Masters Students and the RSD Pentagon

A colleague, Isabella Slevin, University of Adelaide, writes about her use of the RSD pentagon with Masters students:

RSDpentagon image

I was tasked to prepare and present a 2 hour workshop on ‘How to Write a Literature Review’ for the 6 new Masters by Research students. The areas I decided to cover were: Purpose of a Literature Review; The Role of a Literature Review in driving your research; Structure and Features of a Literature Review; The Importance of Critical Analysis as opposed to mere summarising and Academic Language and Tone.
When first meeting the students I felt rather hesitant as they were all local students who had recently finished their Undergraduate degrees. They were articulate, independent and confident – I did wonder if I had anything new or of use for them. However, I worked my way through the power point slides, the various activities I had prepared – including a Literature Quiz, Survey of Appropriate Resources and deconstructing some Literature reviews from past students.
Foremost, however, was my emphasis on Research Skills and the Research Process. This is where I used the Facets of the RSD Pentagon and kept referring back to it throughout the workshop. I spoke of research as being a process involving various skills and phases, but, importantly, reinforced that it is not a linear process. One of the main aspects I highlighted was: when in doubt, go back to the middle Facet i.e. ‘Embark and Clarify’…again emphasising the process nature of research.
At the end of the workshop the students commented on how useful it had been. They said that the purpose of, and the format of Literature Reviews had never been explained to them – they had basically produced Annotated Bibliographies in the past. They reiterated that the content was useful and, in particular, the ‘Facets of Research’ was something that had given them a different perspective on research and another strategy to assist them in their own research project.

Thanks Isabella for your insights and experiences. A little scary- but maybe not uncommon- that perhaps plenty of domestic students have never had the format of Literature Reviews explained to them, or much experience with researching themselves. What is this like for international students?

The RSD pentagon was modelled on the brilliant work of Mechanical Engineering tutors, who ‘re-enineered’ the RSD framework into the OPS pentagon. If you missed the blog on that, its here