Read a few stories written by post-graduate students/professors about their research work. Use them as a pattern for your topic.



1) My name is Habbert Wesly. I am interested in cultural-historical activity theory and developmental work research in general. Currently, I focus especially on co-configuration as a new way of organizing work, and expansive learning in multi-activity settings.

I am Professor of Adult Education and Director of the Center for Activity Theory and Developmental Work Research atUniversityofHelsinki. I am also Professor of Communication atUniversityofCalifornia,San Diego, where I served as Director of the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition from 1990 to 1995. I am Honorary Professor in theSchoolofEducationatUniversity of Birmingham,UK.

I work within the framework of cultural-historical activity theory. I am known for my theory of expansive learning. I study transformations in work and organizations, combining micro level analysis of discourse and interaction with historical analysis and modeling of organizations as activity systems working through developmental contradictions.

My research groups use intervention tools such as the Change Laboratory, inspired by Vygotsky’s method of dual stimulation, to facilitate and analyze the redesign of activity systems by practitioners. My current research is focused on health care organizations, a bank, and a telecommunications company striving toward new forms of co-configuration and knotworking.

My recent books include Cognition and Communication at Work (edited with David Middleton, 1996), Perspectives on Activity Theory (edited with Reijo Miettinen and Raija-Leena Punamäki, 1999), and Between School and Work: New Perspectives on Transfer and Boundary Crossing (edited with Terttu Tuomi-Gröhn, 2003). I have just finished a new book, Collaborative Expertise: Expansive Learning in Medical Work, to be published by Cambridge University Press.


2) My name is Jeffry Stane. My current research has liaisons to the beginnings of Developmental Work Research two decades ago. Since then, my colleagues and I have used reflexive methods of data gathering and analyzing, such as stimulated recall interviews, on line video interviews, and interactive ethnography. My interest in reflexivity has expanded in the context of social science to questioning: what are the theoretical and methodological tools with which we can approach and operationalize reflexivity – not only related to people’s accounts of their lives and activities but also linked to the researchers’ role and research practices. In the field of situated communication, my studies aim at intertwining practical-discursive and developmental-reflexive dimensions of activities, and at elaborating the epistemology of change in studying culture in interaction.

The possibilities of working with such interests in mind are favorable in the context of an interventionist methodology called the Change Laboratory. The approach has been developed by researchers at our center (including myself) in Developmental Work Research projects in varied fields of working life.

I work to further develop my expertise in institutional discourse, genre studies and interactive ethnography, and employed epistemologies like Mikhail Bakhtin’s dialogism, ethnomethodology and phenomenology, intersecting them with activity theory (see ‘the method of voices’ 1995, 1999). The basic design of the Change Laboratory keeps concerning me with institutional transformations, co-configuration between the practitioners and researchers, distributed work order, and discussions related to neoinstitutionalism. In the context of institutional change, my current work on reflexivity draws from the analysis of experiencing and agency. When one puts on the 'eyeglasses' of activity theory, experience is not only internal and subjective but expands to include collective artifact-mediated activity.

The central contents of my research and special expertise arise from our research sites. In the field of health care (from the perspectives of organizational studies and medical sociology), our studies concern negotiated care, collaborative artifacts, boundary crossing between primary and specialized medical care and, at once, the patient’s participation in the joint construction of a comprehensive view of disease management.

My other field of interest is school education and knowledge work in new information technology environments. Like in health care, our central focus here is on new forms of work and collaboration which are enabling the object of school work to expand beyond the information given in curricula and texts. We integrate paradigmatic thoughts into questions concerning how to make pedagogical changes from procedure-oriented drill to problem- and principle-oriented knowledge production, and from encapsulated classroom work to networked learning in partnerships between the school and other organizations.


Short Biography

From the 1980s and 1990s to the present, I have been employed mostly by the research projects funded by theAcademyofFinlandand conducted at theUniversityofHelsinki. Between 1987 and 1995, I worked for five years as a visiting scholar at the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition, UniversityCaliforniainSan Diego. In 1999, I received my Ph.D in sociology from theUniversityofHelsinki. Currently I am a Senior Researcher at theCenterofExcellenceand mentor of a group of Ph.D students.


3) My name is Stephanie Freeman. Speaking about my research work I must mention the following: How are new forms of Internet-mediated peer-production (such as is Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) and Wikipedia) changing the relation between developer and user, author and publisher, expert and lay person? What motivates people to contribute? To whom is participation open? Finding answers to the question of the possibilities and problems of participating and acting in one's computer-mediated world, is at the heart of my dissertation research.

The problem of motivation (and participation) is also theoretically interesting and challenging. Individual-psychological theories of motivation are problematic because motivation is seen as happening “inside the head of an individual” isolated from social and cultural reality. However, Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) and Cultural Psychology offer promising tools for studying both volunteers' individual motivation and the collective motive of their work. By examining the relationship between the individual and the collective, I wish to contribute to the development of CHAT.

My PhD thesis will comprise of four articles. Articles 1 and 2 are based on data collected from the hybrid firm-Free/Libre Open source community project, which develops a complete set of Free/Open Source Software Office end-user applications.


1) ‘The Social and Material Dynamics of Motivation: Contributions in Open source Language Technology Development (forthcoming examines contributors’ motivation as dynamically and historically developing;


2) ‘The emerging role of the user in end-user FLOSS’ (in progress);


3) ‘The struggle of choosing between Open Source and proprietary software in the Finnish public sector’ is based on data collected from four public sector organizations: The Finnish Meteorological Institute; The Justice Department, The Ministry of Finance and Turku town (in progress);


4) This article will deal with the practices of article-approval in the Finnish Wikipedia (about to begin data collection).


Short Biography


I was born in Savonlinna 21.2 1973 to a Finnish-English bilingual family. I spent my childhood and early adulthood in Jyväskylä.


After graduating from Helsinki University Department of Education (with Adult Education as my major and Psychology, Speech Communication and Management as my minor subjects), I started as a doctoral student in Professor Reijo Miettinen's research group ‘Innovation and Organization of Research Work’ in 2003. I also belong to The Finnish Post-Graduate School in Science and Technology Studies.



5) My name is Alison Stibbe. After a visit toNorwayin 1995 I decided that I would like to learn Norwegian. After moving house and having a fourth child, I joined the Department of Scandinavian Studies in 1999 to do a short course in Intermediate Norwegian Language having taught myself at home for a year. University regulations at the time allowed me to sit the summer exam with the undergraduates.


My success was such that my tutor (Margarethe Alexandroni) and fellow students encouraged me to return the following year to do the course in Advanced Norwegian Language. Regulations had changed, but I was permitted to sit the exam privately in a room in the department, obtaining the highest marks in the group. Along side this course I also read for and wrote an Extended Essay in Modern Scandinavian History on Hans Nielsen Hauge and Secularisation in Nineteenth Century Norway.


Encouraged by now Head of Department, Mary Hilson, I realised this essay could form the basis for a post-graduate dissertation. In order to convert my undergraduate degree in Natural Sciences (Cambridge, 1983) to an Arts qualification from UCL that would enable me to apply forGraduateSchoolfunding, I was prompted by Helen Forsas-Scott to register for a part-time MA in Advanced Scandinavian Translation (2001–2002). This MA was funded by a fees only scholarship fromUCLGraduateSchool. My MA dissertation included the first translation into English of Hans Nielsen Hauge's Betragtning over Verdens Daarlighed (1796) with an accompanying commentary (available if you mail me). As a result of my MA , I acted as the translator of Knut Tveitereid's En helt overkommelig Bibel, published in English as Word Bytes – a completely manageable Bible (BRF 2003).


In 2003 I registered as a part-time PhD student to begin work on an inter-disciplinary project Hans Nielsen Hauge and the Prophetic Imagination under the supervision of Marie Wells. I funded my study by various freelance writing projects, including the infamous books of wit and wisdom for women Bursting at the Seams (Monarch 2004) and All Stiched Up (Monarch 2005). In summer 2004, I was granted an award by the AHRC which enabled me to finish my PhD as a full-time student. I submitted my thesis in February 2007 and my viva was held in June. I was privileged to have Prof Arne Bugge Amundsen from University ofOsloand Dr Jorunn Okland fromUniversityofSheffieldas my examiners. They were genuinely impressed with what I had achieved.


I had hoped to continue my studies of Hauge's early texts (1800–1804) with a post-doc fellowship from theBritishAcademy, but although I was short-listed, I was not ultimately successful. I am told that to get so far in the competition was an achievement in itself. Health issues have made me to decide not to persue other sources of funding or reapply to theBritishAcademy, but I do hope to try and get my corrected thesis published as a monograph by Paternoster Press if they decide to accept it.


I am now working two days a week as a student administrator at West Herts College of Further Education inWatford, which is near my home. I hope to study for the European Computer Driving Licence one day a week at the same college this academic year. I also work one day a week as the administrator for a newly founded charity, and spend the final day a week running my own business from home. I have been a freelance writer of women's Christian devotional literature for ten years and I am currently toying with a contract for a follow up to my book “Barefoot in the Kitchen”. Weekends I spend with my family and when I have the energy I try to maintain one and a half vegetable allotments in the face of an army of slugs.


The abstract of my PhD thesis is printed below. If you want to read the whole document you can order a copy from the University Library at UCL via inter-library loan.


I have electronic copies of Hauge's first four texts available, if any one wants to use them for research purposes then please feel free to contact me (otherwise they are copyright).


If you want to mail me about anything concerning my thesis, I can be reached on




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