Bertha needs your help with her topic

Tomi Oladepo | 3rd year PhD student at the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies, University of Warwick. She is interested in digital media and culture. Suddenly falling in love with waffles, she eats two slices each morning (without a cup of coffee).

Writing  babyThis morning, Bertha* sent an academic-distress-call about drafting a topic and proposal for her PhD. After sharing from my wealth of experience, which is just a little stash I must confess, with Bertha’s* permission, I thought it was a good idea to share her challenge with this great community.

I promised Bertha you would help, so please share this post and comment.

Bertha’s message:

I just started a doctoral programme at the University of Dandiba* (Library and Information Science Department). I am a Librarian with Herbert Macaulay* University…

Formulating a research topic is not my strong point and I am currently at crossroads at the moment. I want to write on how knowledge management practices affect students learning outcomes in education.

The topic I sent to my supervisor is ‘the implications of knowledge management practices in improving student learning outcomes in Nigerian federal universities’

Her response was ‘who is doing KM? How would that affect student learning outcomes? Not logical’.

I’ve been on the issue of topic selection for sometime now and I am not making any headway.

Could you please help in any way you can?

So I’ve put it out here for us to offer our tips and advice. If you’re doing a PhD on library studies and management, please come forth, and if you’ve blogged about selecting a research topic, please share your links.

What would you recommend to Bertha?

Bertha* asked her real name and universities be withheld, but the problem is VERY REAL.

Photo Credits: @dudu_duttie

One thought on “Bertha needs your help with her topic

  1. Hi Bertha (I guess Tomi chose this Pseudonym for you), I personally like your area of research, and considering the Nigerian climate I think your research will have both theoretical and practical significance.

    I honestly think your supervisor is right with his comments about the lack of congruity in your title, but dont worry too much about this as it’s a hurdle every research student must cross – the ardous task of getting the right topic and framing it to doctorate spec. Having said this, I think the first thing you need to do for yourself is to attempt answering the following questions, which will subsequently help you narrow down your topic as it is currently very ambiguous and somewhat vague (I dont mean to be critical). The questions are:
    1. What aspect of Knowledge management I’m I interested in? (Implicit knowledge, explicit knowledge or tacit knowledge. Although I doubt if tacit knowledge will be applicable to library studies)
    2. How will you collect data about the information available in the University – which will form the basis of your judgment in appraising the knowledge assets of the University. In other words, how do you want to define the knowledge bank/asset of the University? (Databases, Library book, journal, textbook stocks, quality of teaching and delivery, availabilty of computer and ICT facilities, Academic guidance and counselling to students etc)
    3. What aspect of students’ learning outcome are you interested in and how will you measure their level of performance? (Final GPA, Assessment and Exam results, Feedback etc) How will you get access to this information?
    4. If indeed you have identified “knowledge absences” in the University-student link based on 2 & 3 above, what are the available knowledge management strategies that could be used to fill up this gap (this is where you need to conduct a thorough review of literature and information gathering from reputable Universities that have credible KM structure; some selected UK & US universities can be a good point of departure).

    I believe if you are able to answer the above questions to a reasonable extent then you should be on the pathway to refining your topic better to gain a clearer focus which I think is your supervisors’ predictive concern.

    Hope this helps?

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