Dash, D. P. (2015). Enacting a developmental niche for researchers: Lessons from research education initiatives in India and Malaysia. International Journal for Researcher Development, 6(2), 144-164.
The purpose of this article is to offer a provisional framework for researcher development in contexts where postgraduate research education is developing. This is a reflective essay. The author draws out lessons from his research education initiatives in India and Malaysia spread over a decade (2003-2013). The lessons are based on favourable and unfavourable processes which affected those initiatives. The processes are then synthesised in two stages to arrive at a provisional framework. The framework is presented as a cyclical process blending five focal themes: Identity, Connection, Network, Skills, and Roles. Implementing such a process would require sustained institutional collaboration and a supportive policy environment. Given the limited experiential basis of this reflective exercise, the framework should be considered provisional in nature. There is a need to discuss and assess the framework in other contexts. Countries such as India and Malaysia have set ambitious targets for doctoral completion. Well-endowed scholarships have been put in place. However, doctoral programs are still not yet widely popular. A need exists to direct policy debates towards the kinds of researchers needed and how to develop those kinds of researchers. The article presents a first-hand reflective account of the opportunities and constraints of research education in India and Malaysia. The exercise has produced a provisional framework for researcher development that could be adapted and assessed in other contexts.
Keywords: competence network; developmental niche; higher education policy; research education; research workforce; researcher identity; research culture in developing countries; support network