‘This is a historic moment for the College since it aims to equip new doctoral students with advanced knowledge and skills to conceptualise and write good quality and rigorous doctoral proposals for research in the Humanities and Social Sciences,’ said Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College, Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize. ‘As a College, we aim to produce PhDs of the highest quality that can compete at an international level and contribute to knowledge production on a global scale.’
College Dean of Research, Professor Pholoho Morojele commended the students on striving to be part of the 3% of the global population with PhDs. Addressing the students, he said, ‘At the end of your PhD journey, you should have gained advanced research skills and be highly versed in the research methods in your discipline.’
Morojele announced that an online PhD communication portal will be established that will enable students to strengthen their research. It will also serve as a source of motivation and support to the students to complete their PhD on time.
Director of the Doctoral Academy, Professor Johannes John-Langba advised students to apply the knowledge and skills gained at the doctoral seminars to develop good quality and rigorous PhD research proposals. He added that, ‘at the next seminar, students will be given the opportunity to defend their proposal in an academic environment for critical feedback. The other workshops will focus on fieldwork, and data collection and analysis.’
Keynote speaker, Professor Andre Stevenson from Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina said: ‘It is great to see so many PhD candidates being part of this pioneering group of the College Doctoral Academy.’ He shared 12 tips to successfully navigate the PhD journey and graduate. These include writing every day, networking, enjoying a healthy diet, presenting research at conferences and setting time aside for self-reflection.
PhD candidate in the School of Applied Human Sciences, Mr Bandile Khanyile said, ‘The Doctoral Academy is a really great initiative by the College. We now have the support and motivation to complete. I have learned so much and cannot wait to get started. These research seminars are well thought out and fit into our academic journey.’
The first seminar covered the doctoral study and supervision process; formulating the research problem; review of related literature; theoretical frameworks; research designs and paradigms; qualitative and quantitative sampling procedures; data collection approaches; research data management and analysis; ethical considerations in research in the Humanities and Social Sciences and study limitations and reflexivity.
The sessions were facilitated by Professors Johannes Smit, Dipane Hlalele, Nirmala Gopal, Pholoho Morojele, and Johannes John-Langba and Drs Nolwazi Ngcobo and Ehiane Stanley.