Research and Supervision

Research and Supervision

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2610-0.ch002
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Doctoral studies are often viewed as a “journey”, with expectations that students will be transformed into independent scholars. Various strategies and approaches are taken to this end, as discussed in Chapter 1. The research performed in doctoral studies is considered by many as the hallmark of such a terminal degree, a type of “rite of passage” for the rest of a scholar's career. This chapter reviews types of research areas, provides a background to mentorship, and engaged scholarship first introduced in research in the social sciences, arts and humanities. The context of research supervision in CS and IT is addressed, and a generic research process is elaborated, with consideration to developing critical thinking in, and imparting knowledge to, a research candidate. Some measures for doctoral research supervision are presented, as well as doctoral level research norms. Frameworks for research supervision are examined, and what is regarded to be successful supervision. Lastly some trends that have emerged in research supervision are reviewed.
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2.1 Research In Social Science, Arts, And Humanities

Advanced degrees in the arts and humanities have been offered in Europe for hundreds of years, followed by social science degrees, and models for education and research became established over time. In the United States the universities in New England led the way in introducing advanced study programs, such as the Doctor of Education degree, seen as a degree in the education discipline at Yale University in 1861. The first Graduate School of Pedagogy was established in New York in 1890, offering the Doctor of Philosophy degree and Doctor of Pedagogy degree, which is reputed to be the first in the education profession in the United States. Harvard University introduced masters and and doctorates in education from 1920 to 1933.

During the same period other disciplines and related professions developed advanced degrees that also required a T/D as part of the curriculum. The supervision processes in some disciplines were specific and unique, such as for the legal profession and architecture, where internships were a requirement before practicing in the field. In academia most institutions of higher-learning, supported by the professions associated with traditional disciplines, adopted the well-known designations such as MA, MS, and PhD, with an added suffix as for MS in Architecture, signifying the related profession.

As may be expected, research in the social sciences, arts and humanities has well-documented processes and methodologies. There is a rich source of references using quantitative methods, and also participatory, field study, and case study methods.

Mauch and Park’s (2005) comments about emerging professions are pertinent:

Every contemporary profession was, in its beginning stages, made up of a number of separate individuals operating with a loosely knit group of common skills, responsibilities and assumptions. The group was held together only by social sanctions. As each profession’s central core of functions crystalized a body of laws and customs developed that institutionalized the activities of the profession. At the same time the members usually organized and took steps to define their roles even further, particularly with respect to two considerations: ethical behavior toward their clients and toward each other, and protection of the public from charlatans. (Mauch & Park, 2005, p. xvi)

Worth mentioning in the context of doctoral research is the participative model of Van de Ven (2007), who proposed his Engaged Scholarship Model for doctoral level research of complex social and organizational problems.

Engaged scholarship is a participative form of research for obtaining the different perspectives of key stakeholders (researchers, users, clients, sponsors and practitioners) in producing knowledge about complex problems. (Van de Ven (2007), p. 265)

Van de Ven proposed four forms of engaged scholarship for study programs with research projects where a number of stakeholders and participants are involved. This model is intended to address the perceived gap between management theory and practice, where research students pursue a problem situated in practice. The model shows some promise in trans-disciplinary research where doctoral students study in part-time mode while employed in business or industry. Stakeholders include the doctoral candidate researcher, the supervisor, the dissertation committee members (where appropriate), users, clients, sponsors and practitioners. The Engaged Scholarship Model is adopted for projects where the problem is situated in practice (the reality). The research purpose is formulated, taking into consideration the complexities and perspectives of the problem, and research then proceeds iteratively to develop a theoretically grounded solution through theory building. Engaged scholarship from the supervisor perspective is discussed in Chapter 3, Section 3.2.

As stated in the Introduction, research and supervision specific to the disciplines of social science, arts and humanities are beyond the scope of this monograph.

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