The "why" and "what for" of research in Social Sciences: Early career researchers' conceptions

Manuela Alvarez Alvarez, Iciar Elexpuru, Montserrat Castelló, Lourdes Villardón-Gallego, Concepción Yániz

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction. In the Spanish context, very little is known about what research means for researchers in training. The goal of this study is twofold: to analyze the research conceptions held by doctoral students in the Social Sciences, and to evaluate how those conceptions relate to several relevant variables in the process of researcher training. Method. A total of 1082 students from 56 Spanish universities participated in this study. They answered a 33-item Likert-type questionnaire with seven possible responses according to their level of agreement with statements about their conceptions, commitment, interest in research, relationship with the scientific community, and stress. An observational, crosssectional design was adopted. Descriptive analyses of central tendency and dispersion, ANOVA, and Pearson's r (SPSS, v.23) were performed. Results. Doctoral students conceptualize research mainly as a process-oriented activity useful for contributing to the community and for personal development; additionally, albeit less often, they conceptualize it as a product, that is, papers published for others to read. Discussion and conclusions. These conceptions are placed into the categories of research oriented toward individual or community development, and research oriented toward the process or product. There is some consensus on these categories from prior research in the international context. The results of this study have implications for the design of doctoral training proposals that take into account understanding what research means, along with students' job expectations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)598-623
Number of pages26
JournalElectronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Conceptions of research
  • Doctoral degrees
  • Ph. D. degrees
  • Researcher identity
  • Social science research
  • Student research

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