Postgraduate study in uncharted territory: a comparative study

Leibowitz, Brenda ; Wisker, Gina ; Lamberti, Pia (2016)

CITATION: Leibowitz, B., Wisker, G. & Lamberti, P. 2016. Postgraduate Study in Uncharted Territory: A Compartative Study, in M. Fourie-Malherbe, R. Albertyn, C. Aitchison & E. Bitzer. (eds.). Postgraduate Supervision: Future Foci for the Knowledge Society. Stellenbosch: SUN PRESS. 189-202. doi:10.18820/9781928357223/11.

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Chapters in Books

INTRODUCTION: Worldwide many mid-career professionals in a variety of professional occupations now undertake PhDs (Kiley 2015). In the UK for example, the drive for post-1992 universities to be more research-active, and the impetus from the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, and upcoming REF 2020, has put the spotlight on recruiting, developing and motivating researchers, and encouraging academic staff already in posts to complete doctorates. And in South Africa, the achievement of a PhD is seen as a contribution to education for the public good, and an enhancement to the development of the knowledge economy (ASSAf 2010). This focus emphasises the importance of the PhD award for the academic career trajectory, and highlights the drive to encourage research-informed and research-led teaching and learning, with students as co-constructors of knowledge. The move underlines the vital role that mid-career researchers play in research productivity. The requirement that staff obtain PhDs can create pressures (Harley 2002), where staff have to become ‘ringmasters’, juggling the various institutional roles they have to play (Toews & Yazedjian, 2007). It also can lead to ‘creeping credentialism’, where a PhD is seen as essential in academic life but might be a troublesome extra demand on a professional with qualifications in their own profession (Griffith 1995; Harley 2000; Harley & Lee 1997; Henkel 1997; Henkel 2000).

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