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''Why don't you give the money back?'' Questions of accounting and accountability in three accounts of educational research

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This paper explores questions of accounting and accountability through three accounts of an empirical study of flexibility in two UK further education colleges. In this study, conceptions of flexibility and lifelong learning are being interrogated primarily through the analysis of interviews conducted with students and staff during the autumn term of 1999. In three parallel representations of this research, the authors present an algorithmic tale, a tale of strategic improvisations and a reflexive tale. A discussion of the performative value, or validity, of each account is linked to questions of accountability - to funding bodies, to participants in the research process, to the authors themselves, their peers and other potential beneficiaries. The paper concludes that writing about empirical research from a poststructural perspective can be a risky undertaking.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09518390210157289

Publication date: September 1, 2002

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