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Title: On being a scientist : narrating the institutional formation of scientific careers and biomedical science
Author: Holden, Kerry
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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Based on a series of interviews with biomedical scientists at different career levels working within a large London university, this thesis explores how they come to understand themselves in an evolving environment. Their narratives reveal tensions reconciling the pursuit of science as a vocation with performing it as a job within the current drive to achieve economic efficiency, social accountability and research excellence. This is an uneasy tension since performing science as a job is rendered somewhat less meaningful and evocative than pursuing the vocation. Broader debate about the commercial exploitation of scientific research often takes place in the abstract, with scholars and activists referring to Enlightenment ideals of the objective self (RS 2003; Slaughter and Rhodes 2004) and Mertonian norms (Resnik 2007; Weatherall 2(03) for recourse and reason not to rationalise scientific research within national economic policymaking. Scholarly research in the social sciences has focussed on the economic transformation of publicly funded scientific research (Gibbons et al. 1994; Mirowski and Sent 2(07) offering little knowledge of how academic scientists come to understand themselves in an arguably changing institutional landscape (see Morris and Rip 2006). Focussing on biomedical research within a large UK university, this thesis addresses this gap by presenting four narratives that emerged prominently from the data and challenging how they should be read. These four narratives can be summarised as such: lamenting a golden age, the pursuit of pure science; the audit and administration of research and sustaining a laboratory. Rereading these narratives reveals inconsistencies as well as crucial interdependences between scientists at different stages of their career, and thereby offers critical insights into the nature of being a scientist within contemporary academia that has relevance for readdressing wider academic and policy debates.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available