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Title: "That's what's moved me to tears!" : the world of academic researchers and their struggles from a discursive perspective
Author: Hah, Sixian
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 1452
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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In order to be an academic researcher, one needs to be recognised for having expertise in a certain field or discipline. This process of positioning oneself in a field and being recognised for it can be a confounding one that arguably most researchers have to go through. What are the discursive and social practices that researchers engage in so as to be recognised as an academic in a certain field or discipline? The dilemmas or struggles that researchers faced in the process of positioning and establishing themselves as academics are examined from a discursive perspective. The data came from twenty-seven qualitative interviews with academics, ranging from early-career researchers to Professors Emeriti, who work in universities in the UK. As a qualitative case study of researchers in applied linguistics and related fields, it is inspired by ethnographic studies about identity construction in its exploration of how researchers construct identities for themselves or position themselves as applied linguists and their struggles by drawing upon. Informed by Bakhtinian notions of polyphony and positioning theory, it argued that researchers self-position and resisted being positioned through dialogic utterances and voicing. This thesis conceptualised academic struggles as enacted through discursive acts between interview participants (interviewer and respondent) and made sense of by drawing upon tacit, shared or sometimes unshared knowledge about academia. It proposed a model to show how social practices (such as academic struggles) are mediated through language (utterances and discursive acts) and perpetuated in a cyclical and continuous process. The thesis analyzed discursive acts and pragmatic resources such as voicing and humour to demonstrate how struggles are enacted through a negotiation of understanding and positioning. Through the process of understanding and accounting for these struggles in the interview, interlocutors evoked their beliefs, assumptions and ideas about which aspects of academia are more valued or less valued by fellow researchers, institutions and other stakeholders in higher education. These beliefs were often tacit knowledge and hence understood as discourses about academia. The thesis contributed insights into researchers' and institution's valuation beliefs of what constitute 'good' research outcomes, preferred kinds of impact, valued publishing practices and conducive research environments. The thesis argued that the struggles faced by xi researchers often emerged from incongruences between what individual researchers aspire toward and what institutions value.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: European Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: P Philology. Linguistics