Published papers

A Living-Theory of Care-Giving

Picture of Sonia Hutchison
A Living-Theory of Care-Giving
by Sonia Hutchison - Friday, 14 June 2013, 9:11 AM
This paper is based on a presentation I gave at the Inaugural Conference of the Action Research Network of the Americas in San Francisco
1-2 May 2013 It gives my living explanation of my influence as the Chief Executive of a Care-Givers’ Centre in the UK and
how my lived experience as a child in care and then care-giver to my mum has shaped my values which I seek to live by as an authentic leader.
Margaret Farren
Re: A Living-Theory of Care-Giving
by Margaret Farren - Thursday, 27 June 2013, 5:57 PM

Dear Sonia,

Jerry Allendar has asked me to post his review to the forum. I hope you find the review helps you to complete the paper. Jane Spiro has also agreed to act as the second reviewer. Well done on all your good work and I look forward to the final published paper.
All the best


Sonia Hutchison review for EJOLTS—Jerry Allender

A Living Theory of Care-Giving

Dear Sonia,

Donna and I were most pleased to meet you at AERA in San Francisco. We particularly enjoyed our breakfast together on Saturday morning. And now, I am delighted to have the opportunity to review the paper that you have submitted to EJOLTS.

For starters, you have written a worthy paper well documented with the videos. Ideas sparkle, videos engage, and the history of yourself make your discussion and conclusions sound, both theoretically and practically.

As our editor recently said to us about the book on ethics for children that we are just completing, “that said,” there is attention to writing that I want to you address. And like his letter, the bulk of this letter is about what I wish you to consider for improving your paper. My advice is a matter of choosing what you envision is helpful. I don’t expect you to do everything I suggest.

From what comes out in the paper, particularly viewing the interview with Rosie, is that you are a highly competent practitioner. Your writing, however, doesn’t match this level of expertise—at least in your attempt to write this academic paper. Second guessing, I feel that you are trying to prove yourself by going beyond the power of the obvious strength of your of your evidence and the living theory you are proposing. What happens in the course of this is that the writing is not articulate. In the videos, in talking with you, in many places in the text, you are clear and strong. The strength of the article will be best when it mirrors your ideas and experience. In essence, I suggest you rewrite the paper so that is closer to how you normally talk. To check your writing, read it out loud. Imagine your mum engrossed in what you are saying.

From the top:

Introduce the paper without references. Maybe use one reference to Jack Whitehead and his book on living theory. This is the foundation of your whole kit and caboodle. It’s a big theory, and it is heart to heart. Whatever you choose to do, be sure that what you have to say is what you think and believe. At the outset, this does require any more evidence than your own knowing.

Pay attention to subtitles and how they structure the discussion. Title the discussion of Mandela, A Meta-Introduction. Instead of “Approach to Inquiry,” how about using, Living Theory. Expand it. Give a hook for the reader. Include why a detailed auto-ethnography is needed. Instead of “Data or Sources of Evidence,” how about using, Videography. Maybe expand. Then, some subtitle that reflects that you are now going to tell an important story that explains the introduction—cogently, smartly, and evocatively. Now rehearse what you have said so far in terms that reflect that significance of relationship in care giving, and use the videos as talking points. The videos are the evidence; the “talk” invites discussion. Ultimately, it all leads to your discussion and your conclusions. It might be a hard sell; it might be a soft sell. You’ll know better when you get there. Use the writing as a way of learning more about what you think and believe.

And, your wonderful teenage drawing is evidence too. Maybe draw a new picture. Add this new adult drawing as another piece of evidence. Or compare it as a talking point for the discussion or as an element in the conclusions.

It is important to have fun with all of this. Remember, the final editor is you! If the gatekeeper isn’t satisfied after you do this work and possibly yet another round, you have to consider the authenticity of your compromises. Not so much attention to our ideals, you and your editors are best when you work together. This too mirrors the process of your study and your practice.

I do believe that a writing partner on the ground over coffee would be a big help. I am glad to help along the way, but I don’t want to be a writing partner. Also, pay attention to not taking more time than seems reasonable. Improving the paper not perfecting it is enough. I forgot: dump the quantitative section. Save it for another paper.

Warm regards and respectfully,


Picture of Sonia Hutchison
Re: A Living-Theory of Care-Giving
by Sonia Hutchison - Monday, 1 July 2013, 7:04 PM
Thanks Jerry, interestingly this is something I have been told about how I write whilst I was in America, so I would be delighted to have a go at what you are saying as it is almost word for word what a couple of other people have said to me.

I am building up my identity in my written voice, and will use your comments to help me.

Picture of Jerry Allender
Re: A Living-Theory of Care-Giving
by Jerry Allender - Thursday, 25 July 2013, 5:28 PM
Thank you your understanding. I am happy to help out along the way if you have questions or want me to read some of your writing as you move along.

Indeed, we build a special identity in our writing which is somewhat different than how we speak. It's lovely when they are mostly congruent.

Margaret Farren
Re: A Living-Theory of Care-Giving
by Margaret Farren - Monday, 29 July 2013, 1:51 PM
Dear Sonia,

Jane Spiro has submitted detailed feedback on your paper. I hope the comments (posted below) in addition to Jerry's comments help to bring your paper to final publication.
All the best

Many thanks Sonia for an empassioned account of your leadership through the Care Giver’s Centre in which you foreground your experience and your impact on others as key contributions to knowledge. I have the sense through this paper of a highly effective and committed practitioner who wishes to bring her knowledge to a new audience - one that does not share the subject discipline, that may be demanding in terms of research rigour and theoretical underpinning, but that shares the same passion for transformational learning.
It is this latter adaptation to the audience where I would like to make most suggestions. As a member of that audience group myself, there are some key concepts which I feel need to be explained more, and ways in which I would like the story itself to be staged and sequenced so I can follow your journey more clearly. I will explain these two points generally, and then work through them in more detail page by page.

1) Explaining key concepts
There seem to be a number of significant terms which I am introduced to as reader: care-giving is flagged at the start as the one I expect to be the most significant. But there are others which emerge in the course of the paper which also appear to be key to your story: authentic leadership, mindfulness and learning (p. 1) , creativity, and love (p. 6), participation and engagement (p. 7) . So as a reader I am thinking: where should I focus my attention? Which of these concepts is the one I will follow and understand better at the end of this paper? Which are you seeing as your own living theory and contribution to knowledge? I believe it to be ‘care-giving’/authentic leadership as you suggest in your title, but in focusing on all the others too I seem to have lost track of this main one. I would really love your paper to tell me: what do you mean by each part of that word – care – and giving, authentic andleadership, what contention surrounds these terms, why is this concept your unique contribution? It would be great if your final section travelled to this point so, as you say “I show I am an authentic leader”, you are also able to offer your own ‘lived’ definition of this term in the light of your experience and finding. (p. 15).

2) Staging and sequencing the story
I feel some stages of the story were rather rushed, so I couldn’t see exactly how you progressed from one part to the next. For example p. 3 offers an approach to the enquiry rather than telling me clearly what the enquiry actually is. Then p. 4 moves fast on to data and sources of evidence- but I am not sure until the end of this section actually how the data has been collected, and what it is evidence of.
So as a ‘slower’ step by step journey I would really value these sections:
• the study (this is the question I am asking; this is my project – who, what, where, when, why)
• the key concepts/values on which the study is founded with working definitions
• the methods (this is how I am answering the question; this is how I am collecting data, where, when, and from whom)
• the findings –thematised: (eg. evolving personal values, defining love etc.) or each data source (what I learnt from the narratives; the video clips etc.).

I found information scattered in several places, and found myself thinking – “ah, this bit is about personal values but then it goes on to methods and approaches (p. 7 – 8)” – “ah, this is personal narrative then it goes on to unpacking key concepts (p.6)”. This is quite a lot of work for the reader! So a reshuffling of information into relevant sections would really help, with each section clearly flagged up so the reader knows what is happening:

I will now unpack these two main points in more detail page by page.

p. 1 Introduction: ‘significance across the Americas’: as an outsider to your story I would like some brief contextual knowledge to understand where theAmericas fit in, why the Americas and not eg. Europe; what is the nature of this significance (a phrase, key word etc.) and what is the evidence for your claim (eg. has been implemented in x contexts; changed the lives of x people according to x testimonies etc.).

Also you mention ‘sharing my research into my practice’ but as a reader I would love a very clear statement about what that research actually is, perhaps formulated as a question.

p. 1 Rationale and Theoretical framework
This section starts, for me surprisingly, with a very definitive statement about authentic leadership. But as a research rationale, would you not be asking questions about authentic leadership? Are you already completely clear (or is your reader) about what this is, what it means, what it looks like? So here, and in this section, I am looking for: What is the question? What is the problem around this term and its meanings for you?

p. 3 I would like a clear and separate paragraph or section about each of the data collection methods, with a comment about what information was collected, over what period of time, how, when, where, and with what challenges: ie.
• video data/visual narratives
• diaries
• drawings
• autobiographical writings (what were these as different from the two above?)

p. 4 I really like these stories under Findings, but I am not sure where they come from. Are these extracts or summaries from the diaries? a synthesis of several sources?
I think this section also needs sequencing as suggested above – either by data source or by theme: because as a reader I am thinking: “lovely! But where does this come from?” Is this your actual data – or your summary of the data – or your analysis of the data?

p. 8 I would like you to talk through the picture a little bit more – in answer to when, what, why, where questions?

p. 9 You mention here and in other places ‘using video to research my leadership’ but how? What do you actually do/look for/look at in the video? I think the story needs to be a little ‘slower’ so you explain the stages.

Some stylistic and proofreading slips
p. 2 Mandella/Mandela
A tumbling together of sentences/ideas beginning ‘ This is especially -----’. I think Desmond Tutu needs to start a new sentence.
Peck (1978) on p. 6 is not in the biblio.
Some short paragraphs which could be joined up eg. on p. 6, p. 8
Some incomplete sentences: eg. p. 14 – ‘ Remembering to show my appreciation’ --- has no main verb.
Picture of Sonia Hutchison
Re: A Living-Theory of Care-Giving
by Sonia Hutchison - Tuesday, 27 August 2013, 10:51 PM


I have done a considerable rewrite to try to take into account both your comments and improve my writing style for submission. I would appreciate knowing if you think my article is now ready for submission or if it needs more work.

Thanks for the significant amount of time you have both given to me already in your helpful feedback. It has really helped me learn a lot about getting a paper ready for submission and ensuring my authentic voice is audible throughout.


Picture of Jane Spiro
Re: A Living-Theory of Care-Giving
by Jane Spiro - Friday, 13 September 2013, 11:32 PM
Dear Sonia,
Thank you so much for your inspiring revision which now tells your story so clearly and allows your passion to shine through. I see how you have explained the meaning of caring, told powerful stories of carers, included moving testimony to your own role as carer, and shown how this joins with your leadership role. I also see now what you mean by authentic as true to yourself, as open to the agape love of others. You have also shown how the video clips bear powerful testimony ro these many ways of loving.
I really appreciate how you have made these changes to liberate your own voice. The style reads as authentic,, the way you would tell the story if we were in a room together.
And it describes the story step by step, answering what, where, how, why, when, and with what overall impact so I sense as reader I have really understood your thinking.

The only small suggestion is that a concluding paragraph might return to your key concept of authentic leadership and pull together the key elements here of what you mean by it, as richly demonstrated in your paper, so this is the final message the reader takes away.

Yes, this will make an excellent contribution to the journal and I look forward to it reaching a wider audience,

In appreciation and with love,
Picture of Sonia Hutchison
Re: A Living-Theory of Care-Giving
by Sonia Hutchison - Sunday, 15 September 2013, 6:02 PM
Thank you so much for all your comments and time to help my paper develop. I have added a conclusion to take into account your final comment and hope this achieves what you have suggested.
Picture of Marie Huxtable
Re: A Living-Theory of Care-Giving - published
by Marie Huxtable - Sunday, 13 October 2013, 12:06 PM
Published in September 2013, Volume 6, Issue 1
Accessable from
Picture of Jerry Allender
Re: A Living-Theory of Care-Giving
by Jerry Allender - Sunday, 15 September 2013, 2:17 PM
Hi Sonia,

I've read your revision, and I am impressed. Bravo! You now read like you sound, only more wordy. And, that's ok in a paper. You make a good case for for how a living theory of care-giving can play out. It will be different for each of us, and your research, views, and experiences reflect well your expansive expertise. If I ever need serious care-taking, you can be sure I will ask for your advice. I look forward to seeing the paper appear as an excepted EJOLTS publication.

Donna and I send our love, Jerry
Picture of Sonia Hutchison
Re: A Living-Theory of Care-Giving
by Sonia Hutchison - Sunday, 15 September 2013, 6:03 PM
Thanks Jerry, it was a great learning to rewrite and find my voice in my writing, thanks so much for your review it was really helpful. Lots of love to you and Donna Sonia x