Saturday, August 04, 2012

Approaches to Doctoral Research Training in South-East Asia

The "Outcomes from a Workshop to Explore Approaches to Quality Doctoral Research Training in Our Region" were published by Department of Industry, Innovation,
Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE) in 31st July 2012 (Edited by Helene Marsh and Mel Lamprecht). The workshop by the Australian Council Deans and Directors of Graduate Studies (DDOGS) was held 15to 16 February 2012.

Despite the verbose "mission statement" style wording, the report contains a useful list of issues for research education. One aspect which is not clear is how these are unique to the South-East Asian region, as they appear to be universal issues.

An implicit assumption of the authors is that the purpose of doctoral education is the training workers for industry. There are also those who wish to undertake personal development with no career in mind and those who wish to undertake research and teach in academia. It is not clear to me if these three groups have enough in common to be able to undertake the same program. In particular, if industry wants workers with generic skills, then coursework would a more efficient and reliable way to such skills, rather than a research doctorate.

The four main topics of the report are:
  • Critical Dimensions of the Doctoral Experience
  1. The role of the supervisor ...
  2. The Intellectual climate ...
  3. Clearly defining the roles of the institution and the candidate ...
  4. The professional development of students as knowledge workers in a global
    environment ...
  5. In a globalised, multi-cultural environment , socio-cultural support for candidates and supervisors is important ...
  • Generic / Transferable Skills ...
  1. The objectives of the skill development activities (formal, semi-formal and informal) should be clearly articulated.
  2. The program should be revised regularly in response to student feedback and reviewed in the light of longitudinal data from graduates.
  3. The institution should provide opportunities for research students to develop generic / transferable skills ...
  4. The skills curriculum should comprise core compulsory content e.g., ethical research conduct and electives tailored to the needs of individual students as identified in a skills needs assessment.
  5. A timetable of when to complete the skills program should be developed. ...
  6. Generic / transferable skills may be offered by labs, disciplines, departments, schools, research centres, faculties or centrally. ...
  7. Completion of skills course and workshops should be registered on a central database and made available in portfolio format or as certificates to research students and graduates. ...
  • Principles for Quality Supervisor Development ...
  1. The institution provides support for a broad range of professional development activities and resources for all individuals actively involved in supervising and supporting the research education process.
  2. Participation in professional development both internal and external to the institution is recognised.
  3. The institution provides opportunities for professional development for those in leadership and management roles in research student supervision oversight.
  4. Excellence in supervision is recognised and rewarded by the institution.
  5. An institution’s research student policies and procedures form a core element of professional development activities and should be widely available and accessible.
  6. Issues related to provision of quality supervision to research students form a core element of the institution’s policies and procedures and professional development activities.
  7. Each individual involved in student research supervision, especially those new to supervision, is strongly encouraged to participate in appropriate research training and professional development.
  • Quality Research Training in the Context of the Globalisation of Research
  1. The institution is committed to the education and development of Research Students and supporting the role they play in creating and disseminating new knowledge to a wider community.
  2. The institution has effective and efficient guidelines and processes to ensure a good match of supervisor, candidate, project, resources, infrastructure and financial support.
  3. The institution has effective and efficient processes and criteria for the admission of research candidates including a clear statement of all scholarship conditions.
  4. The institution is committed to producing and recognising and rewarding high quality research supervisors for its students and has in place mechanisms for students and supervisors to raise concerns and issues and have them dealt with effectively.
  5. The institution has transparent and equitable processes to ensure compliance with the policies and procedures that govern research candidates.
  6. The institution has clearly defined milestones for academic progress and completion which it uses to monitor both individual student progress and institutional performance.
  7. The institution is committed to producing a research environment for its research students that is engaging, culturally sensitive, locally and globally relevant and supportive of diversity.
  8. The institution provides professional development and opportunities for skills enhancement for research students, research supervisors and others engaged with supporting research students.
  9. The institution has a clear statement of the roles and responsibilities of candidates, supervisors and the institution.
  10. The institution adopts an evidence-based approach to improving performance of all aspects of research education. ...

From: Outcomes from a Workshop to Explore Approaches to Quality Doctoral Research Training in Our Region, Helene Marsh and Mel Lamprecht, DIISRTE, 31st July 2012

One disappointment with the report is that DIISRTE has placed a restrictive copyright on the work. This is not in accordance with Australian Government policy, which calls for the more open Creative Commons license to be used.

No comments: