Computerised Research Technologies in Practical Research Settings

  • Phillip Brooker

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis is a video-aided ethnomethodological study of computer-aided research in postgraduate-level scientific projects in two disciplines (astrophysics and electrical engineering), drawing on fields including science and technology studies, the sociology of science education and ethnomethodological studies of work. The aim of this study is to explore how computerised research technologies are developed, modified and worked with in scientific disciplines, and the objective has been to investigate some of the ways in which these technologies can be used to address specific research problems, and the work that goes into successfully doing research with them.A broad overview of the findings of this work is that for sociological accounts of scientific research and education, failing to understand the scientific content of these activities is the same as misunderstanding the activity entirely. What is found through investigating thesesettings with this idea in mind is that science cannot be understand as entirely cultural and conventional as it tends to be portrayed in sociological accounts. Rather, scientists draw on lots of different resources to do with science, programming and the computational tools that allow them to proceed with their work systematically and positively (i.e. in ways that clearly contribute towards the achieving of pre-defined goals). These resources may well include cultures and conventions, but these are better understood as situated alongside an array of other features such as conceptual knowledge of science and mathematics, practical understandings of the settings at hand, and so on. Therefore, this thesis aims to present various features of scientific work exemplifying how these resources are used and how their usage fits into wider project and/or scientific goals and objectives.
Date of Award1 Aug 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorWilliam Sharrock (Supervisor) & Christian Greiffenhagen (Supervisor)

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