Well, it’s time to start thinking properly again about the Research Proposal that brought me here. What better way than to kick some ideas around with my lovely new Supervisors? I met them this morning for a very productive exchange and a few cups of coffee. The building was strangely quiet since (swot that I am) I’m starting a little bit early. Well, quiet save for a procession of tidy-looking primary school children in blazers, who apparently were being shown around the campus!
The project that will (hopefully) 3 years from now secure me a shiny Doctorate is provisionally entitled ” New Media and Academic Researchers – Politics, Philosophies and Participation“. The idea here is that I will address the ways in which academics across disciplines perceive and make use of New/Social media within (and beyond) the research and possibly teaching lifecycles. This will be looked at in relation to theories of participation. Obviously ascertaining attitudes and perceptions is a delicate and tricky undertaking, so we are still thinking about what precise methodology will be most suitable. Repertory Grids are one strong contender, as is Sentiment Analysis. This is where my Supervisors, Frances and Jill, will be able to guide me through the territory. Whatever we decide it will be fascinating learning from them!
Key questions of the research are:
- How do the attitudes of academics in various disciplines, with regard to new media, compare?
- Can we use participatory theories (and a historical awareness of the role of scholar) to understand and analyse academic uses of/attitudes to new media?
- Is there a typology of users, attitudes and type of use, which can be identified?
- What are the implications for official and institutional policy, scholarly communication and the positioning of new media technologies?
There is going to be a lot of categorisation, classification, and data gathering involved in answering these questions. The end result should allow us to:
- Analyse and interpret the changing position and responsibilities of scholarship and scholarly discourse as a result of ‘disruptive’ new media technologies.
- Examine the extent of hierarchies, professional constraints or societal expectations of scholars on their relationship to new media.
- Construct a typology of users based on attitudes and as a predictor of behaviours analysed and interpreted under participatory theory (assuming that participatory theory proves to be a valid and useful lens for modelling).
As you can see it’s pretty ambitious! We will need to have more discussions (next Wednesday is Meet 2) on that. Whatever the nuances, it’s pretty much agreed that scholars and academics are vital to the public sphere – as they have been since the days of the Enlightenment. With the boundaries between the “public sphere” and the “private sphere” shifting, merging, and forming all sorts of intricate relationships in the online age, it’s more important than ever that we understand what exactly is at stake for academia within that picture.
Hope you will agree this is an interesting topic! Comments and thoughts appreciated.