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PhD Starting Position

The project I will be undertaking aims to augment PhD Researcher and Advisor interaction via Documents, with scope for further uses cases in the future.


Problem Statement

We have gone far beyond Vannevar Bush’s concern that it is easier to add to the record than to consult it, right into what some call a ‘post-fact’ politics where people from all sides of the political spectrum look to the web to provide ammunition for their views without any concern for the veracity of what they find.

Those of us blessed to sit in the serene shadows of the olive groves of Academe represent the last bastion of honest discourse, with Literature Reviews and Citations keeping us honest.

The tools of our discourse remain rooted in the ancient substrate of paper however, and our interactions with the written word is constrained by the inflexibility of media centuries old, hardly taking advantages of the unique characteristics of the connected, richly interactive digital substrate.



I therefore propose to make my project about the discourse between PhD Researcher and Advisor, via electronic documents, with an eye to enlarging the user group over time.



The process I am looking at covers:
•  The Literature Review. Reading (Skimming, Deep Reading Analysis), Annotating & Searching Annotations. Student performs a literature review in order to develop an up-to-date understanding of the field.
Challenge: To Improve the messy, un-coordinated system of literature review, annotation and citation management by streamlining the collection, reading, annotating and citing of literature review sources
•  Thinking, Editing & Document Production. Student writes and edits a Thesis Master Document.
Challenge: To improve the student’s ability to understand, analyse and clearly communicate. A key issue will be to move past the constrained scroll view of documents by providing easily accessible, powerfully useful views of the information – such as concept maps- while not abandoning the basic document to be submitted.
•  Collaboration & Review. Student gets feedback from within the community, supervisors and finally, from external examiners.
Challenge: Allow for feedback to be given in a more useful way, without loosing track of document versions.
•  Publishing. Final Thesis is published and is now a literature review resource for others
Challenge: Make the document as clearly understandable and findable for other, anonymous readers
Constraints/Initial Decisions

Document format will be XML, unless it is more efficient to use macOS database systems and export as well as back up to XML.


Published inPhD

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