- Mendeley goes open http://ow.ly/1tTg3t #
- Books Everyone Should Read http://ow.ly/1tTfS6 #
- VLT Survey Telescope snaps out-of-this-world photos with 268-megapixel camera http://ow.ly/1tSyUs #
- Surgery podcasts go viral http://ow.ly/1tSxxI #
- Be like the bamboo http://ow.ly/1tSxut #
- Visualizing Facebook Groups at UCT http://ow.ly/1tSxhV #
- My Teaching Philosophy http://ow.ly/1tSx4p #
- The Rise of Informal Knowledge and the Teacher’s Evolving Role http://ow.ly/1tSwTs. Learning through trial and error #
- A (very) brief history of educational technology http://ow.ly/1tRAja #
- Conference Attendees Share Teaching Ideas for Active Learning http://ow.ly/1tRzXU. Some really good ideas for engaging with students #
- Who has the Right? http://ow.ly/1tRzCy. I’d love my students to have one of these pens that record audio as they write #
- @salfordgareth As long as I have a hobby to take my mind off whatever is dominating my life 🙂 #
- Information Is Beautiful | Ideas, issues, knowledge, data – visualized! http://bit.ly/jqKbOM #
- YouTube – YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 Grand Finale http://bit.ly/mkvOrB #
- A PhD can really take over your life, so it’s a good idea to have hobbies. Which is why I often do some light research on the side #
- How do administrative structures e.g. offices, doors, locks, desks, etc. include or exclude student participation / engagement? #
- @cherybrown Thanks. What are you guys at #UCT involved with at the moment? #
- @cherybrown Doing PhD by publication, so writing is spread out over time as each objective becomes an article. Hard to be consistent though #
- @katmduffy Agreed, caffeine is the key #
- The Research Whisperer http://bit.ly/maGkA9. Another good blog for researchers #
- Shut up and Write! http://t.co/yiFcP88 #
- I liked reading ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go Now … ? a.k.a Do I Divorce my Supervisor or L …’ http://t.co/FDl8V8s #
- Using the #pomodoro technique (http://bit.ly/keTqfR) to try and get some work done. Going well so far #
- Just went outside to see the lunar eclipse. It looks just like the moon, only darker #
- Igor Lesko Talks About OpenCourseWare’s Global Impact http://bit.ly/jllbKo #
- Examining Your PLN http://ow.ly/1tKBWq. Some useful tools for analyzing your network #
- Unleashing web 2.0 for African learning http://ow.ly/1tJYZU #
- Read the lay summary of a clinical trial http://ow.ly/1tJYLD. Research must be more transparent to the public #
- RT @sguilana: the web doesn’t forget, an article at NY times magazine worth reading: http://is.gd/dHIl9 #
- RT @wesleylynch: Awesome – need this on a t shirt – RT @jacquesmillard: the periodic table of irrational nonsense http://ow.ly/2gbQb. #
- Podcast with George Siemens on Social Learning Networks: from theory to practice http://bit.ly/9fCUQa #
- Teaching for Transformative Learning http://tinyurl.com/32tyqnu #
- Be like the bamboo: 7 lessons from the Japanese forest http://tinyurl.com/2b8nvta #
- What if they threw a party and none of us came? Thoughts on open access and academic publishing models http://tinyurl.com/2wqob9a #
- @PaulaBarAsh Great to meet up with you at #saahe Hope we can arrange to do some cross-institutional work with students. Keep in touch 🙂 in reply to PaulaBarAsh #
- Just arrived at ORT, have a few hours to kill before home to CPT. #saahe conf went well, I learned a lot, thank you organisers #
- @ileducprof I’m sorry but this is not productive. Good bye in reply to ileducprof #
- @cristinacost Sometimes doing nothing is the most useful thing you can do… in reply to cristinacost #
- RT @jay_swan: Think illegal immigrants are taking US jobs? Take one back, I dare you. http://ow.ly/1qJZPm (brilliant) #
- @PaulaBarAsh It’s a pleasure. Finishing presentation up now and will put on slideshare before bedtime. Are you staying for rest of #saahe in reply to PaulaBarAsh #
- RT @PLE_SOU: It’s official: @PLE_BCN is now @PLE_SOU . See you in Southampton next year! #PLE2011 #PLE_BCN #PLE_SOU #
- @ileducprof Why make flippant comments in public spaces about deep, complex social issues? We’re trying to fix them but it’s a hard problem in reply to ileducprof #
- @journalproject Yes, seriously. The comment was neither informative nor constructive, so why bother? in reply to journalproject #
- @ileducprof Why South Africa specifically? There’s plenty of global inequity to feel bad about. Why not Brazil, or India, or even America? in reply to ileducprof #
- RT @rvidal: Android apps on the way! We will be seeing some cool stuff show up soon using the Mendeley Open API! 🙂 #
- RT @mendeley_com: People already developing Android Apps against our API; we’re also looking to hire iOS/Android developers! Awesomeness 🙂 in reply to mendeley_com #
- Mendeley: 1st iPhone app available. Gr8, research going mobile, but no mention of Android version = sadness 🙁 http://tinyurl.com/2wxq42g #
- Less Than 1 Year Until The Internet Runs Out of Addresses. Post re. IPv4 & IPv6 http://tinyurl.com/39btg86 #
- BlindType: Touchscreen Typing for the Maladroit. Interesting keyboard interface http://tinyurl.com/25jbgef #
- Sit Back and Watch the World Tweet By: 5 Cool Twitter Visualizations http://tinyurl.com/2arewr2 #
- The eXtended Web and the Personal Learning Environment http://tinyurl.com/2wgu5ja #
- xWeb – Siemens weighs in on the conversation http://tinyurl.com/259eudp #
- xWeb – short comment from Downes on the eXtended web. This looks like an interesting direction http://tinyurl.com/3yzrdpr #
- @carlcrisostomo thank you 🙂 in reply to carlcrisostomo #
- RT @wollepb: looks like commenting and liking will play a major role in education in the next years #fsln10 #
- RT @SpectrumAcademy: When should a scientist’s data be liberated for all to see? (source: Scientific American) http://bit.ly/9hKDdm #
- Just finished workshop on curricular alignment, feeling quite drained but have new insights for ethics module & assessment #saahe #
- @sywot Where can I find out more about the interactive PDF? Sounds very cool in reply to sywot #
- @cristinacost Never mind to previous question, I see that #ECE11 is in July, might just be possible 🙂 in reply to cristinacost #
- @PaulaBarAsh More research type tweeple: @janedavis13, @sywot, @torrest, @lindacq in reply to PaulaBarAsh #
- Getting ready for last workshop of the day, by Debbie Murdoch-Eaton: Curricular alignment, what does it mean? #saahe #
- Insightful talk by Francois Cilliers on pre-assessment effects of summative assessment in clinical settings #saahe #
- @cristinacost not sure if I can fit in #ECE though 🙁 will have to keep checking dates, funding, time available, etc in reply to cristinacost #
- @cristinacost PLE conf is a priority for me, as is #AMEE Oz conf dependant on funding, but would be good for my #phd in reply to cristinacost #
- Great presentation by Herman von Rossum: integrating clinical events into curriculum devel. but no attempt to address community engagement #
- PLE2010 Conference – what did we achieve http://tinyurl.com/328hkyv #
- My supervisor & I r planning to attend this Australian conference on blended and distance learning http://tinyurl.com/35nfv5w #
- Debbie Murdoch-Eaton: what grad attributes are important, how they are relevant to med ed & how to integrate into the curriculum #saahe #
- Great presentation by Bill Burdick on aligning health education with the health needs of local populations #saahe #
- All about Personal Learning Environments (Part 2) http://tinyurl.com/36py5hp #
- MySpace and Facebook: How Racist Language Frames Social Media (and Why You Should Care) http://tinyurl.com/2f8rmjl #
- Knowledge sharing, one at a time http://tinyurl.com/26bxjcw #
- A Thought from Rick’s Presentation. Interesting short post from David Wiley http://opencontent.org/blog/archives/1546 #
- Getting ready for day 2 of #saahe Interesting keynotes ahead, will try to update #
- Just shared a draft systematic review with my 2 supervisors on Docs. Now to sit back & relax before the pain begins #phd #research #
- @PaulaBarAsh Some tweeple for u @cristinacost, @thesiswhisper, @pgsimoes, @antoesp, @courosa, @gsiemens, @amcunningham, @mpaskevi, @czernie #
- RT @Tuism: When all evidence points to the contrary, it’s difficult, if not stupid, to keep the faith on what you’re told. #fb #
- First day of #SAAHE over, will blog notes and reflection in a little bit #
- @weblearning Thanks for coffee and the chat 🙂 in reply to weblearning #
- Just met the only other tweeter at #SAAHE conference. Hi @paulabarash 🙂 #
- @techczech sounds great, am at a conference without dedicated access for next few days…what/when did you have in mind? in reply to techczech #
- @techczech Different dynamic with clinicians & educators in health. Clinicians slow 2 implement new research findings, little communication in reply to techczech #
- #Scribefire just crashed & I lost all my notes from the conference so far. Silly not to have a “Save” feature to store content locally? #
- @techczech what sort of practitioners? I think that in health, clinicians are more interested in outcome than process in reply to techczech #
- @ryantracey I think the point is that just because you have access doesn’t necessarily mean you can participate in reply to ryantracey #
- @techczech Love the idea that funders get more insight into research process. More holistic than final research products in reply to techczech #
- Comparing apples with oranges: online vs face-to-face learning in community colleges http://tinyurl.com/38mdmsz #
- it seems its not JUST the connectivity divide http://tinyurl.com/2us4ypo #
- blogging your research http://tinyurl.com/34nm94h #
- Technology not isolating us??? http://tinyurl.com/y89cfjk #
- Skin Whitening, Tanning, and Vaseline’s Controversial Facebook Ad Campaign http://tinyurl.com/3693pjh #
- Just arrived in Jo’burg, on way to Mellville. #SAAHE conf starts tomorrow at #Wits looking forward to it #
- @dkeats Thanks, will follow it up in reply to dkeats #
- @dkeats Interesting idea re. ePortfolios and portability, think it’s an essential concept. Would love to follow that conversation in reply to dkeats #
- @dkeats OK, if Kewl is not an LMS, how would you define it? I can’t find a differentiator between it and e.g. #Moodle in reply to dkeats #
- @dkeats Probably won’t have any free time while I’m at #Wits Have arranged to hook up with @paulscott56 when he gets back from US in reply to dkeats #
- @dkeats Unfortunately, won’t be attending eSkills. Looks like it’s going to be an interesting discussion in reply to dkeats #
- @cristinacost Pearl Jam always makes me remember when my life was less complicated 🙂 in reply to cristinacost #
- @gsiemens If you have the time, try #Daemon and #Freedom by D. Suarez. http://bit.ly/anXY8P = Good review but has spoilers. Similar concepts in reply to gsiemens #
- Listening to Release by Pearl Jam. Makes me think of good times…Springfield, late night coffee, “us against the world” #
- @paulscott56 Sounds good. Let me know when you’re back and have some space in your schedule. I’m pretty flexible #
- @paulscott56 Based at #UWC but at #Wits for rest of this week for conference. Not sure if I can fit it in while there. When u back from US? in reply to paulscott56 #
- @paulscott56 “Despise” was probably 2 strong a word anyway. Let’s just say that I have some issues with it. Who is best person to demo 4 me? in reply to paulscott56 #
- @paulscott56 Fair enough. Are you doing any of the coding on #Kewl I must be honest, it’s been more than a year since I played with it in reply to paulscott56 #
- @paulscott56 I feel the same way about any #LMS it’s not a personal thing against #Kewl in reply to paulscott56 #
- @paulscott56 Mostly ideological issues with constraining learning in a system that students lose access to when they leave in reply to paulscott56 #
- @weblearning As far as I know, the policies are not online. I can email you the documents though? DM me your address if you’re interested in reply to weblearning #
- @weblearning I despise Kewl and (almost) everything about it. No, I do everything on my own on a private server with open source tools in reply to weblearning #
- @weblearning I’m going to be at #Wits from tomorrow until Saturday for the #SAAHE conference. Staying in Mellville if you want to chat? in reply to weblearning #
- @weblearning I’m a lecturer in the physiotherapy department at UWC 🙂 #
- News: Whither the Wikis? – Inside Higher Ed http://bit.ly/bjLxLx #
- @farrylpurkiss No problem 🙂 #
- Listening to Farryl Purkiss for the first time, and loving it http://bit.ly/bjPMb2 #
- Decided to give #Rhythmbox a proper chance…and really enjoying the experience. Got tired of trying to figure out the complexity of #Amarok #
- #UWC 2nd yr #physio students had their first patient encounters today. Always 1 of my favourite days of the year. All nerves & excitement 🙂 #
- @weblearning Looks interesting, will give it a read. You know that I’m not at UCT, right? in reply to weblearning #
- Engauge Blog > How Klout scores work. In case you were wondering about Hootsuite’s influence ranking system http://bit.ly/dpMiYJ #
- @weblearning We have a teaching & learning policy mentioning integration of tech., & a grad attribute policy mentioning lifelong learning #
- RT @pgsimoes: #facultyfocus Student Learning: Six Causes of Resistance http://dlvr.it/2qMWd #
- RT @pgsimoes: 20 Fantastic Content Ideas For Your Online Community Guide (@richmillington) http://ow.ly/2dRjp #
- RT @SkepticSheep: “If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.” ~ Albert Einstein #
- Web 3.0: The way forward? Very interesting presentation by Steve Wheeler http://bit.ly/cS9Y0e #
- RT @timbuckteeth: Learning and Web X.0: http://bit.ly/9SIVy1 #
I’m writing this after having read Christina’s post on her thoughts on the PhD process, and following a few of her links to other PhD students who are blogging their own progress. As I’m going through a little slump at the moment, I thought it might be useful to write a short post on where I’m at right now, to review what I’ve done so far.
A few weeks ago I spent 3 days on a writing workshop with colleagues in my department who are also registered for their PhD’s (there are 4 of us), where I worked on my systematic review (see the proposal). I managed to trim the original 103 articles that I gathered during my first, second and third search rounds, to about 60. Then I went through those 60 with a more critical eye, removing what wasn’t appropriate. Finally I narrowed the list down to 20 articles that we eventually conducted independent critical reviews on, and came to consensus with my supervisor, where we finally agreed on 7 articles that matched my inclusion criteria. The article is now ready to be written up, although I’m uncertain of the format. The outcome of the systematic review will be a peer-reviewed publication that identifies some of the ways in which blended learning has been applied in clinical education, and which will inform the development of my own module (one of the later objectives).
My fourth year research group has just finished capturing the data they gathered from a survey we drew up together, where they looked at the role of social networks to facilitate reflective learning. This survey forms part of my first objective, as well as the first component of my SAFRI project (which will later include focus group interviews with staff members, and an additional survey of the students). Immediately after conducting the survey, I have also held workshops with 2 classes so far, to facilitate the process of working within the network, and will be completing workshops with the last 2 classes in the next few weeks. Tomorrow the group will submit an outline of the first few sections of a draft article, and I’ll be presenting some tentative results at the SAAHE conference next week (see the abstract).
I’ve also recently finished a first draft of an article based on a small, wiki-based project I ran in our department last year (you can still comment on it). Strictly speaking it’s unrelated to my PhD as it doesn’t fit into the proposal, but is still work in a related field. Finally, I gave a presentation on PLE’s to the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Stellenbosch University. Again, PLE’s are not explicitly addressed in my PhD proposal, but as I’m leaning more and more towards that concept as having great potential in reflective learning, I think it might ultimately end up playing an important part in the project.
Now that I look back at my progress over the past 6 months, maybe a short break is in order…?
Guidelines for effective feedback
- It is promptly given
- It is specific to the task being assessed, and to the objectives that were set (of course, this assumes that the student has set objectives for the task)
- It is performance-based i.e. the feedback is along the lines of what you did, as opposed to who you are. One participant made the point that while it is performance-based, it is done to improve performance, and not to evaluate it
- It does not focus on too many things
- It helps the student plan for future learning
- Feedback should seek to encourage self-assessment, self-reflection and self-awareness
- Should / Could be better received if the supervisor / clinician allows the student to comment first e.g. What did they think went well? What did they think could be improved? (one participant said that “…a lot of feedback that I have to give to students is actually on written assignments [which]…means that we cannot start with the student’s agenda. There is no interactive discussion, no possibility to listen, respond to non-verbal cues, observation, etc.”
- Positive feedback should be given first (builds self-esteem and encourages better performance)
- This positive feedback should not be followed with a qualifier e.g. “You did well, but…”
- “Listen and ask, don’t tell and provide solutions”
Complexity in feedback
Feedback as a skill
Feedback in teaching and learning
Feedback and evaluation
Feedback and reflection
“No feedback” as feedback?
Feedback as a form of academic literacy
- For most of the discussion, feedback was treated as a “thing”, rather than a process or interaction. My own view is that feedback is neither “given” nor “received”, but is a process that people participate in
- How many of us ask our students for feedback on our feedback?
- How many of use ask our students for feedback on our teaching? One participant had this to say “Should each of us offer the students who receive our teaching the opportunity to give feedback on our teaching as part of their learning? This may be a little threatening, but on the occasions that I have done so in the past it has mostly been encouraging and affirming. Occasionally uncomfortable.”
- If we do ask for it, how many of us reflect on it and make an associated change in our teaching practice?
In my department we have bi-monthly research meetings, where we report back on our research activities (we get dedicated research time and so need to account for how we’ve used that time). We’ve recently changed the format of the meeting to include a topical discussion or presentation, rather than simply reporting progress back to the group.
Today was our first session in this new format and we discussed some of the issues around supervision. Everyone in the department is responsible for supervising either a group of 4th year physiotherapy students as they go through the process of conducting a research project, or a group of postgraduate students who are working on their degrees. Here are some notes I took during the session.
Contracts are useful, not only between the supervisor and student, but between the students themselves (in cases of group research). We often find that some students don’t participate or contribute to the process as much as the rest of the group, which has the potential to cause conflict, especially when marks are involved. While conflict does give the opportunity to work through conflict management processes with the group (not desirable, but still a learning opportunity), a contract that outlines responsibilities, roles, expectations, accountability and consequences, may go some way to reducing it’s likelihood.
The issue of supervision style was raised, and it was pointed out that often supervisors will have a different way of approaching supervision. In addition, students have different ways that they want to be supervised. It seems that managing expectations in terms of communicating personal preferences is important to begin with, and probably to keep reviewing during the process.
As a research supervisor, it’s important to have prepared a plan for moving the project forward. At PhD level, it’s largely the responsibility of the student to manage this, but undergraduate and Masters students (generally) aren’t ready to completely manage their own projects. One useful project management tool that was suggested was to use Gantt charts to plan the project over time.
Finally, we need to go over what “academic writing” actually means. Students are often under the impression that it’s about using big words and complicated sentence structure, when all we’re really looking for is argument construction and defense. Academic writing is about conveying ideas in simple language, something our students don’t always understand.
I enjoyed the session, and although it lacked structure, it gave us the opportunity to discuss the issues faced during the supervision process. It’s always nice to be able to draw on the experience of professors and seasoned researchers, and I’m looking forward to our next sessions. I’ll be presenting a session on systematic reviews with a colleague in 2 weeks time, and will be putting that up here too.
Edit: I just had a colleague point out that we also discussed the role of feedback in supervision. I haven’t included those details in this post, because I have a more comprehensive post dealing with feedback that I’m working on at the moment, which can be found here.
Earlier today I had a productive meeting with one of my supervisors where, in addition to updating her on my progress, we discussed my reluctance to get “too involved” in my research projects. This is something I’ve touched on before and will probably continue returning to it during the course of my research.
I come from a quantitative background where many believe that the RCT is the gold standard of research, and where the focus on objectivity and distance is meant to reduce or avoid researcher bias. My supervisor, on the other hand, has a good understanding of participatory action research (PAR), in which researcher interaction is not only acceptable, it’s essential. While PAR is the methodological approach I’m tending towards, I still don’t really have my head wrapped around it (note: I’m not trying to compare RCTs and PAR, or to say anything substantial about either one).
I keep wondering “how much” engagement is appropriate before I start to influence people, and I keep having to be reminded that it’s not the “correct amount” of interaction that I need to worry about, but the objectives I’m trying to achieve that should be my guiding light. I can (should?) influence the interactions with my colleagues and students, as long as I’m documenting not only the interaction, but my own progression and reflection. To be honest, this is new ground for me and it’s not a process I’m entirely comfortable with. It seems very…messy.
Yesterday I had a meeting with my supervisor to discuss the assignments I’m going to run as part of the first objective of my PhD. Together with a systematic review and a survey, I was interested in using student and staff participation in a social network to derive additional data that would help me form a baseline understanding of their attitudes and skills around teaching and learning practice, as well as establish the level of digital and information literacy within the department.
After joining the SAFRI programme, I incorporated the social network idea into my SAFRI project, but unconsciously ended up with a different agenda. Instead of using the network to highlight potential problem areas and the challenges of teaching with technology, it morphed into me trying to demonstrate the effectiveness of using a social network to facilitate reflective practice. In hindsight, it’s clear that the 2 projects were at odds with one another, and the objectives were definitely not aligned.
When my supervisor pointed out that there was inconsistency in the 2 projects I really struggled to accept it. I was adamant that my methods were fine and she suggested that I hand over facilitation of the assignments within the network to other staff who didn’t have such a high personal stake in the success of the project, and I strongly disagreed. I found several reasons to explain why I had to be the person to run it, the strongest of which was that “…no-one else will try as hard as I will to make sure it works”. Which kind of made her point.
When I went away and thought about our conversation I reviewed my objectives for the 2 projects, and then it was clear that they really were 2 different projects. One was suggesting that this would be a useful tool to describe the current state of affairs, which I know will be less than ideal. The other was intent on proving that the network would be a positive tool, rather than describing what would happen if we just incorporated one into the department.
After the painful realisation that I’d let my personal desire for this project to succeed override my objectivity as a researcher, I agreed to let others lead the social network assignments, with guidance from me. This will greatly reduce the impact of researcher bias, as well as synchronise the objectives of the 2 projects. As it stands now, it will more accurately describe the state of the department in terms of attitudes and skills around teaching and learning, and the levels of digital and information literacy, which will give me valuable data that will inform the next objectives of my study.
This was a great learning experience for me, and a warning of the dangers of getting too close to one’s project. There are some situations where the researcher can be an integral part of the project, but this experience has shown me when it would be detrimental to the process.
Day 2 of the first residential session felt really productive, although I’m not sure if that was because I worked hard or because I spent most of the day staring at my tiny netbook screen (I love my NC10 but it’s definitely not for 8+ hour shifts). Before beginning this session, each of use had to have some ideas around a project that we’d be running over the next few years, as well as an idea for a study to run within that project.
The main theme of today was to make sure that we could conceptualise the research and project as 2 components of an integrated work, and to create strong links between the various parts of the study. The aim of the SAFRI programme is to develop leadership skills and research capacity within the domain of medical education in Africa, so the research project is a critical part of the programme. I was surprised to find that even though the emphasis on doing good research was only a recent development within the programme, it already seems to have been tightly integrated.
Most of today was spent writing (laptops allowed) and working closely with our supervisors (each Fellow is assigned a supervisor who helps to guide their project and studies). For anyone who joined this programme thinking it’d be a nice afterthought to add to their CV’s, today would’ve put that idea to rest. It’s intense, and there’s a lot of pressure to produce a good piece of work.
It’s the end of day 2 and I’m exhausted, but happily so.
These are some of the notes I made during the presentation on preparing a proposal, but include some points that relate to the general process of conducting research
There are 3 things a proposal should try to address:
- What? – What contribution will this research make? What is it about? What do you want to study?
- Why? – Why should be bother? Why is it significant? Why do you want to study this?
- How? – How are you going to study this? What tools and techniques will you use? Who else will be involved? How long is it going to take?
There is no “one way” to write a proposal, rather conform to the norms of your department. How do you find your “voice”, and what is the voice of your department? Bear in mind that the proposal voice is more tentative and uncertain than the thesis voice, which has defiinite ideas to convey
Research = Inquiry
PhD research = Making a contribution to a field, linking it to what already exists
Your research question should be real i.e. the answer is not readily available
Hypothesis = “a bold guess” → I think the answer could be…
- Ask a question
- Begin reading (the “river of words” – who else has asked this question, where do they live, what did they find i.e. what is already out there, what already exists
- Could lead to the question changing → you find your question has been answered but there are other, related questions that need answering
- Interact with others who are looking at similar questions
- Research design is central, may include a redesign following a pilot
- Be aware of gatekeepers and how to get around them
- Know when to stop gathering data, and when to start analysing it (if this is addressed in part in the proposal, it can give guidance to this process)
- Following the analysis, you may have to adapt or even to discard some ideas if the data doesn’t support it
- Be careful of despair when your ideas aren’t supported
- Following analysis comes synthesis (this is the hardest part where many candidates drop out) → putting the thesis together / linking all the ideas
- During the writing / rewriting process, you may have to return to the “river of words” to review significant contributions
- What is the contribution of the editor and supervisor of the final document?
- What do you have to say when all is said and done i.e. what is your contribution to the current understanding and knowledge base of your field?
- Be wary of those who presume to “know it all”. How will you defend the unique nature of your research?
Synthesis involves structuring data (following analysis) and linking it to literature. Analysis follows a formula, whereas synthesis is the creative component that leads to your unique contribution
How do you persuade your reader that your data is valid? Without valid data, you can’t build an argument on it
Is your methodology sound enough to convince your reader that your results are trustworthy?
Differing interpretations of the same data can be a result of using different theoretical frameworks that underly the analysis
The proposal should lay out what the researcher wants to do, but should also include limitations i.e. significance (what it will include and why that’s important) vs. limitations (what will be excluded and why)
Negotiate with the supervisors as to what wasn’t done and write it up i.e. explain to examiners and readers what was left out of the study
The literature review is being written and rewritten throughout the process, because you’re reading throughout the journey
Make sure the research question is clear and concise. What is the background to the question? Why is it relevant now and didn’t arise 10 years ago? What makes “now” a good time to try and answer the question?
I’m attending a research development workshop on campus for all staff members who are just beginning their PhD’s. I’ll post my notes here as we progress.
Why engage in research?
- It’s expensive (manpower, finance, cost, equipement)
- Dependent on motivation, commitment, hard work, ability, enthusiasm
- It enhances learning and intellectual development of staff
- Keeps staff abreast of current developments
- Allows interactions with peers from other institutions
- Through collaborative programmes, it promotes institutional interactions, generating a source of funding
- Promotes interaction with parastatal organisations e.g. NRF
- Contributes to RDP of the country
- Contributes to the development of a strong PG school
- Transforms the approach to learning → allows you to engage in parallel thinking
Mechanics of the process
- Honours, or Basic Science degree → enthusiast with focus on higher education
- Masters → to get a Masters without going through to PhD is a “tragedy”
Selecting a topic
- Self choice by virtue of preference
- Have a general idea of fields of interest e.g. curriculum development
- No particular preference, explore what’s available
- Theoretical or experimental / practical
Critical factors for success
- Self motivation (since one is not driven by examination) → weekends and evenings
- Choice of supervisor
- Expert in the area
- Must give guidance
- Must inspire the student
- There must be a relationship that goes beyond the research topic
- Must be able to agree to regular meetings that have set objectives
- Work consistently
Benefits of conducting research
- Develops you as an academic
- Allows you to engage with your peers more confidently
- Allows you to rationalise research programmes
- Promotes inter-departmental / institutional interaction
- Harness internal and external funding for research, as well as for attending conferences
- Research reward funds