Alleviating isolation: Research in the conservatoire
The past decade has seen an intensification of the external measurement of both the quality and the quantity of research, in Australia, and other parts of the Western world. This has led to a growing interest in the ways in which institutions develop a research environment that maximises research activity, particularly in the areas of research outputs and doctoral completions. Traditional modes of research supervision have come under increasing scrutiny, with many identifying the need for doctoral students to utilise a wide range of resources, including the supervisor/supervisors. Despite recent attention in the literature, established models of supervisory practice appear to be the default model in the majority of cases. This paper therefore reports on aspects of a larger project into the learning-teaching transactions in music higher degrees. The project interrogated the nature of research higher degree pedagogy from the perspective of candidates and supervisors. The data for the paper were gathered through a series of dialogue forums that were used to identify salient issues for supervisors and for candidates and case stories that sought to delve into these issues in more depth through open-ended interviews. The major theme to emerge from the preliminary analysis was academic isolation, a common concern in academia. The paper reviews the relevant literature, describes examples through case stories and offers suggestions for how a research environment may be created that reduces feelings of isolation. The findings have broader implications for the sector in the supervision of music higher degrees and research supervision more broadly.
Music Education Research