Successful Research Supervision
eBook - ePub

Successful Research Supervision

Advising students doing research

Anne Lee

  1. 344 pagine
  2. English
  3. ePUB (disponibile sull'app)
  4. Disponibile su iOS e Android
eBook - ePub

Successful Research Supervision

Advising students doing research

Anne Lee

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Anteprima del libro
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Informazioni sul libro

Successful Research Supervision offers a research-based practical framework for academics to examine and develop their effectiveness as research supervisors. Underpinned by practical and current research and focusing on the effective techniques needed to thrive as a supervisor, the second edition is fully updated, providing a go-to guide for both novice and more experienced supervisors.With new sections examining ethical procedures, the use of social media to gather data and promote research, supporting academic writing and co-supervision, this book guides readers from the initial steps to managing a project through to successful completion.
This book will help academics to: • expand a repertoire of actions and responses, giving the flexibility to meet different situations with ease and confidence
• understand the influence of value and experiences in the choice of approach to research students
• be able to choose the most appropriate combination of approaches for a particular curriculum or project
• employ a neutral language for developing and assisting others.By identifying the optimum combination of approaches to best fit individuals, Successful Research Supervision helps supervisors to move their students towards the ultimate goal of being able to study independently in a thoughtful, coherent and efficient manner. This book is crucial reading for all supervisors looking to improve their practice. This is the companion guide to S uccessful Research Projects, a comprehensive and accessible guide for busy students facing postgraduate research projects. It covers the key questions, challenges and solutions and helps identify important goals and solve problems associated with research projects.

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Chapter 1

Tomorrow’s supervisor

A good supervisor is one who knows how to productively manage the inevitable tensions that arise between people, the research itself and institutional objectives. The objective of this book is to enable you to thrive while doing that and, most importantly, to enjoy the whole process.
The framework that underpins this book seeks to support supervisors of postgraduates doing research by explaining the different approaches that you can choose from and blend in order to be successful. I created it from an iterative research study looking at the behaviours and beliefs of effective supervisors and their postgraduate students, interpreted through a wide literature review. It can explain why your students are pulling in certain directions or asking particular questions and help you identify what might keep them motivated and enhance the quality of their work. From extensive research with successful postgraduate students and their supervisors, I have identified five conceptual ways of looking at supervision. Once you have understood these you will have access to an approach to problem solving that you can use both for supervising research and for managing other life projects.

How to use this book

An academic who supervises students doing research might want to use this book for several reasons. Pragmatically, it will enable them to expand their own repertoire and mix of actions and responses, and thus be more flexible to meet different situations. After reading it, they will understand more deeply how their preferred approach to working with research students is influenced by their own values and experiences and they will have a neutral language for discussions with fellow academics and co-supervisors about how roles and responsibilities will be shared. Mastering the different aspects of the framework proposed here will enable them to choose the most appropriate combination of approaches for a particular context, problem or time.
This second edition introduces a companion volume for students, Successful Research Projects, which supervisors might find useful to recommend to their candidates. The companion volume mirrors the structure of this book and looks at the framework from the researching student’s point of view. It helps the student to plan their project, to work out how best to use their supervisor’s time and offers suggestions for finding other sources of help and support. In my experience there is only one time when I would offer different advice to supervisors and students – and that is when the question ‘How do I cope with conflicting advice from supervisors?’ is asked. This is a topic that we explore carefully in Chapter 13 of this book and Chapter 12 of the companion volume (Dilemmas: when you disagree with your supervisor(s)).
Institutionally, this framework can be used to evaluate the environment in which students are being asked to do research. It enables the exploration of answers to questions such as ‘Is there a holistic approach to the student experience?’ ‘What ethical research practices are we implicitly and explicitly encouraging?’ and ‘How are we developing, managing and valuing our supervisors and advisors – the people who have the most direct impact on our students?’
Introducing students to research is an exciting part of academic work and many research supervisors have helped in the journey that this book describes. The original interviews to develop the framework were carried out with doctoral supervisors, but in my experience of working with master’s and undergraduate students, the themes are applicable to all levels of higher education, and maybe beyond.

Aims of this book

  1. To provide a research-based, scholarly approach to working with students doing research.
  2. To offer a problem-solving tool for working with different students and the supervisory team.
  3. To provide key terms for further study.
  4. To prompt readers to think of avenues for the further development of themselves and their institutions.
  5. Through this book and its companion volume Successful Research Projects, to introduce a neutral language that both supervisors, co-supervisors and students can use to deal with difficult situations that can arise during a research project.

The strategic supervisor

The opportunities arising from the way that research in universities is carried out are exciting, but sometimes they can also be confusing. It was simpler when research was carried out primarily to develop the skills required by the next generation of academics – to create academic capacity. That is still the case in some countries and in some disciplines, but other objectives have crept into the system. The result is that academics who supervise research first need to ask themselves several questions to work out how they fit this part of their work into their own career plan.
Three key questions are:
  1. Do I have an overall, long-term objective for the research that I would like to see carried out in my field?
  2. Is my primary objective to help to create an independent researcher(s) or to get an excellent piece of research done?
  3. Does my employer value particular types of research projects more than others? What are the important outputs for them?
In order to be able to fully answer these questions the research supervisor needs to review all the opportunities available. Let’s explore these three questions further.
In interviews with successful researchers it became apparent that leading academics had a clear vision of the overall field they wanted to explore from quite an early stage in their career. They might want to focus broadly for example on a particular question in physics, a genre in literature or a medical application for materials science, and they would consider every opportunity for making a grant application in the light of any aspect of that question. This proactive approach to their own work and to their careers had a concomitant knock-on effect for their students.
Undergraduates would be guided to do literature searches in particular areas, master’s students (or Second Cycle in terms of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) 2018 framework) would be guided to repeat or extend certain experiments and these same academics would frequently be advertising salaried posts for doctoral research (Third Cycle) where the research question was already well defined. In this situation, the freedom for a student to define and explore a topic of their own choice is, of course, limited. However that same student will probably find it easier to know what literature needs to be consulted and learn the techniques required to carry out research.
The second question is also a very personal one for the supervisor to answer, and it has a particular resonance at doctoral level. For some academics, it is vital that the research is excellent, the articles and artefacts are brilliant. For others, often operating from a humanistic and student-centred approach, the most important thing is not the quality of the research or the written final product. The most important thing for this supervisor is that when they graduate their student will be an ethical, competent, independent researcher. The final product has to be ‘good enough’, but is not necessarily perfect. It will normally acknowledge its limitations. The researcher, however, has to be completely trustworthy. Of course, most supervisors will seek excellence in both aspects, but the type of comments they make during supervision sessions and in team meetings may divulge their ultimate concern. The supervisor who corrects work without really explaining why they have done so might be more concerned with the final product, whereas the academic who uses problems and failures as opportunities for learning is likely to be more concerned with developing the individual’s potential. Are these two perspectives mutually exclusive? Not necessarily, except when there are time pressures – and we know that in practice meeting deadlines is a major and increasing concern.
The third question leads to understanding the fit between the research programme, the supervisor and the institution. The strategic academic will either try to influence their institution’s strategic objectives, or will organise their work so that it fits them. A university which says it is seeking to answer ‘the grand challenges’ will inevitably be looking at cross-disciplinary research teams. Another university might be seeking to ‘maximise employability or see their research applied in practice’ so liaison with industry and employers will be paramount. In much of the Western world metrics have become important, so universities are measured on the quality and number of their published articles, the quality of their teaching, their ability to win substantial grants or liaise with and lead regional partnerships. Traditionally, a university will have a reputation for some disciplinary areas of excellence and then one or more of the above objectives will come into play. Recently, however, there has been another imperative also coming into focus – are our students (and staff) flourishing? Can we say that the mental health, physical health and well-being needs of our students are being properly met? The reputation of any institution is vital, and if it is threatened in any way, protecting it becomes a major concern.
The problem with over-interpreting our work to meet any of these types of institutional objectives is that strategies can alter, government policies can lead to substantial changes in the direction of research funding and key personnel (especially people inhabiting the roles of Rector or Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research)) can move institutions, thus altering a hitherto taken-for-granted perspective. While working in an institution where one can support shorter-term strategic objectives is a useful tactic, it is also wise to look beyond this to see how and where one’s research can contribute fundamentally to society’s needs, and to keep arguing that case.

How does research differ at different levels of the curriculum?

Students have und...

Indice dei contenuti

  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Title Page
  4. Copyright Page
  5. Dedication
  6. Table of Contents
  7. List of figures
  8. List of tables
  9. List of boxes
  10. Preface
  11. Acknowledgements
  12. A note on terminology
  13. List of Abbreviations
  14. 1. Tomorrow’s supervisor
  15. 2. A framework for analysing approaches to teaching and supervision
  16. 3. The theoretical background to the framework
  17. 4. Functional teaching and supervision
  18. 5. Supporting enculturation
  19. 6. Developing critical thinking
  20. 7. Enabling emancipation
  21. 8. Creating a relationship
  22. 9. Using the framework
  23. 10. Supporting careers
  24. 11. Supporting academic writing
  25. 12. Dilemmas of co-supervision
  26. 13. Creating the ethical researcher
  27. 14. Supervising differently
  28. 15. Preparing to examine research work
  29. 16. Looking to the future: Researching and developing research supervision skills
  30. Appendix
  31. References
  32. Index