similar information and cite similar references.

I thought I’d try another paper, and the results raise some questions: The web of identity: A model of digital identity formation in networked learning environments. In this case, my paper appears to be unconnected to other clusters around it–even though they all seem to be about related topics such as identity, community of practice, educational technology, etc.:

Papers related to and connected to a chapter "A model of digital identity formation in networked learning environments.
More detail: Go to site

As per the Connected Papers website, this tool may be useful if scoping out newer fields of study such as artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), or virtual reality (VR) in education.

Related: Project Alexandria

Another site that documents similarities between authors and creates maps is Project Alexandria. It also offers a “sentiment analysis” tool (see the “about” information on the site. To test this, I used:

Title: Mobile Learning
Author: Mohamed Ally
Description: This collection is for anyone interested in the use of mobile technology for various distance learning applications. Readers will discover how to design learning materials for delivery on mobile technology…

Writing a thesis? You need to know about the levels of theory . . .

mkoole, · Categories: E-Research, Educational technology, PhD Studies, Research

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I was just working with a student today, and it seemed appropriate to discuss the levels of theory. (Ghads! I posted this yesterday, and noted some serious revisions were needed!)

There are different levels of theory:

  1. Philosophical perspective (i.e., ontology, epistemology, teleology, etc.).
  2. Theoretical perspective (anti-positivist vs. positivist).
  3. Background theory (of your field such as distance education).
  4. Focal theory (for example, maybe you are using the community of inquiry to guide your study).
  5. Data theory (the methods you choose, how you collect your data, and how you analyze your data).

They are all connected.

You will need to understand where you are in terms of your philosophical approach to the world:

For example, if I identify myself to be within the subjectivist camp: 

I will likely position myself with the anti-positivist theoretical perspective. I might choose:

Say, I select “interpretivism,” I am likely to draw upon some of the following [note that these will help you form your research questions (RQs)]:

The background theory of, for example, distance education would involve

I will choose focal theories that agree with anti-positivist philosophy.

Data theory: the methodology and methods you choose in order to answer your research question need to be “commensurate” (i.e., in agreement) with the above theories/philosophies. So, as an interpretivist studying distance education and using the community of inquiry as my focal theory, I would consider:

Make sense?

Interesting Research Tools (Goodies) to Investigate

mkoole, · Categories: E-Research · Tags: , ,


Google Maps Mashup: MapTube




Digital Replay System


National e-Infrastructure for Social Simulation


Survey Mapper


My Experiment: Social Networking Site for Scientists

E-Research Tools & Resources

mkoole, · Categories: E-Research

Paper and keyboard

Notes on e-research

When I first heard the word “e-research”, I thought it was unnecessary nomenclature. Research is research. Our research topics are based on our interests and/or perceived needs (gaps) in our fields. How we shape our research questions and approaches is interwoven with our ontological and epistemological perspectives. We choose and shape our methodological approaches in ways that help us answer our research questions. The actual methods for gathering, analyzing, and interpreting our data is commensurate with our perspectives and designed to answer our research questions. We choose the tools according to all of these above criteria along with some considerations for timelines and finances. Or, perhaps, we simply use the tools at our disposal, making modifications and concessions if necessary and defensible. It all fits into a tidy series of steps—or so I thought. The problem, however, is that researchers are confronted with a stunning array of tools and possibilities. And, eventually, we must ask ourselves to what extent the tools might influence the research process, the researchers, and the participants. More importantly, there are ethical and legal implications surrounding how we employ these tools.

So, what is e-research?

Hooley, Wellens, and Mariott (2011) suggest that there are two basic forms of online research in the social sciences: 1) that which examines the Internet itself, and 2) that which uses the Internet to conduct research on social issues (also see Carusi, 2008). There is a large variety of e-research tools including, but not limited to:

Researchers can use more than one tool in a given research project. This may mean mashing together quantitative data with qualitative data (mixed methods). Researchers may combine video, audio, and textual data (Carusi, 2008). This may further complicate the research process as the researcher is confronted with a huge amount of data. Furthermore, s/he will have to determine whether inclusion of different media and modes of expression can result in meaningful analysis. For example, is an interview conducted purely by audio comparable to an interview conducted using audio and video or an interview conducted asynchronously by text. Each medium may draw focus to different aspects of interaction (visual cues, auditory cues, textual cues such as spelling and grammar). The different media may also permit more or less reflection time during interaction. They may compel different techniques for conveying meaning (such as voice modulation or physical gestures).

More to come . . . nifty tools . . .


Carusi, A. (2008). Data as representation: Beyond anonymity in e-research ethics. International Journal of Internet Research Ethics, 1(1), 37–65. Retrieved from

Hooley, T., Wellens, J., & Marriott, J. (2011). What is online research?: Using the Internet for social science reserach (p. 176). New York, NY: Bloomsbury USA.


Research is Ceremony

mkoole, · Categories: E-Research, Indigenous education, Research · Tags: , , , ,

This desk is very similar to the one my grandfather used

I have submitted my thesis to my committee, and now I am preparing for my viva. I’ve decided to re-read some of the key sources that I have cited. And, I have decided to do some reading around and somewhat outside of the works upon which I have drawn.

I have been awaiting an opportunity to read:

Wilson, S. (2008). Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods. Fernwood Publishing: Winnipeg, Manitoba.

This was a great choice after having done so much concentration on other methodologies and having written up my own PhD research in a standardly more formal Western European style. (Although I must admit that writing from a social constructivist perspective and within an interpretivist paradigm, I used a combination of both first and third person singular.) Research as Ceremony was written using a more inclusive voice. The author, Shawn Wilson, began the book as if he was writing to his sons. He later addressed the reader directly in the second person. This style is very engaging. It is nice to follow. The book reads more like a narrative interspersed with some definitions (epistemology, ontology, axiology, methodology, etc.)

Wilson presents this work about indigenous research in a humble manner, honouring the indigenous voice. For me as an aspiring researcher of European descent, the most striking message is the significance of relationships. Although I took a relational perspective on my own research of identity of doctoral students in networked learning, the nature of relationship as I read it in this book extends much deeper. Respectful and trusting relationships amongst people is of vital importance. But, there are also relationships with the land, other creatures, ideas, and the cosmos. Spirituality seems inherently embedded within this view. All are interrelated.

The narrative style, addressing his sons and introducing other indigenous scholars from around the world, offers a sense of relationship to the reader. Interestingly, I wondered if I had met one of the scholars in St. Paul, Alberta at a workshop I had attended several years ago. He seemed familiar to me. Although not of this tradition, I feel that I started to sense how relationships enrich inquiry.

The author paints a picture of his struggle to work within the dominant paradigm of academic research and the indigenous way. Particularly interesting for me was the discussion of ethics. The research ethics boards with which I have interacted support work in which the participants’ identities remain anonymous. I understand that this protects participants–particularly when the subject of research is sensitive. However, because relationships are so significant for understanding indigenous worldviews, the obfuscation of identities can decontextualize and render the research less meaningful. It could even create misunderstanding. Also, identifying contributors is part of honouring them and recognizing that research is collaborative. I am probably not articulating this as well as I should, but it is such an interesting juxtaposition from what I previously held to be “common sense” research ethics. For me, this shows the richness and value of examining perspectives outside of one’s own. What makes our research meaningful–especially as we take such extreme measures to hide identities and decontextualize our research in an effort to reach some nebulous level of “objectiveness”?

Here is an interesting quote which the author cited from an elder named Eber Hampton:

Emotionless, passionless, abstract, intellectual, academic research is a goddamn lie, it does not exist. It is a lie to ourselves and a lie to other people. Humans–feeling, living, breathing, thinking humans–do research. When we try to cut ourselves off at the neck and pretend an objectivity that does not exist in the human world, we become dangerous to ourselves first, and then to the people around us. (1995, p. 52)

Furthermore, there is a relationship of the research to self: “If research doesn’t change you as a person, then you haven’t done it right”. I like that view. It’s what my own recent research was about: how people change as they do their doctoral studies, as they do research.

Here are the main principles cited from Atkinson (2001, p. 10 cited in Wilson, 2008, p. 59):


Reading this book left me in a reflective mood. Two thumbs up. (I’d give it more, but that’s all I have!)