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HDR Forum: August 2012 School of Education and Professional Studies From Good Idea to Great Proposal: Tips for Success at Confirmation of Candidature Dr.

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Presentation on theme: "HDR Forum: August 2012 School of Education and Professional Studies From Good Idea to Great Proposal: Tips for Success at Confirmation of Candidature Dr."— Presentation transcript:

1 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

2 HDR Forum: August 2012 School of Education and Professional Studies What’s the point of confirmation?

3 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.

4 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.

5 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

6 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

7 HDR Forum: August 2012 School of Education and Professional Studies Progress is Related to Time

8 HDR Forum: August 2012 School of Education and Professional Studies The Process Paperwork – Confirmation document (due 2-4 weeks before the seminar) Presentation: – Minutes 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

9 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

10 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….

11 Under representation of girls in education pathways and careers National figures for university courses have hovered around 25% since While there is some variation between subjects, the proportion of girls study non- compulsory senior secondary IT subjects is similarly low and has decreased markedly over the past five years. The ‘Girls and IT’ problem

12 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?? The ‘Girls and IT’ problem cont… From that basis you can introduce Your questions….

13 HDR Forum: August 2012 School of Education and Professional Studies 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

14 HDR Forum: August 2012 School of Education and Professional Studies A note… There is a difference between a topic, a problem and a question

15 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 Creswell, J. (2008). Educational research: Planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. 3 rd Edition. Upper Saddle River, N. J.: Pearson Education..

16 HDR Forum: August 2012 School of Education and Professional Studies 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? Creswell, J. (2008). Educational research: Planning, conducting and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. 3 rd Edition. Upper Saddle River, N. J.: Pearson Education..

17 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 IT- based careers, and what informs these understandings? Why do girls and boys choose or reject post-compulsory IT educational pathways, including senior secondary IT subjects? The GaIT project

18 HDR Forum: August 2012 School of Education and Professional Studies 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

19 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

20 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

21 HDR Forum: August 2012 School of Education and Professional Studies Largest Literature on the ‘biggest’ key term: eg girls in school; Literature on your exact topic: Girls, School, IT, Subject Choice Girls, School, Subject Choice

22 HDR Forum: August 2012 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

23 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

24 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?

25 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

26 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?

27 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.

28 HDR Forum: August 2012 School of Education and Professional Studies 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!

29 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!

30 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?

31 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

32 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: – 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

33 HDR Forum: August 2012 School of Education and Professional Studies What examiners look for Appropriate progress: – 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

34 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

35 HDR Forum: August 2012 School of Education and Professional Studies Theoretical Framework/Paradigm Methodology Methods Questions – They all need to nest logically together

36 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….

37 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

38 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

39 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

40 HDR Forum: August 2012 School of Education and Professional Studies Practical Tips Rehearse your presentation Use key headings – 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

41 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

42 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!

43 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: students/candidature/requirements/confirmation Completed documents should be ed to For candidate expectations (including details of what the seminar must address), please see degrees-research/current- students/candidature/requirements/confirmation. For expectations of the principal supervisor, confirmation panel, and HDR convenor, please see research/current- students/candidature/requirements/confirmation/staff- responsibilities.http://www.griffith.edu.au/higher- degrees-research/current- students/candidature/requirements/confirmationhttp://www.griffith.edu.au/higher-degrees- research/current- students/candidature/requirements/confirmation/staff- responsibilities


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