Recommend impactful RRU graduate research


As part of a larger effort to characterize the RRU research model in practice, we are conducting a review of RRU student theses and major projects to assess research design and implementation from the perspective of research effectiveness. The research question is: How does RRU graduate student research reflect the espoused RRU research model of applied, solution-oriented and real-world focused research?

The objectives are to:

 1. Apply and refine a research assessment framework that was developed in a previous stage of research.

2. Review and assess a sample of theses and major projects in terms of intended contributions, “impact pathways”, research approaches and methods employed.

3. Identify strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities for improvement in graduate and other research that aims to contribute to social, economic and/or environmental change.

4. Recommend improved approaches to teaching and support for the design and implementation of effective student research.

In a first round, we have selected a sample of theses from 2010 to present (July 2015) with abstracts that have an explicit or implicit impact pathway: in other words, project documents with abstracts that indicate WHAT the research aims to contribute, WHO will use it and HOW the researcher/project will facilitate application and/or utilization of the research. Each thesis/major project is being reviewed to assess the degree to which: the researcher has established the relevance of the project in their socio-ecological context; methods have been designed and implemented so that research findings are robust, dependable and credible; the research process aims to be fair, equitable and inclusive, and; what steps have been taken so that the research will contribute to positive outcomes.

We anticipate that the current selection process based on abstract review will not capture all highly effective projects. We are therefore soliciting recommendations from faculty who, through their roles as teachers and supervisors, are best placed to be aware of projects that had good outcomes or impact. Please suggest theses or major projects completed between 2010 and now that have had (or have strong potential to make) a significant contribution to change. These contributions might be in the form of empirical or theoretical analyses, contributions to discourse, policy or practice changes, capacity building, empowering/supporting stakeholders to engage more effectively, or other contributions to social processes, such as providing a forum and/or facilitation for negotiated solutions. We are seeking projects that went beyond providing recommendations and that actually stimulated, facilitated, or otherwise contributed to a change process.

The analysis focuses on overall principles and approaches in the design and implementation of effective student research. We will not single out individual projects for criticism or reiterate academic assessments.

The research team includes RAs Shilpa Soni and Ingrid Philion and Gwen Hill (Office of Research, ext 4105). Gwen will be contacting individual faculty to request recommendations.

For more information, feel free to contact Brian Belcher, ext. 4407.