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UCD School of Mathematical Sciences Presentation to PhD students UCD Sep 2008 John Connolly Acknowledgements J Finn School of Mathematical.

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Presentation on theme: "UCD School of Mathematical Sciences Presentation to PhD students UCD Sep 2008 John Connolly Acknowledgements J Finn School of Mathematical."— Presentation transcript:

1 UCD School of Mathematical Sciences Presentation to PhD students UCD Sep 2008 John Connolly Acknowledgements J Finn School of Mathematical Sciences UCD

2 At the start you are Dopey and Bashful… In the middle you are usually sick (Sneezy), Sleepy and Grumpy… But at the end they call you Doc and you’re Happy Doing a PhD is like becoming the seven dwarves:

3 Overview: PhD in UCD Standards for research (PhD) degree Research - the process You and your supervisor The thesis and examination

4 Standards for research (PhD) degree What makes a research project attain standard of PhD degree?

5 Planning: Nature of the research question A view of the research project “which students often begin with and have to be talked out of: it is a topic or a problem so complex and enormous that it would take a lifetime’s work to complete.” (Lawton 1997: 8) Supervisors are aware that it is adequate for a thesis to make an incremental contribution to knowledge and understanding- a PhD does not have to inspire a revolution in thinking about a research discipline. As one examiner put it, ‘... A PhD is three years of solid work, not a Nobel Prize.’ (quoted in Mullins and Kiley 2002: 386)

6 Expected features of a research degree (PhD) Independence Originality Contribution to knowledge Suitable for publication

7 Independence PhD graduate - capable of independently conducting original research of a standard that is expected of professional researchers in their particular discipline Research and thesis are student’s own work Places limits on contribution made by supervisor (writing sections of thesis; direct analyses of student’s data; directly interprets data) - Collaborative work?

8 Originality Not as daunting to achieve as you might think “…flashes of inspiration are infrequent … One often arrives at the end of a project before one is able to take the measure of how original the contribution is, and this illustrates the point … that originality is a by-product of quite ordinary scholarly activity. All one has to do is to recognise it when it emerges and give it full scope.” (modified from M. Talbot, pers. comm.)

9 Contribution to knowledge I Nature of the research question –working at the boundaries of knowledge –adds to conceptual/theoretical development of discipline –not descriptive: seeks explanation, tests predictions and extends understanding at forefront of discipline “Research is the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind”

10 Contribution to knowledge II Effective methodology (important criteria) –Chosen research methods are valid, reliable, rigorous and appropriate to the research question (originality?) Evidence of critical evaluation –intellectual appreciation of theory as well as the limitations and wider significance

11 Suitable for publication PhD thesis should contain some elements worthy of publication

12 Research skills PEAR

13 Planning Define clear objectives Identify context - importance & relevance Literature review Study design Determine analysis to meet objectives Protocol - Schedule and assign tasks

14 Failing to plan is planning to fail I Research projects require a long-term integration of effort (+complexity). Planning helps to: - clarify and manage complexity - Reduce to a series of more manageable tasks - better identify requirements of the project e.g. finance, equipment, time, scheduling and research skills - derive discipline from setting targets, and motivation from reaching them! ‘Activity trap’ being busy ≠ achieving progress

15 STUDY PROTOCOL Objective Justification Review Study design Time scheduling of tasks Time budget Financial budget Recording methods and forms

16 Execution Skills usually in your subject area Keep to protocol Record accurately Flexibility

17 Analysis Check data Carry out appropriate analysis Perform diagnostic checks on model assumptions Follow up unexpected features of data

18 Reporting Determine target audience Use appropriate reporting medium Follow style & detail of journal Writing - Practice practice practice - courses on writing and presentation

19 Writing and presentation skills Reports and papers Poster(s) – usually years 1-2 Oral presentation(s) years 2-3 Presentation at international meeting(s) – sometime during period Use endnote for references

20 Finance Usually research grant – about €16000 pa Supplement by tutoring/teaching PhD students generally not allowed to lecture – some exceptions possible in final year

21 You and your supervisor What are your supervisors’ responsibilities? What are your responsibilities as a research student?

22 Student my thesis everything else student’s thesis Supervisor Contrasting perspectives… (from A. Kelly, UCC)

23 What are the responsibilities of a supervisor? I Giving guidance on research – usually strong guidance in selecting topic maintaining contact with student being accessible to student when advice needed giving advice on scheduling of successive stages of the work requesting written work as appropriate, and providing feedback Arranging for the student to talk about their research Facilitating extended visit to another institution

24 What are the responsibilities of a supervisor? II writing reports on the student’s progress; ensuring that the student is made aware of inadequacy of progress or of standards of work below that generally expected; actively introducing the student to researchers and events in the academic community informing the student of the institutional regulations concerning the oral examination e.g. nomination procedures for the examiners, and appeals procedures. (modified from The University of Reading 2004)

25 Responsibilities of research students? I i) planning the research topic and research schedule ii) discuss modes of guidance and feedback, and agree a schedule of meetings iii) take the initiative in raising problems or difficulties iv) maintain progress of work as agreed with supervisor, especially presentation of written materials in sufficient time to allow for feedback and discussion before proceeding

26 Responsibilities of research students? II v) drafting and circulating the agenda and support documents in advance of meetings, and drafting and circulating the minutes of meetings vi) keep systematic records of work completed, and provide written progress reports; vii) prepare thesis in good time and informing supervisors (modified from The University of Reading 2004)

27 Seek to clarify mutual expectations Ineffective communication - ineffective supervision Supervisors are not mind readers- discuss expectations and establish good practice ASAP –How often does you/your supervisor expect to meet (formally vs informally)? –How soon do you expect feedback on written work? –Do you prefer verbal or written feedback? Appointments, or open-door? Produce written agendas in advance of meetings Agree goals, tasks, changes and keep records of meetings

28 The thesis and examination Recall features of doctoral research: Independence Originality Contribution to knowledge Suitable for publication

29 The crucial examination of your PhD candidacy is that of the thesis, not the viva. “40% of examiners... said that the decision about the thesis was made before the viva. In 74% of cases the viva served merely to confirm the examiners’ opinions of the candidate...” (Jackson and Tinkler 2001: 361)

30 Criteria used by examiners when assessing PhD theses Conceptual clarity in the design, conduct and analysis of the research Intellectual appreciation of the conceptual and theoretical basis of the research, and its limitations and wider significance Coherence of argument throughout the thesis Appropriate engagement with the literature Grasp of methodology (methods of enquiry; analysis of data) Presentation of the thesis and compliance with academic conventions Originality Potential for publication (from Winter et al. 2000: 32-35)

31 Authorship in scientific publications Sample of 809 corresponding authors: 19% of articles had evidence of honorary authors (named authors who did not meet authorship criteria), 11% had evidence of ghost authors (individuals not named as authors but who had contributed substantially to the work) 2% had evidence of both (Flanagin et al. 1998). Therefore, about one in four articles demonstrated misapplication of authorship criteria and inappropriate assignment of authorship, which is ‘incompatible with the principles, duties, and ethical responsibilities involved in scientific publication’ (from Flanagin et al. 1998)

32 ‘Vancouver Protocol’ - minimum requirements for authorship in biomedical journals Authorship credit should be based only on: substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and final approval of the version to be published. Whose name goes first?

33 Overview: PhD in UCD Standards for research (PhD) degree Research - the process You and your supervisor The thesis and examination

34 Responsible conduct in research I Researchers should make every effort to honestly produce and disseminate information that is as accurate and reliable as possible ‘On Being a Scientist: responsible conduct in research’

35 Responsible conduct in research II Negligence typically does not involve premeditated plans to be dishonest: insufficient time allocated for designing rigorous studies lapses in conscientious working methods insufficient reflection on the interpretation of research findings preventable errors from undue haste and inattention Misconduct is characterised by premeditated and deliberate attempts to be dishonest. Not same as differences in interpretation or honest mistakes

36 Examples of misconduct falsification of data plagiarism (the presentation of another person's thoughts or words as though they were your own) failure to declare a conflict of interests mismanagement of research funds presentation of other people’s work as one’s own improper allocation of credit and recognition breaches of ethical codes of conduct cover-ups of misconduct

37 Getting a PhD An action plan to help manage your research, your supervisor and your project John A. Finn Routledge Study Guides

38 Overview: PhD in UCD Standards for research (PhD) degree Research - the process You and your supervisor The thesis and examination Responsible conduct in research

39 PhD in UCD – a work in progress 4-year structured includes 90 ECTS training Programme board: supervisor, 2 advisers, At least annual formal review Assessment after 1 year to continue Accumulate credits in first two years Formats of thesis – traditional and including published papers Finance for 4 years?


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