2 Research as Conversation and Communication

The scholarly conversation

One way to think about research is to view it as a scholarly conversation. A particular topic will have publications, conferences, online discussions, and active research going on around it over time. Experts and scholars “converse” with each other as they share their findings and new information becomes available.  Reference lists can reflect the history of the conversation, with new sources building on older ones by expanding on previous research or exploring new connections.

Watch the short video below for more detail about the scholarly conversation.

Research as communication

Voices in the scholarly conversation

There are many different voices involved in scholarly conversation.  Experts and scholars are of course the first people we think of who would be contributing to the conversation and research on a topic – but there are other voices to consider.  It is important to remember that is constructed and contextual.  Expertise comes in many forms – someone with a lot of lived experience can be as much of an expert on a topic as someone who has studied the topic in their education or through research. It is important to remember that some voices in the scholarly conversation may be louder (more widely published or easily accepted) than others.  It is important to recognize how impacts the results you find when you search for sources.  Sometimes you might have to intentionally seek out other quieter, or even under-represented voices  in order to understand the full scholarly conversation around a topic. This is our responsibility as researchers and participants in the research conversation.

Your role as a student

As a student, you play a role in the scholarly conversation too!  As you research, find, and read sources, you learn about the topic and enter into the conversation.  By reading, analyzing, understanding, synthesizing, sharing, and attributing credit to the authors, you are participating in the scholarly conversation and the creation of new knowledge. Gaining knowledge from examining the research allows you to create an informed opinion and add our own insights on the topic.   The scholarly conversation continues as you share your work with peers and with your instructor.  It is even possible to publish student work and share your contribution as part of the bigger conversation!

Who’s who in the scholarly conversation

There are many different people and groups participating in the scholarly conversation and communicating with each other through research.  In this interactive, you can find out more about the different groups in the scholarly conversation and their roles.  Click below to start.



Once you’ve met each of the groups in the scholarly conversation, feel free to move on to the conclusion.