"Creation of a Digital Curation Centre (DCC) was a key recommendation in the JISC Continuing Access and Digital Preservation Strategy, which argued for the establishment of a national centre for solving challenges in digital curation that could not be tackled by any single institution or discipline.
Its remit would also include the provision of generic services, some development activity and research."
(The Digital Curation Centre)
"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)
"The Russell Group represents the 20 leading UK universities which are committed to maintaining the very best research, an outstanding teaching and learning experience and unrivalled links with business and the public sector."
[In the UK the Russell Group represent the traditional and 'red brick' universities and the 'Million+ group' represents the new or 'Plate Glass' universities.There is a similar equivalence in Australia between the more traditional 'sandstone universities' and the 'new' or 'Post-1992 universities'.]
"Researchers in the social sciences generally recognize that any evidence gathering is a selective process informed by existing theories and practices (Kuhn, 1970; Winch, 1988). In a reflective research environment these theories and practices undergo revision, which influences the further gathering of evidence. The process is similar to that explained in the context of design as “reflection in action” (Schön, 1983) and as the interpretive (hermeneutical) faculty in design (Snodgrass, and Coyne, 2006). In what follows I focus on design, and you are invited to consider the applicability of the arguments to artistic practices, composition and other modes of creation."
(Richard Coyne, 28 November 2006)
Kuhn, Thomas. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press.
Schön, Donald A. 1983. Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. London: Temple Smith.
Snodgrass, Adrian, and Richard Coyne. 2006. Interpretation in Architecture: Design as a Way of Thinking. London: Routledge. 332 pages
Winch, Peter. 1988. The Idea of a Social Science: and Its Relation to Philosophy. London: Routledge. First published in 1958.