Archive for the 'my doctoral program' category

The Dissertation is Now Available for Your Enjoyment

Jun 30 2016 Published by under dissertation, my doctoral program

Or, you know, for bedtime reading.

Christina K. Pikas, PhD, 2016
This dissertation presents a literature-based framework for communication in science (with the elements partners, purposes, message, and channel), which it then applies in and amends through an empirical study of how geoscientists use two social computing technologies (SCTs), blogging and Twitter (both general use and tweeting from conferences). How are these technologies used and what value do scientists derive from them?
Method The empirical part used a two-pronged qualitative study, using (1) purposive samples of ~400 blog posts and ~1000 tweets and (2) a purposive sample of 8 geoscientist interviews. Blog posts, tweets, and interviews were coded using the framework, adding new codes as needed. The results were aggregated into 8 geoscientist case studies, and general patterns were derived through cross-case analysis.
Results A detailed picture of how geoscientists use blogs and Twitter emerged, including a number of new functions not served by traditional channels. Some highlights: Geoscientists use SCTs for communication among themselves as well as with the public. Blogs serve persuasion and personal knowledge management; Twitter often amplifies the signal of traditional communications such as journal articles. Blogs include tutorials for peers, reviews of basic science concepts, and book reviews. Twitter includes links to readings, requests for assistance, and discussions of politics and religion. Twitter at conferences provides live coverage of sessions. Conclusions Both blogs and Twitter are routine parts of scientists' communication toolbox, blogs for in-depth, well-prepared essays, Twitter for faster and broader interactions. Both have important roles in supporting community building, mentoring, and learning and teaching. The Framework of Communication in Science was a useful tool in studying these two SCTs in this domain. The results should encourage science administrators to facilitate SCT use of scientists in their organization and information providers to search SCT documents as an important source of information.

One response so far

Update on the proposal

Dec 01 2010 Published by under my doctoral program

I had a nice long meeting with my dissertation committee on Monday. (gosh if you think of the brainpower and experience in the room for that meeting ... I'm in awe that these people agreed to take this time to mentor me)

It turns out that I'm not really as close as I thought I was and there are some big changes to make. Besides adding a lot to the literature review and conceptual framework, I'll be narrowing the empirical part quite a bit. Specifically, instead of picking 3 or more technologies to do case studies on, I'm just going to do two and focus on one group of researchers.  I'll be looking at... Twitter and blogs (I know, I'm surprised about the blogs - I love to study them but I thought to do something else instead)... and in ... geosciences!

I have my work for the next 2 years cut out - hopefully I can finish in that period of time.

So if you happen to be a scientist or science communicator or society employee in some area of geosciences (geology, hydrology, atmospheric sciences, climatology, planetary sciences, seismology, oceanography....).  I hope we will get a chance to meet up and talk 🙂

4 responses so far

Update about the PhD process

Nov 08 2010 Published by under my doctoral program

Yes, it's been terribly quiet around here. Not even any prodding about the Donor's Choose (but please consider giving 🙂 ).

Personal and work lives have been really busy. Lots of neat and interesting projects at work, one of which has me presenting a poster at the upcoming American Geophysical Union meeting in December in San Francisco. I registered as part of the AGU blogroll, but I'm still negotiating how much of work stuff ends up here. Typically not so much.

So everyone asks: when will you finish? I growl.  But it is a fair question as I've been a doctoral student since 2005!  Here's the status right now.

The draft title of the dissertation is: The role of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) in information and communication in science.  A conceptual framework and empirical study

The idea is that there are a lot of models of communication in science and there are attempts to update these when new ICTs are introduced. There are also lots of studies of new ICTs that do not rely on any of the communication or information science literature. Both the updates and the studies have expiration dates as new things emerge. What my dissertation does is to review this massive body of literature and to create a conceptual framework to describe the features and functions of communication in science. I will then analyze older and newer tools to show how they fit in that framework and update the framework. Finally, I'll do case studies on several new ICTs (and their science users) to learn more and further test the framework. The idea is that this framework - since it's based on the people and what they do and lots of research - will be longer lasting and will help designers and researchers better define what they're doing.

I've been quite depressed, thinking that none of this was new and wondering about its value. On the positive side, I explained it to a couple of people at ASIST and they seemed to think it would be useful.

The other bit is that I feel like I've been taking too long and my proposal is too big (it's about 15k words so far, but probably another 3k or so before its done). My advisor talked me down off the ledge with this one. He pointed out that my proposal isn't just an introduction, it's the end work, too. The analysis is part of the deliverable, in other words. I'm anxious to get on with the empirical part.  If all my ducks are in a row, I'll use my time at AGU wisely.

The time line is basically to get the proposal approved by the committee this calendar year, to do the case studies probably over 6 months or so of 2011, and then to finish writing over the year after that, I guess.  The thing is that since my proposal includes a bunch of stuff already (the first 4 chapters - would be 3 if I were normal), maybe the writing part will be quicker. The case studies will depend on IRB approval and targets of opportunity. Also how many I end up doing. I'm looking at 3-5, each with 5-15 interviews, qualitative content analysis, and participant observation.

6 responses so far

Struggling with how to blog the proposal

Apr 25 2010 Published by under my doctoral program

When I joined ScienceBlogs, I was halfway done preparing for my comprehensive exams. That involved a lot of reading, re-reading, and then practice essays. I blogged that to stay honest - you could see weeks that I didn't accomplish as much as well as pretty productive weeks. I also got some great feedback from readers on some of my reactions to some of the articles.
So now I'm working on my proposal, and I have been for a while... with nothing really to show for it. I'm trying to work out a way I can blog the proposal so you all can keep me honest again (since you were so good at it last time). It's hard, though, because there aren't the same sort of stopping points. One reason it's been a little quiet around here.

One response so far


Aug 08 2009 Published by under my doctoral program

Eleventy!!!!111!!!!111!, and so forth 🙂


So now I'm eligible to advance to candidacy. So I would be a PhD Candidate, if I were to put the paperwork in right away. At my advisor's suggestion, I'm going to hold off on that for a few months to not start the next clock (and my work have to pay more for tuition - now I can register for 1 credit pre-candidacy research).

5 responses so far

Are you done yet?

Jul 23 2009 Published by under Admin, my doctoral program

Ack. NO.

...Ok, well when you gonna finish?


PhD students unite! Rebel against these questions!

My answer - I don't know, and it will probably be a while. Like ask me in 3-4 years.

Here are some ways my program differs from others you might know more about:

  • very linear - we do coursework, then comps (or integrative paper), then dissertation proposal, then dissertation
  • everything is new work - the comps (or integrative paper) is not like presenting a portfolio of work already completed but a new separate thing, the dissertation is a new piece of empirical research (no publishing pieces in advance as journal articles)
  • there is course work - a lot - and there are specific classes that are required
  • there's a lot of making your own program - no two people do the exact same thing ( or take the same classes, etc)
  • many of us are older (very few, if any, straight from an undergrad), most of us are married, a lot of my fellow students have children
  • nobody gives you a dissertation problem that they've carved off a larger project - you have to go find something (it might be part of something you're working on with a faculty member, but it's really not the same)
  • we can't teach. the school is grad level only (hm, what happened to the info sci undergrad minor?) and there's a rule that grad students can't teach grad students. Two recent PhDs co-taught courses and they had some degree of freedom in this. But we're competing when we graduate with people who have taught like 4 classes 🙁

Anywho... what's up right now is that I'm struggling to find a dissertation topic (not too small, not too big, and I want it to mean something - like make a difference or matter in some way) and then I'll be putting my committee together to hopefully get it approved in September.

2 responses so far