So here it is a glimpse of the “beast”. It took me almost 5 years to complete this. When I started this journey in January 2008 I had no idea what I had let myself into… I don’t think I know exactly where it will take me either. Not the least because the journey ain’t over yet! There’s still the viva. And to be honest, I don’t know if it will ever be, but I am looking forward to the next chapter!
In closing this chapter of my life, a full thesis is ready to be examined. I must confess I am both nervous and excited. I know this is not a spectacular work that will wow people all around, but I hope it’s good enough to move me to the next stage of learning and doing research. The way I see it, a PhD gives you a license to research!
Below you’ll find a summary of what I have been up to in the last 4 3/4 years. For the past two years it really took over my existence! So, be kind and constructive in your comments. Maybe I can use this as an opportunity for a mock viva!
The Participatory Web in the context of academic research: landscapes of change and conflicts
This thesis presents the results of a narrative inquiry study conducted in the context of Higher Education Institutions. The study aims to describe and foster understanding of the beliefs, perceptions, and felt constraints of ten academic researchers deeply involved in digital scholarship. Academic research, as one of the four categories of scholarship, is the focus of the analysis. The methods of data collection included in-depth online interviews, field notes, closed blog posts, and follow up dialogues via email and web-telephony.
The literature review within this study presents a narrative on scholarship throughout the ages up to the current environment, highlighting the role of technology in assisting different forms of networking, communication, and dissemination of knowledge. It covers emergent aspects of online participation and scholarship such as the open access movement, online networks and communities of practice that ultimately influence academic researchers’ sense of identity and their approaches to digital scholarship. The literature review had a crucial role in informing the interview guide that supported the narrative accounts of the research participants. However, the data collected uncovered a gap in knowledge not anticipated in the literature review, that of power relations between the individual and their institutions. Hence, an additional sociological research lens, that of Pierre Bourdieu, was adopted in order to complete the analysis of the data collected. There were three major stages of analysis: the construction of research narratives as a first pass analysis of the narrative inquiry, a thematic analysis of the interview transcripts, and a Bourdieuian analysis, supported by additional literature, that reveals the complexity of current academic practice in the context of the Participatory Web.
This research set out to study the online practices of academic researchers in a changing environment and ended up examining the conflicts between modern and conservative approaches to research scholarship in the context of academic researchers’ practices. This study argues that the Participatory Web, in the context of academic research, can not only empower academic researchers but also place them in contention with traditional and persistent scholarly practice.