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Lewis Ashley | Writing-Up Fellow
2020-09-15 - 2021-03-14 | Research area: Sustainability Research
STS Researchers as Methods: A Reflexive Critique

My proposed KLI project will elaborate on the methodological underpinnings of my PhD research project and will be based on the reflexivity section of methods chapter. My PhD research is an ethnographic study of interdisciplinary researchers investigating urban sustainability. As an ethnographer and Science and Technology Studies (STS) researcher on the project, my position observed the interdisciplinary element of the research collaboration. I investigated the challenges, perceptions and approaches to interdisciplinarity working among researchers who spanned the natural and social sciences. Once I stared working on the project, it became clear that my position as an ‘outsider’ allowed me to make observations about ways of working; but my simultaneous position as an ‘insider’ actually influenced the interdisciplinary efforts made. My position as the ‘interdisciplinary observer’ therefore had two major effects on the other researchers. Firstly, it created an additional awareness and self-reflection on the type of work researchers were doing; and it caused them to reflect and evaluate if their work was ‘interdisciplinary’ enough. Secondly, because my position as an ethnographer of interdisciplinarity was written in at the application phase, this elevated the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration of the project. By creating a position to solely observe interdisciplinary collaborations, researchers perceived interdisciplinarity to be an important research objective and were then motivated to do their work in a more interdisciplinary way. For the research project at KLI, I want to conduct a reflexive methodological analysis of my role not only as an
observer, but as an actual research method.