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Academics writing in the contemporary university workplace

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Mary Seacole Building, Room 1.71/1.72

University of Salford

Fredrick Road Campus

Salford

M6 6PU

United Kingdom

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Speaker

Dr Karin Tusting is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University. Her research interests include workplace writing, bureaucracy and accountability, approached from the perspectives of literacy studies and linguistic ethnography. She was Principal Investigator of the ESRC-funded project ‘The Dynamics of Knowledge Creation: Academics writing practices in the contemporary university workplace’ (www.acadswriting.org.uk). Other team members included Dr Sharon McCulloch and Dr Ibrar Bhatt (Senior Research Associates), Prof Mary Hamilton and Prof David Barton (Co-Investigators), and Dee Daglish (administrative support).

Synopsis

Academics’ everyday working lives involve a great deal of writing, of various kinds. All of the multiple roles academics adopt – researcher, scholar, teacher, administrator, practitioner, consultant – entail writing, in a very wide range of formats and genres, for different audiences.

Academics face many pressures associated with these writing demands. These include maximising results in national evaluative exercises such as the REF (Research Excellence Framework) and the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework); fulfilling institutional and departmental strategic goals, which can be subject to unexpected change; achieving the goals of individual probation and promotions criteria; and meeting the expectations associated with the particular discipline or practice within which they locate themselves.

Keeping on top of the multiplicity of writing demands on a day-to-day basis can also be challenging. Email forms the major channel of communication for all the different roles academics take on. The flow of writing tasks and demands into the email inbox, associated with different sets of people (students, colleagues, co-writers, industry partners …), seems to require constant attention and active management.

Writing pressures and demands vary depending on the context, the type of university and also the disciplinary location. This talk reports on findings from an ESRC-funded project which worked closely with academics across a range of disciplines and a range of universities, using repeated interviews and observations, to develop a better understanding of their everyday professional writing experiences. We found that people adopt different strategies for managing their various writing roles, with a range of different consequences. In the talk, I will focus particularly on the strategies adopted by our research participants to manage the writing demands they face, and open up discussion about how academics can best be supported in their professional writing.

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Location

Mary Seacole Building, Room 1.71/1.72

University of Salford

Fredrick Road Campus

Salford

M6 6PU

United Kingdom

View Map

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