A month ago I mentioned I was going to attempt a PhD by Publication at the University of Canberra. I still am, but I am withdrawing my expression of interest to do a PhD by publication, deciding instead to do a standard PhD by research.
About a week ago, one of my supervisors Keith Lyons recommended I reconsider the by publication route, explaining that the PhD by research offers much more flexibility on how and where I publish it, which for me and my principles around openness and popular relevance, will be pretty important.
Today I had lunch with another supervisor, James Neil. We discussed our thinking about my ideas of topic direction. We also talked about the need to balance my life with Sunshine and our first baby, my paid work, and this attempt to complete a PhD. I'm looking for the shortest route to the qualification, were I can efficiently learn things that will help my future prospects, and that will take me into topics I am interested in - helping me maintain motivation. This last point is important, but it could affect the earlier points.
Looking at the following content structure, and comparing it with my initial expression of interest, you may recognise significant scope creep. This is because in reality, the work with Sport Studies has broader implications in the Faculty, the University and the Australian Higher Education sector.
Proposed content structure
Deconstructing Higher Education
- What (if any) agreement is there on its purpose in Australia.
- Historical and present day influences on general development and direction.
- The common structures and financial models.
Critiquing the University of Canberra
- Situating UC in the Australian higher education sector.
- Critiquing its directional plans and policies.
- Analysing its culture of practice.
- Proposing open education and research in the UC context.
- Describing a theoretical and historical background to a model of open education and research.
- Reviewing other models of open education and research.
- Situating a model within the University of Canberra context (including its external influences).
- Reviewing measurement methods for open education and research development.
- Implementing development activities within a focus group at the University of Canberra.
- Monitoring effectiveness, and analysing impact.
- Analysing participatory narratives.
- Comparing the results with the larger culture of the University.
- Financial cost benefit analysis
- Cultural analysis findings
- Individual action guide
- Directional plans and policy review recommendations
The research question that arises out of this then is: How does open education and research develop in an Australian university?
The purpose of a PhD (historically speaking) is to prove my ability to conduct research and form conclusions. I'm fully aware of my particular activist bias toward open education, and my weakness in accessing and considering all influences on that agenda. While I will personally aim to uncover as much shared truth as possible, I appreciate the opportunities that post, even anti positivist stances offer, in that my own position in this work remains present and relevant. This stance compliments my attempt to also define and model an open PhD project.
The open PhD
At the moment, the process I wish to follow is as follows:
- Use my blog (and related channels) for formative notes and reflection.
- Encourage supervisors to engage in discussion on my blog, and turn these considerations into content actions towards my PhD
- Transfer content actions into my PhD Wiki
- Invite supervisors and wider networks to assist in developing an annotated bibliography around this content. Items in the bibliography should openly accessible. Where they are not, and no alternative suites, I will pursue copyrights to republish.
- Draft sections on the wiki and post them to my blog for feedback
- Continue this spiral towards completed sections and chapters to the necessary style
- Produce a printed and bound version in three readership levels, as in the broadbanding information idea (children, adults, experts)