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Public Defense: Eystein Gullbekk

Eystein Gullbekk will defend his thesis Performing interdisciplinary knowledge: Information work in emerging interdisciplinary research for the PhD in Library and Information Science.

Zoom link

Zoom link trial lecture and public defense ( Passcode: 775481

Trial lecture

The trial lecture starts at 10:00 in Zoom.
We ask the audience to enter Zoom 15 minutes prior to commencement of the trial lecture.

Title:  Policy implications of performing information work in interdisciplinary research

Public defense

The candidate will defend his thesis at 12:00 in Zoom.

Ordinary opponents

Leader of the public defense: Head of Department Tor Arne Dahl,  Department of Archivistics, Library and Information Science, OsloMet, Norway.


  • Abstract

    Stakeholders external to researcher’s everyday work settings promote interdisciplinary research in various rhetorical guises. Researchers are expected to engage with transformative research practices that supersede disciplinary knowledge production to a certain extent. Simultaneously, researchers are expected to strengthen interdisciplinary interactions between vital disciplines. Building on the programme of information practice research and on practice theories’ focus on performativity in practices, this thesis scrutinizes the implications of unresolved contradictions and of conflicting expectations at the level of researchers’ information work in everyday research. 

    The empirical material in the study was produced through a series of hybrid interviews conducted with 14 researchers in an interdisciplinary department in a Scandinavian country. The thesis examines these researchers’ information work, that is, their finding and putting to use of literature in the process of producing manuscripts. Each researcher builds their manuscript on a unique mix of disciplinary traditions that must also be made recognizable to multiple disciplinary audiences. The study applies a twofold practice-theory perspective to the analysis, constructed in this thesis as ‘practice-as-enacted’ and ‘practice-as-performed’. The first highlights collective understandings and ways of doing research in a practice. The second highlights the singularity of events in research practices.   

    The  three  articles  of  the thesis  address  theoretical,  empirical  and  methodological  aspects  of emerging interdisciplinary research. Article 1 is a conceptual paper. It examines two selected notions of information literacy against two conceptions of interdisciplinary communication: ‘weak communication’ aimed at overcoming differences in disciplinary terminologies and frameworks, and a ‘strong communication’ of questioning fundamental assumptions. The article concludes that in analyses of information activities in settings where researchers are likely to find themselves in situations of strong communication, sensitizing concepts should privilege practices over predefined collectives such as discourse- or practice communities. As a result, the present project was adjusted to pursue this privileging.    

    Article 2 examines information work among PhD students engaged in citing the work of others in efforts to strengthen their arguments and convince their audiences. The article finds that the normative regulations of citing is an ongoing and open-ended process of negotiations. The students must adjust and adapt to shifting practices and expectations in their audiences. It also finds that in the various stages of producing manuscripts, some subject positions will count, whereas others will not, forcing the students to align and realign their identifications constantly.  

    Article 3 examines co-production of data through my engagement with the researchers. It examines the hybrid interviews within which interviewing was combined with talk-aloud search sessions and with researchers’ talk-through of their manuscripts’ reference lists. The interviews bring forth researchers’ negotiations of the normative elements of their information work. However, the article also finds that talk aloud search sessions induce events that – in unanticipated ways – connect the researchers discursively, materially and bodily with both current and past activities. Furthermore, the article shows that I become a productive part of the interdisciplinary information work that emerges through the events.

    By  applying  both  the  practice-as-enacted  and  the  practice-as-performed  perspectives  in  a discussion of the findings of the articles, the thesis highlights different facets of performativity in research  practices. By their information work, the researchers become part of practices’ performativity by re-current temporary enactments of a practice of producing and communicating knowledge. The thesis demonstrates that while the researchers must handle accountabilities towards various disciplinary frameworks, the researchers lack enduring intersubjective spaces for reflecting over and for handling conflicting expectations. The thesis also shows the episodic nature of information work in emerging interdisciplinary research. Information work induces unexpected combinations of actors and resources that produce possibilities, learning and innovation born in individual research projects. These possibilities may be excluded from the process of making research shared and recognizable.  

    Moreover, the thesis provides methodological contributions to information practice research. The two perspectives bring into view both the singularity and the conformity of information work in emerging interdisciplinary research, as well as the tensions between them. The here-and-now performativity in the events also includes my disciplinary background as part of the mix and thus adds to the inconsistencies and conflicting expectations. 

    This thesis contributes new knowledge about emerging interdisciplinary research. Previous research  has  shown  how  information-related  activities  in  such  situations  serve  to  build collaborative  practices  or  consolidate  interdisciplinary  fields. The current thesis finds that researchers – by their information work – become part of temporary and ad-hoc enactments, thus demonstrating the challenges and potentials of emerging research in a setting where the researchers lack shared practices, arrangements, and intersubjective spaces for dealing with inconsistencies and conflicting expectations. 

  • Publication of the approved PhD thesis

    A copy of the PhD thesis (pdf) may be obtained by sending an email to the ph.d.-administration.

  • Digital defence information

    The OsloMet campus is closed as a consequence of the corona virus pandemic

    Due to restrictions and limitations on physical participation, the public defense will be conducted on the zoom digital platform.

    Attend the public defense live in Zoom

    The link to the digital defense in Zoom is on the top of this page. OsloMet students and employees use OsloMet accounts. Others can download Zoom or use a browser.

    How to oppose ex auditorio

    Please send your question to the host during the break, before the second opponent begins. Raise your digital hand by clicking on "Participants" at the bottom of the zoom window and choose "Raise Hand" if you would like to voice the question yourself after both opponents have finished their questions. The technical administrator will ask to activate your microphone. Click Yes.

    Attend the trial lecture live in Zoom

    The link to the trial lecture in Zoom is the same as the public defense. We ask the audience to enter 15 minutes early by clicking the yellow button at the top of this page. You can leave the Webinar and come back or stay in Zoom during the break (30-45 minutes).

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