Navigating the neo-academy: Experiences of liminality and identity construction among early career researchers at one Australian regional university

Larsen, Ellen ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4293-2485 and Brandenburg, Robyn (2022) Navigating the neo-academy: Experiences of liminality and identity construction among early career researchers at one Australian regional university. The Australian Educational Researcher. ISSN 0311-6999

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Abstract

Across the world, many university-based early career researchers (ECRs) are experiencing an unprecedented intensification of research expectations on transition from doctoral research to academic life. Countries such as Australia have put into place national frameworks of research excellence to remain globally competitive. Pressure on universities to elevate global research rankings has soared, with many regional universities and disciplines such as education responding with a rapid escalation of research performance expectations for academics. Consequently, concerns have been raised for ECRs embroiled in intensified research agendas in these contexts. Framed by concepts of liminality and identity construction, we argue that intensified expectations do not take account of liminality experienced by ECRs during times of transition, compromising perceived academic progress. We report on the identity journeys of ECRs in a School of Education at one regional Australian university. Data was collected from nine ECRs using online focus groups and analysed using a hybrid thematic approach. Key findings indicate that ECRs transition into the Academy post-doctorate with varying experiences of identity liminality that impact their capacity to manage research expectations. ECRs experiencing shorter periods of liminality are best positioned to manage the intensified expectations of academic life while ECRs experiencing persistent liminality and identity ‘struggle’ are more likely to perceive a diminished sense of achievement and support. These findings have significant implications for university leadership and research supervisors, in Australia and globally, regarding the ways they support ECRs to productively navigate the hyper-invigilated audit cultures of what we have termed the neo-academy.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Education (1 Jul 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Education (1 Jul 2019 -)
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2022 05:26
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 00:17
Uncontrolled Keywords: Early career researcher; Identity construction; Liminality; Education Regional universities · Academy
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3902 Education policy, sociology and philosophy > 390201 Education policy
39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390305 Professional education and training
39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390303 Higher education
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 16 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 1601 Learner and learning > 160102 Higher education
16 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 1602 Schools and learning environments > 160206 Workforce transition and employment
16 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 1602 Schools and learning environments > 160205 Policies and development
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13384-022-00544-1
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/49387

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