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Book Review: Gunter, Hall and Mills (eds.) – Education Policy Research

This edited collection of reflections of the dilemmas and messiness inherent with educational research by practitioners or those who may have history within the field is an essential read for anyone who is in the early stages of their research career. 

 Gunter, Hall and Mills have edited a collection that encapsulates the concerns and worries of most educational researchers. Through the voices of a wide range of researchers and their honest accounts of dilemmas and their own journeys it brings alive many of the issues that textbooks on methodology and ethics make look black and white. Written in a personal and accessible way, it brings to live the realities behind research.

The book draws on the work of eleven researchers from current doctoral candidates through to recent graduates and more experienced researchers from within the Manchester Institute of Education. Generally conceived, their projects are all framed through the lens of critical policy studies but cover a wide range of context from primary to higher education. 

Issues that are of central concern to those researching such as the insider/outsider continuum, issues of access and trust, researching your own practice and the ramifications of self-cirque are tackled head on. This book takes those elements which are often implicit and offer a frank and honest account of what they mean in the real world.

In my opinion, this book is an essential read for any postgraduate student to add colour and depth of understanding to the realities of educational research and to help them navigate the issues that will also be central to their own research. It fills a clear gap between the informative practical ethics and methodology texts and the practical issues faced by the new researcher.

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