The Liminal Self

The following is what I'd originally written in defense of using the term 'I' or first person in my thesis. This decision was soon changed as I learned of the myriad of issues writing in first person causes for examiners and supervisors alike.


The Liminal Self

The style of this thesis is important to the contribution it makes in better understanding the socio-ethical implications of body worn cameras.  It is not customary in scientific writing to use the first person register particularly in a PhD thesis within the domains of engineering and information systems.

“...Think about the habits and traditions in your field, think about the nature of your field and do not hesitate to take responsibility for your own (possibly not that great) ideas.” (Jannson 2014)

So, as a single author, as the sole and default voice within my Phd thesis I assert that my use of the preface ‘I’ speaks of my own self reflection, decisions and mostly good choices. In this thesis the use of ‘we’ means the research community, collaborators and research participants, in essence humankind, everybody. In that context, ‘we’ then can also mean ‘me as the author and you as the reader’ capable of applying these research findings in your own personal and professional life.

The use of third person in my writing style is therefore an architectural conjoint mechanism to describe concepts that have emerged through the research journey for academic peer scrutiny. This is traditionally referred to as ‘academic voice’ and throughout this thesis, where it is appropriate to use this third person register then it has been employed particularly when referencing the works and creations of other researchers.

As Deegan and Hill (1991) elucidate in their seminal paper titled “Doctoral Dissertations as Liminal Journeys of the Self - Betwixt and between in Graduate Sociology Programs” the research journey is the framework or backbone for the dissertation. This liminal consideration is important as this thesis will demonstrate knowledge has been gained in reality by understanding the impacts these technologies at a personal level and the account derivative of the empirical findings of the research irrespective of the domain.

“…The methodological framework adopted here is experiential (Reinharz 1983,1984) and thus combines autobiography with theoretical analysis to (un)cover and (dis)cover reality.”

Deegan, M.J. & Hill, M.R., 1991. Doctoral Dissertations as Liminal Journeys of the Self: Betwixt and between in Graduate Sociology Programs. Teaching Sociology, 19(3), pp.322–332. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1318198.

This thesis therefore is ethnographic in approach, research conducted partially as participant observer, and autobiographical as the liminal transformation of the researcher.

By taking full responsibility for my results and findings using first person narrative I am therefore inviting you as the reader to consider how ‘we’ can maintain our personal freedom in a contemporaneous society under constant surveillance. The key outcome of the research is therefore engaging with and sharing the stories of those who bear witness to how location enabled body worn camera technology has contributed to society, as well as the possible benefits, risks and harm that this technology may pose for society.

In essence the thesis is an autobiographical account of the learning journey.


Here is the re-write:

It is not customary in scientific writing to use the first person register in an engineering and information sciences PhD thesis therefore, the term ‘the researcher’ will be used to describe behaviours as participant observer in events and communities from which empirical findings of the research are derived.

“...Think about the habits and traditions in your field, think about the nature of your field and do not hesitate to take responsibility for your own (possibly not that great) ideas.” (Jannson 2014)

As Deegan and Hill (1991) elucidate in their seminal paper titled “Doctoral Dissertations as Liminal Journeys of the Self” the research journey is the backbone for the dissertation whilst the thesis is an autobiographical account of the researchers learning journey. To ensure thesis accuracy and impartiality as a steward of information (Ohio Dominican University Library 2016), the liminal transformation of the researcher will be published as short articles with persistent URLs in a separate research journal. Additional secondary data such as research notes, manuscripts, photos and audio recordings are securely stored and made citable with persistent digital object identifiers (DOI) within scientifically verifiable data management systems.

“…The methodological framework adopted here is experiential (Reinharz 1983,1984) and thus combines autobiography with theoretical analysis to (un)cover and (dis)cover reality.” (Deegan and Hill 1991)