D5 - Practice Research: tensions, challenges and opportunities in doctoral education

Day Day 2
Code D5
Start time 13:40
Developing doctoral researchers
Developing research staff
Developing supervisors and principal investigators

Derek Hales, Research Fellow, New Centre for Research & Practice, University of Salford

Dr Sian Vaughan, Senior Lecturer, Birmingham City University

Dr Oliver Carter, Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Theory, Birmingham City University

Workshop overview: 

There is growing international interest in practice research in the arts, and an increasing use of arts-based methods in other disciplines. Whilst debates around practice research and its articulation continue, less attention has been paid to specific needs in terms of researcher development. 

This workshop briefly introduces the terminologies and concepts of practice research, and charts a tensile relation between modes and models the art and design sector contrasting approaches characterised as artistic research and design science. Through two short case studies, this workshop draws on our own experiences as researcher developers and academics to critically reflect and contextualise how practice research is experienced and supported in doctoral education. To prompt discussion, we reveal the impact of misconceptions on engagement with researcher development and share some of the approaches and methods we have trialled, as well as offering observations on the expression of alternative notions of practice and their transformational value.

Themes covered: 

  • Trends in the wider research, employment, and policy environments and how these might affect researcher development strategy

  • Strategic opportunities and challenges for organisations in creating and sustaining environments where researchers can flourish

Workshop aims: 

  • To engage researcher developers in the discourse on notions of practice research and how it can be supported;
  • To challenge misconceptions and hierarchical assumptions about practice research;
  • To explore institutional approaches to supporting practice researchers to best articulate their research;
  • To critically reflect and contextualise our own experiences in researcher development through both the PhD and the professional Doctorate

Value for delegates:

  • Opportunity to learn about practice research in its multitude of forms for those unfamiliar with its terminology, research methods and challenges;
  • Space for sharing experiences of, and ideas for, supporting practice research, learning about what has worked elsewhere, what hasn’t, and why;
  • Opens up discussions around interdisciplinarity and the value this brings to a research culture, mobilizing notions of practice between disciplines.