Information in Transition: Examining the Information Behaviour of Academics as they Transition into University Careers

Rebekah Willson

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    19 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Transitions are often times of upheaval. A transition, even when
    positive, may be disruptive as familiar contexts, supports, and resources change.
    While early career academics are highly trained and experienced, the transition
    from doctoral student to academic involves a series of new roles and
    responsibilities within a new information environment, an environment that has
    been influenced by neoliberal ideals and become increasingly corporatised and
    managerial in nature. Within information behaviour research there has been a
    lack of research that focuses specifically on periods of transition, particularly
    on individuals in transition over time. Additionally, while there is information
    behaviour research on academics, it does not address the experiences of
    academics as they start their careers. This research addresses those gaps.

    This research used constructivist grounded theory and critical discourse
    analysis as methodologies to explore the information behaviour of 20
    individuals transitioning from doctoral students to academics in Australia and
    Canada. Academics in the humanities and social sciences, who had recently
    moved from full-time doctoral studies to full-time academic positions, were
    followed for a period of between five and seven months. To triangulate the data,
    three data sources were used: two in-depth interviews, multiple check-ins, and
    documents. Interviews were analysed using grounded theory analysis,
    documents using critical discourse analysis. Two theoretical frameworks were
    used to provide analytical lenses: neoliberalism and Transitions Theory. Several
    major themes emerged from this research that contribute to both information
    behaviour research and Transitions Theory.

    In looking at academics’ work, the number and variety of administrative
    and managerial tasks universities require academics to perform greatly
    increases their information needs. Administrative work becomes a layer over all
    academic work. However, universities frequently fail to provide the information
    academics require, leaving information needs unfulfilled. Because of this, early
    career academics frequently seek information from their more senior colleagues,
    rather than relying on textual sources. Senior colleagues provide timely,
    convenient, and comprehensive information. Physical proximity and the
    building of collegial relationships promote information sharing, informal
    information exchanges, and serendipitous information finding that is of great
    use to early career academics. Social information is instrumental for early
    career academics’ settling in to their new positions, as doctoral studies often fail
    to provide an accurate picture of academic life or to fully prepare students for
    research, teaching, service, and administrative roles. Comparing and contrasting
    previous experiences to their current experience is one way that early career
    academics use new information to learn new ways of working and develop a
    sense of belonging in academia. From these findings, the theory of Systemic
    Managerial Constraints (SMC) emerged. SMC views the managerialism that
    results from neoliberalism within universities as pervasive and constraining
    both what work early career academics do and how they do it. However,
    colleagues help to ameliorate the effects of SMC and early career academics
    learn, as they transition, to enact their personal agency to enable them to do the
    work that they value.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    Supervisors/Advisors
    • Given, Lisa, Co-Supervisor
    • Lloyd, Annemaree, Co-Supervisor, External person
    Award date20 May 2016
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Publisher
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Fingerprint

    career
    academic career
    neoliberalism
    grounded theory
    university
    career start
    experience
    student
    document analysis
    settling
    interview
    research focus
    discourse analysis
    social science
    time
    methodology
    Teaching
    resources
    Values

    Cite this

    @phdthesis{c65012d867d94f1f94c72b522bf14fb6,
    title = "Information in Transition: Examining the Information Behaviour of Academics as they Transition into University Careers",
    abstract = "Transitions are often times of upheaval. A transition, even whenpositive, may be disruptive as familiar contexts, supports, and resources change.While early career academics are highly trained and experienced, the transitionfrom doctoral student to academic involves a series of new roles andresponsibilities within a new information environment, an environment that hasbeen influenced by neoliberal ideals and become increasingly corporatised andmanagerial in nature. Within information behaviour research there has been alack of research that focuses specifically on periods of transition, particularlyon individuals in transition over time. Additionally, while there is informationbehaviour research on academics, it does not address the experiences ofacademics as they start their careers. This research addresses those gaps.This research used constructivist grounded theory and critical discourseanalysis as methodologies to explore the information behaviour of 20individuals transitioning from doctoral students to academics in Australia andCanada. Academics in the humanities and social sciences, who had recentlymoved from full-time doctoral studies to full-time academic positions, werefollowed for a period of between five and seven months. To triangulate the data,three data sources were used: two in-depth interviews, multiple check-ins, anddocuments. Interviews were analysed using grounded theory analysis,documents using critical discourse analysis. Two theoretical frameworks wereused to provide analytical lenses: neoliberalism and Transitions Theory. Severalmajor themes emerged from this research that contribute to both informationbehaviour research and Transitions Theory.In looking at academics’ work, the number and variety of administrativeand managerial tasks universities require academics to perform greatlyincreases their information needs. Administrative work becomes a layer over allacademic work. However, universities frequently fail to provide the informationacademics require, leaving information needs unfulfilled. Because of this, earlycareer academics frequently seek information from their more senior colleagues,rather than relying on textual sources. Senior colleagues provide timely,convenient, and comprehensive information. Physical proximity and thebuilding of collegial relationships promote information sharing, informalinformation exchanges, and serendipitous information finding that is of greatuse to early career academics. Social information is instrumental for earlycareer academics’ settling in to their new positions, as doctoral studies often failto provide an accurate picture of academic life or to fully prepare students forresearch, teaching, service, and administrative roles. Comparing and contrastingprevious experiences to their current experience is one way that early careeracademics use new information to learn new ways of working and develop asense of belonging in academia. From these findings, the theory of SystemicManagerial Constraints (SMC) emerged. SMC views the managerialism thatresults from neoliberalism within universities as pervasive and constrainingboth what work early career academics do and how they do it. However,colleagues help to ameliorate the effects of SMC and early career academicslearn, as they transition, to enact their personal agency to enable them to do thework that they value.",
    author = "Rebekah Willson",
    year = "2016",
    language = "English",
    publisher = "Charles Sturt University",
    address = "Australia",
    school = "Charles Sturt University",

    }

    Willson, R 2016, 'Information in Transition: Examining the Information Behaviour of Academics as they Transition into University Careers', Doctor of Philosophy, Charles Sturt University, Australia.

    Information in Transition : Examining the Information Behaviour of Academics as they Transition into University Careers. / Willson, Rebekah.

    Australia : Charles Sturt University, 2016. 328 p.

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    TY - THES

    T1 - Information in Transition

    T2 - Examining the Information Behaviour of Academics as they Transition into University Careers

    AU - Willson, Rebekah

    PY - 2016

    Y1 - 2016

    N2 - Transitions are often times of upheaval. A transition, even whenpositive, may be disruptive as familiar contexts, supports, and resources change.While early career academics are highly trained and experienced, the transitionfrom doctoral student to academic involves a series of new roles andresponsibilities within a new information environment, an environment that hasbeen influenced by neoliberal ideals and become increasingly corporatised andmanagerial in nature. Within information behaviour research there has been alack of research that focuses specifically on periods of transition, particularlyon individuals in transition over time. Additionally, while there is informationbehaviour research on academics, it does not address the experiences ofacademics as they start their careers. This research addresses those gaps.This research used constructivist grounded theory and critical discourseanalysis as methodologies to explore the information behaviour of 20individuals transitioning from doctoral students to academics in Australia andCanada. Academics in the humanities and social sciences, who had recentlymoved from full-time doctoral studies to full-time academic positions, werefollowed for a period of between five and seven months. To triangulate the data,three data sources were used: two in-depth interviews, multiple check-ins, anddocuments. Interviews were analysed using grounded theory analysis,documents using critical discourse analysis. Two theoretical frameworks wereused to provide analytical lenses: neoliberalism and Transitions Theory. Severalmajor themes emerged from this research that contribute to both informationbehaviour research and Transitions Theory.In looking at academics’ work, the number and variety of administrativeand managerial tasks universities require academics to perform greatlyincreases their information needs. Administrative work becomes a layer over allacademic work. However, universities frequently fail to provide the informationacademics require, leaving information needs unfulfilled. Because of this, earlycareer academics frequently seek information from their more senior colleagues,rather than relying on textual sources. Senior colleagues provide timely,convenient, and comprehensive information. Physical proximity and thebuilding of collegial relationships promote information sharing, informalinformation exchanges, and serendipitous information finding that is of greatuse to early career academics. Social information is instrumental for earlycareer academics’ settling in to their new positions, as doctoral studies often failto provide an accurate picture of academic life or to fully prepare students forresearch, teaching, service, and administrative roles. Comparing and contrastingprevious experiences to their current experience is one way that early careeracademics use new information to learn new ways of working and develop asense of belonging in academia. From these findings, the theory of SystemicManagerial Constraints (SMC) emerged. SMC views the managerialism thatresults from neoliberalism within universities as pervasive and constrainingboth what work early career academics do and how they do it. However,colleagues help to ameliorate the effects of SMC and early career academicslearn, as they transition, to enact their personal agency to enable them to do thework that they value.

    AB - Transitions are often times of upheaval. A transition, even whenpositive, may be disruptive as familiar contexts, supports, and resources change.While early career academics are highly trained and experienced, the transitionfrom doctoral student to academic involves a series of new roles andresponsibilities within a new information environment, an environment that hasbeen influenced by neoliberal ideals and become increasingly corporatised andmanagerial in nature. Within information behaviour research there has been alack of research that focuses specifically on periods of transition, particularlyon individuals in transition over time. Additionally, while there is informationbehaviour research on academics, it does not address the experiences ofacademics as they start their careers. This research addresses those gaps.This research used constructivist grounded theory and critical discourseanalysis as methodologies to explore the information behaviour of 20individuals transitioning from doctoral students to academics in Australia andCanada. Academics in the humanities and social sciences, who had recentlymoved from full-time doctoral studies to full-time academic positions, werefollowed for a period of between five and seven months. To triangulate the data,three data sources were used: two in-depth interviews, multiple check-ins, anddocuments. Interviews were analysed using grounded theory analysis,documents using critical discourse analysis. Two theoretical frameworks wereused to provide analytical lenses: neoliberalism and Transitions Theory. Severalmajor themes emerged from this research that contribute to both informationbehaviour research and Transitions Theory.In looking at academics’ work, the number and variety of administrativeand managerial tasks universities require academics to perform greatlyincreases their information needs. Administrative work becomes a layer over allacademic work. However, universities frequently fail to provide the informationacademics require, leaving information needs unfulfilled. Because of this, earlycareer academics frequently seek information from their more senior colleagues,rather than relying on textual sources. Senior colleagues provide timely,convenient, and comprehensive information. Physical proximity and thebuilding of collegial relationships promote information sharing, informalinformation exchanges, and serendipitous information finding that is of greatuse to early career academics. Social information is instrumental for earlycareer academics’ settling in to their new positions, as doctoral studies often failto provide an accurate picture of academic life or to fully prepare students forresearch, teaching, service, and administrative roles. Comparing and contrastingprevious experiences to their current experience is one way that early careeracademics use new information to learn new ways of working and develop asense of belonging in academia. From these findings, the theory of SystemicManagerial Constraints (SMC) emerged. SMC views the managerialism thatresults from neoliberalism within universities as pervasive and constrainingboth what work early career academics do and how they do it. However,colleagues help to ameliorate the effects of SMC and early career academicslearn, as they transition, to enact their personal agency to enable them to do thework that they value.

    M3 - Doctoral Thesis

    PB - Charles Sturt University

    CY - Australia

    ER -