Thank you to everyone who has responded on this thread- it has been great to
see people's views. Some key issues are being laid bare.
Richard Buchanan wrote...
> Thanks for expressing what many of us believe is the essence of the
> Ph.D. in any field of inquiry. What you have described was the guiding
> instruction I received at the University of Chicago when I began my own
> doctoral study--and it was the only reason I had for seeking the degree:
> to fulfill a personal exploration for better understanding of something
> that I had experienced many years before. Study for the Ph.D. is a
> remarkably personal experience, gradually validated and objectified by
> the mind grappling with difficult problems and seeking the best
> answers--the answers most grounded and defensible, as we are given the
> light to see. Aided by a master, who shares what he can, we slowly find
> our place in a very complex world. If we are very fortunate, our work
> may also help others to do the same.
I echo these comments entirely. Pursuing a PhD is an immensely engaging
and personal experience. My previous postings focused on regulatory aspects
of Masters and Doctors degrees in an effort to clarify terms and to identify
the essential differences in the educative processes and final submissions
for these degrees. I think it is essential to air these differences
because they have impact on what students can expect to cover (and how),
what students can expect to achieve and where students can apply their new
expertise. This is at the heart of things, surely? The responses from list
members have to a large extent achieved this, though (importantly) they have
highlighted differences between degrees from different continents.
Nicola Morelli wrote...
> In the same university we also have PhD work consisting in the examination
> of the candidate's own practice we define that PhD as a PhD by project and
> distinguish it from a PhD by research
I still have problems getting around the implication: a PhD (by project)
that is not research? Is that not a contradiction in terms?
Rosan Chow wrote...
> I was after the ULTIMATE purposes and I think that 'original contribution
> is only an immediate one and it doesn't really add anything.
I was trying to provide a succinct description of PhD end-results (as
opposed to the end results that might be expected from a MDes or DDes). I
still believe that the *purpose* of a PhD is to formulate an original
contribution to knowledge. Of course a PhD has many functions, benefits,
purposes (call them what you will) that exist before (or arise through) the
pursuance of an original contribution to knowledge and these have been
raised by other list members.
I think I understand where you are coming from though: by examining which
bodies of knowledge we do (or ought) to contribute, we can examine the
'ultimate' purpose of our PhD. We can examine where our contribution will
be put to use. If I'm on the right tracks, please let me know. I share
your (Rosan's) desire to initiate discussion of these elements and I
apologise if I swayed the line of discussion from your original question- it
wasn't intentional. Indeed, the other strands of discussion that have
emerged from the responses: why we would seek a research degree, the ins and
outs of methodology, the validity of own-practice studies, issues of
generalisation and the structuring of our research programmes are all
immensely important elements to disucss.
Rosan Chow also wrote...
>> If people want to pursue a PhD for an ego-trip or to get a piece of
>> that's up to them. It doesn't leave a good impression. But if we
>> the ultimate test (whether a contribution to knowledge has been achieved)
>> students' motivations fo r PhD research are largely irrelevant.
>I totally disagree.
>Motivations, intentions and values are fundamentally what differentate
>Who we are, are not what we have, but what we do with what we have and that
I totally agree (!).
It's unlikely that anybody will seriously pursue a PhD without motivation,
intent and values spurring on their quest for knowledge and understanding.
In fact, these qualities are likely to prove essential for progress. They
are, as you say, central to the PhD experience. The point I was making was
that in the final analysis, in the presentation of one's contribution to
knowledge to an examination panel, one's reason for pursuing a PhD need not
be disclosed for the degree to be awarded. I would also say that one's
values and frames of reference cannot help but be exposed in a thesis and
examination; they are embedded within the study.
>Education is about humanization. If we uphold Ph.D. education as the
>of formal education, we have some serious problems if we believe what you
>Thank you for your time, Dr. Pedgley but I don't think you have answered my
Please call me Owain, Dr Pedgley reads as too stuffy on this list. I think
there's been a bit of confusion both ways here: I'm probably more on your
side than you think.
Dr Owain Pedgley, R&D Industrial Designer
Sports SET Network: www.sportsetnet.org.uk
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