Developing researchers in the arts and humanities: lessons from a pilot programme to develop discipline-specific research skills
Although increasing emphasis is placed on the provision of research training for doctoral students, much of the support currently available is generic in nature, rather than tailored to the student’s particular field(s) of study. In this paper, I briefly review UK graduate education for arts and humanities research students, and some of the ways in which the distinctive demands of their discipline(s) shape the research student experience and hence their development needs. I describe the design and delivery of a pilot programme of discipline-specific research skills development, co-ordinated by the Subject Centre for Philosophical and Religious Studies, which aims to address such needs; and I evaluate its success. I conclude with some recommendations for future practice; in particular, I argue that doctoral training provision is more effective when it involves a subject-specific approach in which practising academics from the discipline(s) play a significant role – both in terms of fostering an improved level of student engagement with the programme, and of delivering training and development opportunities which are tailored to the student’s particular context and needs.