Education higher degree research students writing for publication

McGregor, Rowena (2012) Education higher degree research students writing for publication. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Higher Degree Research (HDR) student publications are increasingly valued by students, by professional communities and by research institutions. Peer-reviewed publications form the HDR student writer's publication track record and increase competitiveness in employment and research funding opportunities. These publications also make the results of HDR student research available to the community in accessible formats. HDR student publications are also valued by universities because they provide evidence of institutional research activity within a field and attract a return on research performance. However, although publications are important to multiple stakeholders, many Education HDR students do not publish the results of their research. Hence, an investigation of Education HDR graduates who submitted work for publication during their candidacy was undertaken.

This multiple, explanatory case study investigated six recent Education HDR graduates who had submitted work to peer-reviewed outlets during their candidacy. The conceptual framework supported an analysis of the development of Education HDR student writing using Alexander's (2003, 2004) Model of Domain Learning which focuses on expertise, and Lave and Wenger's (1991) situated learning within a community of practice. Within this framework, the study investigated how these graduates were able to submit or publish their research despite their relative lack of writing expertise.

Case data were gathered through interviews and from graduate publication records. Contextual data were collected through graduate interviews, from Faculty and university documents, and through interviews with two Education HDR supervisors. Directed content analysis was applied to all data to ascertain the support available in the research training environment. Thematic analysis of graduate and supervisor interviews was then undertaken to reveal further information on training opportunities accessed by the HDR graduates. Pattern matching of all interview transcripts provided information on how the HDR graduates developed writing expertise. Finally, explanation building was used to determine causal links between the training accessed by the graduates and their writing expertise.

The results demonstrated that Education HDR graduates developed publications and some level of expertise simultaneously within communities of practice. Students were largely supported by supervisors who played a critical role. They facilitated communities of practice and largely mediated HDR engagement in other training opportunities. However, supervisor support alone did not ensure that the HDR graduates developed writing expertise. Graduates who appeared to develop the most expertise, and produce a number of publications reported experiencing both a sustained period of engagement within one community of practice, and participation in multiple communities of practice.

The implications for the MDL theory, as applied to academic writing, suggests that communities of practice can assist learners to progress from initial contact with a new domain of interest through to competence. The implications for research training include the suggestion that supervisors as potentially crucial supporters of HDR student writing for publication should themselves be active publishers. Also, Faculty or university sponsorship of communities of practice focussed on HDR student writing for publication could provide effective support for the development of HDR student writing expertise and potentially increase the number of their peer-reviewed publications.

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ID Code: 63275
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Diezmann, Carmel
Keywords: higher degree research students, communities of practice, expertise, legitimate peripheral participation, model of domain learning, novice writers, scholarly publication, writing for publication
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 10 Oct 2013 05:08
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2015 07:02

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