UCA Research Supervisor Training, 16th-17th November 2011

The Art Workers' Guild

The Art Workers' Guild, London

The Kaptur Project Director and Kaptur Project Manager attended the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) Research Supervisor Training at The Artworker’s Guild in London. As the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS), is a Research Centre of UCA, we hope to meet the requirements for Research Supervision in the future, and this training course is one compulsory component of this. In addition the two days training were extremely useful for the immediate needs of the Kaptur project.

The training provided a good overview of the requirements of research staff when they supervise PhD students including the various roles and responsibilities across UCA as well as timings throughout the year. This will benefit Kaptur in terms of adding to the list of stakeholders at UCA; discussing and comparing these with the other Kaptur partner institutions; deciding upon the nature and timing of the training and support that will be provided as part of the Kaptur project. For example UCA have recently started to host an event for Research Supervisors that takes place in parallel to the induction event for Research students; the Supervisors attend their own event and then meet up with the students for discussion during the lunchtime session. The Research Degree Committee meets four times a year in September, December, February, and May/June; there are sub-committees, such as for Ethics. Advanced Research Methods training for students is held in November and February, and there are 8 Graduate Forums each year. In addition to in-house tools and services, the Vitae Researcher Development Framework was also discussed.

VADS is situated within the Library and Learning Services (LLS) department at UCA, and several colleagues from LLS are involved in Research support in addition to our colleagues in the Research Office, such as writing workshops led by Study Advisors. It was very useful to learn more about the individual specific roles and responsibilities and this will mean that Kaptur’s efforts can be more targeted in the future. It was also useful to chat to Academic staff, several of whom were very experienced and attending the event as a refresher course.

Finally, the intellectual discussion amongst colleagues opened up another dimension in terms of terminology with artistic research. This is a topic which has been of interest particularly since the JISC funded Kultivate project and is one which the project team has been discussing in relation to managing visual arts research data. The Project Team have already encountered difficulties in terms of terminology in using the term ‘research data’ when speaking about the Kaptur project to others, and we hope that the interviews (which the Project Officers are currently undertaking) will serve to illuminate the views of the visual arts researchers and perhaps provide us with some alternative terms we can use. The UCA Director of Research and Enterprise used the carefully considered phrase ‘Research in the space of art and design’ rather than ‘practiced-based’ or ‘practice-led’ research, due to the different meanings that can be associated with those terms. Other presenters mentioned concepts, models, and philosophies including French philosophers Jacques Rancière, Jacques Derrida, and Jean Baudrillard.

Other considerations

  • Research students can view a PhD as ‘about improving their practice’ but that is not the aim, although this may be a consequence – there is a danger that students can hold back thinking their artwork has to be a ‘masterpiece’
  • We talked about ‘taking risks’ and some interesting stories were shared; particularly in terms of how the body of work is presented as a thesis and the relationship of practice to a written thesis component
  • There is a role for logs and notebooks to inform and evidence working methods
  • Ethical issues require approval from the Institution’s Ethics Committee before research takes place. This includes plagiarism (NB: Spot the Difference, a JISC funded project is researching ‘visual plagiarism’) there are also considerations of how the data will be stored.
  • Of particular relevance to Kaptur, the following document was discussed: AHRC support for Practice-led research through our Research Grants – practice-led and applied route (RGPLA)

    We expect all of our research projects to have some form of documentation of the
    research process, which usually takes the form of textual analysis or explanation to
    support the research’s position and to demonstrate critical reflection.

    One of the presenters provided a really useful analogy: ‘some form of’ documentation compared to going on a walking holiday and suggesting you bring ‘some form of’ shoes. Lots to think about and follow-up on afterwards!

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One Comment on “UCA Research Supervisor Training, 16th-17th November 2011”

  1. […] Project Director and Project Manager attended UCA Research Supervisor Training, 16th-17th November 2011 […]


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