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'The Writing is Part of a new Life': An Investigation into the Academic Writing Practices of Sixteen Women Pursuing Research Degrees in a University in the UK

McMullan, Jenny (2019). 'The Writing is Part of a new Life': An Investigation into the Academic Writing Practices of Sixteen Women Pursuing Research Degrees in a University in the UK. PhD thesis The Open University.

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This thesis reports on a study exploring the academic writing practices of sixteen women postgraduate research students in a UK university in the first two years of their research journeys. An emerging body of empirical work has focussed on the rhetorical features of postgraduate students’ written texts such as the thesis, but less work has explored the range of writing that postgraduate writers do or their experiences of writing. A key dimension to such experience is that of gender and a key goal of the thesis is to explore the ways in which postgraduate writing can be considered a gendered practice.

The methodology involves a social practice approach, using ethnographic methods, including interviews, written texts, field notes and images to investigate the participants’ writing and the contexts and relationships that frame their writing.

Findings in the thesis are presented in two ways: firstly, by recording and categorising the written texts that the students are producing in the first two years of their research qualifications, secondly in the form of a series of writing tales (from Lather, 1991). The use of ‘tales’ as an analytical unit and as a form of representation is the primary mechanism through which parts of the data are drawn together to foreground participants’ stories about their experiences of academic writing. These tales draw attention to the significance of both occluded and more institutionally visible writing and represent the struggles and tensions the women experienced as developing researchers and writers.

This thesis contributes to knowledge in three key ways: 1) by extending the empirical base through the documentation of the range of postgraduate writing; 2) by illuminating the gendered nature of postgraduate research writing practices; 3) by demonstrating the significance of place and space to academic writing and the specific ways in which these are reinvented.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: 2018 The Author
Keywords: English language rhetoric; academic writing; research methodology
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Research Group: Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Item ID: 60709
Depositing User: Jenny Mcmullan
Date Deposited: 13 May 2019 15:40
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2019 09:49
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