Introducing case studies

Many workshop programs and conference sessions have used case studies on research supervision. Here on fIRST we offer a representative group that highlights different issues, such as confirmation of candidature, appointment of supervisors, ethics, and difficulty in maintaining a suitable rate of progress. The case study authors have provided commentary on the issues as they see them, and descriptions of discussions prompted by the cases.

Case studies can be used by different people in different situations. For example:

  • individual supervisors can read and reflect privately on their practice and the situations they have faced
  • a staff developer can structure a workshop, or part of one, around a case study
  • a department or faculty coordinator of postgraduate study can use a case study as the centrepiece for an informal discussion

Before you begin, you may want to read the section on how to use the case studies. It suggests different activities to encourage engagement with the issues raised in the case studies.

Also we offer The Balancing Act, a collection of eleven case ‘stories’ about the experience of postgraduate study and supervision. These case stories have a slightly different texture from traditional case studies. They are more personal, being the experiences of real people told from their own perspective and using their own words. The stories don’t gloss over the personal and difficult aspects of postgraduate experience but rather bring them to the fore, so they tend to draw the reader into the story more than ‘traditional’ case studies.

The contributors of The Balancing Act have provided some further suggestions about how to use case stories which you may also find helpful in guiding groups through case study discussions.


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