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. Participants usually belong to a very broad set of PhD Programmes at Politecnico di Milano. Confrontation among Ph.D. canidates in different subjects, including Engineering, Architecture and Design, is considered an added value of the course.
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:
- 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.
- 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.).
- Sources of knowledge. Basic hints for bibliographic research will be given, also regarding academic online data bases, repositories and search engines.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
--> A search expert from the Library System
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
- Helga Nowotny, Peter Scott and Michael Gibbons, Re-Thinking Science, Polity Press 2001
- Sergio Sismondo, An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies, Blackwell 2010
- John Ziman, Real Science, Cambridge University Press 2000