ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
Getting inside the mind of an expert management researcher
Your learning through the two-way process of academic discourse
Who do we think you are?
Who do you think your audience is?
What’s distinctive about researching management?
Induction into a western tradition of academic scholarship
What’s your ‘academic comfort zone’, and how could you expand it?
Official expectations that you will develop your critical frame of mind
Expectations check-up
How well does your work match-up to your assessors’ expectations?
Are you a more critical thinker than you realise?
Experiences of thinking critically in your academic work
Helping yourself learn to think like an expert management researcher
Comparing lists of Dos and Don’ts
Maximising your learning by linking critical reading with self-critical writing
Getting inside the mind of an expert management researcher


Many expert management researchers have learned intuitively how to follow the logic of enquiry in the social sciences, a form of detective-work that makes for rigorous and convincing investigations. Their critical frame of mind means that they are habitually inquisitive about their area of the management field, they ask searching questions and take no answers for granted, and they evaluate others’ arguments while developing their own position. This is what you are being encouraged to do through your academic work, applying the logic of enquiry to various management topics.

The logic of enquiry therefore means a way of thinking about the process of research. This process is a social experience, open to an ever-expanding community of scholars and practitioners - including you! It operates through two-way academic discourse centred on evaluating and developing arguments:

  • you adopt a sceptical stance as the audience for others’ attempt to convince people through their argument about the social world, as expressed in the literature or in lectures, seminars or conferences. You evaluate any evidence from the literature or their own research that warrants their conclusion being accepted, to see how far their argument is convincing and so can inform your own enquiry
  • you try to convince a sceptical audience (a tutor or supervisor or colleague academics) to accept the conclusion of your argument about some aspect of the management field, warranted by your evidence from the literature or from your own research

Developing your own convincing argument about an aspect of the management field therefore embraces the logic of enquiry through:

1.   asking questions informed by others’ accounts of their enquiries

2.   designing your literature-based, empirical or theoretical investigations to answer these questions

3.   reporting the answers obtained to warrant others’ acceptance of your conclusions

You develop your critical frame of mind by following the logic of enquiry as it applies to the field of management.