Chapter 2: Hinterlands

Chapter 2 introductory graphic

Given the continuing references to the city through the flanography, titling what might normally be called the literature review as ‘Hinterlands’ seemed more appropriate. For a city the hinterland is the region surrounding it which sustains and supports it, but which is itself influenced by the city. Supporting and sustaining my study are the literatures which precede and inform it, but to which I hope my study will also contribute. I refer to hinterlands in the plural since they are not only the inscribed outcomes of previous research, but include the methods which were employed to bring them into being, but I shall discuss them at greater length in a later post.Read More »

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 1 introductory graphic

I’ve introduced each chapter of my thesis with a brief textual snippet setting out what the reader can expect. However, as you can see above, I’ve included it within a graphic to refer back to the ‘Streetmap’ and provide a reminder that the study is built around a flânographic approach.

The opening sections help to set the scene. First I outline what drew me to this study; how I first came to Twitter then became increasingly curious about the way people make bold claims for the way it supports their professional learning. I go on to discuss the research context within which that topic currently sits; that teachers’ professional development is a mature field of research, whilst Twitter has understandably only recently begun receiving attention. The gap that I’m aiming to fill is that no-one appears to have looked at teacher PD on Twitter from a sociomaterial standpoint. Given how highly mediated this practice is, I argue that adopting a sociomaterial sensibility might help contribute to our understanding of this phenomenon.Read More »


Almost all theses will include an ‘Acknowledgements’ page expressing gratitude to all those supported the study: supervisors, family, participants, friends, colleagues. My thesis is no exception, however, I also took the less common step of including a foreword. Appearing in the abstract and table of contents were some terms like flâneur which I felt would benefit from preliminary explication. Since the foreword is only a page in length, I’ll provide it in full. I’m grateful to both Deborah and Craig for allowing me to include quotes from their blogs in my thesis.Read More »

Thesis Abstract

Thesis Streetmap
“Visual ToC” flickr photo by IaninSheffield shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license [click image for a larger version]
Before I write further posts as part of my viva preparation, I thought it might be helpful to provide a quick overview of what my thesis involves. The sensible way to do that – and the one requiring least effort – is by sharing the …


“BEST. PD. EVER!” Some teachers make bold claims for the way that Twitter supports their professional development, yet research into this area is rather limited. This study sought to gain a better understanding of the practices involved and the part that Twitter plays. It uses a sociomaterial sensibility informed by actor-network theory (ANT) to unravel the complex webs of relations which form, break apart and reform when knowledge practices are enacted in the mediated arena of Twitter.Read More »

Thesis submitted. Next steps.

“Thesis” flickr photo by IaninSheffield shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

Last week I submitted my thesis. No hoopla. No fanfare. No round of applause. It was merely a matter of printing four copies, getting them bound, then dropping them off at the reception desk of a University office building. Quite an anticlimax really. In return I was given a pro forma acknowledgement of receipt and the promise that they would be passed on to the relevant department. I needed no more than that, but I can’t help thinking how deflated some people must feel; all that effort and not even a ‘congratulations’ or ‘you must be delighted?’ Perhaps there might be something to be gained from the University rethinking that small but significant aspect of the examination process.Read More »

Analytical moves

In an earlier post I discussed some of the thinking behind the analytical process I was leaning towards; much of that made it into an earlier draft of the thesis. Feedback from my supervisors pointed out that detail on how I actually proceeded through the analysis was rather thin. Any reader (examiner!) would therefore not be clear about the steps I took … and therefore my thesis fails one of the characteristics I set for its integrity – that of transparency.  I’ll now attempt to set out the analytical moves I made in a little more detail.

Analysis was a multi-stage process, although not one which proceeded linearly from start to finish. Instead it involved a series of back and forth iterations moving between and across the different data sources. As data offer themselves either as words participants deliver during interviews, tweets that appear through observation, or blog posts at the end of hyperlinks, analytical seeds begin to germinate during this period of familiarisation.Read More »

In just one tweet?

At the interview for entry onto the PhD programme, one of the panel asked me if I could sum up my research proposal in a tweet. Although it shouldn’t have, that question stumped me at the time, but as a result, it did stick with me. A reasonable question to ask in my viva might be ‘Can you sum up your PhD in a tweet?’ Currently I’m struggling to get it under 90 000 words, so I still have some way to go! Following the first draft of my thesis, one of the feedback points was that I needed to be able to synthesise my findings into a handful of bullet points, even if I didn’t subsequently present them as such. It’s about having a distillation that’s brief enough to fit into the abstract and encapsulate what my study found, whilst leaving room for the other bits that also need to be in the abstract like the methodology, methods, theoretical approach etc. I thought I might try to go a step further and get it down to tweet length; after all, since I started the PhD, Twitter’s generously provided double the characters to play with.Read More »

Mundane practicalities of thesis writing

Having now submitted my first full draft, it became apparent how MS Word was stepping up to the mark as a tool to make life easier.  When producing a document approaching 100k words spread over 250 pages (at the moment!), swift and efficient navigation become so important. I’ve always used the navigation pane to jump between sections, even in more modest documents, but there were other aspects which also required attention.  A ‘Table of Contents’ and a ‘Table of Figures’ will also be needed to provide navigation in the printed version, then there’s page numbers, layout, styles, and bevy of other considerations. As a Microsoft Office Specialist Master, albeit one from an earlier era, I’m at least aware of where these features can be found and how they can be applied. PhD colleagues who have preceded me through the system and asked if I knew ‘how to …’ were less fortunate. Having manually numbered chapters and subsections, or tables of contents, friends were surprised to find some of the things Word could do, and somewhat shocked how much effort they could have saved.Read More »

Quite a week

“Stourton Junction” flickr photo by IaninSheffield shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

I knew that a week away with friends at Easter would help to recharge the batteries, but was conscious that I had impending deadlines. I’d also narrowly missed my target deadline of Easter to get the first full draft of my thesis in to my supervisors, but that was my target. Last week then was all hands on deck to get a poster for the follow-up SHU SIPS doctoral poster event handed in for printing. That was followed by a concentrated effort to complete the last few thesis sections, whilst simultaneously gathering the elements I needed to assemble the image I would be handing in for the Doctoral Research Image Competition … which brings me to this week.Read More »

‘Our’ positionality?

“Staggered” flickr photo by Jingles the Pirate shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

Statements of researcher positionality are often more closely associated with qualitative studies, which, by their nature, may not have complete objectivity as a primary goal. Recognising that the researcher is bound up within the study, rather than separate and viewing it dispassionately from the sidelines, it is important to acknowledge what baggage they bring to the study. This requires acknowledging amongst other factors, one’s gender, race, beliefs, socioeconomic status, age, cultural background, political views, and how they might influence the research as it unfolds. Though important, this is not merely a matter of what effects these factors have on participants, but since the researcher as the primary instrument of data collection, what effects they also have on how findings are presented and interpreted. It’s important to remember too, that reaching the position of interacting with participants only comes after the research has been designed and planned; one’s beliefs and background will also have an influence here too.

This post then is my first attempt to pull together the foundations of the positionality statement which will eventually find its way into my thesis. A first draft, which will be improved by your feedback 😉Read More »