Tutorial: Block 3, Week 2: Research Paper Briefing

David Somers bio photo By David Somers Comment

According to Jonathan, the research paper “does not need to be scary and in fact it can be a truly valuable and exciting process.”


  • Group Briefing

    Week 22 (24 May) — briefing (i.e. this group tutorial)

  • Group Seminar

    Week 24 (7 June) — research paper seminar. Bring your initial ideas to discuss. No presentation required; just some thoughts and words that you can copy and paste into this chat.

  • 1st one-to-one with supervisor

    Week 28/29 (about 5 or 12 of July) — 30 minute 1 to 1 tutorial with supervisor (bring an abstract and notes)

  • One-to-one with Jonathan

    Week 30 (19 July) — optional 15 minute tutorial with Jonathan

  • Summer Break

  • Draft 1

    Week 31 (5 September) — submit 2000 word draft via turnitin on moodle; Turnitin gives you a report about how much of your paper has been copied and needs to be cited correctly.

  • 2nd one-to-one with supervisor

    Week 32/33 (13 or 20 September) — 30 minute 1-to-1 tutorial with supervisor

  • Submission Due

    Week 35 (5 October) — submission deadline via ‘turnitin’ on moodle

Overall it is 18 weeks — so plan your time!

Essentially it comprises: a research paper seminar (with initial ideas), and 2 x 30 minute tutorials.

The supervisor will be Gareth Polmeer. He will supervise everybody through the process and do the 1st assessment. Jonathan or another member of staff do the 2nd read.


This is a research paper and not an essay which is more opinion based and subjective. A research paper attempts to be more objective.

This research paper is not about your own work — instead it is about the context for your own work.

You need to be investigating something that you are unfamiliar with or uncertain about and researching to try and find some sort of answer or resolution to the investigation.

  • By Research do you mean as yet unknown or just unknown to yourself?

    A PhD is by definition and ‘contribution of new knowledge’ — this is a masters paper — do not have to contribute new knowledge but should be aiming towards that, but at this level you will still be understanding what is already there — analyzing and synthesising things.

  • Context…historical and contemporary?

    It could be either — sometimes something very historical and ‘old’ can shed useful light on something very contemporary.

  • Building ground for the work?

    Yes, understanding the territory around you and what other people are doing or what other ideas are related to your practice.

  • Artists and contrasting practice….does it have to be visual artists?

    No, not just visual artists — that is used more as an example, there is also an example of someone just using the philosopher Martin Heidegger.

  • How “open” is the subject? does it have to be totally focused on the digital or it can be something wider?

    This course is deliberating very broad — you can take very open approaches — the important thing is to think — is what I am exploring useful for my practice — you can’t write about your own practice but you can be strategic and look at something that would be really useful for you to know more about. as with the whole course, you initial proposal was just a start point — we expect things to change and develop — so this paper needs to connect with the work you have already being doing but it can be a development on from your initial ideas

Why do you think the research paper might be valuable for you?

Jonathan posed this question. Here’s my answer:

It will provide an opportunity to explore my research area in a bit more depth (hybridity applied to the visual arts); to look at how other concepts have been applied to non-figurative (abstract) visual art; and to feed this back into my practice — which will then have a stronger foundation underpinning it.

As jonathan noted:

Stronger foundations is a great approach!

Everybody else had their own answers to this question.

And also

Here is a quick diagram that was created earlier today with the studio-based cohort when asked the same question.



Everybody who has been through this process has benefitted from it and often talk about it being the point when ideas are focused and clarified — significantly benefiting their practice through the rest of the course and beyond.

Context, etc.

The context for your work is generated by this process, you don’t just stumble upon it, you create it by looking into various areas.

You should not assume specific knowledge — you can assume reasonably intelligent readers but don’t assume they know things already, make your argument clear.

Work is not created in a void, therefore it has context i.e. contemporary. It may have references historic or otherwise, for example political . The context can be very broad, historical or contemporary — it can be specifically artistic or more philosophical etc

Language is important to the explanation, justification and promotion of work. This paper can be used to aid the acquisition of an appropriate critical language.

Referencing, etc.

MUST use the Harvard system of referencing — Cite Them Right.


http://www.arts.ac.uk/library then “Library search”

Look at Digital creativity because this journal uses a very similar style to what is required for this research paper — i.e. title. abstract, keywords, then the text, finally the bibliography

Note that Browzine now available in the web, not just as iOS app. Huzzah!


The overall assessment of Unit 1 includes your blog as a reflective journal, your art practice and your research paper — we don’t calculate the research paper as a percentage of the grade it is all included in a holistic assessment… if it was calculated it might be about 20-25%, so it is important but not the most important part.

With Harvard there will always be complicated things, like referencing an image with no author or date, or an audio recording etc — but the cite them right link is great at giving advice… the important thing is to be consistent and provide as much of the required information as possible so that someone can check the source if they need to.

One Final Thought

This is a very narrow but deep investigation — don’t try and be too broad — a narrow focus is vital.

How to Start

  • look back over your blog
  • map all the areas of interest to you
  • choose a few to explore and see if there are enough resources to use, reading material etc
  • start to shape a question, ask yourself what do you want to know more about

Remember: it needs to be something you don’t know now and want to discover.

Go over your blogs and look for the things that have been appearing and choose something that really interests you.

comments powered by Disqus