Digitalization of Higher Degree Research (HRD) and Its Benefit to Postgraduate Researchers

Digitalization of Higher Degree Research (HRD) and Its Benefit to Postgraduate Researchers

Joseph Stokes (Dublin City University, Ireland), Rachel Keegan (Dublin City University, Ireland), Mark Brown (Dublin City University, Ireland) and E. Alana James (DoctoralNet, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7065-3.ch007
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Graduate Schools offer supports to enhance and improve the graduate skills development of their postgraduate research community not only in their research but also in preparing them for their future careers. The European University Association Council for Doctoral Education has identified the digitalization of doctoral education as necessary to the future to fully globalize the graduate school offerings. This vision is aligned, for example, to several of the objectives in Dublin City University 2017-2022 Strategic Plan. Online supports go towards the development of DCU as a global university allowing us to attract, and to provide aid to, research students who are studying primarily outside of Ireland. The same structured support also benefits staff who are involved in the life cycle of a research student. Therefore, it is important to assess the needs of our graduate researchers in terms of online supports and to provide them with such tools to ascertain if their needs can/are being met. Hence, this chapter begins this journey by determining what online resources our doctoral community use to move their studies forward and then follows on to measure the value of one resource “DoctoralNet,” which offers comprehensive support to such students. This chapter discusses surveyed material, yielding a positive message that our doctoral education requires such digital resources to meet their (students') educational needs.
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Digitalisation as an issue is permeating higher education policy across Europe. It is noted by the European Commission that “… rapid technological development is transforming the way in which higher education is delivered and students participate”, so much so that “[d]igital technologies and online resources now permeate all areas of teaching and learning” (European Commission, 2016, p. 1). These advances have not surpassed doctoral level education and regardless of whether doctoral graduate find themselves pursuing academic or other careers, the “digital transformation of research and the skills they acquire” will be of major important to current and future cohorts (EUA-CDE, 2017).

The growing focus on digitalisation in research and doctoral education was called out in 2016 in the European University Association Publication Doctoral Education – Taking Salzburg Forward. This key publication highlights three key challenges for doctoral education in the coming years. One of these, the digital challenge, emphasises that “… universities must develop coherent policies and infrastructures for online sharing and learning in doctoral education that can be used in a coherent and responsible manner across the institution” (EUA, 2016). Digitalisation in this area brings with it many new possibilities including open access, big data research, possibilities to grow the diversity of doctoral candidates, greater collaboration, and more flexible approaches to doctoral education more broadly.

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