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International Journal for Researcher Development
Number of Followers: 10  
  Hybrid Journal Hybrid journal (It can contain Open Access articles)
ISSN (Print) 2048-8696
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  • Becoming a PI: agency, persistence and some luck!
    • Pages: 106 - 122
      Abstract: International Journal for Researcher Development, Volume 7, Issue 2, Page 106-122, November 2016.
      Purpose This paper aims to examine the experience of gaining research independence by becoming a principal investigator (PI) – an aspiration for many post-PhD researchers about whom little is known. It provides insight into this experience by using a qualitative narrative approach to document how 60 PIs from a range of disciplines in one European and two UK universities experienced working towards and achieving this significant goal. Design/methodology/approach Within the context of a semi-structured interview, individuals drew and elaborated a map representing the emotional high and low experiences of the journey from PhD graduation to first PI grant, and completed a biographic questionnaire. Findings Regardless of the length of the journey from PhD graduation to first PI grant, more than a third noted the role that luck played in getting the grant. Luck was also perceived to have an influence in other aspects of academic work. This influence made it even more important for these individuals to sustain a belief in themselves and be agentive and persistent in managing the challenges of the journey. Originality/value The study, unusual in its cross-national perspective, and its mixed mode data collection, offers a nuanced perspective on the interaction between agency and an environment where the “randomness factor” plays a role in success. The function of luck as a support for sustained agency and resilience is explored.
      Citation: International Journal for Researcher Development
      PubDate: 2016-11-17T11:39:16Z
      DOI: 10.1108/IJRD-12-2015-0033
  • Supervisor wellbeing and identity: challenges and strategies
    • Pages: 123 - 140
      Abstract: International Journal for Researcher Development, Volume 7, Issue 2, Page 123-140, November 2016.
      Purpose This research aims to explore the professional identity of supervisors and their perceptions of stress in doctoral learning supervision. The research determines ways of developing strategies of resilience and well-being to overcome stress, leading to positive outcomes for supervisors and students. Design/methodology/approach Research is in two parts: first, rescrutinising previous work, and second, new interviews with international and UK supervisors gathering evidence of doctoral supervisor stress, in relation to professional identity, and discovering resilience and well-being strategies. Findings Supervisor professional identity and well-being are aligned with research progress, and effective supervision. Stress and well-being/resilience strategies emerged across three dimensions, namely, personal, learning and institutional, related to emotional, professional and intellectual issues, affecting identity and well-being. Problematic relationships, change in supervision arrangements, loss of students and lack of student progress cause stress. Balances between responsibility and autonomy; uncomfortable conflicts arising from personality clashes; and the nature of the research work, burnout and lack of time for their own work, all cause supervisor stress. Developing community support, handling guilt and a sense of underachievement and self-management practices help maintain well-being. Research limitations/implications Only experienced supervisors (each with four doctoral students completed) were interviewed. The research relies on interview responses. Practical implications Sharing information can lead to informed, positive action minimising stress and isolation; development of personal coping strategies and institutional support enhance the supervisory experience for supervisors and students. Originality/value The research contributes new knowledge concerning doctoral supervisor experience, identity and well-being, offering research-based information and ideas on a hitherto under-researched focus: supervisor stress, well-being and resilience impacting on supervisors’ professional identity.
      Citation: International Journal for Researcher Development
      PubDate: 2016-11-17T11:39:34Z
      DOI: 10.1108/IJRD-03-2016-0006
  • Factors associated with novice graduate student researchers’ engagement
           with primary literature
    • Pages: 141 - 158
      Abstract: International Journal for Researcher Development, Volume 7, Issue 2, Page 141-158, November 2016.
      Purpose Using the threshold concepts framework, this paper aims to explore how differences in the ability to meaningfully apply relevant literature to one’s research are reflected in descriptions of graduate training undertaken in an academic year. Design/methodology/approach This paper used a sequential-explanatory mixed method design. Phase I analysis used quantitative performance data to differentiate research skill threshold crossers from non-crossers. Phase II analysis used qualitative interview data to identify common and differentiating themes across and between the two groups. Findings Participants identified coursework, research activities and teaching assignments as primary research skill development sites. However, only the patterns of mentorship and engagement with literature within the context of supervised research activities consistently differentiated threshold crossers from non-crossers. All non-crossers reported having full autonomy in their research endeavors, whereas all crossers articulated reliance on supervising mentor guidance. Similarly, most non-crossers did not frame research as incremental contributions to existing literature, while most crossers did. Research limitations/implications The study sample size is small (n = 14), and the study is exploratory in nature. Practical implications The importance of exploring the factors that actually indicate and lead to research skill development is highlighted. Originality/value Few studies address graduate student research skill development, although this skill development is a core goal of many graduate programs. This study does so, using performance rather than self-report data.
      Citation: International Journal for Researcher Development
      PubDate: 2016-11-17T11:39:00Z
      DOI: 10.1108/IJRD-11-2015-0029
  • Evaluating undergraduate research conferences as vehicles for novice
           researcher development
    • Pages: 159 - 177
      Abstract: International Journal for Researcher Development, Volume 7, Issue 2, Page 159-177, November 2016.
      Purpose This paper aims to focus on the undergraduate research conference as its sphere of study and investigate the impact of significance of participation and socialisation in such activities on student attitudes and professional development. Using situated learning to theoretically position the undergraduate research conference as an authentic learning context, connection is also made with the concept of graduate attributes. Design/methodology/approach The Vitae (2014) Researcher Development Framework (RDF) is used to provide a template for charting the experiences and development of undergraduate students as researchers. This can be applied to short-term activities and programmes and to long-term career plans. The insights from 90 undergraduate students participating in three national undergraduate research conferences were obtained through interviews, and thematically analysed to map the students’ skills development against the RDF criteria. Findings Three main aspects of undergraduate research conference participation were considered particularly important by the students: the value of paper presentations, the value of poster presentations and the value of the overall conference experience. Within these themes, participants identified a wide range of skills and attributes they felt they had developed as a result of either preparing for or participating in the conferences. The majority of these skills and attributes could be mapped against the different domains of the RDF, using a public engagement lens for comparing actual with expected developmental areas. Research limitations/implications This research helps undergraduate research conference organisers construct programme content and form it in such a way that students’ skill development can be maximised prior to, and during, the course of an event. Learning developers can also use these findings to help understand the support needs of students preparing to deliver papers at such conferences. So far, little empirical research has examined students’ skills development within the undergraduate research conference arena. Originality/value The outcomes of this study show the diversity of the skills that students developed and the value of the conference format for offering networking practice and enhancing the communication skills which employers value.
      Citation: International Journal for Researcher Development
      PubDate: 2016-11-17T11:39:52Z
      DOI: 10.1108/IJRD-10-2015-0026
  • Faculty–student coauthorship as a means to enhance STEM graduate
           students’ research skills
    • Pages: 178 - 191
      Abstract: International Journal for Researcher Development, Volume 7, Issue 2, Page 178-191, November 2016.
      Purpose This study aims to examine the contribution of faculty–student coauthorship to the development of graduate students’ research skills in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by quantitatively assessing rubric-measured research skill gains over the course of an academic year compared to students who did not report participating in coauthorship with faculty mentors. Design/methodology/approach A quasi-experimental mixed methods approach was used to test the hypothesis that the influence of STEM graduate students’ mentored writing mentorship experiences would be associated with differential improvement in the development of their research skills over the course of an academic year. Findings The results indicate that students who co-authored with faculty mentors were likely to develop significantly higher levels of research skills than students who did not. In addition, less than half of the participants reported having such experiences, suggesting that increased emphasis on this practice amongst faculty could enhance graduate student learning outcomes. Originality/value Qualitative studies of graduate student writing experiences have alluded to outcomes that transcend writing quality per se and speak directly to the research skills acquired by the students as part of their graduate training. However, no study to date has captured the discrete effects of writing experiences on these skills in a quantifiable way.
      Citation: International Journal for Researcher Development
      PubDate: 2016-11-17T11:39:55Z
      DOI: 10.1108/IJRD-10-2015-0027
  • It takes a village to raise an ECR
    • Pages: 192 - 197
      Abstract: International Journal for Researcher Development, Volume 7, Issue 2, Page 192-197, November 2016.
      Purpose The purpose of this paper is to describe organisational strategies that support early career researchers in building a successful track record which can lead to a successful academic research career. Design/methodology/approach This paper draws on more than a decade of experience designing, implementing and evaluating professional development programmes for early career researchers in universities. Findings If an early career researcher is to achieve long-term success, the first five years after graduating with a doctorate are critical in establishing long-term career success. Professional development programmes for early career researchers are more successful if they are supported by organisational strategies around workload, performance management and accountability. Originality/value If implemented, these organisational strategies can assist early career researchers to build a successful track record, which can lead to a successful research career and contribute towards increasing aggregate institutional research performance for universities.
      Citation: International Journal for Researcher Development
      PubDate: 2016-11-17T11:39:43Z
      DOI: 10.1108/IJRD-11-2015-0031
  • Strategies for developing a writing community for doctoral students
    • Pages: 198 - 210
      Abstract: International Journal for Researcher Development, Volume 7, Issue 2, Page 198-210, November 2016.
      Purpose The purpose of this paper is to present considerations for developing a writing community for doctoral students. Design/methodology/approach The paper reflects on data from a self-study of a writing seminar in which the authors were involved. The authors examined students’ writing samples and peer-review comments, email correspondence, online discussion board postings, meeting minutes and participants’ reflections on their participation in the seminar. Findings While doctoral students described benefits from their participation in the writing seminar, the paper provides a cautionary tale concerning the challenges that can arise in the development and delivery of interventions that focus on developing writing communities involving doctoral students. Research limitations/implications This article draws on findings from an examination of a writing intervention to consider potential challenges that faculty and students face in developing writing communities. Findings may not apply to other kinds of settings, and they are limited by the small number of participants involved. Practical implications The paper discusses strategies that might be used to inform faculty in the development of writing communities for doctoral students. Social implications The authors’ experiences in developing and delivering a writing seminar highlight the importance of the process of trust-building for students to perceive the value of feedback from others so that they can respond to the technical demands of doctoral writing. Originality/value There is a growing body of work on the value of writing interventions for doctoral students such as retreats and writing groups. These are frequently facilitated by faculty whose area of expertise is in teaching writing. This paper contributes understanding to what is needed for faculty who are not writing instructors to facilitate groups of this sort. Participants must demonstrate a sufficient level of competence as writers to review others’ work; develop trusting, collegial relationships with one another; and be willing to contribute to others’ development and make a commitment to accomplishing the required tasks.
      Citation: International Journal for Researcher Development
      PubDate: 2016-11-17T11:40:02Z
      DOI: 10.1108/IJRD-02-2016-0003
School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences
Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, UK
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Fax: +00 44 (0)131 4513327
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