A PhD by publication

Peter Cruickshank, PhD

After 10 years of working through a narrow seam of data relating to Scottish community councils, was awarded a PhD by publication back in July. You can find out more here: Evaluation of engagement with hyperlocal e-participation systems by citizens and representatives [PDF download available].

I would like to thank Prof Hall my Director of Studies, and Dr Kendall Richards who was there as my second supervisor – I really appreciated having access to his experience of this form of PhD.

Basically, my thesis evaluates why (some at least) community councillors persist in sharing information online, even when there is no obvious resulting engagement or dialog. I called one aspect of this “sharing by proxy”:

Information sharing by community councillor. Source – see below*

My research applied theories from information behaviour, everyday life information seeking and information literacy. These are a long way from my day job of teaching information security. On the other hand, they trown up some interesting the information practices associated with digital identity which I am now starting to research.

Key lesson: this is not an easy option

The key lesson which I’d pass on to anyone considering going down the route of PhD by publication: make sure you already have a good body of work, or know that you will be working on a well-funded project that will lead to many publications. I had neither, so it took me 10 years, and restricted my research and career options as I had to keep writing about one (poorly funded) topic throughout the period.

Completing the thesis has freed up time for thinking about bigger issues and being able to take up new opportunities. I am looking forward to reporting them here.

*Cruickshank, P., and Hall, H. (2020) ‘Talking to imagined citizens? Information sharing practices and proxies for e‑participation in hyperlocal democratic settings’.
doi: 10.47989/irpaper880

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