Policy on post-graduate research

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1 Institute of Social and Economic Research Rhodes University Policy on post-graduate research VERSION 2: approved on 28 April Purpose of policy document This document captures the Institute of Social and Economic Research s (ISER s) policy on postgraduate research as approved by the ISER Research Committee. It supports the core requirements for post-graduate research that are outlined in the Rhodes University Calendar 2015, and provides clarity on processes, procedures, responsibilities and vision, starting with the latter. This document should be read in conjunction with the latest version of the Rhodes University Higher Degrees Guide and related policy documents named below. 2 Vision for post-graduate research in the ISER 2.1 All post-graduate students have to work within the broad areas of social policy and labour studies, and, more particularly, within one of the areas of expertise of ISER academic staff members. 2.2 ISER will focus on a small number of high quality students who will enhance the research work of its academic staff while drawing on the latter s expertise. 2.3 The ISER Research Committee is responsible for the following: Approval of all post-graduate applications Approval of all Master s and PhD proposals prior to their submission to the relevant Higher Degrees Committees. 2.4 No academic staff member of the ISER may agree to supervise a post-graduate student without the approval of the ISER Research Committee. 2.5 Only students directly supervised by a member of the ISER academic staff will be allowed to register through the ISER, except for students of the SARChI Chair: Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction, Prof Catriona Macleod, who cannot register through the Department of Psychology and have been accepted as students by the ISER. Wherever possible, co-supervision of Prof Macleod s students by an ISER academic staff member will be encouraged, particularly where a student s research falls with the areas of social policy or labour studies.

2 2.6 Where a post-graduate student who is registered through the ISER is co-supervised by a member of the ISER academic staff and someone from outside the ISER, the ISER academic staff member would ideally be the primary supervisor unless compelling academic reasons are provided for their role as co-supervisor, and those reasons are formally accepted by the ISER Research Committee (also refer to 2.5 above for an approved exception). This arrangement applies even if the outside person is an ISER Research Associate or Visiting Professor. 2.7 Ideally, members of the ISER academic staff should supervise no more than two Doctoral and two Master s students at a time. Co-supervision will be counted as a portion of a student (50% or less, depending on whether the staff member is the primary or secondary supervisor). All aspects of the system for the management of post-graduate students have to work well to allow students to move through to graduation within standard timeframes, thereby making way for new post-graduate students. 2.8 Changes to this policy document may be approved by the ISER Research Committee, in which case the changes must be recorded in the minutes of the meeting in which those changes were approved, and a new version of this policy document given the date of the meeting at which the changes were approved will be released. 3 Membership of ISER Research Committee 3.1 The following ISER staff members currently serve on the ISER Research Committee: Dr John Reynolds (Chair) Prof Robert van Niekerk Dr Michael Rogan 3.2 The Project Administrator in the Neil Aggett Labour Studies Unit (NALSU), Mr Valance Wessels, serves as the administrator of the ISER post-graduate programme. His duties include maintaining student lists, receiving applications and proposals, recording decisions of the ISER Research Committee, monitoring student compliance with agreed submission deadlines, applying an administrative checklist to all submissions, and organising student colloquia. Mr Wessels will attend all meetings of the ISER Research Committee unless explicitly instructed otherwise. 4 Procedure for the acceptance and registration of ISER students 4.1 All applications for post-graduate study through the ISER have to be approved by the ISER Research Committee before such applications can be approved by the Registrar s Division (the latter being a prerequisite for registration as an ISER student). Policy on Post-Graduate Research (VERSION 2) Page 2 of 9

3 4.2 Applicants who apply directly to the Registrar will be routed to the ISER for consideration as described below. 4.3 A prospective applicant for post-graduate study through the ISER needs to study the academic staff profiles on ISER website to see if her/his proposed research project fits with the areas of research interest of one or more members of the ISER academic staff. The prospective applicant may interact with such a staff member regarding that staff member s interest in supervising the prospective applicant s proposed research project, but should note that allocation of supervisors is the responsibility of the ISER Research Committee (see below). 4.4 All applications have to be lodged with the NALSU Project Administrator, Mr Valance Wessels, who is the designated administrator of the ISER post-graduate programme. 4.5 The following will be required from all applicants for post-graduate study through the ISER: A concept note of 1-3 pages in which the applicant describes the what, why and how of her/his proposed research project. This concept note can be refined in discussion with a prospective supervisor prior to its formal submission to the ISER Research Committee A full curriculum vitae Academic transcripts from all institutions from which degrees have been obtained a minimum entrance requirement has not yet been specified, but is advisable Current contact details of at least three recent referees A sample of her/his recent work e.g. a chapter from her/his most recent thesis, or a copy of an academic article. 4.6 All applications for Master s study have to be submitted to the ISER Research Committee by 15 November of the year preceding the proposed first year of registration. Some leeway will be allowed for applications for doctoral study, but without compromising on the need for approval of applications for doctoral study by the ISER Research Committee at one of its scheduled meetings. 4.7 The ISER Research Committee will meet during the first week of December to review all applications for post-graduate study received by the 15 November deadline only applications that include all of the documentation listed in section 4.5 will be considered. Applications for doctoral research received after that deadline will be considered at a meeting of the ISER Research Committee at an appropriate time after The ISER Research Committee reserves the right to interview any applicant again, only applications that include all of the documentation listed in section 4.5 will be considered. 4.8 The ISER Research Committee reserves the right to designate two of its members to interview a prospective applicant. Policy on Post-Graduate Research (VERSION 2) Page 3 of 9

4 4.9 All applicants will be informed in writing of the decision of the ISER Research Committee, and successful applicants will be required to complete the university s Application for Admission to Master s and Doctoral Degrees and submit it to the Registrar s Division Applicants who receive notification from the Registrar s Division that their applications have been successful will be allowed to register as ISER students. 5 Process for the allocation of supervisors 5.1 Supervisors will be allocated by the ISER Research Committee. Under normal circumstances, this will be done during the meeting at which an application for post-graduate study through the ISER is approved. 5.2 All changes of supervisors and appointment of co-supervisors have to be approved by the ISER Research Committee, following which they need to be communicated to the Dean of the faculty in which the student is registered. 6 Procedure for the approval of research proposals 6.1 No student may interact directly with the Registrar s Division or the Higher Degrees Committee of the faculty in which she/he is registered regarding the submission of her/his proposal, and doing so will risk having the proposal withdrawn by the ISER. 6.2 All research proposals by registered ISER students have to be approved by the ISER Research Committee prior to their submission to the Higher Degrees Committee of the faculty in which those students are registered ISER students can be registered in either the Humanities or Commerce Faculties. 6.3 Research proposals have be submitted to the ISER Research Committee by the ISER submission deadline specified for the Higher Degrees Committee meeting at which the proposal is intended to serve failure to meet that deadline will result in the proposal being held over to the next Higher Degrees Committee meeting. The ISER submission dates will be set at the beginning of each academic year, and will generally be located five weeks prior each meeting of the Humanities and Commerce Higher Degrees Committees. Should no proposals (or applications for post-graduate study) be received by any of the scheduled deadlines, the meeting of the ISER Research Committee linked to that deadline will be cancelled by the chair, unless there are other matters to be considered at that meeting. 6.4 Research proposals have to follow the guidelines I described in Rhodes University s Higher Degrees Guide as well as the particular requirements of the Faculty in which the student is registered. For the Humanities Faculty, the following requirements as amended from time to time by the Humanities Faculty Board apply: Policy on Post-Graduate Research (VERSION 2) Page 4 of 9

5 6.4.1 Master s proposals have to be a minimum of 1800 words and a maximum of 2000 words in length, excluding the reference list and the cover page PhD proposals have to be a minimum of 2800 words and a maximum of 3000 words in length, excluding the reference list and the cover page All proposals must indicate the word count at the end of the text section prior to the references The cover page must include the supervisor s address. 6.5 All registered ISER doctoral students are expected to submit a research proposal to the relevant Higher Degrees Committee within their first year of registration, and all registered ISER Master s students are expected to submit a research proposal to the relevant Higher Degrees Committee within six months of their registration as students again, this may done only after approval of such a proposal by the ISER Research Committee. It is expected that approval of that proposal by the Higher Degrees Committee will be achieved in that first year of post-graduate study. 6.6 The supervisors of postgraduate students whose proposals are to be considered by the ISER Research Committee will be invited to the meetings to which their proposals have been assigned. 6.7 The Chair of the ISER Research Committee will assign two readers to each research proposal to be considered by the committee. Each reader will a report using the template provided in Appendix A of this policy document, and will send their report to the supervisor of the student concerned at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the meeting at which the proposal will be considered. 6.8 The reader s report template makes provision for the following recommendations: (i) accept as is; (ii) accept with comments conveyed to candidate; (iii) revise to the satisfaction of the supervisor, with comments conveyed to candidate; (iv) revise to the satisfaction of the supervisor and an assigned member of the ISER Research Committee, with comments conveyed to candidate; (v) re-submit with concerns conveyed to candidate; (vi) severe concerns regarding the suitability of the proposed research for this higher degree; and (vii) severe concerns regarding the suitability of the candidate for this higher degree. 6.9 The ISER Research Committee will consider the two reader s reports for each proposal considered at a scheduled meeting, with additional input from the supervisor of the student whose proposal is the focus of those reports. The ISER Research Committee will select one of the standard recommendations listed in section 6.8, and the Chair will communicate the decision by to the supervisor concerned. Should recommendations (iii) or (iv) be selected, the candidate will be given until 5pm two working days prior to the upcoming deadline for submission to the Higher Degrees Committee in the Faculty in which the student is registered to submit a revised proposal. Should the candidate miss that deadline, a revised version of the proposal will still be considered as per the selected recommendation (i.e. by the supervisor, or by the supervisor and an assigned member of the committee, as the case might be). If the candidate meets the deadline but does not meet the requirements Policy on Post-Graduate Research (VERSION 2) Page 5 of 9

6 of the persons assigned responsibility for review of the revised proposal, the candidate will be required to resubmit a revised proposal to the full ISER Research Committee by one of its subsequent submission deadlines All research proposals approved by the ISER Research Committee will be signed by both the Chair of the ISER Research Committee and the Director of the ISER, and will be submitted to the Registrar s Division by the Chair of the ISER Research Committee In time, all registered ISER students will be given a document describing the expected deliverables for each year of an ideal, standard or extended Masters of Doctoral Degree the document developed by the Psychology Department at Rhodes University will be used as a template. 7 Support processes and milestones for ISER post-graduate students 7.1 All registered ISER post-graduate students will be required to undergo a one-week induction at the beginning of their first year of the degree for which they have registered. 7.2 During this induction, ISER post-graduate students will be given a copy of the Rhodes University Higher Degrees Guide, a document describing the supervisory relationship (including the responsibilities of student and supervisor), and the document on expected deliverables for each year that was mentioned under point 6 of these minutes. Each ISER post-graduate student will also be requested to sign a research publication agreement. 7.3 During the induction, ISER post-graduate students will also be given a schedule of engagements during the year. 7.4 All ISER post-graduate students will be expected to attend two colloquia per year one in mid-year and one at the end of the year at which each student will present on his/her research and where opportunity for feedback from fellow students and academic staff will be given. 7.5 All ISER post-graduate students will undergo a formal progress assessment at the end of each year that will be discussed in the December meeting of the ISER Research Committee. Policy on Post-Graduate Research (VERSION 2) Page 6 of 9

7 Appendix A Reader s Report template Policy on Post-Graduate Research (VERSION 2) Page 7 of 9

8 Institute of Social and Economic Research Rhodes University Research Committee READER S REPORT Student: Proposal title: Reader: [NAME (STUDENT NUMBER)] Recommendation: Accept as is Accept with comments conveyed to candidate Revise to the satisfaction of the supervisor, with comments conveyed to candidate Revise to the satisfaction of the supervisor and an assigned member of the ISER Research Committee, with comments conveyed to candidate Re-submit with concerns conveyed to candidate Severe concerns regarding the suitability of the proposed research for this higher degree Severe concerns regarding the suitability of the candidate for this higher degree Basic criteria: Coherence (the Why?, What? and How? of the proposal speak to each other) Context (the theory, literature, social context are clearly spelled out and speak to the Why? of the project. This would include an indication of what work, if any, already exists on the topic or theme in order to indicate how the study contributes to the field in short, where and how the study enters the conversation ) Goals (the goals of the project are clearly stated and do-able) Good OK Poor

9 Method (the method allows the researcher to answer the questions and is do-able; the candidate displays sufficient critical awareness and understanding concerning the proposed research method where appropriate) Depth (the candidate displays sufficient reading of the area. In part the point of this is that the candidate should demonstrate familiarity with contemporary developments in his/her discipline) Style and structure (the proposal is technically sound (references and citations match; appropriate referencing system used; basically free of grammatical and typographical errors) and is written in a lucid style) Level (the proposed research is appropriate in depth and scope for the level of degree Masters half thesis, Masters full thesis, doctorate) Ethics (studies involving human subjects should display due respect for ethical considerations and where relevant should have the prior approval of the Ethics Committee) Constitutionality (the proposal should not be underpinned by prejudiced assumptions racism, sexism or homophobia) Good OK Poor General comment:

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