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The “Accidental” Advocate: Wearing Two Hats as Researcher and Advocate to Reach Young Children

Download Files Apr 20, 2008

This article tells the story of how Dr. Eva Marie Shivers, Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Education, has conducted action-oriented research to navigate being both a respected researcher and an effective advocate for young children and their communities.

One of the first lessons I learned in graduate school was that as social science researchers, we had to be objective in order to be credible. I wa s encouraged to write my term papers, thesis, and dissertation without the dramatic and argumentative language I learned to use in my previous life as an appellate law clerk in the Children’s Court in Los Angeles County. It was difficult for me to learn to be dispassionate in my writing, especially while my research interests in early childhood development were driven by a profound, passionate interest in the well-being of our most vulnerable. So I learned the scientific process of designing studies, collecting data, and analyzing data in a way that met our field’ s rigorous standards for conducting research. I consoled myself by reasoning that hopefully others would use my research findings to advocate on behalf of young children and their families.

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