PhD and Practice

[Summary: study as part of practice]

This week was my first as a full-time PhD student with the Web Science Doctoral Training Centre and the Social Science department at Southampton University. It’s just under a year since I put in an application to start, and the start-date has pretty much fallen in one of the busiest month I’ve known: in part as I’ve tried (and failed) to sequence projects to finish before I started, and as a number of exciting events, projects and deadlines with the Internet Governance Forum, and International Aid Transparency Initiative, and Journal of Community Informatics and work on young people and technology, have all converged on the last and next few weeks.

Which makes for an interesting start to a PhD. But I hope, a positive one: with a clear reminder that I want three years of PhD not to be about three-years of stepping away from or outside of practice, looking to specialize into some narrow disciplinary structure for the purpose of a future academic careers; but to be about connecting research, theory and practice in mutually supporting ways.

I originally titled this post ‘Creating creative tension: PhD and Practice’ – as right now it feels like that is what I’m doing: setting up an interesting tension between the drivers in a number of projects to deliver some clear outcomes, and the drivers of early PhD study to spend time widening the horizons of my reading, broadening out with no outcomes yet in mind. But I’m not sure ‘in tension’ is the best way to keep practice and study over the coming years: so, time to dig out a reading list on theory, practice and praxis.

A logistical note:

Taking on a full-time PhD does mean that I’ve got limited personal capacity for new freelance projects over the coming months and I’ll be focussing on projects that overlap with my area of study on open data and civic engagement. Practical Participation more generally however continues to take on projects with Bill Badham and Alex Farrow leading on all things youth-engagement.