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.
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.
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.
The study sample size is small (n = 14), and the study is exploratory in nature.
The importance of exploring the factors that actually indicate and lead to research skill development is highlighted.
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.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. 0723686 and No. 1431234. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the funding agency.
Urquhart, S., Maher, M., Feldon, D. and Gilmore, J. (2016), "Factors associated with novice graduate student researchers’ engagement with primary literature", International Journal for Researcher Development, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 141-158. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRD-11-2015-0029Download as .RIS
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