Researchers and Supervisors hear about how to Improve their Skills
‘Brilliant!’ This was the overall assessment of a workshop on PhD dissertation research and writing, and supervisory skills development held on the Westville and Pietermaritzburg campuses.
Facilitated by Mr Erik Hofstee of EXACTICA Thesis and Dissertation Solutions, the workshops were aimed at PhD candidates and supervisors of masters degree candidates.
The workshop was organised by Ms Fortune Shonhiwa who is co-ordinator of the Mastering Masters programme at UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science.
The course provided participants with the knowledge required to conceptualise, plan, research, structure, write and complete a research-based project in the form of a successful PhD dissertation. It also provided practical methods of applying that knowledge.
The skills acquired were also relevant to supervising masters level research degrees.
The first part of the course was devoted to ensuring that the fundamentals of research-based work were well understood by the participants while the second part covered how that knowledge could be translated into a good dissertation.
Various skills and techniques that would make the dissertation a better work or allow those involved to achieve their research/supervision objectives more effectively, were dealt with throughout the course.
‘The course is practical, intensive and outcome-based,’ said Shonhiwa. ‘Those attending were required to participate in several exercises to ensure mastery of key skills.’
After completion of the course, it was hoped participants would be able to effectively:
• conceptualise research projects and judge their feasibility
• identify and delineate researchable problems
• research objectives and research hypotheses/questions/propositions
• project manage theses and dissertations from conceptualisation to completion
• structure theses and dissertations appropriately
• select, evaluate and apply appropriate research methods
• do effective preliminary and detailed primary and secondary research
• create sound research proposals; structure and write the introduction, literature review, method section, body and conclusion of dissertations
• deal with various formalities, including appendices, referencing and bibliographies
• work effectively with supervisors
• understand the principles of good academic writing and editing
• evaluate the work of other scholars; identify and avoid common research and academic writing errors
• evaluate their own work prior to submission to external examiners.
Feedback from the delegates was extremely complimentary. ‘The sessions revived my energies as my career in supervising research is taking-off,’ said Dr Unathi Kolanisi. ‘It was good to self-evaluate myself and after the workshop I know where to strengthen my methodologies and strategies to make sure that my post-graduate students produce quality work in efficient-time.’
‘I only have praise for the way the course was conducted and I found all of the content relevant,’ said PhD candidate, Mr Justin Hart. ‘The only regret I have was that I did not have the opportunity to attend this course before embarking on my PhD.’
- Sally Frost