Preparing to teach 'the literature review': staff and student views of the value of a compulsory course in research education. This essay is by Maureen Nimon. It appeared in Australian Academic & Research Libraries, Volume 33 Nº 3, September 2002.
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This paper reports on the outcome of a small research project the goal of which was both immediate and practical. It was to determine the content of the curriculum, the form of the teaching and the nature of assessment of a new course on the literature review. The course was to be taught as part of a new doctoral program. Research, albeit on a small scale, was warranted because it was anticipated that the nature of the course would be unlike any other previously taught by the researcher or anyone else in the school. As many of the school's doctoral students would be required to take the course once it was introduced, it had the potential to disrupt their work as much as to facilitate it, if it were not well-conceived and designed. It could also irk the staff who supervised them, if such disruption occurred.
The primary outcome of the study was insight into the views of the staff and students interviewed about the planned provision of compulsory courses for research students. The study also revealed incidentally the complexity of the information-seeking behaviour of both staff and students at research level and how instructional and bureaucratic interventions designed to improve students' behaviour in this regard may be perceived as impeding their progress, rather than facilitating it. The study took the form of individual interviews with academics and PhD candidates in one school of the University of South Australia over three months, undertaken by the person designated as responsible for designing and teaching 'The Literature Review'.