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This paper explores the ambiguous nature of applied linguistics as a field of enquiry, to contextualise the interpretation of data from an empirical study into how research expertise in applied linguistics is conceptualised, and how it develops during an academic's career. Key findings from the study include the importance of being willing to work at the boundaries of one's knowledge, the capacity to communicate one's ideas effectively, and the role of a good quality research environment fordoi:10.1075/itl.166.1.01wra fatcat:v2dnzaixuncnlm6x2nqrhqrwle