The plethora of subjects under the banner of ‘Research’ and available to OEP students can be confusing. In this post we address some further common questions.
Why so many subject options?
The reason is simple – they increase study options and flexibility for students. For example 25 and 50 point subjects can be undertaken over either one or two semesters. Students can apply to a subject which best allows you to accommodate other study and work commitments. A further consideration might be the type of project you have in mind. Many science topics for example require a ‘field season’ that can be appropriately scheduled in a two semester research subject.
I am interested in further study (ie a PhD); what is the minimum research subject points I should take?
Assuming you have no prior research subject experience, say from study at the Honours level, at Melbourne University you should do a minimum of 25 points of research in the final year of your degree. This minimum will allow you to apply to a PhD program at this University. If you have other institutions in mind you should find out their requirements.
Are the requirements for taking ENST90006 Environmental Research Review 12.5 points the same as all the other research subjects?
The short answer is yes.
ENST90006 is a research subject like any other. You must have a researchable question or issue. An academic supervisor is required to assist you in developing that research question. The supervisor also assists in identifying the academic literature that you are going to engage in order to address the question you have posed. You must submit a proposal and an application form.
The literature review based research subject does not require that you do any original research. You do not need to gather any data or information. Rather, you focus your research activities on examining a conversation that has occurred in the academic literature. You need an interesting problem or ‘hook’ to get into the literature.
Here is a really great example from last year. A student was aware that current Victorian fire management strategies made assumptions about Aboriginal fire practices of the past. He decided to review the literature to see what was known about Aboriginal fire practices. Literature searches were streamlined to two main themes – the cultural record and the scientific record, and a focus in the high country of Victoria. The conclusion was that neither record was extensive enough to make any robust conclusions about impacts of Aboriginal fire regimes, but that what was known did contribute some knowledge about alpine ecologies and their relationship with fire.
What do I write about in Environmental Research Review?
This subject requires a specialised approach to literature searching and reading; one that requires a question to be examined or an issue to be explored. Your final report documents your engagement with the literature including your interpretations of the assumptions, debates, research foci that you encounter. You will be making an argument about the literature that you have reviewed, putting forward a claim or conclusion arising from your reading.
As for any research subject, a proposal is the first step in describing the scope and focus of your investigation. An academic supervisor provides essential support as you select literature, review and shape an argument in response to the academic conversation you wish to engage for your area of interest.
What will I get out of an Environmental Research Review?
Like several who have taken ENST90006 in the past, the student with the Aboriginal fire history project used this subject to explore an issue of great interest to him, as well as the possibility of a future related research project.
Other students have undertaken ENST90006 to create some time and space for doing some back up reading that relates to a project that they are doing in their paid work.
I look forward to finding out your reason for doing ENST90006 Environmental Research Review!
Proposals for Sem 1, 2017 due Monday 10th Oct, 5pm
Further Information and Advice:
Research and Industry Subjects or OEP-Research@unimelb.edu.au