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Type: Conference paper
Title: A principles-evaluate-discuss model for teaching journal and conference paper writing skills to postgraduate research students
Author: Westra, S.
Leonard, M.
Thyer, M.
Citation: Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, 2015 / Oo,, A., Patel,, A., Hilditch,, T., Chandran,, S. (ed./s), pp.1-10
Publisher: School of Engineering, Deakin University
Issue Date: 2015
ISBN: 9780730000419
Conference Name: 26th Australasian Association for Engineering Education Conference (AAEE2015) (6 Dec 2015 - 9 Dec 2015 : Geelong, Victoria)
Editor: Oo,, A.
Patel,, A.
Hilditch,, T.
Chandran,, S.
Statement of
Seth Westra, Michael Leonard and Mark Thyer
Abstract: BACKGROUND OR CONTEXT For postgraduate research students, critical thinking and communication skills are foundational to their research activity, as emphasized in the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) level 10 criteria. Despite the importance of these skills to the successful completion of a postgraduate degree, there are few formal programmes in Australia for developing a student’s skills in these areas, with most of the learning coming incidentally as students work towards their degree. Graduate centres typically focus on milestone completion, writing and learning centres provide workshops, remedial support and targeted training sessions, but much more could be done to improve these central areas of skill development. Students, however, commonly look to their supervisors for how to critique existing literature as well as write and publish original research, with the latter increasingly being viewed as the principal metric by which the impact of research is measured. PURPOSE OR GOAL This paper reviews the use of journal clubs in the development of postgraduate research attributes and the educational approaches which have given greatest success. The paper also documents the authors’ experiences in running journal clubs over the past few years, covering trade-offs such as the balance between instructor led skills development and peeroriented instruction, how to iterate between topics of reading comprehension, review, writing and other specialist elements (e.g. graphics, statistics), and how to motivate students. APPROACH The work will commence with a detailed review of the literature detailing existing practice related to hosting journal clubs for postgraduate students, as well as a review of any literature on alternative approaches for teaching journal and conference paper writing skills. The "principles-evaluate-discuss" model will be described, including links to the the AQF learning outcomes. Results of a short student survey will be presented to review the outcomes of the approach from a student perspective. DISCUSSION The strength of the model at a postgraduate level lies in the range of stages between PhD students within the journal club (from first year to final year PhD students). The requirement for peer-to-peer feedback facilitates scaffolded learning for students who are yet to write a full paper, and it reinforces the understanding of students who have already experienced the process. There is additional benefit that, over a year, all students receive feedback on their own written work from a range of perspectives outside their supervision team. A number of challenges were discussed, including limiting workload, linking the journal club to formal assessments such as the PhD student 'confirmation' process, development of methods for celebrating milestone achievements, and maintaining momentum for the club over the period of several years. RECOMMENDATIONS/IMPLICATIONS/CONCLUSION There are a wide variety of possible formats for journal clubs, and the format of the University of Adelaide hydrology club will continue to evolve. In general, however, our experience has been that the presence of a journal club leads to increases in a student’s understanding of the literature, improves their ability both to critique scientific research contributions and write their own manuscripts, and reduces the level of isolation that is commonly felt at the postgraduate level.
Rights: © 2015 Australasian Association for Engineering Education These proceedings are copyright. Apart from fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without the written permission of AAEE. Responsibility for the contents of the articles rests upon the authors and not the publisher. Data presented and conclusions drawn by the authors are for information only and not for use without independent substantiating investigations on the part of the potential user.
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 3
Civil and Environmental Engineering publications

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