The subject of this chapter is 'better knowledge'. Educational research - all research - is about getting knowledge. As the first two principles of educational research for social justice state, the two main reasons for doing the research arc: to get improvements in social justice, in and from education; and to get knowledge and to learn from it. This is 'better knowledge' in two senses of 'better': knowledge which can be relied on and knowledge which can be used wisely, to a good purpose. These two principles are underpinned by a view of social justice and a view of knowledge and power which are expressed in the other eight principles. They emphasize the uncertainty of knowledge, and the importance of collaboration, of openness to other perspectives and of reflexivity.
In Part II, and especially in Chapter 5, I outlined an approach to epistemology, but it was in very abstract terms. Here I connect that discussion with the more concrete questions facing researchers, in terms in which they are likely to be challenged. The mainstream is likely to pose challenges in terms of bias and validity. Minority groups, whether as subjects or researchers, are more likely to be concerned with these questions of bias and validity in different terms, talking instead of the contradictions of being a researcher from a marginal group, exploitation by outsiders, co-option into the academy and the responsibilities of insiders. I address these issues in the sections on ethical issues and insider—outsider research.
All researchers have opinions about what they are researching. Their research has been chosen precisely because it is something of significance to them (unless they simply needed the job). Opinions give a clue to values.