Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Journal Conversations: Building the Research Self-Efficacy of an Aboriginal Early Career Academic

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Journal Conversations: Building the Research Self-Efficacy of an Aboriginal Early Career Academic

Article excerpt

Introduction: Family, Fear and Kissing with Noses

When Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people meet each other, we ask questions like "Who is your mob (family/community)?" or "Where are you from?" These questions are the foundation of cultural identity and locate you for others by connecting you to family, community, country. I will follow this Aboriginal protocol by writing a Yarn (usually a verbal exchange of knowledge/a shared story) to position myself within this paper. This paper is not a traditional research report; rather, it utilises some of my research journal entries to describe how using a research journal was pivotal in helping me to blend my own epistemology as an Australian Aboriginal (Koori) researcher with a Western academic research paradigm. Yarning (Leeson, Smith, & Rynne, 2016; Walker, Fredericks, Mills, & Anderson, 2014) has increasingly been recognised as a culturally appropriate and respectful way to collect research data. Yarning was pivotal in the data collection process of my PhD as part of the Indigenous methodology I used. Throughout my PhD "research participants" were named Team Members. This term represents the true engagement between me ("researcher") and Team Members ("research participants") throughout the whole research process.

I Yarned with Team Members and with my own family during my PhD. A fellow academic once suggested my Yarning was "mere naval gazing" (MD: research journal), completely misunderstanding their value and importance. In fact, Yarns were woven throughout my entire methodological approach; they aligned with theory presented by Kovach, Brown, and Strega (2015). In my PhD research, Yarns helped me to present my ways of knowing as an Indigenous (Aboriginal) researcher, they used an Indigenous process as a research method, they were shared between me and Team Members as we built and maintained our research relationships and they demonstrated a way of reciprocal sharing of knowledge.

My research journal allowed me to have an ongoing Yarn throughout the entire PhD process. It was an important part of the larger Indigenous research methodology that had ethical approval from the relevant bodies (more details are provided later in this paper). At times when I did not have a person to Yarn with face to face, I used my research journal. At times when I needed to Yarn about something that might have been difficult to do face to face, I used my research journal. Although my research journal took a written form I viewed it as a being valuable, supportive, ongoing Yarning process that helped me to build my research capacity and self-efficacy as an early career researcher.

My Yarn (below) contains reflections and stories that are either my own or belong to members of my family. I share them with permission, pride and with reciprocal respect.

I am Michelle Dickson. I am an Aboriginal (1) woman from Ngarigo lands (in the Snowy Mountains region in New South Wales, Australia) and Darkinjung lands (on the Central Coast of New South Wales). I have three younger siblings and my parents are John and Deslie Dickson (nee Hayes). Born north of the harbor in Sydney, New South Wales on Cammeraygal lands, I have lived and worked mostly on the lands of the Eora nation in Sydney. My four children are proud to be the next generation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The Stolen Generation (Wilkie, 1997) made a huge impact on both sides of my family. Until 1969, various government laws and policies in Australia enforced the removal of children from their families and communities, resulting in what is now called The Stolen Generation. This generation of children were removed and raised in institutions or fostered to non-Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. Some of these children eventually found their way home, or were found again by family members, others never found home or family. For some, being Aboriginal was something to hide. …

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