Trying to Make Sense of My Research Status Quo

Based on these open questions I have been developing over the past few days, I think I may ultimately locate my research problem.

So, where am I now?

  1. I am thinking about questions of identity, especially how one formulates one’s online identity.
  2. As my previous two research papers (for Modules 1 and 2) explored the experiences and meaning-making expressions of those who engage in autoethnographic inquiry, I am still interested in exploring some element of this.
  3. I know that I see a connection between autoethnography and identity (as this seems a way of exploring and expressing this identity development), though I have not found much of this done in an online context (yet). I believe this is coming, though have not yet found it.
  4. There is increasing work in exploring online identity formation through blogging and liveblogging (among other social media, Web 2.0, etc.), though much of it seems to be from the perspective of people studying another phenomenon in the process — I am interested in how those who engage in this develop their own self concepts. I do not have a model for what I think this self-conception should or does look like — I have not yet identified if such a think exists.
  5. I see a great connection between threshold concepts and transformative learning, and wonder why they are seen a separate, and not related.
  6. There are networked learning possibilities here as well . . .
  7. Since my work comes from adult education, critical theory, (atheoretical for now) identity formation, and increasingly communities of practice, I want to explore some way of bridging some of these elements (that may seem disparate, though are all interrelated from my perspective) into a research design that will build upon my previous modules and work toward the final program thesis.

I really need to have this sorted out by the end of this week, since while I want to conduct solid research and learn something in the process, I do have to meet my course requirements (which do, of course, have a tight timeline).

Any thoughts on how to narrow this down, especially within the scope of work with threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge?

9 thoughts on “Trying to Make Sense of My Research Status Quo

  1. Online identity is such an interesting topic! I think you really have something in this: “I am interested in how those who engage in this develop their own self concepts”. One aspect that’s interesting is the people who don’t set out to develop anything at all. These individuals come to realize the importance/impact of their online identities. There’s so much tied into this: motivation, professional advancement. etc. But the stories that focus on individuals who unintentionally create (or even stumble upon) online identities that don’t quite match their day-to-day and planned experiences could be a neat topic.

    1. Sylvia, thank you for the feedback and encouragement! I appreciate your picking up on the piece I am leaning toward . . .

      I am not focused on devleoping or understanding one’s online identity from a certain theoretical perspective yet, as I am not trying to prove or disprove anything. As I tend to begin with my own experiences, and I know how I struggle with this and see my own developments in this area, I am interested in seeing how others navigate the process(es), and if they have anything in common with, or otherwise able to provide some insights, into my experiences.

      I find that when I start with theories, I often try to put myself into the framework, often kicking and screaming, and in the process learn that many frameworks are too limiting, especially for those of us who are primarily interdiscipinary.

      Until I see you again online . . .


  2. Very interesting blogposts, Jeffrey, and a compelling dilemma. Starting with theory or phenomena, what’s best? It’s probably a mix of both and often some ideas may even work on the unconscious level, just to be unearthed at a suitable moment.

    To me, the fascinating thing about blogging and microblogging in relation to research and evolving projects is the archiving aspects, the fact that we can trace the production and questioning of knowledge – and aspects of our own identity.

    The research questions that spring to my mind – as a follower of your blog and student in a similar state but different area – are related to the following cornerstones:
    – communities of practice (professional, personal, amateur/expert)
    – individual / collective identity
    – construction of i / c identity in light of social practices in online settings (which is rather a blended than a ‘purely’ online identity, it seems)
    – methodology: auto-ethnographic approaches as well as survey or focus group interview
    – theoretical framework: S Turkle, A Baker, D Boyd et al.’s work provide further references (much of it is online available) beyond what E Wenger’s work contributes to the rather educational angle of your project. I think that also E Goffman and M Foucault would be useful with regard to identity, knowledge production and interactional aspect.

    Looking forward to seeing what you decide to investigate – it is a fascinating process to accompany in a way.

    1. Oh Britta, your list of potential research questions demonstrate my problem–they are all interesting, and as I want to build on whatever I do here when I get to the point of my thesis itself, that I want to choose a question that will get me the most mileage (so to speak).

      I think you may share this issue as well; and in this way we may face more similar challenges than different ones!


  3. Forgot to say that I am not familiar with threshold concepts, so I looked it up:
    and found some similarity to the concepts and ideas we use in sociological enquiries that are concerned with meaning-making processes, stereotyping and production of authoritative knowledge – as I mentioned above, M Foucault ‘s work is what I find most useful and comprehensive when it comes to theoretical approaches in this context.

      1. Unfortunately (or luckily) Foucault’s writing is so broad and encompasses so many areas that quite a lot of his oeuvre could be drawn upon, but then The Archaeology of Knowledge may be the best starting point for what you are looking into:

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