Patterns of Participation

Here, we present an analysis of the overall patterns of participation in this RDI project, including numbers participating and the disciplinary background and status/career stage of participants.

Table 1 below shows the numbers participating in each of the research training and development activities.

 Table 1: Numbers participating in each researcher development activity

Demand exceeded our expectations so, where possible, recruitment was increased (circa 40). The numbers participating increased over time, as awareness of the nature and the purpose of the project grew within the research community. Each of the activities was publicised through the relevant learned societies and research networks e.g. British Association for Applied Linguistics and the UK Linguistic Ethnography Forum. It was also publicised through the network being developed by the project. Some of those who participated in early activities returned to take part in later activities (circa 4%). They included doctoral researchers and early career researchers in the UK.

In addition to the 15 activities detailed in Table 1, an e-seminar was organised in collaboration with the Linguistic Ethnography Forum. This research network currently has over 500 members. The e-seminar was based on a text posted by Professor Monica Heller (University of Toronto, Canada) and it ran from 4th to 23rd May, 2011. Professor Melissa Moyer (Autonomous University of Barcelona) acted as discussant. (For details and full transcript of the seminar, see www.uklef.net).

In Table 2 below, we present details of the status/career stage of participants in selected activities. We focus on key activities organised at the main project hub - at the MOSAIC Centre for Research on Multilingualism, University of Birmingham. These were the 2 five-day residential courses and the final conference. The members of the research team were closely involved in the organisation of these hub-based activities and are thus in a position to provide detailed profiles of participants. Table 2 also includes one of the thematic workshops – the one based at the University of Edinburgh. Again, the research team were closely involved in the running of this research activity. The local organisers were early career researchers who had been participants in earlier activities based at the MOSAIC Centre and the Edinburgh workshop was organised in close coordination with the research team .

Table 2. Status/career stage of those participating in selected activities

 Table 2. Status/career stage of those participating in selected activities

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: The numbers indicated for the 2 five-day residential courses at the University of Birmingham do not include the members of the research team (5 at the time) or the 2 Visiting Lecturers (Dr Mukul Saxena and Mr Arvind Bhatt) who collaborated in running the sessions.

Table 2 reveals the varied nature of participation in different kinds of capacity-building activities. Doctoral researchers and early career researchers made up the largest group of participants in the 2 five-day residential courses. The mid-career and senior researchers taking part in these courses were from countries outside Europe e.g. Australia, Colombia, Hong Kong, Pakistan and South Africa. In their evaluations, they welcomed the opportunity ‘to reflect on research methodological issues’ and ‘to share expertise’.

The thematic workshop at the University of Edinburgh was organised around a series of presentations (by senior researchers). The backgrounds of those participating in this activity were more varied, including substantial numbers of early and mid-career researchers as well as doctoral researchers.

The final conference was specifically designed for those with an interest in research methodological issues, especially in the light of recent epistemological shifts in the field. Over half of the participants were mid-career or senior researchers and most made presentations or acted as discussants. There was also a significant presence of doctoral researchers and 10 of these presented posters.

Table 3 below gives some insights into the backgrounds of those who participated in the same four activities.

table-3

Firstly, in the columns shaded in pink, Table 3 shows the significant level of international participation in the project, particularly in the activities organised at the project hub at the University of Birmingham. This level of international participation was not fully anticipated when we submitted the original project proposal. The number of participants who are listed as UK-based includes a small number of international students undertaking doctoral research in the UK and visiting doctoral researchers. They formed approximately 18% of the total.

Secondly, the columns shaded in blue show the nature of the social science research being undertaken by participants. The majority of those participating in these four activities (and in other activities organised as part of the project) were conducting research in sociolinguistics, applied linguistics or a closely related field such as linguistic ethnography, literacy studies, interpretation and translation, Sign Language studies or Gaelic studies. It is, however, important to note that a significant proportion of the participants in the four activities depicted in Table 3 (approximately 75%) were concerned with some aspect of language-in-education policy or practice. This general concern with researching language or literacy in educational settings resonated across the discussions that took place in different activities across the life-course of the project.