Contemporary Research Methods A/B Event
  • Room 313, Rolle Building

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You are invited to this Contemporary Research Methods A/B event with the following guest speakers:

  • Robin Hadley: That’s me(n) in the corner, that’s me(n) in the not-right of reproduction…
  • Pat Eyres: Occupational Auto/Biography: narratives in religious ‘doing’ 
  • Jonathon Harvey: Insider/outsider status: reflections on my positionality in disability research

Scroll down for the abstracts and speaker biographies.

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Today's events

Robin Hadley: That’s me(n) in the corner, that’s me(n) in the not-right of reproduction…


There is a paucity of material on the interview dynamics when men interview men on a sensitive subject. Childless men are, compared to women, absent from geographical, gerontological, psychological, reproductive, and sociological research. These disciplines have mainly focussed on parenthood, family, and women. Feminist researchers have highlighted the paucity of material on the fertility intentions, history and experience of older men. While reproduction is central to feminisms it is absent from masculinities scholarship. In this piece, I describe my experience of interviewing fellow involuntarily childless men and my experiences as a man in a feminised academic arena.


I was awarded my PhD in Social Gerontology by Keele University in December 2015. My PhD study examined the experiences of involuntarily childless older men. My previous careers included roles as counsellor, deputy technical manager, scientific and technical photographer, kitchen assistant, and bar tender. My training as a counsellor and my own experience of the desire for fatherhood led me to research the subject of involuntarily childless men’s desire for fatherhood as research dissertation for my Master of Arts in Counselling, The University of Manchester. I followed this up with a self-funded Master of Science (again at the University of Manchester) exploring the levels of desire for parenthood (‘broodiness’) in females and males, parents and non-parents. I was born in 1960 and was the 7th of 8 children in a working class area of Manchester. Post PhD I have held a number of short term Research Associate posts on projects relating to ageing, dementia, technology, and fathers influence on infant feeding.

Pat EyresOccupational Auto/Biography: narratives in religious ‘doing’ 


I am an occupational therapist and a newcomer to Auto/Biography as a research method, but have decided to explore this as part of my PhD study into religious practice as a valued occupation. My work sits in the area of occupational science (Whiteford & Hocking 2012) which is focused on understanding the complexity of human occupation to inform and develop occupation as therapy.

I am also interested in creative methods of research (Blackman 2007) that also seek to address the power ratio between the researched and the researcher –so as such auto/biography (Stanley 1993) is an interesting prospect for me. I intend to use an auto/biographical study as one aspect of my work which is structured as a Facet Methodology study (Mason 2011). This study is aimed at an exploration of religious practice from an occupational perspective – what do people ‘do’ and how do they value the ‘doing’ as part of their everyday lives.

I am a practising Christian and have always felt that the influence of my own beliefs needed to be acknowledged within my work (Dahlberg 2006), however during 2016 I found myself experiencing barriers to my religious ‘doing’ and have come to realise that my own story is now, and perhaps always has been, relevant (Letherby, 2002). And what of the stories that other people might tell in relation to the barriers to religious ‘doing’ that they have experienced? I want both my story and others' stories to contribute an occupational Auto/Biography into religious ‘doing’.

  • Blackman A (2007) The Photovoice Manual: A guide to designing and running participatory photography projects. London: Photovoice
  • Dahlberg K (2006) The essence of essences/the search for meaning structures in phenomenological analysis of life world phenomena. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Wellbeing 1 11-19.
  • Letherby G (2002) Claims and disclaimers: Knowledge, Reflexivity and Representation in Feminist Research.
  • Mason J (2011) Facet Methodology: the case for an inventive research orientation. Methodological innovations online 6(3) p75-92.
  • Stanley L (1993) On auto/biography in sociology. Sociology, 27 (1) p 41-52.
  • Whiteford G & Hocking C (2012) Occupational Science: Society, Inclusion, Participation. Oxford. Wiley Blackwell.


Pat is an Occupational Therapist with nearly 40 years’ experience in both statutory and non-statutory organisations. Her clinical background was initially in musculo-skeletal interruptions, including hand therapy, and more latterly in environmental adaptation. Pat has been the programme lead for the BSc(Hons) Occupational Therapy at the University since 2010 and has recently stood down from this role in order to concentrate on her PhD studies into religious practice as a valued occupation. Pat is a practising Christian and is interested in the everyday activities associated with religious practice, from a multi-faith perspective, and the perceived challenges experienced by occupational therapists when trying to address this aspect of their clients occupational needs.

Jonathan Harvey: Insider/outsider status: reflections on my positionality in disability research


In this paper, I will explore some of the methodological complexities that I routinely consider in my research on disability. I am a disabled person myself. Although I have suggested that this has generally been an advantageous aspect of my research, to statically conceive oneself as an ‘insider’ could be a problematic assumption to make. The way that I am a disabled person inevitably results in me having many similar experiences to my fellow participants. However, these similarities are in a single area of my life. I would like to believe that my identity (and those of my research participants) are made up of many different facets which combine to make us who we are. Furthermore, when researching disability, it has been stated that a person's disability is all too often the master signifier of their identity. My experiences of living as a disabled person aids my path during research (especially during data collection) but I also believe it is necessary to acknowledge the individuality of each person. If identity is viewed as comprising of a series of characteristics that are perpetually in motion, the unique nature and individuality of each person demands recognition. Investing oneself within the research process is important. However, sharing a single facet of identity with research participants is no alternative to providing thorough, analytical and robust analysis of data.


Dr Jonathan Harvey is a brain injury survivor and a social scientist. Much of his work has been in researching acquired brain injury and the identity of those considered ‘other’ or ‘abnormal’ in society. He is interested in auto/biographical and narrative approaches to research and representation. Jonathan has recently completed a book entitled A Sociological Approach to Acquired Brain Injury and Identity

Event photography and video
Please be aware that some of the University of Plymouth's public events may be attended by University photographers and videographers, for capturing content to be used in University online and offline marketing and promotional materials, for example webpages, brochures or leaflets. If for whatever reason, you or a member of your group, do not wish to be photographed, please make yourself known to staff working at the event on arrival or to the photographer.