This paper argues that in the study of political education, especially learning through social movement activities, the knowledge produced by the research will be of greater social use if researchers positions themselves as ‘cognitive activists’. This is because, the paper argues, the researcher needs to work in solidarity with social movements for socially just change in order to reconnect academic knowledge work to the wider struggles for social change. The paper thinks through the implications and ideas around this framing of research work and positionality. It then goes on to examine in detail one of the techniques for taking this position that of the mutually useful conversation frame of the research interview. Exploring why this thinking came about and how this framing of the interview is politically necessary for the cognitive activism proposed.