Research Training for Humanities Postgraduate Students

Geoffrey Crossick

Professor Crossick is Distinguished Professor of the Humanities in the School of Advanced Study, University of London and Director of the AHRC Cultural Value Project. His previous roles include Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, Warden of Goldsmiths, Chief Executive of the former Arts & Humanities Research Board, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Development) and Professor of History at the University of Essex.

The report raises important challenges for those involved in research training, not least in its use of the terminology preparation for research and development in and during research.

This report contains the findings and recommendations of the Working Group established in 1998 by the UK Council for Graduate Education to explore the issue of research training for postgraduate students in the humanities.The Working Group was convened by Professor Geoffrey Crossick, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Development) at the University of Essex. The other members of the Working Group were Dr Isis Brook, University of Lancaster; Professor Jill Forbes, University of Bristol and now Queen Mary & Westfield College; Professor Christopher Green, Courtauld Institute of Art; Professor Sandra Harris, Nottingham Trent University; Professor Richard Johnson, Nottingham Trent University; Dr Michael Jubb, Director of Programmes, Arts and Humanities Research Board; Professor Jo Labanyi, Birkbeck College; Professor Kate McLuskie, University of Southampton; and Dr Paul Slack, Principal of Linacre College, Oxford.

A humanities model of research training exists, but it is implicit as the training itself, and relies heavily on the transfer knowledge and skills from supervisor to student through the supervision process. We would not wish to undermine the continuing importance of that relationship, which will always lie at the heart of most humanities postgraduate research, but the humanities disciplines have for too long assumed that research training was for others rather than for themselves.