Open reviewing process
Applying my living values of respect, integrity and creativity
Hello! I hope you find my paper an interesting read. I welcome any comments or criticisms you can offer me that will help me improve my work.
Hello, Julian. I am delighted to be one of your reviewers for your paper. This is particularly the case, as half of my own career in education has been with students (albeit in schools) as we worked together to find ways of improving the quality of education together. I am now working with the Open University in Distance Learning modules for the M.Sc. in develop management. I am also trying to reduce the gap between my espoused living values and those I actually bring into the educational processes (Living Contradiction), so I read your paper with real interest and pleasure.
I think it has the makings of a fine article for EJOLTS. However, there are a few things that would need to happen before I could recommend it for publication. I make these comments in the hope that they are constructive, rather than critical. This paper is potentially - in my opinion - very powerful, but I don't think the power of it is coming through sufficiently as it stands at the moment.
I am aware that this isn't my paper! The suggestions below are mine, and may not suit you. However, because there is some slippage between what you say you're doing in the paper and what is coming across (see script for details) the suggestions below may help in solving those problems. My suggestions are to do with the clarity of what you're presenting to us as readers. I want to know more about the development of these living values. At the moment I leave the paper without that sense of cohesion.
1) I think you need to let the reader know what you are meaning by your living values of respect, integrity and creativity at the outset. See notes on the text about that.
2) I think there are too many examples given (and all written in bulky, long paragraphs as well which are difficult to read). I wonder if you might write the paper in a different way. If you explained at the beginning what you are meaning by each of the three values you're bringing to the paper, then you might write a practical example for each one, in which you illustrate for the reader the living value in process over time. Thus you would end up with three examples rather than eight, and have the space to explain their significance to the developing of your values in more detail. I believe this would add cogency and comprehensibility for the reader. As they stand at the moment the examples seem to be implicit about the values rather than explicit, and the number of them is daunting. You need to prune them so that their communicability is enhanced.
3) Linked to the above is the brevity of the conclusion, which, to my mind, doesn't draw the threads together sufficiently. If you want to explain your living values and offer examples, then a conclusion would perhaps be better served by a statement about where you are now as a result of your research, and where you want to go from here.
You will see from the script that I have annotated it a lot. I hope the suggestions are useful.
I realise I am suggesting a lot of work for this paper, but that's genuinely because I think it could be much more powerful than it currently is. I have loved reading it, but I felt throughout, I needed greater clarity. I also believe the work you've done on the paper so far shows that it deserves that greater clarity as well.
I hope you find the comments here and on the script useful, Julian. I would be very interested in hearing from you about anything I've written about it.
All the best,
Moira, thank you very much for taking the time to review my paper. I have spent days trying to find a way to contact you - seems this is the only way! I am presently rewriting, mindful of your comments and acting upon your sage advice. Very best wishes, J.
Hello Moira and Catriona! At last, I have re-written my paper taking on board your extremely helpful comments. Thank you again for taking the time to read my work. I have attempted to produce it in the format required, but you will see that I haven't yet learned how to reference the way that is necessary for publication, sorry. I will sort this, I promise! Moira, for some strange reason there were a couple of chunks missing from your copy, for example, part of the conclusion was not visible. These were present on Catriona's copy. I know not why this would happen. Very best wishes, Julian.
Hello Julian. Apologies for the delay in responding to your lovely paper. There has been a serious family matter that needed most of my time.
I have read your redrafted paper again with real delight. It is more powerful this time in terms of being an evocation of your living-theory and I can see that you have mostly attended to the points that I raised in my first review. The inclusion at the beginning of the explanations about the particular values that emerge throughout the paper does make the whole more comprehensible to me, and much more in tune with the sense of living standards of judgement. I still find the examples a little overwritten (more narrative than explanatory), but this doesn't weaken the paper to an extent that I would want to delay publication. I am also aware this may be a personal, rather than academic comment.
I find the paper has more shape and cogency than in the previous draft, such that the conclusion - now at its full length :) - is much more fitting than before. I think this will make an interesting and valuable contribution to the journal.
I accept that the formating of the paper is a problem - I find it difficult too. Besides that - which the EJOLTS team sorts out after acceptance for publication - there are simply too many formal in punctuation throughout, particularly in the References section and the details of in-text pagination. These need to be corrected. I would suggest you go through the paper very carefully indeed in terms of these kinds of issues - font size (abstract), paragraphing, spacing and so on.
Given the fulfilment of the above, then I am happy to recommend your paper for publication.
Warm regards, Moira
Hello again Moira,
thank you again for taking the time to read my paper. I have been working to satisfy the comments offered by my third reviewer and I have contacted her but decided to re-post. However, I am mindful that you had asked me to attend to font size, paragraphing and spacing. however, I am unsure of how to do this. I have read the guidance notes offered and font is not mentioned. Also, you comment on my use of pagination. I have read advice on different university websites and they all seem to advocate the use of page numbers if at all possible in academic writing, so I am rather puzzled! I have tried to shorten the diary entries too but I'm thinking that the detail I have used is relevant to explain the scenario and how I was feeling at those times. Do you advice I have another go and reducing the detail? I have attached again for you. Kind regards, Jules.
Firstly please accept my apology for not responding to your initial draft of your paper. Unfortunately I have had difficulties accessing the site and resetting my user name and password.
I currently work with adults in HE, but for many years I was a teacher in primary education. My research has also been centred on my practice, my values and at times the living contradiction I have felt I have had to work under, similarly to you.
The abstract frames you as a researcher and the setting in which you work, as well as highlighting the focus for this paper. I would finish the abstract with the sentence that finishes, ‘in a FE setting’. After this, you are adding an explanation to your abstract which could be included in your paper. I would also name the three values you hint at here.
Your article opens with a sub heading of ‘My Living Values’ and very quickly begins a detailed explanation on respect. For the reader, I would find it helpful to have an introduction to your research framing your ontological values as your standards of judgement which form the heart of your living-theory. Why they are important, how they were defined and how you live them in your practice would frame your paper. Drawing in more literature to frame this and support the points you are making, would also help the reader.
In your discussion around respect and organisation in a FE setting, you make some generalisations about staff responsibilities, influence and role. Whilst this may be true in your setting, it comes across for all settings. This section very quickly reads quite negatively about your experiences. Could you use these challenges to your values as living contradictions and demonstrate to the reader how you strived to overcome them and remain true to your values? You could also draw in experiences to demonstrate how you managed this.
Whilst introducing integrity as the second value, rather than criticising the setting and staff, could you focus here on how creating your living-theory made you appreciate how central to yourself integrity is and how this helped you define the other values that are important in your practice? The struggle you feel with your values comes across powerfully in what you are writing, but doesn’t currently help the reader to understand more than just the problems.
Creativity is obviously very important to you and the way in which you work. It would be lovely to read of how you applied this successfully and refined creativity as so central to your practice. You also make some claims around creativity being the ‘lifeblood’ of education which need supporting with literature.
At the beginning of your introduction I am a little unclear of your meaning, but I think you are saying a living-theory requires experiences to be recorded and come from journal entries, although many forms of evidential collection can be used. Personally I have used poetry, art work, video, journal entries, observations etc too. Possibly having a separate paragraph on social validity and rigour drawing on Habermas may help make this section clearer. You could also sum up this section by highlighting how through offering your living-theory as a gift, you are adding to the educational knowledge base.
You begin to tell me in detail about your present and past roles, your experiences as a student, but I am left confused how this relates to your living-theory, values and the living –contradiction you highlight at the beginning. It isn’t until the end of page 4 that you begin to link these experiences to your values. Could you now look forward to your practice and how you apply creativity? Your discussions around your employment journey confuse me as a reader, I cannot see your research focus, and it is lost in the description. Whilst your experiences are important in defining you and your values, how has this impacted you as a practitioner? How have you managed to be in a situation which is a living contradiction and still found the ability to hold onto, and at times work to your values, this is the story I want to read and am intrigued by.
Andragogic – I am sorry I do not know what this means, and it does not come up im my computer ‘look it up’ facility.
The large end paragraph on page five, again reads negatively about all students at that point in your career, and just leaves the reader asking why the paragraph is there, how did these experiences impact on your practice, values and the setting? Show me explicitly why this detail is included, why it is important and what meaning you want the reader to understand about your living-theory. You mentioned Living Theory as a methodology, your ontological values, living as a contradiction at the very beginning, but you are not drawing the thread of this methodology through the stories you are recounting. I need to see how these recounts relate to your focus which is showing how your values enabled you to be the practitioner you wanted and the students deserved in an ethos that caused a living-contradiction.
‘It was during those years that I began to appreciate the significance of my strong living values, and how their existence had, and continued to shape my praxis daily within the College classroom.’ At the very end of page 5 you write the sentence above. It is this that I want to read, the tension with your values, how you strengthened your values despite the living contradiction, how this influenced your practice and relationships. I also want to understand what you mean by ‘shaping my praxis daily’.
‘These experiences served as practice for building my own LET which must be validated by experience and reflection, by teaching me how to analyse observation, reflect upon how learning was managed, and what could be done to improve my own practice, as Whitehead (1989) asked himself.’ Here are you referring to Jack’s question ‘How can I improve my practice?’
At the moment I cannot see how your section on your higher education study supports your title or focus for this paper.
You mention briefly Living Theory at the top of page 7 but in a very superficial way. More depth here would demonstrate your understanding of Living Educational Theory and how the journey as a researcher has influenced your living-theory. Be mindful of where you use capitals in Living Theory, living-theory as they have different meanings. On this page you also tell me how you will engage with Living Theory. This should frame the paper much earlier, as part of your introduction.
You then frame your writing around explanations of practice that confirmed your values or challenged them. A lot of detail is included that detracts from the thread of your living-theory and values-based explanation of the influences in your own learning, learning of others and your setting. Pulling the key threads from each scenario together around the core of your ontological values and influences in learning would help the reader to stay focused on the outline in your abstract. At the moment I cannot see you, the influences on your learning and hence practice and how this impacted on your students and colleagues.
This is just some thoughts from my perspective, but this is your writing and has to be true to the message and heart you want the reader to engage with and to take from it.
Hello Joy, and thank you for taking the time to read my paper. I am working through it trying to understand your comments and address them. You’ve certainly given me a great deal to think about. However, there’s a couple of things that puzzle me - you say I mention ‘living theory’ at the top of page 7. I don’t have that. I’m aware of some ‘hiccups’ when using this site, for example, a previous reviewer (Moira) could not see my conclusion in its entriety, but the second reviewer could read the complete paper (?), so advised me that the conclusion could be bettered. So I’m wondering whether your version of my paper is correctly displayed for you. The second point I want to mention is my use of the word ’andragogic’ which is referenced. Andragogy is the science of how adults learn, as opposed to pedagogy - how children learn. Malcolm Knowles can be Googled if you’d like to see more about this. I’ll continue to try to improve my paper, although it is supposed to be ready for the June publication so I’m up against it now! Best wishes, Jules.
Hello Joy, I reply again to your comments made on 29th May. I have added my three values to the abstract as you suggested. Again, acting on your suggestion, I have moved a large section of the abstract into my introduction. It now looks and reads much better. I have added Habermas to the introduction, explaining his theory concerning validity of communications. I have explained a little more about creativity and the lifeblood of education, drawing from Robinson who writes extensively about this. I have also explained Andragogy in my previous email. My inclusion of my employment journey was a suggested addition by a previous reviewer. Yes, I do refer to Whitehead's question of himself, 'How to I improve my practice?' As before, I don't know the comments you are referring to 'at the top of page 7'. Like my previous reviewer, you feel that there is too much detail in my journal entries which 'detracts from the thread of your living theory'. I have cut these sections back but I have found it difficult to remove more detail. My thoughts are that readers need to understand how frustrating these scenarios left me feeling. I am attaching a revised copy of my paper. Thank you again for taking the time to read it. Julian.
Apologies - I'm not computer savvy and I uploaded, after several attempts, my article without a title and an author! I hope this is better. Julian
I am responding to you draft paper of 10th May.
I think your ideas have the makings of a very interesting and scholarly paper. At the moment however, the structure makes it difficult for me, as the reader, to appreciate your work fullly.
My personal experience is that journal articles have to be quite concise and the reader has certain expectations. These generally include the value-based explanations of the author’s influence in her own learning and the learning of others where she lives and/or works. Each of these descriptions and explanations need to be interlinked and not written as a separate series of events. I find that they rarely even follow in chronological order. So, although this is not my paper may I suggest that you might possibly lay out your article slightly differently. Possibly shorten the contextual issues and introduce only what is necessary for the reader in order that s/he can understand your research. It is your paper, so the choice is totally yours.
In your abstract and throughout your paper, you have clearly explained your values and your living contradictions. I would love to see some data about your actions and new learning. Yours is a very interesting and descriptive paper but the required research actions are not so clearly presented and explained.
Here are some questions that might help you refocus your research paper with the readers in mind:
Have I provided sufficient detail of my living-educational-theory for it to be understood?
Are there sufficient details of how I have validated my claims to know so that the reader can share in that knowledge?
In my own career as a support teacher, I was working in a system which I perceived as unjust to my students with learning difficulties. My research focus became how I could change myself. I cannot change others nor institutional norms, but I can change me. You have provided descriptions of many instances, where your value base has also been challenged. Might you consider pointing the lens of your writing on how you have changed your actions or your understanding of them as a result of your reflections on your values and their denial in practice? Finally, could you also recheck some references (see attached).
Whatever you decide, I am looking forward to the next iteration of your paper
I am delighted that you have offered your story of “Applying my living values of respect, integrity and creativity in a post-compulsory educational setting” for publication. In Ireland, I have worked as a teacher alongside colleagues in a role similar to yours. Your paper made me realise that I have rarely questioned how my living values were evident to such colleagues. I also loved how you have thought so thoroughly about the implications of the politics of teaching.
Your abstract grabbed me immediately. I have made a structural comment on it (see attached) which I think may indicate how you might begin to enhance this paper for publication. Your readers would benefit if the finished paper could walk them through your process of how you developed your living theory, which you should explicitly state in your abstract. Readers need to understand your value-based explanation of your educational influence in your own learning, the learning of others and the learning of the social formations in your work. I sense that you are well aware of these ideas and your challenge is to clarify this in your writing.
In the abstract you have stated your question, a description of your context and why your question is important. You name your values. You say that, you will describe your actions and reflections on your actions. All good so far. Your paper has a style that draws your reader in. It is comprehensible to anyone interested in extending their knowledge. We now need to let your writing show the transformational possibilities of Living Theory research
In your paper I would like to read more about your claim i.e what you learned. I also need to read how you arrived at a living theory. For this, your readers needs clear signposts such as where is (or what is) the data that demonstrates your claim. To move from a claim to a living theory will require writing about how you validated your findings (or claim) against the living standards of judgement which you have mentioned as “social criteria of comprehensibility, truthfulness, sincerity and appropriateness, in accordance with Habermas (1987)”.
There is one other area that I would like you to consider for your next draft. As I read your paper I am confused as to why you expect other colleagues (policy makers) to demonstrate your values in their actions towards you. Your paper is about “how can I improve my practice?”, “how I worked to negate the contradictions I recognised in every-day practice”. This will go beyond demonstrating “how my values are, on occasion, challenged, contradicted, or acknowledged and respected”. In your abstract you talk of validity and ethics, I wold like to read more about these in your paper. I am attaching a copy of your paper with some comments which I hope will be of use.
I love your ideas and the story of your research. I really experienced the frustrations you felt as you wrote about your challenging situations. My comments are mainly about you might convey your living theory to a wider international audience. Please get back to me if you need further clarification.
Thanks again for this paper. I have been both laughing and in tears as I read it. I am really looking forward to your next draft.