Last week Inger Mewburn – @Thesiswhisperer – and I were at the Digital Academics seminar in Canberra. We presented some ideas for a research project we have been talking about.
This was our handout to participants. We’d be interested in anything you have to say about our questions as we go about forming and firming up the project.
The aim of this research is to explore doctoral student engagement with freely available sources of advice on writing and research practice on the web which we are calling (for lack of a better name) ‘academic development content’. Is there an emerging set of practices we could label the ‘DIY doctorate’?
Academic development advice is packaged on blogs and other web based forums and is shared and circulated via social media. We have a series of questions about these practices, specifically the identities and experiences of the content creators/users. If we know more about who is making the material, and who is accessing it and sharing it, we can better understand its role in research training and create strategic interventions for doctoral researchers and their supervisors.
The questions we have in mind at the moment are:
* How widespread is the use and sharing of this ‘academic development’ content?
* Who is making the content? Are there bio-demographic or disciplinary patterns?
* Who is accessing it? Who isn’t? Why?
* How do users find material?
* How do users decide if the material is good (or not)?
* What material is consumed most? least?
* What are the sharing practices and patterns of sharing in academic networks?
* How does use compare to more traditional sources of support and information, ie: supervisors
* Do supervisors use online material in their teaching practices and how?
* What opportunities does this space open up? Is participation a a content creator an advantage or a disadvantage? How?
* What vulnerabilities are being created? Is anyone preying on researcher data traces? (is: predatory publishers, dodgy conferences, POD publishers.)
So, in summary:
Does this idea of the ‘DIY Doctorate’ make any sense?
Does this make for better doctoral education, or doctoral experience? Or are we seeing the emergence of another kind of digital divide?
Are there any missing questions?
Is there similar work out there already?
What methods might we use to explore these questions?