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02 MARCH 2013

The practice-exegesis relationship in PhD research

"What characterises creative arts research practice in universities that offer doctoral degrees is the requirement not only to undertake a substantial practical project, but also a reflective exegesis that contextualises the methodologies and significant contributions of the research. The specific components of the exegesis are defined by each institution and re–negotiated by each candidate according to differing emphases. Fortunately, and by design, the function of each candidate's exegesis can be redefined in relation to the practice it seeks to elucidate. And whilst the requirement to also present a substantial written component can initially appear as a burdensome or daunting prospect for those unfamiliar with the processes of critical reflection – to those who recognise its reflexive possibilities – the exegesis in parallel with the creative work of the project can provide another arena of creative practice. In this respect, the outcomes of both a creative arts–based project and its exegesis can be presented as significant contributions to knowledge in the field. Moreover, a third creative space opens. By interchanging and integrating the practice with the exegesis, it may be possible to generate a combined and reflexive research praxis. This chapter examines aspects of the practice–exegesis relationship with reference to my experience of undertaking and completing my doctoral research at Deakin University. I am, therefore, speaking from a position of having confronted and struggled with the practice–exegesis relationship from inside the playing field."

(Stephen Goddard, 2007, p.113)

Goddard, S. (2007). Correspondence Between Practices. "Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry". E. Barrett and B. Bolt, I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. [http://www.scribd.com/doc/113746755/Practice–as–Research].

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
03 OCTOBER 2012

Creative practice research reported through epistolary video

"The result of my doctoral research was presented as a creative work and an exegesis. The research project was an autobiographical video production entitled, Lorne Story. This video production was in the form of a video postcard – an epistolary video reporting on the creative research practice as a creative video–specific research practice. The accompanying exegesis was also in the form of a report – a written letter reflecting upon the creative video research practice, and reflecting upon itself – as a creative written research practice. This approach suggested that both the practice and the exegesis are creative research practices – both separately and together. In my research, the relationship between the practice and the exegesis also developed as a correspondence between practices."

(Stephen Goddard, 2007, p.113)

Goddard, S. (2007). Correspondence Between Practices. "Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry". E. Barrett and B. Bolt, I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd. [http://www.scribd.com/doc/113746755/Practice–as–Research].

TAGS

2007artwork and exegesis • autobiographical video narration • autobiographical video production • correspondence between practices • creative arts research practice • creative research practice • creative video research practice • creative work • creative written research practice • critical reflectiondoctoral degreedoctoral researchepistolary narrative • epistolary video • exegesisfield diaryfragmentary storiesLorne StoryPhDpostcardpractical projectreflective exegesisStephen Goddardvideo (research method) • video notebook • video postcard • video production • video-specific research practice • written componentwritten exegesis • written letter

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
13 JANUARY 2012

Training for Practice-Based Research: Adaptation, Integration and Diversity

"Our study was concerned with adapting existing research methods courses to accommodate practice–based research training rather than creating new programmes. Lest we are tempted to develop courses customised exclusively for practice–based research students it is worth noting that practice–based research does not present as a unified mode of studying for a PhD. There are differences between and within subject areas, different modes of study, and there are different outcomes. In the case of PhDs by Composition at the University of Edinburgh, the outcome to be examined is a portfolio of compositions suitable for presentation as a concert programme. No written component is required, other than musical notation and programme notes. ECA defines practice–based research as 'the exploration of a subject of enquiry through practical work accompanied by a related text' (ECA Grad School Student Handbook 2005–2006). The usual model at ECA is for a series of artworks or designs in conjunction with a thesis text, which may take the form of documentation, rationale, justification, position–statement or critique.

As mentioned, the strong assertion for practice–based research is that it is no different than any other kind of research, or, at least, it is as different from the rest as they are from each other. Our trial research methods course included students of archaeology, architecture, landscape architecture, history of art, visual and cultural studies, sound design, history of music, furniture design, fine art, sculpture, drawing and painting, and architecture by design. In fact student feedback singled out archaeology and laboratory–based research into architectural structures as having the least support from the course. Practice–based students also found the course content less than satisfactory to their needs, but personal attention from the art–practice researcher/tutor seemed to ameliorate such deficits, and certain lectures would at least make mention of practice–based research, even if to indicate that it may be an exception to the case under discussion. The importance of this basic level of recognition applies equally to transferable skills training. Practitioners singled out time management, scheduling and planning as crucial in the context of exhibitions and performances, involving the management of a range of conflicting variables.

We conclude that acknowledgement of practice–based research, along with every other mode of research represented in the class, is the least that can be expected in a research methods course. The minimum provision is for intellectual space for practice–based students to give voice to the issues that affect them, and an invitation to discuss the relevance of the material presented in lectures. A further level of engagement involves exposure to personnel who have an investment in the mode of research under discussion, even if that mode of research is not incorporated into the curriculum.

But practice–based research students drew attention to the need for formal practitioner input as vital in delivering insights into ways of working, particularly from those who have already gained PhDs through this mode of study. Practitioner input is to be included within the portfolio of expertise that includes historians, archivists, musicologists, technical experts and information specialists.

Whereas it is desirable to inject yet more course content to accommodate the different groups in a student cohort, this recommendation raises the issue of how to do so in the context of a diverse student cohort. Students from all areas reported their appreciation of the chance to study with students from different backgrounds and in different disciplines. Disciplines can be sufficiently different, but with common threads. In the course under study these threads were highlighted in discussions and at the student conference that culminated the course. Learning through a recognition of difference was also emphasized in the course documentation and some of the lectures and exercises. Difference, provocation and appropriation are major stimuli to creative production and can be exploited in a research methods course that supports a diverse range of students. This is abetted by an ethos of openness and conviviality within the course, identifying possible linkages, and teaching staff being open in discussion contexts. A diversity of research methods delivery is a seam to be mined in the case of practice–based research. In this, the potential eclecticism of practice–based research can provide a model for other modes of research, expanding the idea of what a PhD is or can be.

None–the–less in our trial course the issue of relevance surfaced frequently. The plan had been to deliver course material of general relevance in a lecture format, open the session to discussion and then provide break–out groups organized along disciplinary lines. In practice, the break–out groups proved too informally constituted to fulfill this purpose, and by this stage in any session the lecturers' and students' appetites for further delivery was diminished. Students wanted to discuss, often across disciplinary lines and according to other than disciplinary configurations. The discussions were regarded as extremely valuable, but not in addressing specific disciplinary needs. There is a need for some classes at least that specifically address practice–based research issues.

We conclude that there is value in providing at least one lecture/session on the problematics of research from a practice–based perspective, and involving practitioners. This discussion can also be highly relevant to humanities students whose interest in research may be more eclectic that students in disciplines with a scientific or empirical orientation. Rather than remove practice–based research students from the cohort for special attention, the alternative is to identify students from science–based disciplines, or those working with strictly prescribed methodologies, for alternative instruction. Practice–based students reported their desire to participate in debate and discussion with interested students beyond their own fields.

In summary, practice–based research students benefit from working in a diverse context and do not necessarily require their own course. In fact practitioners reported that there are benefits in being exposed to a variety of different approaches which may shed new light on their research, and the opportunity to make interdisciplinary connections. Nor did students demand their own course, just the recognition of the issues that affected their candidature, the introduction of certain themes pertinent to their modes of research, and exposure to experienced practitioners."

(Richard Coyne and Jenny Triggs, 2007)

TAGS

art-practice researchercurriculum design • ECA • exegesis • experienced practitioners • exploration of a subject of enquiry • insights into ways of working • Jenny Triggs • modes of research • modes of study • musical notationPhDposition-statement • practical work • practice-basedpractice-based research • practice-based research students • practice-based research training courses • practitionersrationaleresearchresearch methods • research methods course • research trainingRichard Coyne • thesis text • transferable skills • University of Edinburghwritten component

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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