The three stages for a PhD1. Orientation (culminating in probation)2. Intense research (maybe some papers)3. Entering the discourse (culminating in submission and examination)
True or false?• A probation report is like a mini-dissertation.• My literature review must be complete and comprehensive for the probation report.• Probation assessment is ‘a walk’.• Probation assessment is a distraction from my real work.• My probation report has no use after the assessment.
Purpose of probation assessment• reviews student progress outside the supervisory relationship• provides documentation of student progress• Students communicate their research (orally and in writing) to members of the research community who are not their supervisors• safeguards and reassures students by providing an additional, ‘external’ check on progress• supports supervisory advice within a supervisory community
Probation• Essential to move from MPhil to PhD• 9-12 months for FT, 16-22 months for PT (≈ 2 X PT)• Research proposal• Seminar• Mini-viva• Report for Research School (form)
Probation assessment benchmarks• probation report – assessed by examiners• skills development summary – assessed by supervisors, checked by examiners• oral presentation – confirmed by supervisors• mini-viva – conducted and assessed by examiners• participation in the research community (CRC extra)
TimetableActivity Full-time students Part-time studentsResearch Degrees office 9 months 16 monthssends a promptResearch proposal to 10 months 20 monthsFacultyCompletion of mini-viva, 11 months 22 monthsfirst assessmentForm/feedback to Research 11 months 22 monthsSchoolCompletion of any remedial 12 months 24 monthsworkFinal form to Research 12 months 24 monthsSchool
Research proposalVaries in size (4 pages + appendices … 30 pages)Required ingredients:1. research question2. context in discourse – critical literature review3. research proposal, including justification and outline of proposed method(s)4. workplan5. empirical work (CRC, not other MCT depts)
What makes a good report? • sets out: – what – why – how – when • is critical • provides evidence of necessary skills • is concise
What makes a good question? • well-stated • focussed, concise • feasible • original • at PhD level: rigorous, publishable, sufficiently independent • of appropriate scope
What makes a good literaturereview? • focussed, concise • supports the well-stated question • identifies a gap • reports and critiques current state of discourse • critical • adds value
What makes a good researchapproach? • feasible • appropriate: likely to deliver the evidence needed to answer the question • rigorous • likely to deliver valid, reliable, (generaliseable?) results • ethical • justified
What makes a good workplan? • realistic • clearly stated milestones • dependencies explicit • contingency planning • timeline – dates • resources • skills • pretty presentation
Skills audit and training• Concise summary of audit, training and development undertaken (e.g. this conference)• Best done systematically over time• Increasingly important for career• What do you think of this part of PhD training?
Giving an oral presentation• Usually 30 mins – 1hour• Normally to the Department• Questions from the audience• Can be „Beamer‟!
The mini-viva• think of it as a discussion, rather than an inquisition• aims to give you a „taste‟ of viva voce examination – but is also formative• be prepared to discuss with an open mind• assume that the assessors are acting in good faith• focus is on demonstration of skills and knowledge• differences between departments
Possible outcomes• registration for PhD• registration for MPhil• remedial action/revisions• de-registration• following remedial action: – registration for PhD – registration for MPhil – de-registration
Form for the Research School1. Your bits:• Elements of probation (activities/events, supervision, skills audit, oral presentation, mini-viva)• Objectives for the coming period2. Assessors‟ report3. Recommendation (ADR)http://www.open.ac.uk/research/main/research-careers/research-students/forms-and-guidance-notes