Rickly, Rebecca "Messy Contexts: Research as a Rhetorical Situation"

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This piece aims to educate graduate students and professors on the importance of rhetorically applying research methods to better teach, conduct and critique research in the digital age (377). Rickly claims that digital research is "messy." Especially when studying language, which changes over time and varies by culture, results depend both on the subject and time of research. She explains that research can be made slightly less messy by ensuring the two prongs of "legitimate" research are satisfied: validity (the relevance of collected data to the premise of a study) and replicability (the ability of other researchers to conduct the same study and yield the same or similar results).

Rickly argues that the traditional research methods used and taught are “too static, too rigid” and not applicable enough to the digital sphere. Rickly argues that the methods are too container-like, thus they do not interact well with the “messy” context that the new, ever-changing situations provide.

Rickly also delves into the specific complexities of research and the teaching of research and the vitality of metaphors in understanding (382). Rickly claims metaphors can be problematic and enlightening (384). Ricky then says the methods used to study technology do not exist in a vacuum (385). Researchers should also be educated on the relationship between method, methodology, and epistemology (394-395).

Ricky concludes with claiming that we should approach research rhetorically.

Glossary Terms

The following key terms are defined in the Glossary: replicability, validity

See Also

Kimme Hea

Further Reading

Sullivan, Patricia, and James E. Porter. (1993). "On Theory, Practice, and Method." In R. Spilka (Ed.) Writing in the Workplace: New Research Perspectives. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 220-237.

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