Friday, September 26, 2008

New target - 60,000 PhD holders by 2020 - Star

PUTRAJAYA: Sept 26, 2008

The Government has set a new target of producing 60,000 Malaysian PhD holders by 2020 under the “MyBrain15” initiative.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the new figure was more reasonable compared to the previous goal of 100,000 under the National Higher Education Strategic Plan launched last year.

“In order for the country to be competitive, we need a critical mass of researchers. The current number of 8,000 PhD holders is insufficient to drive innovation and promote economic growth,” he told reporters here yesterday after the launch of MyBrain15.

Khaled said Malaysia needed a pool of highly-skilled and productive people, particularly PhD holders.

To ensure adequate supply, the Government would also be setting up a special fund to sponsor 400 bright students to further their studies from undergraduate to postgraduate level.

“These students will act as a feeder to ensure the success of the MyBrain15 initiative,” he said.

Currently, the Government is sponsoring 3,914 students at PhD level. Of this number, 39.4% are pursuing their studies locally, 30.1% in Britain and the rest in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United States.

Khaled said that for MyBrain15 to succeed, government agencies, including public universities, would need to reduce bureaucracy to attract top Malaysian and foreign brains.

“Public universities must put more emphasis on research and development (R&D),” said Khaled, adding that all universities would have to set clear targets on commercialisation of R&D as well as the number of patents achieved.

He also said that the ministry was looking at other methods of acquiring PhDs, including industry-based applied research.

Khaled also called on higher education institutions to focus on indigenous-based research and development in areas such as biotechnology and tropical medicine.

On the purported misbehaviour of some foreign students, in particular Africans, Khaled said that action would be taken against anyone who broke the law.

“We welcome foreign students but they must abide by our laws. Whatever cases that have been reported are isolated as the majority of foreigners are law abiding,” he said.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Supervisor and Me

Last week, my supervisor Prof. Dr. Karl Wagner came to my city in Ipoh to conduct a Survey on Adult Learners at OUM Perak. The survey was conducted over 2 days from Sept 20 - 21, 2008.

We had dinner at a Japanese Restaurant serving buffet sushi and steamboat all at RM29 (US$9) per pax.

His schedule was pack and so was mine. But we met over dinner to discuss on various research projects on Mobile Learning. As for my PhD research, I am in the process of collecting data and basically we do not discuss about it.

Going through our mobile learning projects

Prof. Karl was seen here briefing a group of adult learners at OUM Perak

I have just sent my instrument for printing. Fuh ... the cost of collecting data of course is not cheap these days. What about cost of employing a research assistant? I am just embarking on my next phase of a lonely journey ... real lonely. Still not able to see the light at the end of the tunnel yet

Quality eLearning, Academic writing workshops, MADE seminar 20-24 October 08

Quality eLearning, Academic writing workshops, MADE seminar 20-24 October 08

Emeritus Professor Fred Lockwood, an expert in Academic Writing, Quality Open Learning and Students in Elearning will be conducting 2 workshops
for educators and adult students who are interested in knowledge enhancement in the above areas.

The half a day seminar organised by Malaysian Association of Distance Education (MADE) will also have the renown speaker - Dato' Professor Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid to present a paper on Lifelong Learning and Global Competitiveness. It is a rare occasion to have these two experts for the workshops and the seminar.

For more information, kindly download the following items:

Brochure 1: (Click picture to enlarge)

Brochure 2:(Click picture to enlarge)

Registration Form:(Click picture to enlarge)

International Conference on Youth Research (ICYR08)

International Conference on Youth Research (ICYR08) - Developing A Glocal Generation: Directions And Challenges

The Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in collaboration with the Malaysian Institute of Research in Youth Development, Ministry of Youth and Sports (IPPBM) will be organizing an international conference on youth research (ICYR08) with the theme Developing A Glocal Generation: Directions And Challenges, 16-17 December 2008.

You are invited to visit the website at to register as a participant or as as paper presenter.

Please take note of these important deadlines:

Submission of abstracts - 15 August 2008

Submission of full papers - 15 October 2008

Registration and Conference fees - 15 November 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shaping your thesis

At some point in the process of preparing to write your PhD, you will need to step back from your project, and tell the STORY of your research. Once again Murray (2002:187) suggests that this process requires you to shape your ideas, and use your intuition to produce your thesis into a coherent whole which reflects originality. A good way to think about how to structure your thesis is to use Brown’s (1994:1-8 in Murray 2002) Eight Questions.
Brown’s Eight Questions (1994: 1-8) cited in Murray 2002

1. Who are your intended readers? (list three to five names)
2. What did you do? (50 words)
3. Why did you do it? (50 words)
4. What happened? (50 words)
5. What do the results mean in theory? (50 words)
6. What do the results mean in practice? (50 words)
7. What is the key benefit for readers? (25 words)
8. What remains unresolved? (no word limit)

This exercise asks you think ahead about what you will do, and thus to link work already done, with work that still needs doing. Murray suggests this will help you to think about the whole project, including the gaps. Seeing the project from the perspective of its entirety, will help you to gain your own authorial voice, and help you to know the extent to which you are in control of your project. For more general advice see the Postgrad Resources cite. For some clear questions and answers on avoiding plagiarism, look at the 'How not to Plagiarise' website at the University of Toronto. There is a useful self test on plagiarism at the University of Southern Mississippi that may also be helpful.


The Relationship between PhD supervisor and student

By Catherine Armstrong

The career development forum contains many comments from people who want to embark on a postgraduate career but are unsure how to go about it. One of the major stumbling blocks is the incredibly competitive funding system, but apart from the financial concerns one of the most important intellectual decisions you will make is selecting a supervisor. This decision can make or break a postgraduate candidate, sometimes leading to fruitful encounters for years to come, or a period of awkwardness and even bitterness. I am not going to recount nightmare supervisor stories here because, in most cases, the relationship is a very positive one. In this article I will explore how to get the most out of this exchange and achieve the goal of a successful postgraduate degree and perhaps an academic career afterwards.


If you have a specific idea of the topic you want to study at postgraduate level then it may be that the selection of a supervisor will be very straightforward. Undergraduate tutors can guide you towards the academics working in the particular field and perhaps they will contact them first to prepare the way ready for your approach. If you are not based at a UK university then the internet is the best tool for finding out which scholars are the most suitable supervisors. Each academic department has its own public web pages and often each member of staff within the department has his or her own site or sometimes there is a separate page for ‘research interests' within the department. Obviously the choice of university itself will also be a significant factor, as will funding opportunities offered both internally and externally. But by selecting a field-leader as your supervisor, this ensures that the academic community as a whole will value your work.

Occasionally it is appropriate to have two supervisors: for example when a proposed project is inter-disciplinary, or marries two different scholarly approaches within a single field. This can complicate matters because there will then be two people to please, to meet with and to discuss approaches with and they will not always share the same opinions. However, the positive side is that you get another intellectual viewpoint on your work and if one supervisor becomes very busy for a time, you have another to turn to. Joint supervision will only be recommended to you in unusual circumstances and should not be assumed as the norm.

How to persuade them?

Arrange a meeting with your potential supervisor personally if that is possible. If distance or time prevents you from doing this I would recommend a telephone conversation. You need to know that they think you will be a good candidate, while you need to feel that he or she is a mentor with whom you can work. It is important to research their interests and current projects and can show why they would be a good supervisor. Prepare a list of questions in advance, it is always good to talk about funding and practical arrangements too. If this academic agrees to supervise the project they can help out in all sorts of ways. You will then have to apply to the university for a place and for funding if applicable, so it helps to have a supervisor supporting you from the start.

What to expect from your supervisor?

In short, support, advice, guidance, sometimes direction; also reassurance during the difficult times and congratulations during the inspired moments! Respect is also there to be earned: you will probably notice that as a postgraduate, members of staff treat you more like a colleague than a student.

Supervisors should not be looking for assistance to write their pet project: they are there to ensure you produce your best thesis. They should not take over, but neither should they neglect their students. Make sure regular meetings are arranged with your supervisor, these could be once a week or once a term, depending on the topic and the travel distances involved. Now it is often possible to keep in close touch using email without actually meeting in person. Ensure that these meetings are well planned and have an agenda so that the best use can be made of the valuable time of both parties.

Be warned: supervisors' feedback on work can sometimes be critical, so learn to deal with that criticism, it is almost always meant in a constructive way.

What your supervisor will expect from you?

Hard-work and enthusiasm. If either of those two are lacking, your supervisor will start to feel that his or her time is being wasted. Remember supervisors are very busy people with their own work, undergraduate teaching and probably other postgraduate students to think about. Make your relationship with them as smooth and easy as possible.

Deadlines will be set for submission of chapters or parts of the project and the onus is on you to meet these. The supervisor should not have to chase the postgraduate student or keep extending deadlines. They should have been agreed together, so show your supervisor respect by sticking to agreed targets.

Supervisors are your main source of help during this time so do ask them questions, but show that you can be independent too. It is your project so show confidence that you can mostly manage it by yourself.

How this relationship changes?

Many people find that their PhD project could grow and become their life's work. It is vital to be strict with yourself and choose a point to stop looking for evidence or data and start writing up. This decision often determined by other factors in life such as family issues, or by funding concerns. In that period leading up to submission when you are writing up your findings and polishing up the presentation you will probably find your supervisor more useful than ever. As the project finally comes together, your supervisor will be important in helping you to identify what makes your work original.

A supervisor's contacts will form the basis of the list of potential thesis examiners. Be guided by your supervisor, he or she may have heard through their contacts that the big name scholar you wanted to be examiner is unsympathetic towards approaches like yours. The supervisor contacts potential examiners on your behalf and only with your agreement.

Supervisors offer guidance to get their students through the viva, so make sure that you use their knowledge of your field and the examiners chosen. There are stock questions that are included in many vivas (‘what makes your project unique?' or ‘how does it relate to current theoretical developments in your field?') and your supervisor will help frame answers to these questions.

After the viva?

A PhD supervisor will probably be one of the key referees for your subsequent job applications whether in academic work or the private sector. So it is important to keep him or her informed of career hopes and plans. It is polite to inform them whenever they have been named as a referee so that a reference request does not come out of the blue.

If you do decide to go into an academic career, your supervisor and examiners can help mould your PhD thesis into a monograph or series of journal articles, whichever is most appropriate.

Having worked closely together for at least three years, your supervisor will probably feel that he or she will have an interest in your progress, whatever you go on to do. It is appropriate to keep in contact and occasionally ask for advice or assistance. However, their formal connection with you has ended and while they can offer support by, for example, introducing you to their networks of contacts, it is now your job to go out and craft these connections with other scholars yourself.
Writer Profile

Dr Catherine Armstrong is a teaching fellow in History at the University of Warwick and Oxford Brookes University.

Catherine is also Director of Historical Studies in the Open Studies department at the University of Warwick.

Her book 'Writing North America in the Seventeenth Century' will be published by Ashgate in June 2007.

As a jobseeker for an academic role herself, Catherine is in a unique position to understand and offer her knowledge and experience to those developing an academic career.


PhD Research Supervision

"To know the road ahead, ask those coming back."
Chinese Proverb

A fundamental characteristic of PhD research is that it is carried out under the guidance of one or more academic supervisors. It is the supervisor's responsibility to monitor the progress of the research and to ensure that the student is mastering the appropriate research skills and that the project is likely to come to a successful conclusion. The supervisor's role is therefore crucial to the whole enterprise, and indeed it appears that the chief reason why students fail to get their PhDs is because of inadequate supervision. It is therefore vitally important for students to ensure that they receive proper supervision.

The following further points about the supervisory role should be noted:

* The supervisor should be fully conversant with the student's research topic and should closely monitor the preparation of the thesis. In general, the supervisor should serve as a good role model of what a professional researcher does.
* A good working relationship should exist between supervisor and student, with the supervisor providing encouragement, personal support and guidance at all stages.
* It is likely that the relationship will adjust as the project progresses. Initially the supervisor might function largely like a tutor, providing much training and help. Subsequent stages might find the supervisor operating more like a coach, building up skills and confidence, and then finally acting more like a colleague and equal.


In view of the crucial importance of the supervisory role it is vital that the student is provided with a suitable supervisor and that a high standard of supervision is delivered throughout the duration of the project. If you are a PhD student who is dissatisfied with your supervision you should seek as a first priority for this to be resolved. In the first place, it is possible that your supervisor may be unaware of your concerns, and that once alerted appropriate corrective action will be taken. However, in other circumstances it may be that the student-supervisor relationship is not working satisfactorily and that the only proper solution is for a new supervisor to be appointed.

Further Information

For further information about PhD supervision see:

Code of Good Practice for Graduate Research Supervision (University of Western
Code of Practice for Supervised Postgraduate Research (University of Dundee)
Meeting of Minds by Estelle Phillips
The Missing Links by John Wakeford
Nowhere to Turn by John Wakeford


How will I be evaluated?


The program has a series of evaluation mechanisms in place designed to monitor your performance and give you feedback on your progress toward the degree.

Throughout the program, students are evaluated based on their course performance and their work as Research Assistants. While these are ongoing forms of evaluation, two more critical assessment mechanisms are scheduled at the end of the student's first and second year in the program:

End of First Year evaluation: Screening Exam

Objectives and Timing: Each PhD student undergoes a screening evaluation in mid May of the first year. This evaluation includes (1) a review of the student's performance in all courses, (2) an analysis of their writing and communication skills, (3) reports by individual faculty members who have had the student in courses or as an assistant, and (4)a take-home exam typically consisting of a critical review of two papers selected from the marketing field.

Format: The student is given two articles (one of which is more behaviorally oriented and one of which is more modeling oriented) and is asked to provide a critical review of each. A 48-hour period for the exam is allowed. The format should follow a journal review. Such a review typically includes a short section on the major strengths and a longer section on the major weaknesses of the paper.

Results: Students who have not performed satisfactorily have their funding cut or are dropped from the program. The review is normally completed and results communicated to students by June 1.

End of Second Year evaluation: Qualifying Exam

Written and oral qualifying examinations are required or, and must be passed by, each student. Normally, students begin to prepare for the qualifying exam in the second semester of the second year. Intensive study for the qualifying exams is one the most important learning experiences in the PhD program. Students use this period to review in detail the body of knowledge from the specialized area, identify common threads and conflicting ideas, see how major theories interrelate, recognize the thrust of current directions of research, and generate new research questions that they might address.

Written Qualifying Examination: The student answers three questions representing his/her area(s) of interest. As part of the written exam, and in preparation for the oral qualifying examination, the student must prepare a written preliminary dissertation proposal of five-to-ten pages that outlines important research questions and suggests methodologies for addressing these questions.

Oral Qualifying Examination: This examination is administered after satisfactory completion of the written exam. In the first component of the oral exam, the student answers questions that test his/her comprehension of the area of specialization. The second component of the oral exam involves questions about the student?s proposed area of research for the dissertation, based on the written preliminary dissertation proposal.

Results: After qualifying completion of the qualifying exam, the student is admitted to candidacy. Failure to pass the qualifying exam may result in the immediate loss of the stipend. At the discretion of the guidance committee, a student who fails the qualifying examination may be permitted one retake, which must occur within 6-12 months after the examination that was failed.

Friday, September 5, 2008

PhD holders to be on higher scale - Star

PUTRAJAYA: July 26, 2008

New lecturers with PhD qualifications who are hired by public universities will be placed straight on the higher DS51 grade.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said previously they had to start on the DS45 grade like other new lecturers.

“We feel that candidates with PhD qualifications can further strengthen the quality of teaching and learning at public universities,” he said before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi presented the National Academic Award 2007 here yesterday.

There are presently 23,567 lecturers in 20 public universities nationwide.

On another matter, Mohamed Khaled said the ministry would be submitting a progress report on the implementation of the National Higher Education Strategic Plan to the Cabinet next week.

“It will then be made public,” he said.

Abdullah later presented the National Academic Award 2007 to former Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) vice-chancellor Emeritus Prof Tan Sri Dr Syed Jalaludin Syed Salim.

Other award recipients were Prof Dr Onn Hashim from Universiti Malaya for Research Article Award, Assoc Prof Dr Nordin Hussin from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia for Book Published Award, Assoc Prof Dr Syed Omar Syed Rastan from UPM for the Innovation and Commercialised Product Award, and Assoc Prof Zulkifli Yusoff from Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris for the Art and Creativity Award.

Government to launch plan to produce more researchers - Star

GEORGE TOWN: Sept 5, 2008

The “MyBrain15” programme, a critical agenda under the National Higher Education Strategic Plan to produce 100,000 researchers and PhD holders in 15 years, will be launched this month.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, who disclosed this yesterday, said the country now only had about 8,000 PhD holders.

“We will work with all universities to achieve our target,” he told reporters yesterday after attending Intel’s fellowship and research grant award ceremony at Intel Penang’s plant in Bayan Lepas near here. Intel Malaysia gave out 15 research and four fellowship grants worth more than RM834,200 to postgraduate students and faculty members from five local universities at the ceremony.

Khaled, who did not gave the exact date of the launching, said the programme included sending lecturers to do their PhDs.

In his speech earlier, he said the programme would provide the necessary incentives to produce the 100,000 researchers and PhD holders within the targeted timeframe.

Khaled commended Intel for providing grants to the postgraduate students and local university faculties to conduct research and hoped more companies would follow suit.

“It is inadequate to solely depend on the Government for research and development. We really need the industry to play a role to engage universities in R&D,” he said.

He said the level of research and development in the country was “not up to expectation”, adding that the country would end up being only consumers if it did not discover new products.

Khaled also said Malaysia aimed to aspire in research and development in niche areas that it was strong in such as Islamic finance, halal food and tropical medicine.

Intel Malaysia managing director Atul Bhargava said Intel had given out more than 70 research grants and 38 fellowship grants since the company introduced its Higher Education Programme in 1997.