Ⅱ. Program Overview and Basic Philosophy
5. Research Methodology
Practice-based research methods are eclectic. The first chapter of a doctoral dissertation generally provides a literature review, but in practiced-based research, this could conceivably be a review of preceding works of art or music performances related to the research subject. In this case, selecting the optimum research method is important. In practice-based research, empirical approaches such as case studies or participant observation become more important methodologies. Action research is one empirical approach that has attracted particular attention.
In action research, researchers themselves initiate a certain type of action and then study the changes or interactions that have been generated. This approach was initially developed in the fields of pedagogy, nursing studies, and psychology, but it is now being applied to environmental issues, international disputes, disaster preparedness, government policy, and business management. In classical research methods, researchers were required to maintain a certain distance from subjects to effectively observe them. However, in action research, researchers are expected to be involved in the action itself. The key element of action research is to objectively record the process of change and reflect on the occurrences and causes to produce new knowledge.
Although practice-based research closely links artistic practice and academic research, this does not mean that equivocal or ill-defined procedures are tolerated. Practice-based research is not a socalled “ halfway-house ” between subjective artistic practice and objective academic research. In some practice-based research, positivist methods involving rigorous data gathering and systematic comparisons can be applied. An analysis of unknown historical materials could also be a part of practice-based research. However, practice-based research differs from classical methods in that data analysis or commentary about materials is not the goal. Therefore, it is typical for multiple research methodologies to be combined in practice-based research.
Put differently, practice-based research is the procedure of discovering the optimum method(s) of finding answers (i.e., new knowledge) in response to questions encountered in the actual process of practicing the arts. In a typical case, a set of research methods are selected and combined (see the practical manual in Section IV below). How effectively they are chosen and combined may be key to the success of the research. In other cases, proposing a creative research method might be vital to successfully achieving research goals. The stipulation that ambiguity is not permitted in research methodology is meant as an admonishment against half-hearted research and not a hindrance to exploratory research.
6. Doctoral Evaluation
In the practice-based doctoral program, students’ achievements are evaluated on the basis of three overall components: artistic works or performances, a doctoral dissertation, and extracurricular activities linked to the research subject. At Geidai, doctoral students are initially evaluated by an Advisory Committee on a regular basis and, ultimately, by the Examination Committee.
The Advisory Committee consists of an advisor and two or more assistant advisors. The number of assistant advisors depends on the graduate school courses. The Advisory Committee members are responsible for guiding the student through the submission of their initial program plans, assessing the student’s artistic and academic performance and extracurricular activities on a regular basis, and providing the students with constructive feedback. The committee also determines if the student is eligible and ready for the final examination at the beginning of the third (or later) year.
An Examination Committee is assembled that evaluates the students ’ achievements in artistic practice, academic research, and extracurricular activities. During the examination process, the three components are closely scrutinized to determine whether satisfactory results have been obtained. The committee then determines whether the students have elicited outcomes from each area while linking them organically. As such, the final evaluation is conducted in an integrated manner.
6.1. Research and Dissertation
The following are the evaluation criteria for the dissertation in this program:
- 1) The subject of the study should be properly established with reference to preceding research and artistic practice as well as within the current artistic and social context.
- 2) The purpose of the study as well as the approaches and procedures to achieve the goal should be clearly stated.
- 3) The study outcome should be clearly defined.
- 4) Research ethics should be ensured.
Our program does not stipulate rules that are occasionally seen overseas (particularly in the United Kingdom) regarding the ratio between creative practice and research. This is because these types of rules are not believed to have any inherent meaning. In fact, even if the ratio between creative practice and research was specified, the meaning of the ratio would change depending on the criteria that served as the basis for evaluation. For example, in case that the ratio of artistic practice to academic research is set at 4:6, if evaluation in artistic practice is more rigorous than that in academic research, it would, in effect, result in artistic practice being viewed as more important than research. As such, rather than specifying the ratio between artistic practice and academic research, it is far more realistic and productive (in terms of both artistic practice and academic research) to conduct an integrated evaluation that focuses on how artistic practice and academic research are interlinked and complement each other.
Additionally, uniform rules regarding dissertation length are not stipulated throughout the university. It goes without saying that even if a dissertation is lengthy, it will not earn high marks if the quality of its content is not in line with its length. On the other hand, if the content is excellent, the length of a dissertation should not be overly short. The dissertation should have a length that is adequate for communicating and presenting research outcomes sufficiently.
Furthermore, when audiovisual media is attached to a doctoral dissertation, the evaluation should include the relevance and complementarity between the thesis content and the media. No restrictions will be placed on the use of media, since (particularly in practice-based research) some media may be more effective at presenting certain results. However, it should be noted that substituting audiovisual media as the dissertation itself is not permitted.