The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Michael Pickering ‘Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route’ Exhibition

Michael Pickering from the National Museum of Australia – Brown Bag 29 February 2012

Mike Pickering has had a long career with the indigenous societies of Australia. He is currently the Head of Curatorial Research for the National Museum. He is co-author of the repatriation book The Long Way Home: The Meaning and Values of Repatriation.

Michael began his talk discussing the past issues and ideas that the National Museum of Australia has held where indigenous exhibits were concerned. He explained that, previously, museums have been more concerned with the curatorial voice rather than the indigenous one. In the last decade the NMA has moved towards the ideal of allowing the subjects to speak for themselves with only minimal curatorial help to ‘translate’ the story to the public. Mike stated that this has now become BAU or Business as Usual for the museum.

The exhibition that Michael was here to discuss was the Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route that opened in 2010 at the NMA for a six month run. It was a collaboration project between the NMA, FORM ( and nine Aboriginal art centres in Western Australia.

The Canning Stock Route was a road built in the late 1800s to early 1900s for the transportation of cattle. The road, unfortunately, ran right through Aboriginal land and a great deal of violence and destruction took place to build it, including the desecration of many of the Aboriginal wells that were important to their culture. The venture turned out to be very uneconomical, and only 20 cattle droves took place on the road. However, the event in the history of Australia is one of both first contact and pastoral significance and it did succeed in uniting the Aboriginal tribes in the area. More information can be found on the NMA website through the title link.

The exhibit ran for six months in Canberra, a capital city that is heavily influenced by its politics. In the short run nearly 120,000 people visited the gallery. From there it travelled to Perth in 2011 for the Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting and was opened by the Queen [30,000 attending at this location]. It is now in Sydney until April 29th of this year.

Prior to the run of this exhibition, a first of its kind in Australia, ‘indigenous imagery’ was common in the country. It was often displayed on airport walls for advertising, on tourist giftware or used by corporations to show their link to the land. People had forgotten where the imagery came from and the overexposure to it by the audience caused some of the museums approached for the exhibit to decide the public simply wouldn’t be interested. The NMA thought otherwise, as it tied in well with their move towards an indigenous story driven narrative in the museum.

The exhibit consisted to around 120 paintings done by Aboriginal artists from the area along the Canning Route. At the centre of it was a map showing the route, the wells and lined with paintings from specifically marked areas on the map. Each piece of art included was its own gateway to a story; much like the cover of a book, Michael put in, is the window to the novel behind it. The exhibit was a showpiece of how successful indigenous engagement can be. The art that was displayed on the walls had text panels with quotes from the artists and brief explanations that were endorsed by the Aboriginal communities to which they belonged. Also part of the exhibit was a 9m long interactive table showing details of the Stock Route for the public to delve deeper into the history.

Michael went on to discuss the stakeholders that were part of the exhibition development. FORM had originally been the front runner of the project, and had been the organisation to do the background research with artists and communities in the North-West. They acted as representatives to the artists and their families when they approached the NMA to host the exhibit. The NMA is a very large museum and often has nearly a 100 projects on the go at any one time, with no project taking preference over another. This time, they knew they had to do things differently. FORM approached them in 2007 to exhibit the project as an artistic showcase. The museum was interested in it for many reasons, but mainly because it came to them as a free project at a time when their funding was running short and because it fit in well with their new focus on the Aboriginal voice. NMA also wanted to acquire the large amount of cultural research that FORM had done in their background work and make it more of a cultural exhibition, rather than purely artistic.

After much consultation, the museum made a decision to purchase the entire collection for $900,000 Australia Dollars, but not to take over control as a buyer normally would. The museum wanted to share the partnership with FORM and the artistic communities. NMA took the opportunity, with the Aboriginal artists available for consultation, to make certain they were designing an exhibition that put the Aboriginal perspective first, without over simplifying or compromising the narrative. During the beginnings of the exhibition project, NMA continued to work with the artists and with FORM to include them in all aspects of the design process. They made frequent field trips to the communities involved to discuss design and implementation of the project.

At this time, the issue of copyright was also raised. Who owned the rights to reproduce the paintings for the exhibition? After a great deal of consultation, it was decided that each artists would be approached individually to ask their own opinion on whether they wanted to allow their work to be reproduced.

When creating the text panels for the exhibit, NMA careful included many quotes by the artists so that their voice was heard first and foremost and used such introductions as ‘I believe’ rather than ‘The Aboriginal People believe’. Though some meaning will always be lost in translation, especially when text panels can only display a certain number of words, the museum tried wherever possible to focus on and convey the essential message of the individual artists and the communities they represented.

In all, the exhibition ended up costing the NMA around $2 million AUS over the three years it was in development until implementation. The total, with all of the collaborators, was nearly $4.5 million! As the exhibition opening drew closer and closer, concession had to be made and cuts found. It was the single largest project the museum has ever undertaken or, Michael went on to state, will ever undertake. Now the NMA has a yearly budget for all the galleries and temporary exhibits of only $1.5 million. However, he felt the original cost was worth it, since it made the museum rethink how they exhibited Aboriginal cultures, collaborated with communities and what their future partnership could be.

At the opening nights of the exhibit, many of the artists themselves were present and in the gallery, lending a more cultural experience for the visitor to have the creator of the work standing right beside it. Michael reiterated time and again during his closing words that, without the partnership with FORM or the Aboriginal art communities, the project never would have been possible. Though such a large scale exhibit will likely never happen again, the museum hopes to use the knowledge they have gained from it to maintain the same level of collaboration in their future (smaller) exhibitions.

In the end, Michael summed up his presentation quite simply: maintaining a high ethical standard in museums costs money, but the effort is worth it.

Michael asked if people would visit the website for the NMA and explore it. They hope that it will serve as an academic resource for all to learn about Aboriginal history in Australia.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Novel Study: Curiosity (2010)

It's been all CFPs, all the time, lately on the Attic, so I thought I'd mix it up a bit and tell you about a good book I read recently. I was lent Joan Thomas's Curiosity, and although I was initially hesitant, I really enjoyed it.

I am not a fan of historical fiction, nor do I like it when authors insert a love story where there is dubious foundations for one. It all reads like fanfiction to me, and if I wanted to read that, I have my own sources! But the person who lent me the book vouched for its quality, and from the first page, I was a believer.

Curiosity tells the story of Mary Anning, a 19th century girl who, with her family, hunted and sold fossils in Lyme Regis. She is said to have been the inspiration for the tongue-twister 'she sells sea shells by the sea shore.' Anning was poor and uneducated, but had a talent for finding rare creatures, and was lucky enough to have the patronage of more educated and wealthy men of science and influence who purchased specimens from her. The novel traces Anning's early days, and her encounters with local fossil hunters; it speculates about a romantic relationship between her and Henry de la Beche, the president of the British Geological Society. It includes touching descriptions of her wretched family life, as well as vividly painting the closed circles of society in Lyme Regis and beyond. The author researched Anning's life in detail, but the book does not read like a dry biography, nor like a Mary Sue potboiler; it manages, through its rich language and poetic descriptions, to evoke the life of a woman, who through force of circumstance, was not able to achieve her potential. It is a fitting tribute to a talent that shaped modern understandings of natural history, and a timely reminder that the rights of women were hard-won.

A few weeks after I finished this novel, I chanced upon a more scholarly biography of Anning: Shelley Emling's The Fossil Hunter is just one of several books (including children's books!) on the topic. While normally, I would have relished the chance to learn more, I felt like Curiosity had covered the salient points, all in an engaging and informed way.

If you are interested in the history of science, paleontology, nineteenth-century natural history, or women's history generally, this is a lovely way to spend some time contemplating these themes while being entertained with a good story.

Next up from me: Orhan Pamuk's The Museum of Innocence (2010). What museum-related novels have you been reading lately?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

CFP: CSAA 2012 - Materialities: Economies, Empiricism, & Things

Cultural Studies Association of Australasia annual conference 2012

Hosted by the Department of Gender & Cultural Studies, University of Sydney

Dec 4th-6th (pre-fix pre-conference Dec 3rd)

‘Materialities: Economies, Empiricism, & Things’

Organising committee: Fiona Allon, Prudence Black, Catherine Driscoll,
Elspeth Probyn, Kane Race& Guy Redden.

Call for Papers

Cultural studies has a long history of investigating material practices –
indeed it was a founding tenet of British cultural studies – but recently a
new turn or return to materialism seems to be emerging in the field. What
this materiality now means is still open, but we suggest that it flags a
renewed interest in questions of how to study cultural objects,
institutions and practices (methods), what constitutes matter and
materiality (empiricism), and how things (humans and non-humans) are being
reworked at a time of global economic, environmental and cultural flux.

Our keynotes haveall directed critical attention to these questions – to
the more-than-human, to new philosophies of matter, to the gendered
material and economic circuits of media, and to ‘the heavy materiality of
language’. We have invited them to help us in reinvigorating what cultural
studies can do today. They include: Ross Chambers (Michigan), Katherine
Gibson (UWS), Lesley Head (UoW), Bev Skeggs (Goldsmiths, London), and Sarah
Whatmore (Oxford).

We encourage proposed panels and individual papers that engage with the
wide spectrum of issues flagged by our title, including submissions that
focus on:
· the crossing of science studies and cultural studies;
· questions of method;
·the relation between culture and economy;
· cultural histories of objects and forms;
· new ideas about empiricism;
· placing sexuality, gender and race within the more-than-human;
· the materiality of texts and genres;
· the future and the past of material cultural studies;
· environmental humanities and changing ecologies;
· cultural studies within the anthropocene;
·cultural relations with/in primary and natural resources;
· the new materiality of globalism
Papers and panels not focusing on the theme are also welcome.

Please send submissions to by August 24th and include
your name and affiliation. Abstracts for papers should be 250-300 words.
Panel submissions must include three individual abstracts, a panel title
and 100-150 word rationale for the panel as a whole.

We will advise all proposers of accepted papers within 4 weeks of this
deadline. Please note that accepted presenters will need to register before
their paper will be scheduled in the program.

There will also be a separate event, “Pre-Fix”, geared to the needs of
postgraduates and early career researchers, on December 3rd. Details of
this and the main conference will be on a dedicated conference website soon.

CSAA website:
Twitter: csaa2012

Occupation and protest: documenting social unrest

Occupation and protest: documenting social unrest

The Museum of London is hosting a discussion on the 26 March, the anniversary of the March for the Alternative, to debate the role of museums in collecting items relating to social unrest. The discussion will be hosted by a panel including Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller and the Museum’s Director of Collections, Cathy Ross.

The panel will consider how recent social protests and unrest, including Occupy London and the summer riots, can be documented for future generations and which objects should be preserved to tell these stories. The Museum of London has acquired several placards from last spring's March for the Alternative, a copy of the Occupy Times and banners from the Occupy London camp into our collection; many of which will be on display on the evening.

Museum of London Director of Collections, Cathy Ross, said: “The Museum has a long history of collecting protest material, from the Suffragettes in the early 20th century to the anti-road ‘No M11’ protests in the 1990s. It’s a collecting area that raises interesting theoretical and practical issues for us as a city museum, and is particularly topical at the moment, given the debate around Occupy”.

Occupation and protest: documenting social unrest takes place on the 26 March from 19.00 - 20.45 and costs £6.

Fee £6 (concs £5) advanced booking required 020 7001 9844

Dates and times
Monday, 26 March, 19.00 - 20.45 (including panel discussion 19.00 - 20.00 and reception and object viewing 20.00 - 20.45)

To book call 020 7001 9844 or see the Museum of London website


Thursday, February 16, 2012

engage journal - contributions wanted

Invitation to contribute to the engage Journalengage 30: Arts and Healthcare (working title)
Deadline: 8 March 2012
Proposals are invited for contributions to engage 30, our third online issue of the engage journal, on the theme of the visual arts and healthcare in a broad range of settings.

We are interested in contributions from colleagues worldwide, reflecting on the practices and challenges faced in different contexts, in relation to:

• The willingness of and constraints on those in the medical and caring professions to engage with the arts
• How artists, galleries, arts professionals and healthcare workers can work together, and the challenges and opportunities of partnership working
• Approaches to research, and evidence of the benefits of arts and health projects
• The impact of arts and health practice on policy
• How arts and health programmes can help deliver governments’ Older People Strategies
• The concept of risk in the cultures of the visual arts and gallery education – which claim to encourage risk-taking – vs. health care, which is often perceived as risk-averse
• The arts and caring professions: what are the benefits to carers?
• Commissioning artists and visual arts projects in healthcare settings
• The role gallery settings can play in exploring healthcare issues
• How visual arts programmes contribute to patient experiences of healthcare

Final articles lie between 1,500 and 4,000 words. The final submission deadline for engage 30 is 8 May 2012.

We welcome contributions which make use of the potential of the online format using video, audio or images.

We are also interested in articles which take the form of interviews or discussions.

If you are interested in contributing, please send
A short, informal proposal of no more than 200 words
Your contact details
A biography of up to 100 words
to, by 10am on 8 March 2012.

Intrepid Researcher Series

For campus based students, the Intrepid Researcher Series run by the University of Leicester might not have crossed your radar yet but if not then do have at the programme because there are some really interesting sessions.

The programme offers a series of talks looking at methodological and practical issues to do with research, and is open to academics and PhD students alike. I went to one on developing research questions and it was interesting to see that other disciplines have the same challenges in coming up with the all-important question that will define your research perfectly - to yourself and others!

This coming Monday 20 February features Dr Janet Marstine and Jocelyn Dodd from Museum Studies presenting their research on Museum Ethics. Entitled 'Strategies for Introducing and Embedding a New Museum Ethics in the Museum Sector', their premise is that traditional museum ethics is based on a rigid and technical language created by like-minded individuals to maintain standard practice and power structures. Increasingly, this approach is unable to guide museum professionals through the complex ethical challenges and opportunities emerging from the 21-st century social, technological, economic and political landscape. Janet and Jocelyn will discuss their research, which aims to introduce and embed within the sector a new concept of ethics that treats ethics as both a discourse and a dynamic social practice, which is central to the process of change, both inside and outside the museum.

They will examine the methodology for their current AHRC research network grant on advancing 21st-century museum ethics, focusing on key strategies for: identifying relevant project partners and key participants; defining productive modes of collaboration; and designing network activities that meet the goals of the project. In particular, they will consider the challenges of negotiating with stakeholders a deliberately designed open-ended process for generating project outcomes.

Please be aware that you do need to sign up for the session by Friday 17 March (please go to the bottom of the page for the booking form) - but please do go along and support Janet and Jocelyn in presenting their exciting research to as wide an audience as possible.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Weird ways people find us, part the nth

I love looking at our blog stats. Not because I can tell how many people have visited The Attic lately, but because I enjoy seeing how you all find us. The weirdest search terms that have led unsuspecting browsers to us for this month are: "animal gravestones", "pregnant nipples" and "bicycle skeleton". I can't even attempt explanations for these.

CFP: New journal MIDAS - Museum Interdisciplinary Studies

MIDAS – Museum Interdisciplinary Studies invites everyone who works in museums or their work is about the museum world to contribute to MIDAS’s first issue. MIDAS is a new interdisciplinary and reflexive journal dedicated to the study of museums, with peer-review, published twice a year and is fully open access. MIDAS has an international scope, and is particularly committed to enhance and promote dialogue between professionals and researchers from Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries.

MIDAS will publish articles that foster the problematization of themes, transposing different disciplines, territories, perspectives and visions, and result in investigations of cross-fertilization with hybrid boundary borders. It presents itself as an unconfined questioning space in which knowledge is understood as being impermanent and open to the other.

MIDAS is edited by Alice Semedo (Departamento de Ciências e Técnicas do Património da Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto), Paulo Simões Rodrigues (CHAIA – Centro de História da Arte e Investigação Artística, Universidade de Évora), Pedro Casaleiro(Departamento de História Arqueologia e Artes da Faculdade de Letras, Museu da Ciência da Universidade de Coimbra e CIBIO), Raquel Henriques da Silva (IHA - Instituto de História da Arte, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa) and Ana Carvalho (CIDEHUS – Centro Interdisciplinar de de História, Culturas da Universidade de Évora) as Assistant Editor.


· Articles should not exceed 6 000 words (without bibliography) or about 40 000 characters (with spaces).

· Reviews (books or exhibitions) should not exceed 1500 words or around 10 000 characters (including spaces)

· Articles in Portuguese, English, Spanish and French

· System author-date of the Chicago Manual of Style

More about the publication guidelines:

Submission deadline: 31st of March 2012

The e-mail for submission is: (Ana Carvalho)

For more information about the journal see:

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

PhD Opportunity - Short Deadline!

A rare opportunity for a funded PhD studentship with CRUMB/ interdisciplinary. Please distribute. Previous applicants are very welcome to apply.

Northumbria and Sunderland Universities operate a collaborative AHRC Block Grant Partnership to support quality research and professional training in the Arts & Humanities. Studentships cover stipend and fees subject to eligibility criteria, and are available for uptake from September/October 2012.

The successful candidate will join an Art and Design research area judged to have World-Leading and Internationally Significant research outputs in the recent Research Assessment Exercise, and with particular experience of Practice-Led research.

The successful candidate will join a curating research area CRUMB, judged to have World-Leading research outputs, and with a history of research partners including BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Eyebeam Art and Technology Center (New York) and Lancaster University. To enable interdisciplinary research, CRUMB collaborates with supervisors from research areas in Design (including Design4Science), Photography, Video and Digital Imaging, and Computing. Research proposals are therefore welcome on any of a range of current issues for curating art, and are welcomed whether they address new media art, or other forms of contemporary art or design.

Works which use new media invite a questioning of materiality, space and time, through their use of networks, interactivity, participation, internationalism, and generative processes. These characteristics can also inform the wider field of contemporary art and design, including live art, design, and socially-engaged art, and so offer exciting opportunities to rethink the ways in which curators work. Research proposals are welcome on any of a range of current issues for curating art – including the work's production, exhibition, reception, documentation and historicisation.

Deadline: 12 noon, Friday 9 March 2012. 

Full details, see: 

Sunday, February 05, 2012

CFP: Sustainability and heritage

Sustainability and heritage: how can the past contribute to a sustainable future?

International conference - 29-30th May 2012

Orkney College, University of the Highlands and Islands
Kirkwall, Scotland

Heritage is recognised as being vitally important to sustainability. Heritage reflects our ongoing relationship with the environment and plays a role in defining modern culture and identity. It is not thus simply concerned with the past but is about balancing conservation and change today and in the future. Sustainability is best understood through long-term perspectives on the interactions of people and environment. This reflexive relationship is crucial to inform future practice and research in sustainable development and cultural environment management, and for promoting cultural diversity, sustainability literacy and education. Heritage is embedded in place and forms a strong link between humans and local landscapes. Heritage thus provides an important avenue to place based learning, education for sustainability, and developing a genuine sense of stewardship and management for the long term future. With ever diminishing resources, especially with respect to the impacts of climate change, there is now a real need for innovation in methods of assessing, monitoring, and valuing heritage, for developing new approaches to education and heritage and, moreover, for critically appraising what the past can contribute to the future sustainability of society.

This interdisciplinary conference will bring together academics and practitioners to discuss and critically analyse Heritage and Sustainability through presentations, posters and round table discussion, under the following themes:

  • Medium-long term trajectories (millennial-centennial scales) of key sustainability issues such as resource utilisation, and the impacts of climate/environmental change in communities in the past;
  • Heritage and resource management, sustainable development and participation;
  • The role and potential of heritage in education for sustainability and in underpinning sustainability literacy initiatives (such as Education for Sustainable Development & Education For Sustainability).

Submission of abstracts

Please submit paper and poster abstracts of maximum 300 words, the contact details of all authors, and a correspondence address, by 29th February 2012. Submit to Conference Secretary: For further details on the conference

Conference organisers

Jane Downes, Ingrid Mainland, Julie Gibson & Martin Price, University of the Highlands & Islands; Tom McGovern & Sophia Perdikaris, City University of New York; Ian Simpson & Richard Oram, University of Stirling; Andy Dugmore, University of Edinburgh; Julie Bond & Steve Dockrill, University of Bradford.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Representing Re-Formation: Brown Bag 1/2/12

What's the link between this seemingly disparate list of topics:
  • Martian meterorites and 3D laser technology
  • the Reformation
  • and finally, a load of boxes of tombstone fragments in East Anglia?
This is the question that was addressed in this week's Brown Bag session, 'Representing Re-Formation'. Presented by a diverse group of academics, the session aimed to share this exciting, innovative and truly cross-disciplinary research project being undertaken thanks to funding from the Science and Heritage programme of the AHRC/EPSRC by people from several institutions (including the Yale Center for British Art, Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service, English Heritage and the Universities of Oxford and Leicester - including space research, archaeology, history and art history departments). The session was presented in a conversational format by Dr Jackie Hall (archaeologist - Leicester), Kirsten Claiden-Yardley (PhD historian - Merton College, Oxford), Nishad Karim (PhD physics researcher - Leicester) and our very own Dr Ross Parry (museums and digital media - Leicester).

Described as 'using space technology to crack a medieval mystery', in which techniques used to produce 3D scans of moon rock are being used to scan fragments of monuments from the C16th Dukes of Norfolk's tombs to work out how/if/why they fit together and where they came from, this project uses cutting edge technology to unpick historical narratives of the Reformation. But not only this, one of the key components of the research, and one which I find particularly exciting, is to be transparent about the process of the research itself, to 'research out loud', as Ross Parry explained, in a participatory way, letting go of curatorial authority, and opening up this story for public conversation, not least through the website and blog.

I will admit here that since I am not a historian (having abandoned the subject pre-GCSE), my knowledge of the ins and outs of the Reformation is basic, and I did not follow every aspect of the complex stories of the Dukes of Norfolk, and their relationships with the monarchy and the church during the periods before and after the Reformation, relationships which led to the complex and mysterious circumstances by which their tombs and fragments thereof were (possibly) moved between Thetford Priory and Framlingham Parish Church some 40 miles away. The background section on the project website explains this complex and controversial history in depth and it is Kirsten's role to place the family history into its social, religious and political context, looking at how the Dukes of Norfolk (the very important Howard family) coped with the change of state religion.

Jackie's role is to look at the material culture of the tombs themselves: she was first called upon by English Heritage in 2006, to look at some 200 boxes of excavation material from Thetford Priory which were taking up valuable space in the stores, and as such were possible contenders for deaccessioning. That is until she uncovered what they were: extremely significant tomb monuments from the Tudor Renaissance, connected with the Howard family and excavated in the 1930s. Amongst other things, her role is to investigate these further, building a picture of Thetford priory and its tombs, and exploring through the material, what the impact of the dissolution would have been.

As a space researcher, Nishad is using x-ray spectroscopy and laser technology to reconstruct the tombs virtually. Indeed, she has even set up a museum store deep within the physics department (alongside a high security 'mission'!) where the fragments are temporarily housed while they are scanned. She is able to develop complicated algorithms which teach the modelling software e.g. that a head fragment should sit on top of a neck fragment, and so on, and then databases will be created to help match up all the fragments. Wow! Clever stuff, and I found this particularly pertinent having been to Museums Sheffield the day before to hear about their joint JISC project with Sheffield Hallam University to digitise the metalwork collection in 3D using similar (but different) laser technology.

Alongside all this cutting edge cross-disciplinary research, there is also going to be an exhibition, complete with online learning resources for schools. An app will be created as well, possibly involving things such as crowd-sourced 3D models, augmented reality etc. The project team has its own audience advocate, Dr Adair Richards, whose job is to involve communities in promoting awareness of the project, and the idea is that there will be several campaigns to involve the public in uncovering this mysterious story further. In addition, there's a Twitter stream: @RepReformation and a Research Associate post currently being advertised. So a vast amount of very exciting activity!

What I find potentially most significant about this project for the museums sector is its openness to new voices and its willingness to acknowledge and share doubt. Museums and galleries are (arguably) very good at being objective authorities, at giving the 'right' answer, at painting one 'true' picture of the status quo. They are traditionally less good at sharing doubt, at admitting failure, or even at taking risks, including that of encouraging subjective response or even 'unknowing'. It is this aspect of the research process that interests Dr Ross Parry and he has asked for comments on 'researching out loud' to be added to the blog, so I leave you with an invitation to do so, and to comment further as this complex, rich and dynamic project unfolds.