As my research progresses onward, it takes shape and evolves. Doing a PhD is as much about the journey as the destination (thus the blog), hence what’s here today isn’t quite the same as what I originally set out to investigate. What it represents instead is a refinement of my research queries, methods and methodological approach. All of which you can read more about the blog itself elsewhere.
The Twitter Version
An ethnographically framed ideological critique of emerging academic communication paradigms in an age of neoliberal marketisation of UK HE
The Long Version
My research stems from the debate that in an age of Internet enabled communication and distribution, access to published research scholarship as part of an intellectual digital commons should be unfettered by toll-access restrictions. While a seemingly self-evident good, this does not seem to have been wholeheartedly embraced within academia in terms of extant praxis; despite evidence that ideologically the majority of academics agree with the underlying principles. The work is also informed by the many years I spent labouring within the repository practitioner sector, seeking to enable to assist academics to embrace the concepts of the scholarly commons and share their research.
Unlike a lot of prior work my particular interests doesn’t lie along a positivistic axis seeking to gauge metrics of compliance or success; although this work provides a useful background. Rather my research is concerned with seeking to better understand the epidemiology and ontology that underlies the UK academy’s responses to concepts that including Open Access (OA), Access to Knowledge (A2K), Creative Commons and the free culture movement.
Hence the core of my research inquiry can be stated as “Why and how are UK academics responding to new paradigms of openness in dissemination of their research?” In developing an answer to this question I am conducting ethnographic based investigations into normative cultural academic praxis of OA to research literature within UK universities. Academic represent a multifaceted cultural bloc that are subject to power relationship based influence from a myriad of actors and events, both internal and external to the university environment. While many prior assumptions about these actors and their inter-relationships exist, my work intends to bring new insights as to how and why these actors influence and shape academic responses to openness
Methodologically the research embraces qualitative techniques within its data gathering activities; as well as an engagement with the plethora of literature and discourses that exist around this fascinating, dynamic and challenging area. Interviews with key academic knowledge dissemination communities and actors both internal and external to academia are crucial in terms of the generation of these insights.
My research is principally mounted within an intellectual framework drawing on the thought and theory of classical, neo and autonomist Marxism and the work of Michel Foucault. These provide a critical lens through which I will endeavour to construct a deeper understanding of both the neoliberalised and marketised UK higher education research environment and the immaterial knowledge labour of the academics. Hence, this work will combine original research with academic thought, contextualised by prior practitioner work seeking to enhance academic engagement with the digital commons. Uniting these insights will produce a novel scholarly synthesis that can inform policy developments and additionally, it is hoped, contribute towards enhancing effective activism and supporting sustainable academic cultural change.
Base of Operations
I’m based at the marvelous Nottingham Trent University, in the Dept of English, Culture and Media; although I actually work from home 2/3 of the time. I’m funded in my work through a studentship from the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), to whom I’m deeply grateful.
If you’d like to get in touch contact me via twitter or leave me a comment.