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Thinking about the PhD:. What is it? Why do we do it? What does it mean?. Project. reading the literature. doing the research. PhD!!!!!. ‘writing up’. Product (thesis). marking. Project. Process. PhD!!!!!. Product (thesis). Whose business?. Commonwealth government (Neumann)

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thinking about the phd

Thinking about the PhD:

What is it?

Why do we do it?

What does it mean?



reading the literature

doing the research


‘writing up’

Product (thesis)






Product (thesis)

whose business
Whose business?
  • Commonwealth government (Neumann)
  • Hence, universities (funding)
  • Faculties/departments (funding, continuance of the discipline)
  • And, the community (taxpayers, citizens, study participants, consumers of news/current affairs)
  • Supervisors
  • Candidates (and their families, friends, etc!)
how does the literature conceptualise the degree
How does the literature conceptualise the degree?
  • Various ‘How to get your PhD’ books, eg Doctorates Downunder
  • Institutional aspects: Neumann, McWilliam, Taylor et al
  • Training of researchers (QPRA)
  • Process, performance and making meaning: Lee et al (Green, Johnson, Williams, Boud), Vilkinas, Macauley, Peseta…
how to books
How-to books
  • Great majority stay with the practical – skills development and acquisition
  • Focus on the product
  • Give lots of tips on getting and maintaining support networks
  • Recently, seem to be moving into a more managerial mode - learning plans, generic attributes
institutional perspective
Institutional perspective
  • Concern at lack of completions
  • Risk for universities: McWilliam
  • Supervisor training: Brew & Peseta
  • Neumann interviewed candidates and supervisors across disciplines
    • Took account of variations in disciplines
    • Looked at some specific problems (eg industry-linked projects)
training for research
Training for research
  • Parallels government moves on research quality
  • Concern over vocational issues
  • US model - more coursework
  • UK - generic attributes and formalising teaching/testing of these
  • Aus: Proposed generic attributes (chapters in Doctorates Downunder)
  • Rite of passage - emotional as well as intellectual
  • ‘Distress’ as both necessary part and effect of process (Lee &Green: ‘Forged in Fire’)
  • PhD experience as predictor of supervision attitudes (Brew & Peseta)
  • P/g pedagogy – How do we learn to be researchers? What part do peers play? (Johnson, Lee & Green, Boud & Lee)
  • Performance (Peseta)
where is the phd performed
Where is the PhD performed?

In candidate’s homes and lives

In The University

In workplaces

In Government reports

In University faculties

On the internet (searches, blogs, support groups, emails between candidates and supervisors)

In fiction

In hospitals

In the media

In learned journals, as the process discussed

In University libraries

In postgraduate student groups

In learned journals, as research reported

over to you
Over to you…
  • What is the PhD?
  • Why do we do it?
  • What does it mean?