About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2229-2234
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain

THE STUDENT RESEARCH ASSISTANT: UNDERSTANDING ACADEMIC LIFE THROUGH A SUPERVISED RESEARCH MODEL

H. McRae

University of Melbourne (AUSTRALIA)
In 2009 Melbourne Law School established a dedicated faculty Law Research Service. Based in the Law Faculty Library, the Service employs research assistants from the student body, drawn from a student cohort of undergraduate, postgraduate and research higher degree students. The Service model is collaborative and supervised, and research assistants are provided with ongoing training in domestic, international and cross-jurisidictional legal research. The nature of the research undertaken by faculty staff enables student researchers to use multi-disciplinary skills obtained from other areas of study, for example in economics, languages or humanities. A Research Service Manager supervises individual projects and researchers collaborate with Law Librarians, IT specialists and other researchers. The Research Service has expanded during the last three years and has won two significant national awards for innovation and quality of service.

The Service is at present unique to Australian universities. The sophistication of service it provides to academic staff enhances the quality and output of research by faculty at the Law School. A recent survey of faculty who have used the service found a satisfaction rate of over 98 per cent. The benefits of this research service model for tertiary institutions have been well documented in the United States, where the model is common in large law faculties. While the benefits to faculty and institutions have been discussed in tertiary research and education literature, this presentation provides a unique insight into the experience of the student research assistant, a topic as yet unexplored.

My presentation explores how the Service provides training and experience across a wide range of academic research projects and how the Service links academic staff, research assisants and other faculty service staff to go beyond the traditional model of research assistant employment. Traditional models of student employment are often ad hoc, and the student researcher works alone and largely unsupervised. The Law Research Service model offers a more integrated, supported and sophistacated approach to linking student researchers and academic staff. There are also unique benefits for students, including enhanced research skills, opportunities to undertake freelance research with individual academic staff and greater post degree employment prospects. My presentation demonstrates that the service has other, less obvious benefits for both student researchers and academic institutions.

My presentation suggests that the service offers a unique opportunity for students considering a career in academia to understand the working life of a law faculty academic. Projects undertaken range from assistance with academic articles, funding applications or preparations for conference presentations. I argue that this model addresses the absence in many tertiary institutions to provide students with opportunities to understand the world of the academic. In this way the service can be likened to an academic mentorship program. For those students considering a career as a working academic such insight is invaluable and offers multiple opportunities to network with academics in a prestigious research environment.
@InProceedings{MCRAE2011STU,
author = {McRae, H.},
title = {THE STUDENT RESEARCH ASSISTANT: UNDERSTANDING ACADEMIC LIFE THROUGH A SUPERVISED RESEARCH MODEL},
series = {4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2011 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-3324-4},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {14-16 November, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {2229-2234}}
TY - CONF
AU - H. McRae
TI - THE STUDENT RESEARCH ASSISTANT: UNDERSTANDING ACADEMIC LIFE THROUGH A SUPERVISED RESEARCH MODEL
SN - 978-84-615-3324-4/2340-1095
PY - 2011
Y1 - 14-16 November, 2011
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2011 Proceedings
SP - 2229
EP - 2234
ER -
H. McRae (2011) THE STUDENT RESEARCH ASSISTANT: UNDERSTANDING ACADEMIC LIFE THROUGH A SUPERVISED RESEARCH MODEL, ICERI2011 Proceedings, pp. 2229-2234.
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