Recording the Process of Practice-Led Research

The ICCWR in the form of Graeme Harper gave a little session exploring the topic of practice-led research (PLR) for we folks at NIECI, which is of course what I am doing for my PhD. I’ll be writing a novel, which is only the initial phase – I then want to turn it into a “special edition” digital novel, complete with hypertext, images, audio, perhaps film.

I’m starting this log because of some topics Graeme brought up during the talk, one of which is the importance of the process in PLR. Academic research typically focuses on the end product, and when you turn in your thesis/dissertation, no one really much cares how you went about tracking down your information beyond the fact that it’s useful and ethical.

But in PLR, it’s all about the process. Yes, the final product is important, but it’s about the exploration of how you got there. What did you learn, what did you have to adjust, how did your philosophic core evolve as you got deeper and deeper into the project.

Also mentioned was the issue of archiving. Pre-work and complementary work (work you produce just prior to, in preparation for, and concurrent with your project) are also important elements in PLR. They show how your PLR is influencing you as an artist, how you evolve overall. But in traditional archiving, you print up only your final product and the library stashes it. There is no thought to the context of the piece.

I’m interested in online or digital-based archiving, using hypertext to link all elements of the piece. I intend this blog to be a central core of that – to not only describe my process as I go through, but to include links to complementary work, notes on my life in general (as that always informs a writer’s work), threads to my research, etc.

I want to do this as well because I love getting into a really phenomenal book, engaging with characters I love, wandering in a world that fascinates me, and then being able to continue with that by visiting an author’s website or blog to learn more about them and how the story was created. Neil Gaiman blogs constantly, and has supplemental pages including bibliographies for his novels. Jasper Fforde has a website that allows readers to further explore Thursday Next’s world through games, writing their own pieces, and interacting. I think having this rich source of contextual material will only increase my project’s impact.

My plan at the moment is to blog at least once a week, if not more, to keep up with everything that’s going on. It won’t be a blow-by-blow description, nor a repository for my notes; rather it will be reserved for thoughts I have on the process, interesting tidbits, complementary work, and the like.

I will tag each of these entries with “PhD” – so any readers of the blog uninterested in my academic ramblings can skip these. Or not.

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