Mock Panels

This month (June 2014), we have five of our own going through the Panel experience – Susan, Olga, Bona, Duygu and Dylan – and I hope that, in due course, we’ll hear here their reflections on the safe passage through this process. But meanwhile, if any old-hands have advice to share, that would be welcome, I’m sure. I never had to go through one myself 🙂


  • Susan Dawson

    Hi Dylan,
    Very interesting to read about your experience, so thanks for that. It was also really good to meet you in June.

    Just a couple of things to help with ethics in practitioner research if you’re interested. A book I have found really helpful (which I spotted on the library shelves while looking for something completely different and has been sitting on my shelf ever since!) – Campbell, A. and Groundwater-Smith, S. (2007). An ethical approach to practitioner research. Abingdon: Routledge. Also the 2001 issue (Vol. 35, 3) of ‘Journal of the Philosophy of Education’ is a dedicated issue to ethics – broader than just practitioner ones, but some really interesting articles.

    Hope the rest has left you with lots of energy to get going again!

  • Richard Fay

    Hi Dylan, many thanks for these reflections. I note the prominence of ethics (an overall stance as opposed to ethical approval simply)n what you say. or many of us working in a practitioner-oriented, highly-situated (in-context), professional-development inclined, often qualitative research endeavour, ethical awareness, like reflexivity , will run through the whole enterprise, a bit like the the Blackpool seen running throughout the stick of Rock brought back as a tooth-rotting souvenir from that resort.

  • Dylan Williams

    Hi All, these are some reflections which I’ve written on my PhD process.They we’re written pre and post my panel experience.

    (Written mid May 2014)

    So, I’m a month away from going to panel and I’m already as prepared as can be, having completed both my proposal and my accompanying presentation. So, I felt that it was about time for me to reflect on my PhD experience so far.

    Being an in-context student (South Korea) my journey is quite a solitary one. I’ve made sporadic visits to Manchester over the first 2 years of my PhD journey and of course I’m about to make another one for my panel. However, in hindsight I feel that this solitary experience is something which has pushed my quite hard (in addition to my supervisor of course!!). When I say solitary of course in this day an age I do have access to my peers online and I’ve taken advantage of this from time to time.

    So, I’m writing this just to share my experiences in the hope that this will make other PhD students who are embarking on the process aware of what’s to come. Also, it’s an opportunity to share as I’m sure others may have quite a different experience from mine.

    So, where did my preparation for panel start? In all honesty, in earnest, it started in January of this year. You may wonder why did it take me this long to find my focus. The simple answer to this is that my original proposal which got me onto the PhD program met an ‘ethical brick wall’ in that the research that I was proposing to take (in the university where I’m employed did not get the approval of my employers). At first, I was gutted, but on reflection I now realize how valuable this ‘knock-back’ was in shaping me as a researcher and also how important it was in helping me to hone-in on my focus. Now I regard this as part of the process. Why was I ‘knocked back’. In hindsight it was because of these reasons:

    – I was not careful in framing my research

    – My employers interpreted my intention as wishing to critique their pedagogical models

    What did I realize from this experience?

    In my research I need to provide constructive and useful understanding which can improve pedagogy at where I’m employed.

    (Written mid August 2014)

    So a few month have passed since panel and finally I have had time to sit down and write a reflection on this experience. Was it easy … No!! Is it doable? Yes! Do I feel that I could have improved in the panel? Yes! What was the outcome of the panel – I PASSED!! YUPPIE!! Despite going through all the peaks and troughs, the panel actually helped my proposal. In other words, before I go into the field getting ‘fresh eyes’ on my proposal was a way in which I could strengthen it. This was particularly so in the case of sampling as I realized that I have given little thought as to how I would recruit a fair representation of the students whom I wish to interview. Additionally, the panelists also made me more ethically aware of other factors with my research. In particularly, in my proposal I had given little thought to the ethical implications of collecting data from my students. In other words the risk of coercing the students to partake in the research as I am a figure of authority in the dynamic of the relationship I have with them.

    As I previously stated, it did take a while to get the proposal written up. Probably about 10 different drafts or so in total – so this background is essential as it allows you to gain clarity over what you want to do. In writing style, simple word choice is essential to get your point across; also, avoid convoluted or archaic expressions. Moreover, it is essential that you stick to the 8 page limit as I did hear of one proposal over this amount being rejected – so, stick to it!

    So .. How do I now feel?

    I’ve had a bit of a break from my studies over the summer and now I’m getting back into the swing of things. I’ve just completed the ethics application and hopefully I’ll be submitting it in a few weeks all being well and then starting to collect data in October. It does feel good to pass the panel as it is a nice milestone to reach having satisfied all the training modules and now being solely focused on my own research. It makes the PhD process now much more tangible. So whether you are in-context, or an on site student I wish you the best with the prep and the presentation of your panel .. and feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.