Contributing to practice and research – experience with the engaged scholarship research method

With Sarah Conway from the Linux Foundation, I published a contributed blog post in The New Stack. We wrote about the CHAOSS D&I Working Group’s history, present, and future.

What is the relevance of this blog post? Obviously, writing about the CHAOSS D&I Working Group is publicity for the work we do. Obviously, writing about how the working group operates and what goals it has makes it easier to onboard people. Obviously, getting a blog post accepted makes me happy. However, the relevance of this blog post goes beyond what is obvious.

Not so obvious is why I initially wrote the blog post. I wrote the text as a section for my dissertation. The CHAOSS D&I Working Group has been my field site for studying how metrics for open source project health are created. I needed to describe the work of the CHAOSS D&I Working Group for the dissertation to tell the full story. Once I had a draft of the story, I found the text to be a nice summary and thought it was worth sharing with the CHAOSS D&I Working Group. Another reason for me to share the text was to make sure I did not forget or misrepresent anything – this is called member checking and increases the validity of my research.

After sharing the text with the CHAOSS D&I Working Group, the text in the dissertation and the text that is now the blog post evolved differently. Sarah extended and revised the blog post to make it more attractive to the audience of The New Stack. Meanwhile, I merged the text in my dissertation with findings from interviews to tell a more focused story for my theoretical discussion. Core elements in both versions still exist, the screenshots that show the CHAOSS D&I Working Group work, for example, but they have different foci and purposes within the blog post and dissertation.

To me, the background behind of the blog post demonstrates the double benefit that researchers provide when they engage with professionals on the subject that they study. I find it very rewarding to be providing value to a community of practice while doing research. I am very glad that I learned how to do engaged scholarship research during my Ph.D.