PhD Workshop for Postgraduate Students
Professor Dianne Scott and Dr Tamlynn Fleetwood of the School of Built Environment and Development Studies (BEDS) co-ordinated an eight-day PhD workshop attracting 16 candidates, some from as far away as Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Malawi.
Postgraduate students from most of the disciplines in the School - Development Studies, Population Studies, Planning, Housing and Architecture - attended the workshop which was funded by the NRF/DST Research Chair (SARChI) in Economic Development headed by Professor Dori Posel.
Scott said the participatory workshop aimed to prepare and support PhD students across the School in writing their proposals and preparing for their PhD research; to provide an opportunity for PhD students to discuss their work together; and to provide an integrating mechanism to encourage dialogue across the social science disciplines in the School at post-graduate level.
‘This workshop was designed for new students; for those who have not yet completed their proposals. This is the third year that such a successful workshop has been offered in the School, thanks to the support of Professor Dori Posel,’ said Scott.
Students stated on evaluation forms that the workshop was invaluable to them in the early stages of their proposal writing and they greatly appreciated it.
Some of the more important topics included positioning research in a research paradigm, how to write a literature review and the role of theory in a PhD. Other issues covered included research design, sources of data; and a range of data collection, sampling and methods of analysis and interpretation in both the qualitative and quantitative approaches to research.
The workshop also allowed PhD students to formally present their PhD proposals or progress reports to staff and students. A lot of sharing of ideas and critical discussion took place among students across the disciplines.
Reflecting on the workshop, PhD student Ms Reesha Kara, said, ‘The workshop covered a range of issues critical to the development of research questions and proposals. The facilitators provided us with knowledge and information which forced us to think about where our research fits in relation to the broader body of existing knowledge and in terms of the more philosophical and theoretical categorisation of our work.
‘This workshop was very informative and useful as it provided a framework and springboard from which I can now base the construction and development of my research proposal.’
Fellow student Mr Preston Govindsamy added: ‘The workshop stimulated PhD candidates to think about every aspect of the PhD journey, from their paradigm position to writing up the methodology and results. Such workshops are also important for building networks with your peers to provide a support base and forum for sharing ideas for what many call "a lonely journey”.’