Moving on in academia : exploring the career experiences of professors at a UK university
This study was aimed at providing a better understanding of academic socialisation. Informed by a biographical research approach, the study explored the career experiences of 12 professors from 12 academic departments at a UK university through a series of indepth, semi-structured qualitative interviewing interviews, documentary analysis and a literature review. It set out to highlight how the academics in the study reflexively construct their academic identities and to provide some answers to the question: What is the history of how people have come to be professors? This study suggests that the transformation of these individuals' identities as academics was the outcome of active participation in various communities of practice throughout their careers. Academics continuously learn to position themselves within the various communities of practice that they choose to participate in. The professors' career stories reveal how they make sense and negotiate their identities as academics through accommodating with the power relations, ideology, cultures and ways embedded within the communities of practice of which they are members. Instead of looking at academics as passive participants, the findings provide evidence of individuals' voluntarism and agency in constructing their academic identities. This study contributes to the continuing discussion on academic socialisation through describing the experiences of academics moving through different stages in their careers. The in-depth, semi-structured qualitative interviewing approach offers a fuller appreciation of the challenges and opportunities involved in academic socialisation. Demystifying the career experiences of academics may benefit others in academia in navigating their future career undertakings.