Bibliographic resources
Bibliography mandatory
Bibliography not mandatory
Summary Teaching Assignment
Academic Year 2018/2019
Type of Teaching Doctorate
Professor Volonte' Paolo Gaetano
Cfu 5.00 Type of Course Mono-Disciplinary Course

Phd Programme From (included) To (excluded) Course

Detailed program and learning outcomes

This course provides a comprehensive and reflexive introduction to academic research and academic life. Although addressed primarily to first-year PhD students, it is suitable to students of all years and all subjects within Politecnico.

The course aims at offering to Ph.D. students awareness of the social and institutional framework of doing research. Issues related to everyday research activities will be discussed and accounted for through a broad analysis of the research system (disciplines, universities, scientific communities etc.). After following the course, Ph.D. students will be aware of characteristic turning points in the Ph.D. research process, they will be expert of the main actions related to a research activity, and they will be able to engage in an effective way with research challenges that can be expected.


Following main topics will be addressed:

  1. The Ph.D. research process. Ph.D. research will be described as the first level of research activity. Basic features of a Ph.D. research will be discussed in the context of academic research as such.
  2. The academic milieu and university as an institution. The academic context will be addressed along the whole spectrum from the local organization (Politecnico di Milano) to the general framework (academic disciplines, interdisciplinary approaches, how professors think etc.).
  3. Sources of knowledge. Basic hints for bibliographic research will be given, also regarding academic online data bases, repositories and search engines.
  4. The design of a research. Special focus will be on designing a research process (elaborating a research question, envisaging suitable methods etc.). Ph.D. students will be asked to develop a design of their own research and discuss it peer to peer.
  5. Publish or perish. Peer-reviewing and referencing will be presented as tools for the production and acquisition of reputation, considered as the fundamental capital in the scientist’s career. The backstage of journals’ editing activity will be unveiled and explained.
  6. Academic writing and referencing. Different styles in academic writing will be discussed (e.g. by comparing the Imrad model with ethnographic reports).


The six topics above will be addressed in a dynamic balance between two approaches: giving advice and tips for an effective completion of the Ph.D. research, and encouraging a critical and informed approach to the logic of academic research standards and major features of the Western academic research system. Accordingly, the course will alternate lectures, invited testimonials, peer discussions and exercises to activate students. 


Confirmed guest speakers are 

--> Attila Bruni, Università di Trento

--> Simone Tosoni, Università Cattolica di Milano


Teaching materials will be provided or indicated during the course. For those who are particularly committed following books are suggested as optional references:

- Bruno Latour, Science in Action, Harvard University Press 1987

- John Ziman, Real Science, Cambridge University Press 2000

- Helga Nowotny, Peter Scott and Michael Gibbons, Re-Thinking Science, Polity Press 2001


Notes on methods of assessing

Evaluation will consider active participation, outcomes of the exercises during the course, and a final essay of ca. 2/3000 words to be delivered within one month after the end of the course.

The essay will have to deal with key topics of the course and their application to the PhD student's own research project, e.g. writing an annotated bibliography, or developing the design of the research.


Teaching activities
Start date
End date

Schedule planning

The course will take place every week in 3-hours classes on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.

The venue is in room B.52, Building 14-Nave (Campus Leonardo).

Tuesday 22 January h. 14:00

Wednesday 23 January h. 10:00

Tuesday 29 January h. 14:00

Wednesday 30 January h. 10:00

Tuesday 5 February h. 14:00

Wednesday 6 February h. 10:00

Tuesday 12 February h. 14:00

Wednesday 13 February h. 10:00

Friday 15 February h. 10:00


Didactic forms
Type of didactic form Teaching hours
computer laboratory
experimental laboratory
project laboratory

Information in English to support internationalization
Course offered in language English

Note Professor
schedaincarico v. 1.6.1 / 1.6.1
Area Servizi ICT