Sydney School of Education and Social Work events - 2013 Archive

Page archived at: Tue, 10 January 2013 09:15:50 +1000

Discourse in PhD examiners' reports

7 November 2013

Change of date


One of the principal roles of a PhD examiner is to judge ‘both the potential of the researcher and the quality of the research’ (Holbrook et al. 2004: 7). While examiners may be guided by criteria supplied by universities, the descriptors they are provided with can often be open to interpretation. Reading an examiner’s report can be a daunting process, further exacerbated especially by the often ambiguous use of language in the reports. This presentation, which goes by the full title of "Evaluation and instruction in PhD examiners' reports: a discourse perspective", examines the discourses of evaluation and instruction in 142 PhD examiners’ reports on theses submitted at a university in New Zealand.

This paper draws on systemic functional linguistics, in particular the frameworks of APPRAISAL (Martin and White, 2005) and transitivity (Halliday and Matthiessen, 2004) in order to examine the reports. The study revealed that examiners can adopt up to 10 ‘roles’ in their reports, each of which can be present in a single report. The inability to differentiate between these roles, we argue, is potentially frustrating for the audience of the reports (candidates, supervisors and heads of school), particularly when interpreting whether a comment in the text represents an evaluation, an instruction, a suggestion or an aside. By revealing these multiple, yet co-present, roles in examiners’ reports and their associated linguistic realisations, we hope to raise examiners’ awareness of the implications of the language they use when writing their reports as well as draw thesis supervisor and institutional attention to the ambiguities inherent in this underexplored genre.

Download

Event details

  • When: 4–5pm

  • Where:

    Change of venue

    Old Teachers College A22, Room 306

    old teachers college location

    Click image for interactive map.


  • Cost: Free

  • RSVP: RSVP by emailing Camilla Pilgrim

  • Contact:

    Camilla Pilgrim

    E: camilla.pilgrim@sydney.edu.au

  • More info:

    View the full schedule of talks in this series.

  • Reading:

    Halliday, M.A.K. and Matthiessen, C.M.I.M. (2004). An introduction to functional grammar. 3rd edition. London: Arnold.

    Holbrook, A., Bourke, S., Fairbairn, H. and Lovat, T. (2012). "The focus and substance of formative comment provided by PhD examiners." Studies in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2012.750289

    Martin, J.R. and White, P.R.R. (2005). The language of evaluation: appraisal in English. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Speakers: Dr Robert McMurtrie is a tutor and guest lecturer at the University of New South Wales. His PhD thesis, Spatiogrammatics, developed a grammar of architecture, drawing on systemic functional linguistics and using the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia, as a case study.

    Professor Brian Paltridge is research development coordinator at the Sydney School of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. He sas taught English as a second language in Australia, New Zealand, and Italy and has published extensively internationally in peer-reviewed journals.


Discourse in PhD examiners' reports

Where

Change of venue


Old Teachers College A22, Room 306

old teachers college location

Click image for interactive map.


When

7 November 2013


Outlook / iCal Yahoo! Windows Live! Google