What is needed in a CPD course for busy professionals on Research?

Goal: This project will make a world-class syllabus for a refresher Continuing Professional Development course on research. The course is intended to be followed in particular by practising researchers. However, the course will be generic. That is, it will be of benefit to all busy professionals.

Methods: Electrical Engineering, Crowdsourcing, Continuing Professional Development, Audience analysis

Date: 11 April 2017 - 11 May 2017

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Project log

Ian Kennedy
added an update
The title of the project is now: What is needed in a CPD course for busy professionals on Research?
Ian Kennedy
added an update
This generic course is currently being offered to the Medical Research Council. A generic course is advantageous for multi-disciplinary research, where the interesting research action is.
Ian Kennedy
added an update
Thanks for following this project. It is now going to press.
Ian Kennedy
added an update
I have correctly uploaded "How can the revealed research agenda, E-bookmarks and a critical review template aid the practitioner? " (The abstract was right, but the contents were from another paper.)
Ian Kennedy
added a research item
Continuing Professional Development requires engineers and educators to maintain lifelong learning. Both roles require the professional to research. Because of its immediacy and freshness, we cautiously accept that the initial port of call is the World Wide Web. Now, how should professionals find and manage relevant material in this proverbial haystack called the Web? This paper asks and answers three closely related questions: What is the practitioner's hidden research agenda? How can electronic bookmarks @-bookmarks) be used as an academic tool? How can a template be used for critical reviews? Professionals are unconsciously looking for the names of the authors who are working in the field, and who may have put abstracts of research work on the Web. This paper first reveals this hidden agenda for searching, and shows how to formalize the process. An E-bookmark is a computer record containing minimally the location, date and title of a page found on the Web, intranet or hard drive while following the search agenda. The paper next reveals how E-bookmarks may be annotated, sequenced, structured and used to keep track of all relevant electronic literature. Finally, the paper shows how E-bookmarks can be extended to keep track of relevant printed literature via a record and review template
Ian Kennedy
added an update
Thank you for following. As a reward for reading so far, I attach for your interest a further technical note I wrote to a ResearchGate correspondent on teaching paraphrasing.
The good news is that the CPD course notes are almost ready for printing. All phrases peculiar to the source course were searched for and removed. A new term was introduced to the text and added to the Glossary. One personal correspondence reference being deleted triggered a renumbering. This was a “pain” as the source did not contain autonumbered references. Fortunately the new material (on paraphrasing) had no references. The indexes (Contents, and Alphabetic) were rebuilt automatically. Little things have been fixed, like double spaces that have been converted to single spaces.
Ian Kennedy
added an update
Changing the inbox to put it out of my voicebox.
I am faced with the situation where I am going to give a course for a new audience. I have done a persona analysis*. I have put everything into the learning material that I think will be of use. I can still be wrong about needs, language etc.
During the first minutes of the first presentation, I plan to spend some time getting to know the delegates.
If I find that they are mostly from the qualitative research field, I will omit the whole chapter on Statistics etc.
Further, if I find that they are mostly struggling to generate a research question, then at run time, I will go more carefully through the section on how to generate research questions creatively.
So, although I put everything in my "inbox", not all of it will go equally out of my "voicebox" for the day.
Furthermore, on the vocabulary level: If I find that the delegates speak about their "funders" but not "sponsors", I will say "funders" every time my projected and printed material clearly says "sponsors".
Also, as delegates pose questions, I will give cases that come from their fields: "Thanks for your question. What type of Engineer are you?". "Electrical. OK, in Electrical Engineering we often have to ..."
Finally, back at home, I revise the course materials appropriately for the next cohort and further refine the next presentation.
Also posted at: How we observe a link between inbox (Teacher mind) and outbox (student mind). Available from:]
Ian Kennedy
added an update
Technical note: The need to teach paraphrasing
Teaching how to quote is fairly mechanistic. We teach that you start with a quotation mark (“), cut and paste the text, append a closing quote (”), and cite who wrote the text.
Teaching how to paraphrase is more tricky. This is because we have to teach the different ways of usefully creating a paraphrase PLUS the different ways to be creative about it.
Why teach paraphrasing? First, in our context, we usually can write the source text better for our own, particular audience. Second, in editing, writers of research reports need to take their OWN draft texts and see if any of the different ways of paraphrasing or different ways of being creative can help to improve their drafts!
With this in mind I have added a new, short chapter on how to paraphrase to the Continuing Professional Development course.
Ian Kennedy
added an update
Technical note on Reusable Learning Objects (LOs)
Aim: convert the Learning Objects (LOs) in the source E-textbook on Research, which was designed for postgraduates, to be a course for Continuing Professional Education [].
The (LOs) in the source E-textbook are LEVEL3 headings and their contents. {In "old man's terms" each is a HTML file with one heading!} []
The following global changes were necessary to accommodate the recent audience analysis (see previous "Jannie de Veldt" persona analysis).
beginning researcher --> professional
thesis-theme --> research (-) theme
thesis-book --> research report
paper-chapters --> sections (or chapter)
The LOs forming the chapter on "Managing your (research) supervisor" were deleted as they were deemed inappropriate for the new audience. A new LO was written and inserted called "Start a research group". These steps were "clean" (mechanistic). However, the concept of a "pure" Learning Object (LO) that can be mechanistically reused is still a mirage. The whole source file had to be read and every sentence inspected for necessary changes. For example, one of 4 choices had to be made every time the word "supervisor" was encountered in the source:
1. Delete the LO (if inappropriate to the audience)
2. "supervisor" --> "sponsor" if it related to receiving financial support
3. "supervisor" --> "colleague" if it related to receiving general advice
4. "supervisor" --> "mentor" if it related to general direction and advice about the specific research.
This "dirty" conversion actually revealed a shortcoming in the source. The original author {little me!} should have realised that for clarity, English needs some neologisms for the different roles, industrial or research supervisor:
1. PhysicalSupervisor (in the sense of a non-research supervisor, US usage)
2. FinancialSponsor (in the sense of the research supervisor helping to find grants and funding)
3. AdvisorSupervisor (in the sense of giving general advice when stuck about research in general and the specific research project)
4. MentorSupervisor (in the sense of giving wise advice, and deadline reminders)
5. CollegialSupervisor (in the sense of providing moral, ethical and personal support).
These neologisms will be kept and fed into the next edition of the source. The good thing is that small and medium errors in the source were also noted, and kept for the next edition.
Quote of the week: Evans, M., (1998) Writing for publication "Nobody goes into a kitchen to cook a meal without knowing something about the ingredients and the recipes that they are going to cook. Indeed, most people take lessons first. Why, then, do people think that they can just sit down and write a perfect paper? Good scientific writing is just as hard as the research that it is trying to describe. It needs revising again and again; it needs criticism by someone unfamiliar with the subject; but above all it needs clarity and directness from you the author. Not only must the paper be understandable. It must be impossible to misunderstand it."
Ian Kennedy
added an update
A pleasurable long weekend read yielded: Problem-Solving Frameworks for Object Technology.
If you haven't seen it already, you will enjoy this free book.
Although it is CS oriented, it does help to explain some of the words they throw around (Domain, framework, ..) And it is a good, relaxing read for the intellect.
Here is a quote from it, Gardner, K.M. et al. (2011), which relates to the problem our persona “Jannie” has: "complexity is something we know we are experiencing when we feel overwhelmed and lost in the midst of a seemingly over-abundant amount of information, or when we struggle to grasp the interrelationships that exist within a system."
The volume of information is not the real problem. The real problem that the professional faces is to unravel the myriad of interrelationships.
Ian Kennedy
added an update
This persona approach for audience analysis was helpful.
It forces one to answer the question: “What is the motivation for a professional to attend such a course?”. Their motives are different to student's motives. We assume that the research student wants to do the research out of curiosity; the professionals want to do the course out of financial necessity.
The professionals however do not necessarily know what they do not know. So we have to do more marketing.
Ian Kennedy
added an update
Please see the file for an example persona ("Jannie"). Feel free to contribute a different persona for a professional who needs a generic Continuing Professional Development course on Research.
Ian Kennedy
added an update
A brief review of the key references given for this project
  1. Educating engineers in how to do research is where it all started in 1992 The audience for the course was postgraduates. This culminated in the following 2016 E-Textbook.
  2. How to do Research: Today's Tips and Tools gives the link to the 2016 E-textbook for postgraduates, which will be transformed for the new audience (CPD).
  3. Pedaglue Teaching for Lifelong Learners: Rapid Development by Post-Graduates of a PG Course with Modern Content introduces the concept of local crowdsourcing of course content (here the target was for a postgraduate course by the postgraduates).
  4. Do we need librarians? Information Retrieval in the New Century How to search for information today. (For Section A)
Right! Now you are up to speed. Here is your “homework”, reading Read Technical Writing Level 1 Section 2.
Ian Kennedy
added 4 project references
Ian Kennedy
added a project goal
This project will make a world-class syllabus for a refresher Continuing Professional Development course on research. The course is intended to be followed in particular by practising researchers. However, the course will be generic. That is, it will be of benefit to all busy professionals.