Pat is interested in qualitative inquiry per se and especially in the use and development of auto/biographical sociological approaches to research, including life history and autoethnography. In recent years she has designed and worked on projects that have used such approaches to study:
- The perceptions and experiences of children, adolescents and young people who have a parent with young onset dementia (funded by the Alzheimer’s Society: view their website and Pat's project page);
- The perceptions and experiences of secondary school teachers accused of sexual misconduct which they say they did not commit (see Sikes, P. and Piper, H. (2010) Researching Sex and Lies in the Classroom: Allegations of Sexual Misconduct in Schools, London, Routledge/Falmer);
- The perceptions and experiences of students in the Caribbean enrolled on a University of Sheffield doctoral programme (see Sikes, P. (2013) ‘Working together for critical research ethics’, Compare, 43.4, pp 516 – 536).
Pat’s previous auto/biographical work has included investigations of: how becoming a parent affects professional practices; age and the male PE teacher; being an RE teacher in a secular society; pupil teacher relationships; and how university teachers experience the imperative to publish caused by the Research Assessment Exercise.
Pat takes the view that the ways in which researchers write about their work and how they present their findings is never a neutral or objective matter. In recent years social scientists have begun to use a range of creative approaches, including narrative, fiction, poetics, and performance and Pat is personally involved in exploring, developing, using and making the case for, alternative forms of research writing.
Pat is interested in issues around research ethics; ethics and auto/biographical research; ethical review and research governance; and research ethics in the internationalised university.