CGHE Seminar 30

The dynamics of knowledge creation: academics' changing writing practices – international implications

  • Thursday, 13 Oct 2016 12:30 - 14:00
  • B89, County South, Lancaster University
  • David Barton, Lancaster University
  • Ibrar Bhatt, Lancaster University
  • Mary Hamilton, Lancaster University
  • Karin Tusting, Lancaster University


This seminar is based on an ESRC-funded project entitled ‘Dynamics of knowledge creation: academics’ writing practices in the contemporary university workplace’. The speakers are mapping how knowledge is produced and distributed through writing practices across disciplines and types of universities in England, and how these are shaped by recent changes. These include the new relationships with students and pressure to marketise teaching, associated with the introduction of higher fees; managerialist approaches to research writing associated with research evaluation; and the shift to diverse forms of digital communication and self-presentation.

The speakers explore the diversity of academics’ workplace writing practices associated with teaching, service, and administration, as well as research. Their mixed methods project first examined the professional lives of academics using various types of focused interviews. This has been complemented with close up in situ recordings of writing processes. They are now engaging with managerial and administrative staff, to locate individual experiences in the broader university context.

In completing their ‘telling case’ of English universities, the speakers are in contact with academics internationally and are beginning to explore international differences, including: different managerial contexts and cultures of writing; North-South disparities, including access to technologies; language issues, especially around English as a global language for academia; and global networks and academic mobility.

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David Barton

David Barton is Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Lancaster University and erstwhile Director of the Literacy Research Centre. His work is mainly concerned with rethinking the nature of language and literacy in the online world and developing appropriate methodologies for online research. He has published widely and his most recent books are Language Online, (with Carmen Lee) 2013 and Researching Language and Social Media (with others) 2014, both published by Routledge. He is currently Co-Investigator on the ESRC project The Dynamics of Knowledge Creation: Academics’ writing practices in the contemporary university workplace.

Ibrar Bhatt

Ibrar Bhatt is a Senior Research Associate within the Department of Educational Research at Lancaster University. His current research interests include digital literacy and writing, and how these relate to education and knowledge production. He is currently in the process of publishing a monograph with Routledge/Taylor & Francis entitled ‘Assignments as controversies: digital literacy and writing in classroom practice’.

Mary Hamilton

Mary Hamilton is Professor Emerita of Adult Learning and Literacy in the Department of Educational Research, Lancaster University. She researches and publishes in the area of everyday literacy practices, multimodal communication and informal adult learning. As well as working on the academics’ writing project, she currently uses sociomaterial theory to explore globalisation and educational policy in relation to international tests of adult literacy.

Karin Tusting

Karin Tusting is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University. Her research interests are in workplace literacy practices, particularly the influence of audit and accountability on people’s everyday experiences and professional identities. She has published in the areas of communities of practice, literacy and identity, and religious literacies.

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