The Practice of Research: A Methodology for Practice-Based Exploration of Digital Writing

Electronic Literature Organization
University of Bergen, Norway
August 2015

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Later published as a journal article: Skains, R. Lyle. 2018. “Creative Practice as Research: Discourse on Methodology.” Media Practice and Education 19 (1): 82–97.


This paper proposes a specific methodology for the practice-based study of digital writing. “Practice-based” connotes a focused project, a creative experiment designed to answer questions about the process and results of the practice itself: “it involves the identification of research questions and problems, but the research methods, contexts and outputs then involve a significant focus on creative practice” (Sullivan 2009, 48). The proposed method aligns foremost with Sullivan’s conceptual framework of practice-based research, in that the creative undertaking is an attempt to understand the artefacts themselves. As such, it incorporates ethnomethodological (Garfinkel 1967; cf. Brandt 1992) observation of writing activities, maintaining notes, journal entries, comments on drafts, and other relevant, observable paratexts to the composition, in order to “make continual sense to [the writer] of what [the writer is] doing” (Brandt 1992, 324). These notes and paratexts are later analyzed, placing them within the context of composition cognition (Flower & Hayes 1981), and post-textual, media-specific analysis (Hayles 2002) is conducted on the narratives that result. In this manner, the various strengths of practice-based research, ethnomethodology, cognitive process, and post-textual analysis are combined into a robust, widely applicable method of evaluating the activities of the practitioner/researcher.

Cite as: Skains, R. Lyle. 2015. “The Practice of Research: A Methodology for Practice-Based Exploration of Digital Writing.” In Electronic Literature Organization, University of Bergen, 4-7 Aug 2015. Bergen, Norway.

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