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Stepping Stones to Achieving your Doctorate: Focusing on your viva from the start (Open Up Study Skills) [Paperback]

Vernon Trafford , Shosh Leshem
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Oct 2008 0335225438 978-0335225439
  • What criteria are used to assess the scholarly merit of a thesis?
  • What is the level of conceptualization that is expected in doctoral theses?
  • How can you prepare to defend your thesis?
  • What is the most effective route to achieving your doctorate?
The starting point to achieving your doctorate is to appreciate how your thesis will be examined. The criteria that examiners use, the questions they ask in vivas and their reports provide templates against which theses are judged. So, why not start from this endpoint as you plan, undertake, write and defend your research?

This book focuses specifically on how you, as a doctoral candidate, can raise your level of thinking about your chosen topic. Doing so will improve the quality of your research and ultimately contribute to knowledge. It also explores the nature of conceptualization which is sought by examiners in theses. As a candidate, the book provides those essential characteristics of doctorateness that examiners expect to find in your thesis.

The book will also appeal to supervisors, examiners and those who conduct workshops for doctoral candidates and supervisors.

This practical book includes extracts from theses, examiner reports and cameo accounts from doctoral examiners, supervisors and candidates. It also contains numerous visual models that explain relationships and processes for you to apply and use in your doctoral journey.

Based upon contemporary practice, Stepping Stones to Achieving your Doctorate is an essential tool for doctoral candidates, supervisors and examiners.

Frequently Bought Together

Stepping Stones to Achieving your Doctorate: Focusing on your viva from the start (Open Up Study Skills) + The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research (Open Up Study Skills) + How to Write a Thesis (Open Up Study Skills)
Price For All Three: £58.66

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Product details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Open University Press (1 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0335225438
  • ISBN-13: 978-0335225439
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Professor Vernon Trafford and Dr. Shosh Leshem have collaborated on researching into, and publishing on, the nature of doctorateness since 2002.

Vernon is Professor of Education at the Faculty of Education, Anglia Ruskin University, UK.

Shosh is Head of Teacher Training at Oranim Academic College of Education, Israel, and also lectures in TEFL at the Faculty of Teaching, Haifa University.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The essential "Step" 21 Aug 2009
By Alley G
The diverse challenges currently facing supervisors around the world mean they can no longer rely on their discipline-based experience to adequately supervise students. This has compelled supervisors to resource material outside their research field to obtain guidance and deeper insights to effectively tackle the complexities of new era postgraduate research supervision. With "Stepping Stones", such needs are addressed

The aim of Trafford and Leshem's book is to explore the nature of the doctoral process that examiners expect candidates to display in their thesis. Astutely this topic is tackled both practically and perceptively. Sagely, the authors provide a valuable contribution to what is meant by "doctorateness" and a perceptive analysis of what is meant by the scholarly nature of the degree. These concerns are not covered in the numerous "how to do a PhD" books which currently dominate the market. Practically, the book focuses on the examination end point and works backwards in stages to the requirements needed to meet that goal. Whether a viva forms part of the examination process or not, the "Stepping Stones" laid out are a clear and instructive path to the endpoint. As a supervisor I found the practical directive on the architecture of a doctoral thesis and how this changes during the writing process enormously helpful. These changes prompted one of my past students to ruefully remark, "I learnt how to hit a moving target". Hopefully future students won't be as irritated by this exercise now that I am better equipped to supervise this exasperating stage of thesis writing. Staying with postgraduate students, the examples of examiners reports, extracts from theses and vignettes drawn from candidates, supervisors and examiners are illuminating.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-have for all PhD students 4 April 2011
Despite the central message of this book (focus on your viva from the start of your research), I only read it when I had already submitted my thesis and was preparing for my viva. I soon wished that I had read it earlier. I could have turned this book's advice to serious profit in my thesis, but I nevertheless found it a very useful aid for viva preparation, and it was extremely helpful in ordering my thoughts and reassessing my thesis before viva day.

All the components of successful PhD research are laid out in this book, and that elusive question - what do I need to demonstrate in my thesis to be awarded my PhD? - is answered fully. Unlike other 'how to get a PhD' books (I've read several!), this volume is based on academic research into the doctoral process, not hearsay and anecdotes, and this makes for satisfyingly convincing advice. This book tells you what supervisors don't, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone doing PhD research.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars must have book 6 Jun 2009
By Cate B
This is a great book and 'must buy' for anyone trying to write their thesis. The chapters are clear and easy to read and would be useful at any stage of your doctorate process. I have already read many books promising top tips for writing your thesis, but in my opinion, this book beats them all. It has certainly helped me review the structure and readability of my own writing. My only regret is that I didn't have it sooner.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Stuff 8 Dec 2011
By Roy Collins VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have just completed my PhD (it was in a social science and philosophical area).

I found that it made a great deal of difference when I read what about doing a PhD. I came across How to get a PhD by Phillips and Pugh before I started it, and I still think it the best introduction; warm, friendly, clear, general, confidence-giving. But at the end of the process it seems almost trite - but I'm still very glad I started with it.

I came across Stepping Stones towards the end of the process.

I found it a revelation. Suddenly I could see how the process all fitted together, why this was important, why that had to be done, why this chapter had to include that point, why that chapter had to include this sort of material, and so on. It breaks the idea of "doctorateness" down into twelve parts and explains them in some detail - in particular, what you have to do to satisfy the examiners on each point. It closely reflected the way my supervisors, in whom I was much blessed, had guided me. It helped me see how good their advice was, and how to put it into effect better.

It also showed that the individual's imagination and creativity could play a part - and that if I had written "it showed the part creativity and imagination could play" I would be missing the point because how these things contribute to YOUR PhD is not the same as as the way they would to mine or hers or his. The PhD doesn't have to be dry, and it can be individual; the examiners want to see how you as a researcher can make a positive original contribution in your later career. (And it shows that "originality" is not an intimidating requirement!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stepping stone to achieving a doctorate 15 April 2011
Whether you are a doctoral candidate, a supervisor or an examiner, this book should be required reading.

The authors assume - justifiably, in most cases - that in the years of their research project, PhD candidates will become well-versed in the research and writing skills necessary to produce a good thesis. It is to the new and nerve-wracking experience of the viva voce, a panel interview in front of three or more examiners, that they devote their attention. They succeed in demystifying the viva with novel and invaluable documentation and discussion of supervisors' and examiners' questions and comments.

By showing the candidate how to start with the viva and work backwards, Vernon Trafford and Shosh Leshem's `life-cycle approach' allows the entire project to be taken into perspective. The authors metaphorically call this the "magic circle". However, they do not limit themselves to the student experience. For supervisors, the utility of `Stepping Stones' lies in explaining the impact of the viva on the design and outcome of the research process. It also provides chapters on acquiring `doctorateness', the vexed question of concluding a thesis, and how then to summarise it in a fifty-word abstract.

This book really can become a stepping stone to achieving a doctorate, and therefore I highly recommend it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable Advice
As a part-time PhD student, this easy to read guide has proved invaluable when planning and writing my thesis. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Nicholas Woznitza
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
This book was delivered bery quickly and in excellent condition. I was delighted at the service that I received from the vendor.
Published 9 months ago by M. J. M. Saminaden
3.0 out of 5 stars Overly complicated writing style
I didn't like this book very much. It was hard to read and explained simple facts in an unnecessarily complicated way which was not necessary. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Grace Anna Carroll
5.0 out of 5 stars A Road map for Doctoral Studies
I personally met Professor Vernon Trafford at a BELMAS seminar at University of Reading and took the opportunity to buy this book. I must say i have not regretted at all. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Tanko
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book- a must have
A 'must have' for anyone who is intending to begin their doctoral journey!
This book will take you hand in hand through the stepping stones of your thesis writing. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Niva
5.0 out of 5 stars The PhD Student's Bible
Having read a number of PhD-related books, I can confidently say that this book is by far the clearest and most informative book to guide and advise PhD students. Read more
Published on 12 July 2012 by C.Ludwig
5.0 out of 5 stars Stepping Stones to Achieving your Doctorate: Focusing on your viva...
I found out about this book at a seminar; just before I set out to start writing my research proposal. Read more
Published on 26 April 2012 by MuteruL
5.0 out of 5 stars the most useful "how to get a phd" book you will read
I read a number of "how to get a PhD" books as I started out on my doctoral studies and found this to be the most illuminating and the most useful. Read more
Published on 27 Mar 2012 by sue
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for all new PhD students
I have just finished re-reading some chapters in this wonderfully well-written book, and my initial impression has not changed: all new PhD students must read this book. Read more
Published on 9 Aug 2011 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding 'doctorateness'
This book will be of immense, practical help to all who are embarking on, or moving through, a doctoral programme or PhD. Read more
Published on 25 Feb 2011 by Revd J. Caperon
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