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Most graduate students embark on their PhD researches with an interest in some general topic, issue, or problem. The task of writing a PhD, however, requires an ability to identify a specific research project that integrates theory, evidence, and methods into a coherent analytical framework. At the same time, research training frequently ill-prepares students for this task. Consider, for example, that substantive courses (religion, family, race/ethnicity etc.), theory courses, and methods courses are all thought separately and largely independently of one another. Theory modules are often presented as a set of interesting yet abstract ideas lacking in empirical grounding. Methods modules are frequently perceived by students as largely theory-free.
This module, then, seeks to help you to consider more deeply the connections between theory, evidence, and methods, in your PhD research by exposing you to some of the variety of approaches and perspectives available in your discipline for thinking analytically about these linkages. As such, it will address important questions such as: what are the specific theoretical issues involved in your PhD? How does your study provide evidence for one theoretical approach as against another? And thus what evidence is most relevant?
The objective of this module is to give beginning doctoral students a basic grounding in the nature of doctoral research and support in the development of your research schedule, academic writing, scholarly publications, and your application for ethical approval. It will introduce you to tools for accessing and reviewing information sources and for recording and managing bibliographies. It will provide the opportunity to develop and practice communication of your topic to a general audience.
Schedule of Classes: Fridays: 9:30 – 5pm in MUSSI Conference Room, top floor in Iontas Bld.
Dates of Classes: October 4th, October 18th, November 15th and December 6th
The course is assessed on a ‘satisfactory/did not complete’ basis. There are 3 components to the assessment:
1) You are expected to attend all class meetings, do the readings before the class and come prepared to discuss them, and to make presentations and provide comments when that is part of the structure of the class.
2) You are expected to work on the structure of your research for the duration of the module.
3) You will be expected to prepare a professional poster mapping the structure of your PhD research including:
i. Description of topic (no more than 600 words):
• Aims and objectives
• Central research questions
ii. Methodology, including, for example (no more than 600 words):
• Investigative and analytic methods
• Theoretical frameworks
iii. Research plan (no more than 400 words):
• Schedule for the completion of tasks/phases of the project and
efficient management and performance of research.
iv. Description of the relationship of the project to existing research (no more
than 600 words).
• How the project will make a new contribution to knowledge.