Todays session will include… 1. Some definitions of originality 2. Developing originality 3. Expression of originality
But first I want to consider… … why does originality matter?
Criteria for the award of M. Phil. 12.3 The thesis embodying the results of the research shall demonstrate evidence of originality, at least in the exercise of an independent critical faculty, and shall achieve a high standard of competence in argument and presentation. p.28 Postgraduate Handbook, Lancaster University 2003/2004
Criteria for the award of the degree of Ph.D. 13.3 The results of this research shall then be embodied in a thesis which makes an original contribution to knowledge and the completed thesis must contain material of a standard appropriate for scholarly publication. ( p. 30 Postgraduate Handbook, Lancaster University 2003/4)
One version of originality is… Something that no-one else has done
This version can be alarming It is sometimes taken as implying extremely high levels of innovation Can be interpreted as meaning every bit of a thesis has to be entirely innovative Feels like it means that you have to be a genius who is redefining the field in which you are working
Something that no-one else has done Most importantly, this definition is too general for you as an author to work with it is not specific enough to be implemented or translated into planned action as a researcher
Plus – it is a definition which forgets the context for originality Grix (2001) says that a substantial contribution to knowledge means …you must have produced original research on a given topic and embedded it firmly in the received wisdom of a particular field… (p. 108) Demystifying Postgraduate Research. University of Birmingham Press: Birmingham.
Useful definitions Are more specific Can be translated into action Depend on context
Some versions of originality Fresh data Critical appraisal of previous work New research design /and methodology for research New analysis and new outcomes from existing data Fresh theoretical interpretations New analysis and new outcomes from new data
Some more versions of originality To extend, qualify, elaborate, gainsay existing work New arguments New ideas New theoretical accounts of existing data Sophisticated methods Original interpretation of phenomenon/a Applying existing ideas to new area of study New facts
Yet more ways of being original… Creative New insights Distinct individuality – in painting, in sculpture, musical composition or literary output Imaginative New theory arising from new data Competent analysis of new data in terms of existing theory Being publishable
Phillips, E.M. & D.S. Pugh on expressing originality The spelling out of your contribution is the final element in the PhD form. It is concerned with your evaluation of the importance of your thesis to the development of the discipline. It is here that you underline the significance of your analysis, point out the limitations in your material, suggest what new work is now appropriate, and so on. (p.55) How to Get a Ph.D. (1987) Open Uni. Press
Dunleavy warns against overstating ones originality… And reminds of the need to balance innovation against the subject context
He suggests thinking of your contribution as value-added to the field of study Focusing on your own value added means keeping a critical eye on the extent to which you have transformed or enhanced or differentiated the starting materials of your analysis. Then tailor your claiming behaviour to fit closely with that. It also means retaining a strong relational patterns of argument in which you appropriately acknowledge the extent to which you draw on the existing literature. (p. 31)
Homework Where is the originality in your work? Identify and record Writing and development