HDR Forum: August 2012

Report
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
From Good Idea to Great Proposal:
Tips for Success at
Confirmation of Candidature
Dr Leonie Rowan
Deputy Head of School
(HDR & Postgraduate Studies)
School of Education and Professional Studies
• What’s the point of confirmation?
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
• The objectives of the candidature confirmation procedure
are to
– provide peer feedback to the student on the work completed to
date through open discussion of the student's research proposal;
– provide confirmation that the project is appropriate to the degree
for which the student is enrolled;
– determine whether a student has made suitable progress during
the initial stage of the candidature;
– ensure that adequate resources and facilities are available;
– confirm that satisfactory supervision arrangements are in place;
– identify any specific problems or issues (for example, ethics or
intellectual property) needing to be addressed; and
– determine whether the candidature should continue.
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
• The objectives of the candidature confirmation procedure are to
feedback
– provide peer
to the student on the work completed to
date through open discussion of the student's research proposal;
– provide confirmation that the project is appropriate to the
degree for which the student is enrolled;
– determine whether a student has made suitable progress
during the initial stage of the candidature;
– ensure that adequate resources and facilities are available;
– confirm that satisfactory supervision arrangements are in place;
– identify any specific problems or issues (for
example, ethics or intellectual property) needing to be addressed; and
– determine whether the candidature should continue.
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
In other words
• Confirmation is an opportunity to have other people
look at your work, offer expert advice, and ensure
that you are as well positioned as possible to
undertake your research
• It is the responsibility of all involved to give you as
much feedback as necessary to produce the best
possible finished product
• It’s an important step in your journey
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Confirmation is usually after:
• 12 months full time (18 months p/t) PhD
• 18 months full time (2 years p/t) EdD
• 6 months full time (12 months p/t) Master of
Philosophy
• This time frame is kept in mind when assessor’s
reflect upon progress to date
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Progress is Related to Time
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
The Process
• Paperwork
– Confirmation document (due 2-4 weeks before the seminar)
• Presentation:
– 30-40 Minutes + 10-20 minutes questions + discussion among panel +
feedback to student
– Chaired by DHOS (Research & HDR)
– Assessed by:
• Independent assessor (IA)
• Principal Supervisor (associate supervisor reports are optional)
– Recommendation then made by:
• HDR Convenor
• Dean AEL
– Decision made by:
• Dean, Griffith Graduate Research School
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
The content
• A research paper in English that includes
–
–
–
–
the research question(s)
where the question came from in the context of relevant literature;
why the research question is important;
how the research question is addressed including details of
methodology;
– a bibliography of relevant literature;
– progress made to date; and
– a timetable for completing the research
• We could discuss all of these points for hours..
• Here’s some points about each one
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Background/Introduction
• Introduce the topic to people who may never ever
have thought about it; explain how it became
significant to you, and give some brief reasons why it
is significant to others—and the world!
• But don’t over claim….
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
The ‘Girls and IT’ problem
Under
representation of
girls in education
pathways and
careers
National figures for university
courses have hovered around 25%
since 2001.
While there is some variation
between subjects, the
proportion of girls study noncompulsory senior secondary IT
subjects is similarly low and has
decreased markedly over the
past five years.
The ‘Girls and IT’ problem cont…
This situation has long been
seen as a problem in economic,
educational and equity terms.
The problem and its supposed causes
have received a considerable amount
of attention from researchers and
educationalists.
Much of the change has
focused on curriculum and
pedagogy but rates of
engagement haven’t
changed… Why is it so??
From that basis you can introduce
Your questions….
Good research questions
• Have potential significance (are new in some way)
• Are they addressing a problem
• Emerge from and extend existing literature
• What are you adding to the knowledge base?
• New knowledge; confirmation of existing knowledge; a new
perspective; the voice of people sometimes silenced?
• Are do-able (but not too simple)
• Time, resources, skills, supervision
• Eg what does the prime minister think about bullying?
• Match your methodological (how to research)
interests/strengths
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
A note…
• There is a difference between a topic, a problem and
a question
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Topics, problems, questions
• Topic/Key Words:
broad area
– Mental health and children in schools; violence in
schools; middle years reading;
• Problem: what is wrong? What is bothering you?
– Students don’t get enough exercise at school
– Students are anxious and teachers don’t know how
to respond
– There is too much bullying in schools
– Children stop reading in grade 4
HDR
Forum:
August
2012Planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and
Creswell,
J. (2008).
Educational
research:
School
of Education
and Professional
Studies
qualitative
research.
3rd Edition.
Upper Saddle
River, N. J.: Pearson Education.
Topics, problems, questions
• Question:
what specific thing does your research want to investigate or
discover or explore or map
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
Why do teachers’ include or exclude exercise in their daily planning?
What impact does regular exercise have on student concentration?
What factors do year 5 students believe increase or decrease bullying?
How much do teachers know about mental health?
Do peers influence student attitudes towards bullying?
How do children in grade 4 feel about the books they are given to read?
What impact does non-fiction reading program have on reading
engagement?
HDR
Forum:
August
2012Planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and
Creswell,
J. (2008).
Educational
research:
School
of Education
and Professional
Studies
qualitative
research.
3rd Edition.
Upper Saddle
River, N. J.: Pearson Education.
The GaIT project
3 year ARC Linkage Project
Industry partners
Academic partners
Research questions
• How do girls and boys decide what to study at years 11 and 12?
• What are girls’ and boys’ understandings and opinions of senior
secondary school IT subjects, IT career-related courses and ITbased careers, and what informs these understandings?
• Why do girls and boys choose or reject post-compulsory IT
educational pathways, including senior secondary IT subjects?
Once you’ve got a question…
• You need to show you are well positioned to address
it
• It’s like looking for the best person to cook a French
banquet or the best person to design a new garden:
people want to know that you know what you’re
talking about: that you know what a French banquet
is: or that you know the difference between a Zen
Garden and a cottage garden and a Australian native
garden
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Literature reviews
• A good literature review:
– Engages with all of the key terms and combinations of
terms
– Shows that you are aware of what’s been done in your
proposed area
– Demonstrates that you know how to categorise this work
(into like, or similar groups)
– Illustrates that you can see a gap that needs to be explored
further; or a niche that you are working on; or a research
agenda you are contributing to
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
• Girls, Information Technology, School, Subject Choice
–
–
–
–
–
–
–
Girls & Information Technology
Girls & School
Girls & Subject Choice & School
Girls, Information Technology and School
Information Technology & School Subject Choice
Girls, Information Technology, School
Girls, Information Technology, School, Subject Choice
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Largest Literature on the
‘biggest’ key term: eg girls
in school;
Girls, School,
Subject Choice
HDR Forum: August 2012
Literature on
your exact topic:
Girls, School, IT,
Subject Choice
School of Education and Professional Studies
Remember it’s a REVIEW of LITERATURE
• You need to show evidence of:
– Wide (and recent) reading
• This means you need to include literature even if you don’t agree
with it: you can’t just ignore people 
– Don’t get side tracked with CONTEXT
• EG: If I want to study teachers’ attitudes towards Smart Moves, I
probably need to give some background about Smart Moves: this
happens in my introduction or a separate section called
Background: NOT the literature review: if its not talking about
RESEARCH or SCHOLARSHIP it doesn’t belong here
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Research Design, Theoretical framework,
Methodology, Methods
• A literature review shows you are familiar with
research and writing about your topic/key words
• Your theoretical framework & methodology shows
you are familiar with research and writing about
RESEARCH: the hows/whys/wheres/whens….it can
involve taking about research design, theoretical
framework, methodology and methods
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Most common problem
• People go straight into talking about methods
• What’s the difference between methodology and
methods?
• What’s the difference between theory and
methodology?
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
• Your Theoretical Framework is not just a naming of your
methodology and is not just a listing of methods
• A theoretical framework is an explanation about why you
are approaching your research in a particular way; why a
case study? Why action research? Why Design
Experiment? Why mixed method?
• This means you need to put forward your beliefs about
what counts as
good/legitimate/valid/sensible/appropriate research
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
All research is shaped by:
• Beliefs about the nature of reality
– Ontology
• Whether or not certain things exist (god/universal truths/truths)
• Beliefs about what count as knowledge
– Epistemology
• What can we know? (ie can we get to the truth? Can we only get to
partial truths? Can we discover what is totally REAL, or only things that
appear real?
• What is a justified belief?
• How do we feel about the validity of our research?
• What is our perspective on ‘neutrality?’
• Whose knowledge do we value? Whose knowledge do we ignore?
• Beliefs about how knowledge is best gained
– Methodology
• Where do we get our knowledge from? Who do we ask? How do we
ask? How many do we ask? Where do we ask?
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Every aspect of our research
• Reflects our beliefs
about knowledge and
truth—about what is
important, what is
valuable, what is valid
etc etc
• Different people, with
different perspective on
research—people with
different theoretical
frameworks, or from
different paradigms, will
do totally different
things even if looking at
the same problem, or
the same context.
In your theoretical framework & methodology
• You need to explain not just WHAT you are going to
do but WHY that is a legitimate way to do research
– You may well never have used words like ontology and
epistemology: but you need to know basically what they
mean: and that the decisions you make about how to
research reflect beliefs about what counts as knowledge,
whether you are aware of it or not!
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Strategies
• Introduce the section as research design
• Acknowledge straight up that you know that ‘research’ is a
broad term; that there are multiple perspectives on what
counts as ‘valid’, ‘legitimate’, ‘significant’ research
• That within the literature on your topic there is enormous
variation in how people go about collecting and interpreting
data
• Then link yourself to a methodological tradition by saying “as
a researcher I align myself with perspectives associated with
case study AS DEFINED BY Robert Stake: connect yourself to
big names. Then any problem with the terms is a problem
with someone other than you!
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
In your research design
• You are staking your claim as an expert on particular
approaches to research
• Ask yourself: If I was looking for someone to teach a
13 week course on your methodology: would I
choose you?
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
About methods
• Methods are the specific means by which you aim to
collect the data you will work with: focus groups,
observations, surveys etc etc
• You need to paint a clear picture of what you are
proposing to do
• You also need to show that you have read literature
relating to these methods
– There is a whole library on interviewing: show off the fact you
have read some of it
– There is a whole library on questionnaire design: show off the
fact that you have read some of it
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
A recurring (and forgotten) theme
• There is a body of knowledge—scholarship—on
multiple aspects of research:
–
–
–
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On your subject area (literature)
On research paradigms or theoretical frameworks
On your methodology
On your methods
• Show off the fact that you have read (or begun to
read) in each of those areas
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
What examiners look for
• Appropriate progress:
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–
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Questions that are clear and ‘do-able’
Literature that is relevant to the questions
A clear sense of why the research is significant
A detailed picture of how the research will be conducted
• And the most forgotten thing of all:
– Logical and consistent relationship between all sections of
the document
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
What does logic mean in research?
• Research is a contested space
• There are many different perspectives on what
counts as ‘good’, ‘valid’, ‘legitimate’ research
• There are many different perspectives on what
counts as ‘good’, ‘valid’, ‘legitimate’ data
• In preparing a confirmation document you need to
make clear the kind of research YOU are doing, the
research paradigm YOU are aligned with, the
methodology that YOU are using, and how these all
make sense together
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
•
•
•
•
Theoretical Framework/Paradigm
Methodology
Methods
Questions
– They all need to nest logically together
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Stumbling blocks
• Incompatible beliefs and practices
– I say I am going to do a case study but indicate that I am
only going to use one source of data
– I say that I am doing a feminist study of girls’ attitudes
towards technology and I am going to do this by asking
(only) boys about why girls’ make the decisions they do
– I say I am going to do an action research project without
being in a position to actually implement any change….
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Stumbling blocks
• Too many claims
– I am going to do an ethnographic, narrative inquiry, mixed
methodology, action research project, using Foucault,
Vygotsky and
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Simplify
• Think about a beautiful meal: two or three dishes
working well together is better than a pizza with
1000 different toppings…
• Impact comes from deep knowledge of one or two
issues; not from superficial, (almost hysterical) name
dropping of terms or theorists
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Summing Up
• At confirmation you are painting a picture about
YOURSELF as a researcher:
– What you like to research
– How you like to research
– The kinds of research communities you want to belong to
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Practical Tips
• Rehearse your presentation
• Use key headings
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Introduction/background
Questions
Literature
Revisit questions and show significance
Research Design/theoretical framework
Methodology
Methods
Timeline
Ethics: hint: talking about the principles of ethical conduct of
research adds an extra dimension to your seminar
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Side note
• Confirmation (and any data collection) cannot be given until
ethical clearance has been obtained.
• Preparing for ethical clearance should run parallel to the
writing of the confirmation paper
• However, you do can apply for ethical clearance after your
confirmation seminar because you may want to adjust your
design after you receive feedback
• Confirmation can still be recommended, but paper work will
not be finalised until the ethical clearance is received
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Practical Tips
• Bring handouts of your powerpoint slides
• Be modest
• Be open to feedback
• Rehearse how you will respond to tricky questions
– Consider bringing a friend with you to the panel discussion
• Have fun!
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies
Extra Information
• More details of the confirmation process and paperwork that needs
to be completed by students are available at:
http://www.griffith.edu.au/higher-degrees-research/currentstudents/candidature/requirements/confirmation Completed
documents should be emailed to [email protected]
• For candidate expectations (including details of what the seminar
must address), please see http://www.griffith.edu.au/higherdegrees-research/currentstudents/candidature/requirements/confirmation. For expectations
of the principal supervisor, confirmation panel, and HDR convenor,
please see http://www.griffith.edu.au/higher-degreesresearch/currentstudents/candidature/requirements/confirmation/staffresponsibilities.
HDR Forum: August 2012
School of Education and Professional Studies

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