Open Science Research Excellence

Open Science Index

Commenced in January 2007 Frequency: Monthly Edition: International Publications Count: 31103

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Enhancing Learning for Research Higher Degree Students
Universities’ push toward the production of high quality research is not limited to academic staff and experienced researchers. In this environment of research rich agendas, Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are increasingly expected to engage in the publishing of good quality papers in high impact journals. IFN001: Advanced Information Research Skills (AIRS) is a credit bearing mandatory coursework requirement for Queensland University of Technology (QUT) doctorates. Since its inception in 1989, this unique blended learning program has provided the foundations for new researchers to produce original and innovative research. AIRS was redeveloped in 2012, and has now been evaluated with reference to the university’s strategic research priorities. Our research is the first comprehensive evaluation of the program from the learner perspective. We measured whether the program develops essential transferrable skills and graduate capabilities to ensure best practice in the areas of publishing and data management. In particular, we explored whether AIRS prepares students to be agile researchers with the skills to adapt to different research contexts both within and outside academia. The target group for our study consisted of HDR students and supervisors at QUT. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used for data collection. Gathering data was by survey and focus groups with qualitative responses analyzed using NVivo. The results of the survey show that 82% of students surveyed believe that AIRS assisted their research process and helped them learn skills they need as a researcher. The 18% of respondents who expressed reservation about the benefits of AIRS were also examined to determine the key areas of concern. These included trends related to the timing of the program early in the candidature and a belief among some students that their previous research experience was sufficient for postgraduate study. New insights have been gained into how to better support HDR learners in partnership with supervisors and how to enhance learning experiences of specific cohorts, including international students and mature learners.
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[1] M. Kiley, Coursework in Australian doctoral education: What’s happening, why, and future directions?, The Australian National University, Canberra: Australia, 2014.
[2] D. Edwards, A. Radloff, and H. Coates, Supply, demand and characteristics of the higher degree by research population in Australia. Australian Council for Educational Research 2009.
[3] Queensland University of Technology, Advanced Information Research Skills (AIRS) website
[4] G. Craswell, “Deconstructing the skills training debate in doctoral education,” Higher Education Research & Development, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 377-391, 2007.
[5] S. Mowbray, and C. Halse, “The purpose of the PhD: Theorising the skills acquired by students,” Higher Education Research & Development, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 653-664, 2010/12/01, 2010.
[6] J. Sinclair, R. Barnacle, and D. Cuthbert, “How the doctorate contributes to the formation of active researchers: what the research tells us,” Studies in Higher Education, vol. 39, no. 10, pp. 1972-1986, 2013.
[7] N. Exner, “Research Information Literacy: Addressing Original Researchers' Needs,” The Journal of Academic Librarianship, vol. 40, no. 5, pp. 460-466, 2014.
[8] D. Jackson, and G. Michelson, “Factors influencing the employment of Australian PhD graduates,” Studies in Higher Education, vol. 40, no. 9, pp. 1660-1678, 2014.
[9] A. Booth, Researchers require tailored information literacy training focusing on information management, not simply information retrieval, Research Information Network., 2007.
[10] D. Streatfield, D. Allen, and T. Wilson, “Information Literacy Training for Postgraduate and Postdoctoral Researchers: a National Survey and its Implications,” Libri, vol. 60, no. 3, 2010.
[11] J. Thomas, “Future‐proofing: the academic library's role in e‐research support,” Library Management, vol. 32, no. 1/2, pp. 37-47, 2011.
[12] R. Fleming-May, and L. Yuro, “From student to scholar: the academic library and social sciences PhD students' transformation,” Libraries and the Academy, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 199-221, 2009.
[13] H. Rempel, "Information literacy at the point of need: literature review workshops," Advanced Users: Information Literacy and Customized Services, O. Kohl-Frey and B. Schmid-Ruhe, eds., pp. 157-164: Konstanz, 2008.
[14] A. Catalano, “Patterns of graduate students' information seeking behavior: a meta‐synthesis of the literaturenull,” Journal of Documentation, vol. 69, no. 2, pp. 243-274, 2013/03/01, 2013.
[15] Y. Liao, M. Finn, and J. Lu, “Information-seeking behavior of international graduate students vs. American graduate students: A user study at Virginia Tech 2005,” College & Research Libraries, vol. 68, no. 1, pp. 5-25, 2007.
[16] S. K. Gardner, “"What's too much and what's too little?": The Process of Becoming an Independent Researcher in Doctoral Education,” Journal Of Higher Education, vol. 79, no. 3, pp. 326-350, 2008.
[17] J. W. Creswell, and V. L. Plano Clark, Designing and conducting mixed methods research, Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, 2011.
[18] G. S. Howard, “Response-shift bias a problem in evaluating interventions with pre/post self-reports,” Evaluation Review, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 93-106, 1980.
[19] E. R. Babbie, The practice of social research, Belmont, Calif: Thomson Wadsworth, 2007.
[20] QSR International Pty Ltd, "NVivo qualitative data analysis Software, Version 10," 2012.
[21] C. Anderson, “Presenting and Evaluating Qualitative Research,” American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, vol. 74, no. 8, pp. 1-7, 2010.
[22] J. Bailey, “First steps in qualitative data analysis: transcribing,” Fam Pract, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 127-31, Apr, 2008.
[23] G. Liu, and D. Winn, “Chinese graduate students and the Canadian academic library: A user study at the University of Windsor,” Journal of Academic Librarianship, vol. 35, no. 565-573, 2009.
[24] K. Lahenius, “Communities of practice supporting doctoral studies,” The International Journal of Management Education, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 29-38, 4//, 2012.
[25] D. Boud, R. Cohen, and J. Sampson, Peer learning in higher education: learning from and with each other, 2001.
[26] R. Gilbert, J. Balatti, P. Turner, and H. Whitehouse, “The generic skills debate in research higher degrees,” Higher Education Research & Development, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 375-388, 2004.
[27] K. du Bruyn, “An exploratory framework for a study on designing a research focused advanced information literacy program for engineering postgraduates,” in Proceedings of the IATUL Conferences, 2013.
[28] J. Hartley, and L. Betts, “Publishing before the Thesis: 58 Postgraduate,” Higher education review, vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 29-44, 2009.
[29] A. Lee, and B. Kamler, “Bringing pedagogy to doctoral publishing,” Teaching in Higher Education, vol. 13, no. 5, pp. 511-523, 2008.
[30] J. Mamtora, “Building an information literate research community,” in The Road to Information Literacy: Librarians as Facilitators of Learning, IFLA Satellite Conference 8-10 August 2012, Tampere, Finland, 2012.
[31] S. Brod, and S. Hazelwood-Smith, "How to get published in high-impact journals: Big research and better writing," NatureJobs Blog, November 19, 2014.
[32] I. Chubb, “Research Data Alliance Third Plenary,” Hogan Suite, Croke Park Conference Centre, 2015.
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