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Mary Immaculate College University of Limerick


Graduate in geography and anthropology (BA and MA Durham) ... Adding to knowledge in a new way (Phillips and Pugh, 1994) What is a sensible structure ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Mary Immaculate College University of Limerick

Mary Immaculate College University of Limerick
  • May 21st 2009
  • Seminar by Dr Colin Brock
  • (University of Oxford) on
  • Perspectives on Doctoral Research in Educational

Personal Introduction
  • Graduate in geography and anthropology (BA and MA
  • Masters in Comparative Education (Med-Reading)
  • Doctorate in The Geography of Education
  • Trained Teacher (43 years of teaching)
  • High School Teacher (8 years) geography and
  • University Lecturer in geography (3 years)
  • UK government educational adviser in the
    Caribbean (2.5 years)
  • University Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Chair in
    Comparative Education and International Education
    (30 years Leeds, Hull, Oxford)
  • Currently UNESCO Chair and Senior Research Fellow
    at the University of Oxford, Department of

Supervising and Examining Record
  • Supervising
  • Approximately 200 Masters dissertations
  • 72 completed and successful PhDs/DPhils
  • 1 ongoing PhD
  • Examining Higher Degrees (since 1974)
  • 60 PhDs in other UK Universities and internal
  • MA/Med programmes in other UK universities
  • PhDs in other countries (e.g. USA, Netherlands,
    Demark and Australia)

Some Personal Views
  • At Whatever level I am working, I see myself as a
  • I see research degree supervision as a learning
    as well as a teaching process
  • I see research degree supervision as a core
    function and not as a peripheral function
  • The examining and supervision of research degree
    work are mutually beneficial and informative

How to Make a Meaningful Proposal
  • Doing doctoral level research in educational
    studies implications of operating in an
    interdisciplinary field why the degree is
    called Doctor of Philosophy!
  • Education the Phenomenon and Education the
  • Education as an Integrative Discipline (see OHP
  • Factors affecting education, and the related
    contributing disciplines
  • Key Issues relating to a good proposal
  • The title/working title
  • The research question (s)
  • The literature field (s) and review
  • The conceptual framework and issues of scale
  • Research methods

Equipping the Candidate to Make a Meaningful
  • Choosing the Appropriate Research Methods
  • Overall research methods training
  • Component methods available
  • The appropriate balance for the research?
  • Dealing with research methods in the proposal
  • The issue of comparative studies in education

Documentary Documentary
Primary Secondary
Empirical Empirical
Quantitative Qualitative
Back Up Role of Supervisor
  • With selection of research topic
  • With formulation of the proposal
  • Drafts and re-drafts
  • Facilitating technical back-up

Technical Back-up Technical Back-up
Language (English) Computer Skills
Statistical Skills Analytical Skills
Professor Mike Botterys Views on a Good Doctoral
  • Professor Mike Bottery is Professor of
    Education at the University of Hull in charge of
    all doctoral research, and a former student of Dr
    Colin Brock.

10 Key Areas
  • A feasible topic
  • A topic of relevance and importance to the
  • A topic of originality
  • A sensible structure
  • A familiarity with relevant literature, an
    understanding of its purposes, and critical
  • An appropriate and carefully reasoned methodology
  • An intelligent analysis of findings-an ability to
    rise above the descriptive
  • Sensible conclusions and recommendations
  • Clarity, lucidity, and care in presentation
  • A Sense of personal growth

What is a feasible topic?
  • Is it sufficiently focused? Have you got
    researchable questions?
  • Can it be covered in the words available?
  • Do you have the time to do it?
  • Do you have the knowledge to do it?
  • Do you have the access to do it?
  • Is it ethically acceptable?

A topic of relevance and importance to the student
  • Because it provides a research itch and therefore
    maintains motivation
  • Because it demonstrates the interrelation between
    theory and practice
  • Because it demonstrates that the student is not a
    spectator to research but a member of the
    research community

What is originality?
  • Setting down a major piece of information for the
    first time
  • Continuing a previously original piece of work
  • Carrying out original technique, observation or
    result in an otherwise unoriginal but competent
    piece of work
  • Having original ideas carried out by others under
    your direction
  • Showing originality in testing someone elses
  • Carrying out empirical work that hasnt been done
  • Making a synthesis that has not been done before
  • Interpreting existing material in a new way
  • Trying out an existing technique (etc.) in a
    different country
  • Using an existing technique in a new field
  • Applying new evidence to an old question or issue
  • Using new methodologies across disciplines
  • Looking at areas that have not been looked at
  • Adding to knowledge in a new way
    (Phillips and Pugh, 1994)

What is a sensible structure
  • Reasons for doing the study
  • Review of the Literature
  • Description of the methodology employed
  • Findings from the research
  • Conclusions from the study
  • Recommendations from the study
  • Things I would do differently next time
  • References
  • appendices

Why do we need a familiarity with relevant
literature, and what are its purposes?
  • It broadens and refines existing knowledge
  • It sharpens and clarifies research questions
  • It may suggest approaches to personal research
  • It highlights gaps in the literature
  • It identifies current debates

What kind of approach is a critical approach to
the literature?
  • One which asks
  • Who are the authors?
  • What is their position/role/function?
  • What are their biases?
  • Where and when was the document produced?
  • Why was the article/document produced?
  • How was it produced?
  • For whom was it produced?
  • What are its underlying assumptions?
  • What does the document/article say- and not say?
  • How is the argument presented?
  • How well supported and convincing is the
  • How does it relate to later ones?
  • What do other sources have to say about it?

What would an appropriate and carefully reasoned
methodology chapter look like?
  • A funnelling process
  • What is research?
  • What approaches can be used?
  • What are their advantages/disadvantages?
  • What techniques can be used?
  • What is my research about?
  • What, therefore, is the best methodology to adopt
    for my research?

An intelligent analysis of findings an ability
to rise above the descriptive
  • Critical evaluation of current research, and of
    methodological issues where appropriate
  • A high level and systematic understanding of
    theoretical perspectives
  • A critical awareness of current issues
  • An extensive analysis of alternative viewpoints
  • Original commentary and critical synthesis
  • Originality in the application of knowledge to

Sensible conclusions and recommendations
  • Logical progression of conclusions out of the
  • Conclusions which reach back and incorporate
    discussion of the earlier literature review
  • Appropriate and realisable recommendations

Clarity, lucidity, and care in presentation
  • Careful and continuous proof reading
  • Careful linking of sections
  • Using the spell and grammar checks
  • Close attention to referencing norms
  • Checking and recording references continually
  • Using a friend for meaning
  • Dont make the examiner do the work!

  • Indeed dialectical critical realism may be seen
    under the aspect of Foucauldian strategic
    reversal of the unholy trinity of
    Parmenidean/Platonic Aristotelian provenance of
    the Cartesian Lockean Humean Kantean
    paradigm, of coundationalisms (in practice,
    fideistic foundationalisms) and irrationalism (in
    practice, capricious ___ of the will-to-power or
    some other ideologically and/or psychosomatically
    buried source) new and old alike of the
    primordial failing of western philosophy,
    ontological monovalence, and its close ally, the
    epistemic fallacy with its ontic dual of the
    analytic problematical laid down by Plato, which
    Hegel served only to replicate in his actualist
    monovalent alaytic reinstatement in
    transfigurative reconciling dialectical
    connection, while in his hubristic claims for
    absolute idealism he inaugurate the Comtean,
    Klerkegarrdian and Neilzschean eclipses of
    reason, replicating the fundaments of positivism
    through its transmutation route to the
    superidealism of Baudrillard.
  • Roy Bhasker Plato etc the Problems of
    Philosophy and Their Resolution. A 139 word
    sentence which won the Bad Writing Contest run by
    the journal Philosophy and Literature. (THES

A sense of personal growth
  • Dissertations and Theses are training grounds for
    future research
  • Dont be afraid to admit mistakes
  • Engage the reader in a personal story

Case Study of a Conceptual Framework
  • The graphical examples given on the three OHP
    slides that will follow illustrate a successful
    conceptual framework devised by Dr. Rosarii
    Griffin for her research in to
  • The Mediation of Market-Oriented Policies on
    the Provision of Public Secondary Schooling in
    England, Ireland and the USA
  • (University of Oxford, 2001)
  • Rosarii was concerned to develop a conceptual
    framework to facilitate the answering of her two
    main research questions, namely
  • What factors affect the mediation of
    market-oriented policies on the provision of
    public secondary schooling in England, Ireland
    and the USA, and in what ways?
  • What stakeholders affect the mediation of
    market-oriented policies on the provision of
    public secondary schooling in England, Ireland
    and the USA, and in what ways?
  • The conceptual framework design was initiated at
    the commencement of the study and modified during
    the period of the literature review.

  • Thank you very much for your attention!