Constructing Identity as a Researcher

It’s been a busy few months since I moved to the Odette School of Business from the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor in August 2013. This was a period of transition both in terms of physical office moves (I moved from one building to another, then a couple more moves in the current building) and a shift to constructing a different academic identity for myself. The physical moves were arduous but ultimately rewarding, since I am now located in quite a nice office in the Odette Building. The identity transformation part has been a little more difficult.

I was enculturated throughout my graduate study at research-intensive universities to aspire to be a tenure-track professor in the Faculty of Education. For the last couple of years, then, my priorities were to conduct research, teach, and do service — and in that order. I liked getting course releases so that I could apply for grants and write papers. Although I was paid for 12 months, not 9 months like many U.S. colleagues, grant applications became a priority, to prove I could land grants. I was reasonably successful, having been recommended for SSHRC funding through peer review both times and ranked high enough that the next time I apply, I feel confident about getting funded.

Multivocality CoverI am still learning to publish. During graduate study, I was told by my mentors to focus on publishing in high-impact journals rather than book chapters. I took a bit of gamble and published a bunch of chapters in books edited by illustrious colleagues like the Productive Multivocality in the Analysis of Group Interactions. My chapters (data chapter, co-authored chapter, discussant chapter) resulted from my contributions over the last five years at multiple conferences, including presentations at the STELLAR Alpine Rendez-Vous (ARV) 2009, ICLS 2010, and ARV 2011.

During this time, I also published a high-impact journal article (Cacciamani, Cesareni, Martini, Ferrini, & Fujita, 2012), other book chapters (Cucchiara, Ligorio, & Fujita, 2014; Chiu, Molenaar, Chen, Wise, & Fujita, 2014), and conference proceedings (e.g., LAK 2011, CSCL 2013). The collaboration with the co-authors was helpful in learning how to publish. The drawback from all these collaborative projects was that I could not focus on publishing single-authored papers. My tendency is to put others’ needs ahead of my own, so my single-authored manuscripts got put on hold.

Being a new faculty member is replete with distractions. Despite course releases, teaching new courses as a sole-responsibility instructor at a new institution, using a wildly different LMS, different computer lab set-up and tech support, and very different students at a mid-range comprehensive university, initially posed a challenge. By the second year, I felt that I had a good handle of teaching based on student evaluations of teaching for both grad and undergrad courses. I also served on a couple of committees, one as a member and one as a chair. There were conference and journal submission reviews to be done. I was invited to give various guest talks. I was also asked to take the lead on research on a couple of grants that were related to my research expertise, but not what I would have chosen to do, secure ethics, and supervise a graduate research assistant as they conducted a literature review, collected survey and interview data, analyze the data, and write a conference paper.

This was, of course, in addition to my family responsibilities as spouse of another researcher in the same field, a parent of two small children and owner of various pets. We had to coordinate a household move, first from Copenhagen to Windsor, and then again to a hopefully more permanent home in Windsor. We also sold our home in Toronto and moved all our belongings to Windsor, since we had rented out our place furnished while we were abroad. There are still many unpacked boxes in our attic from our many moves in the past few years, but things are getting better on the home front. I have even returned to riding horses on a regular basis, a passion of mine from my childhood, in what little spare time that I have.

As I unpacked my books and files in my most recent office move, I was reminded of the kind of research that I chose to do in the past for dissertation and related project work. Recurrent themes centre on online discourse, scaffolding, collaborative learning, knowledge creation, design, theory, assessment, metacognition, reflection, and epistemology. These, along with creativity and innovation, are at the core of my  identity as a researcher. So, I hope to publish more single-author journal articles along these lines in 2014.


One response to “Constructing Identity as a Researcher”

  1. […] in January, I blogged about constructing my identity as a researcher. At the time, I was transitioning into my role as the Distance Education Course Development […]

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