Original Research

The supervision of research for dissertations and theses

N. Lessing, A. C. Lessing
Acta Commercii | Vol 4, No 1 | a54 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v4i1.54 | © 2004 N. Lessing, A. C. Lessing | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 December 2004 | Published: 05 December 2004

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N. Lessing, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
A. C. Lessing, Unisa, South Africa

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Abstract

South African higher institutions of learning are engaged in rapid transformation processes. Some of the consequences are that an increasing proportion of the postgraduate student body is from previously disadvantaged backgrounds and that the body of academic staff has also been transformed. In general, students have limited experience of independent research work as well as using library and other research facilities. However, quality research needs to be maintained. It is of great importance that academics should have the knowledge and skills to supervise research. However, preliminary research indicates that very little is done to equip academic staff in the skills of supervising research. A literature study is done to determine the nature of postgraduate supervision as well as the role of the supervisor and the student. From this investigation an interview schedule, consisting of open-ended questions, was composed to use in focus group interviews with academics from various local and international universities. The interviews revealed that seasoned supervisors experience the guidance of postgraduate students as quite satisfactory although a number of pitfalls were raised by supervisors with less experience in the field. None of the interviewees indicated that they have been formally trained to act as a supervisor. It was also indicated that students need much support and training in scientific formulation and writing. It seems that a definite need exists for newer academic staff to be schooled in research supervision.

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