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.