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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dissertation Wiki

Karyn is asking for help via a post on her blog - So, how did you get started... and what difference has it made? Basically, it's about the use of Social Media by learning professionals. She is looking for first had experiences. I hope she's successful in finding them and publishing about them.

She also made one comment that was very interesting:
To the consternation of my rather conservative university, I am submitting the dissertation in the form of a wiki (although - strictly speaking - is it really a wiki if I don't open it up to the community to co-author, which of course I can't do in this instance).
First, I can't imagine trying to do a dissertation wiki. The issues with getting it into a format ready for print publication would be daunting. But that aside ...

You can't open it up? What's the dividing line? You are certainly allowed to get comments, suggestions, etc. on it. After all, that's what advisors are for (other than causing you grief with their agendas). So, if they provide comments via the Wiki doesn't that make a lot of sense. The alternative is emailing around a document. Why is that so different?

In fact, wouldn't it be safer to have it as a Wiki where you could see what each person did? And isn't it the notion of ONLY having your faculty committee / advisors a fairly antiquated notion? After all, the dissertation is certainly much too specific for them to really be experts on the topic. You quickly blow by their knowledge and then you can't get as much help. Opening it up to the world seems to make much more sense.

I've not really paid much attention to this topic. BTW, my experience writing my dissertation was not good. If I could have done it via a combination of blog posts and a wiki, that would have been a completely different experience. And, I truly believe I would have learned more.

I imagine there's lots out there going on around this, I just hadn't thought about it.


V Yonkers said...

What a great idea. However, I'm afraid I'm not as brave as Karyn as our IRB has only just come up with protocols for using technology in our research!

Maybe once I have that degree in my hand I will try writing my research with a wiki (publicly).

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Hey Tony,

Thanks for passing that on. Reflection on a Saturday afternoon can be fun!

I had to blog the answer, though
(and then had to shorten the url :-)

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia Ora Tony.

Changed days; when I did my thesis there was no option but to submit the scribblings to a typist and pay for it to be typed, duplicated (Xeroxed then) and heavily bound so you could use the things as door-stops.

Mind you, doing a PhD thesis as a wiki in Organic Chemistry might prove a tad problematic even today. The idea sound exciting though!

Ka kite

Anonymous said...

"The issues with getting it into a format ready for print publication would be daunting."

Erm... I'm not printing it, Tony. I'm submitting the wiki as is - electronically. That's kind of the point.

Think about it this way: if I was a music composition student, my final submission would take the form of a performed piece of music. If I were an art student, my final submission might be a 6 metre sculpture of an eyeball.

Since I am focusing on social media, why should I not submit it in the medium being studied? My supervisor, to his credit, agrees, but we had to track down a primary marker who was prepared to take on the challenge (my supervisor takes the role of secondary marker).

But it has to be my own work. So, in answer to your question "You can't open it up? What's the dividing line?" I can quote/cite other people. I can review other people's material, but they can't contribute directly to the finished piece or they become co-authors. Since a wiki is a community authored asset, my dissertation is going to be a bit grey in the sense that I will create a closed wiki to which only I have authoring rights.

Once it's over and done, though - if I'm not too thoroughly ashamed of it - I reckon I'll open it up and let it become what it's supposed to be - a shared resource where everyone can add their own perspective.