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An Auto-Ethnographic Research Degree: Crafting Twice-Told Tales of Practice in Dialogue with Your Published (or Unpublished) Writings

By: Published: 2016 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 1
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In 2006, I commenced a doctoral project on my life as an occupational therapist. I was interested to find out how auto-ethnography could contribute to understanding professional practice and, in particular, the published work of experienced practitioners. My approach of crafting twice-told tales from moments of practice in dialogue with selected publications made this auto-ethnographic doctorate distinctive. Over 3½ years, I crafted a portfolio of tales of sexuality, food and death that emerged from an auto-ethnographically focused re-reading and re-writing of some of my published works (1985–2005).

This case study outlines some of the realities facing those who are considering writing auto-ethnographically in the context of a research degree. It is not a cautionary tale, but alerts aspiring auto-ethnographers who decide to assemble a layered account to the risks and pleasures of the task, including ‘getting lost’ amid the old and new accounts, having to move conceptually between multiple texts and time zones, writing about questions of difference and becoming in a professional's life, writing embodied moments from practice and unpacking the ethical implications of telling untold stories perhaps from multiple viewpoints to benefit previously silenced others.

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Life history research

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