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Research Supervisors for Supervisors and their Students

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Research Supervisors for Supervisors and their Students by Dan Remenyi
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Research should be fun rather than a grind and one should believe in its relevance and value

Keen, P. (1980), ‘MIS Research: Reference disciplines and a cumulative tradition’, Proceedings of the First International Conference on Information Systems, Philadelphia, PA, December 8-10, pp. 9-18.

There is little doubt that educational expectations have been changing. More people want to have a university degree and our society has been encouraging this trend. In fact talk of the knowledge society and its need for expertise has encouraged many people to follow advanced studies. This has resulted in more and more individuals attending university and a resulting increase in graduates. As the number of first-degree graduates has increased the demand for Masters degrees has also been on the increase. More and more universities have begun to take mature individuals without a first Bachelor’s degree onto Masters programmes. The result of this trend has been that having a Masters degree is nowhere near as special as it used to be. Although these degrees, which are normally offered by course work, are available in a wide range of subject areas the most popular by far is the Masters of Business Administration (MBA). This in turn has lead to a major increase in the demand for doctoral degrees in business with the establishment in several universities of the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree.

The number of individuals studying for MBA and DBA degrees has lead to a substantial increase in the demand for research supervisors. Unfortunately the quality of the supervision and supervisors has been mixed and this has sometimes lead to problems for both degree candidates and universities in that the completion rate is often not as good as it should be.

With a few noticeable exceptions universities have generally not paid as much attention to the quality of research supervision as they should have. It has been assumed that researchers would largely look after themselves. In general Deans of Research or Chairpersons of Advanced Degrees Committees have taken the view that if there have been no complaints, the provision made for supervision must be adequate. It has been the no news is good news philosophy. This has been compounded by the fact that there has not been a tradition of reviewing the competence or effectiveness of research supervisors. Supervision has been seen as a sort of additional activity which has generally not been included in the three common requirements for university work, i.e. teaching, research and administration.

This book has been written as a response to the need to improve the standard of supervision of research degrees in universities. In general the quality of research degree supervision is not good. Until recently there have been few courses on the subject of supervision and little published in this area. There has been no comprehensive textbook available covering the key issues involved in research degree supervision.

As mentioned this lack of quality in supervision is evidenced by the poor completion rate and by the fact that dissertations often only just meet minimum requirements or standards. However, funding bodies and Higher Education Authorities have become conscious of the need for better standards of supervision. Furthermore students who have not been appropriately supervised have been known to threaten litigation. There is now a much greater appreciation of the need for sound research supervision processes to be in place, which helps to ensure the quality of the educational experience as well as the standard of the output.

This book will make a contribution to improving the standard of research supervision. It is primarily intended for research supervisors, both experienced and as yet inexperienced. But supervision works best as a co-operative exercise, so this book should also be of use to prospective research students.

Dan Remenyi PhD

March 2004

Academic Conferences Publishing International; January 2012
290 pages; ISBN 9781908272966
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Title: Research Supervisors for Supervisors and their Students
Author: Dan Remenyi; Arthur Money