Modelling research: a collaborative approach to helping PhD students develop higher-level research skills.

Garcia-Perez, A. and Ayres, R. (2012)

European Journal of Engineering Education, 37(3): 297–306.


A high proportion of PhD candidates in science and engineering fail to complete their degrees. This paper reports the results of a series of workshops where experienced researchers and supervisors were brought together with PhD students to discuss and develop a model of the PhD process. The objective was to help students develop a more rounded and thoughtful approach to their work. 

The impact of the workshops was assessed by carrying out structured interviews and coding the results to determine the impact on participant perceptions. The analysis suggests that the approach is effective in helping participants to clarify their thinking about the research process in which they are engaged. A proportion of participants appear to have moved from a tactical to a more strategic approach to their research. The study involved students in a postgraduate university but has implications for training of all research students in applied disciplines.

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