Making Sense of Research (Van Schaik, 2018) is the title of a new book published by UKZN Emeritus Professor Keyan Tomaselli of the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS) in the School of Applied Human Sciences.
Five years in the making, Tomaselli compiled 32 chapters and 13 modules penned by scholars from South African institutions and a few from overseas universities. Of the 26 authors, no less than 15 have had an association with UKZN.
Current members of staff who contributed include Professor Ruth Teer-Tomaselli, Professor Donal McCracken, Professor Paulus Zulu, Professor Franco Frescura, Dr Eliza Govender and Dr Lauren Dyll. These and other authors drew on their professional and academic expertise in preparing students for the real world of work.
On its genesis, Tomaselli explains: ‘I wanted to compile a book that would make research fun, relevant to the born-free digital generation, and to identify with these students’ often bewildering experiences in the academy. It’s not a book only on “how to” conduct research, but on “why”.’
Many chapters deal with the trauma of actually getting registered, writing proposals, managing paralysis, and offer guidelines for students dealing with supervisors and vice-versa.
Most intriguingly, Tomaselli deals with academic hoaxes, how to write gibberish and fool your examiner, and how and why these occur.
One chapter is on job opportunity prospects for Humanities graduates. His examples are diverse and include physics, chemistry, cultural and media studies, visual culture, history, ethics and a few chapters on content analysis software, among others.
‘Getting published in journals is an issue,’ said Tomaselli. ‘So in this book there is something for everyone, including soft and hard scientists and it draws on the day-to-day teaching and fieldwork experiences of its authors and negotiating bureaucracies. The chapters and modules were developed over lifetimes of interacting with both students and the institution that regulates research.’
Says former University of the Free State Vice-Chancellor Professor Jonathan Jansen of Tomaselli’s 460-page anthology: ‘No such book has been previously published anywhere. Witty, informative and, in parts, irreverent, the book is aimed at the young faculty member trying to make sense of the world of scholarly inquiry in a digital world.’
Said Dean of the School of Applied Human Sciences Professor Jean Steyn: ‘HODs, deans and all university managers need to read this book. They will instantly recognise situations, experiences and conditions they confront daily in making sense of the institution. How these are to be resolved is answered in Professor Tomaselli’s book.’
Words and photograph: Melissa Mungroo