Research conceptualization in doctoral and master’s research writing

Authors

  • Cecile Badenhorst Memorial University, St John’s

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.19542

Keywords:

multilingual writers, doctoral writers, masters writers, research writing, research conceptualisation, problem formulation, problem statements

Abstract

Research conceptualization is challenging for doctoral and master’s writers, particularly multilingual students engaging in thesis writing or writing for publication. In doctoral and master’s student writing, research conceptualization appears in three genres: problem statements, research proposals and introduction sections or chapters. Swale’s (1990; Feak and Swales, 2011) CARS model is most often used to analyze conceptualization in these genres. While very useful as an analytical tool, the CARS model does not translate well to pedagogy. I argue that Merriam’s (2009) problem/purpose statement and questions (PPS&Q) format provides a flexible and accessible technique to make the process of research conceptualization visible and to help students focus their research throughout the writing process. Navigating problem formulation and gap spotting requires highly complex literacies and Merriam’s method allows students to begin simply and build complexity. While genre visibility provides a way for doctoral and master’s students to access high-level literacies demands, it can also be formulaic and constraining and needs to be taught with critical awareness.

Author Biography

Cecile Badenhorst, Memorial University, St John’s

Cecile Badenhorst is a professor in the Adult Education/Post-Secondary program in the Faculty of Education at Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canada. She has published in the areas of doctoral education, doctoral writing, graduate writing, thesis/publication writing pedagogies, academic literacies and faculty writing. She has also written three books in the area of graduate student writing: Research Writing (2007), Dissertation Writing (2008) and Productive Writing (2010).

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Published

2021-08-15

How to Cite

Badenhorst, C. . (2021). Research conceptualization in doctoral and master’s research writing. Writing and Pedagogy, 12(2-3), 423–444. https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.19542

Issue

Section

Reflections on Practice