Research bootcamp to help MUT staff with their academic writing

Roger, standing, discussing the SPSS with Bulelwa
Roger, standing, discussing the SPSS with Bulelwa

Ten MUT staff members attended a three-day research bootcamp to focus solely on writing their postgraduate theses and journal articles. The bootcamp, which was held at the Holiday Inn in Umhlanga, was meant to equip staff members who are closer to submitting their work an opportunity to get trained in using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) package to analyse their data.  The bootcamp was hosted by Prof Theo Haupt, South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) Chair in Sustainable Work, Education, Environment & Transformation (SWEET) and eThekwini Chair in Sustainable Built Environment at MUT.

Prof Haupt said that the research bootcamp was a result of a series of research training workshops, where many MUT academic staff members expressed a desire to have
focused time to write academic pieces, with the help of a facilitator.  “We agreed that whoever attended would work intensively or focused on either completing the research for their qualifications or journal articles so that they can submit,” Prof Haupt said.

Anyone who took part in the bootcamp had to be in the writing phase of their research.

“Each of the participants had to have a research instrument they needed to have captured data,” said Prof Haupt. “The system analyses the findings and their write up.”  The research bootcamp was facilitated by Roger Cupido, a SPSS specialist from OLSPS Analytics, who was on site to help participants with their analysis. “The idea is that by Wednesday they should be finished with whatever they set out to do,” said Prof Haupt. “We are thinking about three journal papers and the rest graduating with their qualifications.”

Thought the price of hosting such a bootcamp is hefty, it is this prospect of having journal papers and thesis chapters completed that outweighs the price.  “Part of why this might work is that we are taking staff away from their departments,” said Prof Haupt. “We are at hand to respond to any questions they might have.”

To Bulelwa Nyangiwe, from the Department of Communication, it is the hands-on and focused nature of the bootcamp that makes it an ideal vehicle for writing.  “It is helpful because it is hands-on in as far as using SPSS is concerned and also because we have assistance from Prof Haupt and Roger (Cupido),” who is a SPSS specialist, said Bulelwa, who is writing up her doctoral thesis on politeness in written business communication.

The other advantage of having the staff members work on their research in the same room is that they interact with each other and in case where they are facing the same challenge, discussions ensue. Participants were drawn from all faculties, with Departments of Communication, Community Extension and some Engineering faculty departments represented. “I see myself as playing a leadership role, not only for the participants but for MUT as well,” Prof Haupt said.