Image: the Lego Research Institute. Adorable lego researchers with a dinosaur, a microscope, a telescope and other research equipment. Image from the Lego Shop.
In the beginning, I was over-ambitious. When I wrote this post, I firmly believed that my research should be shaped by disabled people who are involved with churches, rather than just by me. I wanted to do a two-stage research project, beginning by talking to as many disabled Christians as possible, and asking them to shape the second stage of the research with me. I hoped that they could be my co-researchers, or at least very active participants, rather than just research ‘subjects’.
I forgot that I’m one person, with no research team, and very little funding.
I also forgot that I’m a disabled person myself. (I have some writing still to do about whether, as a disabled student, I was ever capable of doing the kind of research I would like to have done. From the perspective not just of my impairments, but also in terms of the disabling environment that academia can be.)
So here’s the problem. Universities have requirements and demands for PhD students. We have to demonstrate that we can undertake research in an acceptable way before we achieve a PhD. I completely understand this – but I also want to continue to be ethical, to my own high standards of ethics in researching with disabled people.
My ethical standard continues to be: my research focus and aims should come from disabled Christians, rather than just from me.
My university demands: produce a detailed plan of research as soon as possible, before you meet any participants.
So here is my initial outreach to you, disabled Christians. I am leaning towards focusing on a few churches and investigating what they do – how they talk about disability, how they accommodate disabled people, how they respond to their disabled attendees.
– What do you think I should focus on, as I visit these churches? Are there issues you’re not seeing talked about, when it comes to disability and the churches? I can’t promise I can follow every suggestion you make, but I can try.
– Would you be willing to be involved – to comment on the direction I’m taking, the process of research, and the way I interpret my results? (Discussion about this can all take place online – either by email or Skype, depending on what you’re comfortable with. And you can be involved as much or as little as you’re comfortable with.)
If anyone reading this is interested in commenting, or in being involved, please let me know. You can comment below (please include your email so I can get back to you!), or you can email me at naomijacobs10 at gmail dot com. I’d absolutely love to hear from you.
And thank you in advance to anyone considering getting involved!