Postgraduate research methodological flaws detected at final examination stage: Who is to blame?
Keywords:postgraduate research, research proposal, proposal evaluation, final examination, methodological flaws
AbstractIn the wake of globalisation, most universities are intensifying efforts to improve their overall performance in order to attract students and enhance chances of securing competitive funding from various sources. As part of these efforts, universities are striving to ensure that their postgraduate programmes meet nationally and internationally acceptable standards. Research projects conducted by students form a critical component of most postgraduate programmes and universities have put in place procedures meant to ensure that postgraduate research meets acceptable minimum standards. The procedures include setting minimum entry educational qualifications, supervision by qualified members of university academic staff, institutional evaluation of research proposals before the proposed research is embarked on, submission of progress reports by postgraduate students during the course of their programmes, and final examination of students’ theses, dissertations or research reports by internal as well as external examiners. In some instances, the examiners recommend outright rejection of the student’s write-up if they consider the methodology used to be inappropriate to answer research questions of the project conducted. The implications of research methodological shortcomings which are identified at the final examination stage, even if the research proposals were evaluated and approved by appropriate university structures before commencement of the research projects, are discussed. As postgraduate programmes are meant to nurture a competent and resourceful workforce and future researchers, universities need to pay attention to the issue of research methodology and internal evaluation systems in order to minimise chances of compromising the quality of their postgraduate degree programmes.
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