Capturing contracts: informal activity among contract researchers
University of Exeter. At the time of publication the author was at the Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education, UK
British Journal of Sociology of Education
Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group)
Contract researchers constitute an expanding occupational group in UK higher education and contribute significantly to national research output. Despite recent concern and debates over their marginal status and inferior conditions of employment, little is known about the actual complexities of contract researchers' working lives. Drawing upon qualitative interviews, an attempt is made to remedy this lacuna, by portraying certain kinds of occupational knowledge and practices utilised by social science contract researchers. The paper focuses on the understandings and strategies which are developed and refined as researchers attempt to sustain employment in a highly insecure realm. What is portrayed is not the technical expertise required for this kind of research, but rather the knowledge, acumen and action which are more informal, tacit and indeterminate. This paper examines the cognitive and interactional processes which need to be developed and combined with technical expertise, if employment is to be maintained in such a competitive and insecure field.
This is the author's pre-print version of an article accepted for publication in the British Journal of Sociology of Education. Copyright © 2008 Taylor & Francis Group. The definitive publisher-authenticated version of this paper is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0142569980190403
British Journal of Sociology of Education, December 1998, Vol. 19 (4): pp. 497 - 515