Dissertation Proposal

Dissertation Proposal: Reputation and Identity in Scholarly Networked Publics

Artifact: Stewart. B. (2013). Reputation and Identity in Scholarly Networked Publics

Description of Artifact:
This is the formal proposal for my dissertation research, undertaken as part of my Ph.D in Educational Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island, under the supervision of Sandy McAuley of UPEI’s Faculty of Education, with a committee comprised of Udo Krautwurst of UPEI’s Anthropology Department and Alec Couros of the University of Regina’s Faculty of Education. The proposed study has been approved and certified by UPEI’s Research Ethics Board.

My research centres around the broad question of “what implications do networked practices hold for academia, and for higher education’s relationship to what it means to be a knower?”

This project explores how identity and reputation are enacted, circulated, and understood within scholarly online networks, particularly as found on Twitter and in academic blog circles. Both academia and social networks can be said to be ‘reputational economies’ (Willinksy, 2010), but whereas conventional scholarship and concepts of “academic impact” are codified and indexed, the practices and indicators by which active networked scholars build reputations are often tacit or invisible. And while scholars and educators are increasingly exhorted to ‘go online,’ those who do so often find that their work and efforts may not be understood within institutional contexts.

Participants in this study will be immersed and versed in the ways influence operates within both academia and online networks: subjects will be actively invested in scholarship, research and reputation-building within both spheres. Thus, the study will make visible the practices, values, and challenges of networked scholarly participation from the perspectives of research subjects who can speak experientially to both networked and institutional frameworks. Utilizing the ethnographic methods of participatory observation and semi-structured interviews, the proposed study will explore the ways scholarly reputations and identities are produced, enabled, and constrained by participation in the context of scholarly networked publics. It will focus particularly on practices and perceptions of influence, and on new possibilities for scholarly engagement, identity expression, and reputational development that may not be visible, legible, or available within the academy.

Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes displayed by Artifact:
Researching and writing this thesis proposal required me to:

  • collect sustained informal observational data within and about academic networked publics
  • conduct research into existing literature surrounding networks, identities, academic reputation and influence, networked practices, and technological affordances
  • compile a literature review exploring academic influence and reputations, networked publics, and the participatory ethos of networked practices
  • distinguish and define the terms by which networked scholarly identities might be differentiated from broader Internet and social media use
  • invite input and feedback on my emerging understandings of networked identities and practices
  • investigate theories of performativity and practices from a material-semiotic ontological perspective and put these ideas into, as Karen Barad puts it, “conversation with each other”
  • conduct a sustained exploration of multiple methodological approaches to ethnographic and autoethnographic work
  • assess methodologies from a material-semiotic approach; make choices; consider and note potential discordances
  • identify the parameters for participation that would yield a fair and diverse field of inquiry without utilizing terms or concepts emphasizing generalization
  • design and justify methods for study

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  1. Pingback: looking for a few good scholars. on Twitter. | the theoryblog

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