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ERIC Number: ED559754
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 127
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3033-2673-8
University Bioscientists' Risk Epistemologies and Research Problem Choices
Appuhamilage Dilshani Eranga Sarathchandra, Walakada.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Michigan State University
Scientific discoveries take place within scientific communities that are established in legitimating organizations such as universities and research institutes. Often times, scientists undergo tensions and paradoxes as they evaluate the risks they are willing to accept in their work. The types of risk/benefit decisions scientists make to determine which research projects to engage in and how they engage in them is more important than ever, due to current restrictions on funding for scientific research. The main objective of this dissertation is to analyze the ways in which university bioscientists define, evaluate, and manage risks in science, i.e. their risk epistemologies. In the process, I examine bioscientists' risk perceptions and demographic and contextual factors that influence those perceptions. Additionally, I investigate the associations between risk perceptions and research problem choices. This dissertation followed a mix-methods approach. The data collection included twenty semi-structured in-depth interviews and a large-scale online survey of university bioscientists. Based on three theoretically driven research questions that surfaced through examining current literature, I organized the dissertation into three different essays. The first essay explores risk epistemologies of university bioscientists as they determine the best trajectories for their scientific careers. This essay analyses data gathered by conducting in-depth interviews meant to elicit university bioscientists' different understandings of the notion of risk. The second essay quantifies bioscientists' risk perceptions using data gathered from the online survey. In this essay, I investigate the influence of life-course, gender, sources of funding, research orientation, network interactions, and perceived significance of research on risk perception. In the third essay I use data gathered from the online survey to investigate the associations between university bioscientists' risk perceptions and their research problem choices. The results suggest that risk is a useful paradigm to study decision-making in science. In making scientific risk decisions, at times scientists conform to the existing institutional structures. Other times they challenge them, persist through them, or compromise their actions. Bioscientists' risk epistemologies matter to the extent that these allow for more creative ways in which individual scientists can navigate the institutional environments that they are embedded in. Risk perceptions of university bioscientists differ based on the specific dimension of risk under investigation. Several significant relationships between perceived risks and problem choice orientations have emerged through the data analysis. Overall, university bioscientists' risk epistemologies seem to be related to the unique reward structure of science, compelling them to use various risk management techniques while navigating their research environments. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A