Seminar* in Systematic Musicology
Konversatorium zum Schwerpunkt Musikpsychologie und Akustik
Supervision of graduate student projects in music psychology and systematic musicology
Part of Graz's intermural Musicology program - Hosted by the Centre for Systematic Musicology
Richard Parncutt 2005-2012, last updated 26.3.2012
Systematic musicology (SysMus; short, medium, Xlarge) is growing fast. The same applies to its biggest subdiscipline, music psychology (deutsch, english). The number of interesting research questions is steadily growing. They are being addressed in regular international conferences such as ICMPC, ESCOM and DGM, and in journals such as Music Perception, Psychology of Music, Musicae Scientiae and Jahrbuch Musikpsychologie. Students who participate in this research seminar have the chance to witness this exciting development in the history of musicology, and to contribute their own research.
The quality of conference
abstracts and journal articles in modern music psychology is generally
review. Submissions to conferences and journals are
accepted, improved or rejected on the basis of
recommendations by anonymous experts. Success does not (or should not!)
on age, qualification or
rank; the main thing is the academic content. The coordinator of this
seminar contributes regularly to leading international
conferences and journals in the area of music psychology
through original research contributions, confidential review
and organisation/running of conferences and journals. I am in a good
position to help students prepare research
reports and submit them to international conferences and journals.
|The research seminar aims||You will address a topic|
To promote the academic careers and international mobility of German-speaking students, the working language of the seminar is English. All talks and all discussions are in English. You are encouraged to write your research reports (theses) in English. The seminar offers not only a comprehensive introduction to the art of academic research in SysMus (the course coordinator is an internationally leading music psychologist) - it also offers specialist English language instruction at the highest level (the course coordinator is a qualified and experienced English teacher and native speaker). If you accept the challenge of submitting an abstract to an international conference, preparing a conference presentation, contributing to conference proceedings, or submitting a journal article, you can count on expert academic and linguistic support.
Structuring the argument of your bachelor's thesis
Please follow this link for further information.
The difference between the seminar "Music Psychology" (5th semester) and the research seminar (6th)
In both cases you are asked to formulate a thesis and support it with relevant literature, and the main literature and thesis can be the same in both cases. The main difference is that the talk in the research seminar should be structured more like a theoretical presentation at a conference. Similarly, the bachelor's thesis should be structured more like a theoretical article in a journal.
Specifically, that means presenting the main literature differently. In the seminar you present 1-3 articles one after the other, summarizing their aims, methods and results. In the research seminar and bachelor's thesis, you present your argument and its structure (use the above ppt) and refer to the literature only to support specific points in your argument. Do not to summarize the aims, methods or results of selected literature sources! Instead, refer to specific points in the literature, e.g. the conclusion of a given study (if the paper is in a good journal, the methods and their relationship to the conclusions should be ok so you don't need to talk about that), or perhaps some aspect of the method (if it is directly relevant to your argument).
My support as you write your thesis
I prefer not to read drafts of bachelor's, master's or PhD theses, or parts thereof. Instead I ask you to present your work in the research seminar and take advantage of the discussion following your talk. If you want to show me your Bachelors thesis before you submit it, please instead show me the table summarizing the structure of the argument. Instead of showing me your masters thesis, talk with me about your method (participants, design, procedure, results) and the interpretation of the results. To write a good thesis, please read my various guidelines, compare your work with recent "very good" theses in the university library, and support each other to develop team skills and long-term academic independence. That is the best strategy for success.
My approach to research supervision is largely based on my participation in peer-review procedures in the international infrastructures of systematic musicology, especially music psychology (more). Research supervision is most rewarding for me when my international colleagues take an interest in my students' work and my students embark on research careers (see student profiles). I hope you will be one of those students!
If you are considering the possibility of a research career in systematic musicology, you will need to do the following, one after the other: finish your bachelors, enrol in a masters, submit an abstract to an international conference, present at the conference (where you risk learning more about systematic musicology than in any university program) , finish your masters, enrol in a PhD, submit an article to a leading international journal, submit your PhD, and look for a postdoctoral position.
As far as possible, all of that should happen in the English language. In most academic disciplines, German has the status of a secret language. If you write in German, most relevant experts will not be able to read your work (or will not take the time to do so). It will be ignored and have no "impact". But there is no point doing good research if the relevant international experts never hear about it - and if they never hear about it, you can never be sure if it is good or not.
By the way, if you need an official reference for a letter of application, please first read my colleague David Huron's guideline.
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to follow the guideline for structuring the argument of a bachelor's thesis? Why not just start writing?
You don't have to follow the guideline strictly, but you should fill out the table and discuss and revise the content with me and other students several times. The guideline is basically just a list of points that most social scientists agree should be included in any good theoretical paper. Writing a good theoretical paper is not easy, that's why I put together a comprehensive guideline to help you. Once you have acquired the skills, you can return to a freer structure in later work.
I cannot find good (empirical) research on my topic.
Are you sure that you are searching in the right places (the usual databanks, Google Scholar, internet) for the right terms and combinations of terms? Try brainstorming for possible keywords. When you find an article, write down the relevant terms used in that article, and search for them, too. Every time you find a new article, expand your list of keywords and try out new combinations. After that, sort the literature that you find according to its distance from your topic. Read the ten (good) articles or chapters that appear to be most relevant; they don't have to coincide with your topic. Don't be surprised if no article or chapter exactly coincides - after all, you are planning an original research project! Finally, consider the implications for your specific question of the research reports that you have found.
If I still can't find good empirical research on my topic, can I do an experiment for my bachelor's thesis?
Theoretically yes, preferably no. Any good research report begins with a good literature review. One aim of your bachelor's thesis is to train you to write a good literature review. One thing at a time! A bachelor's thesis with a clear structure and argument will put you in a good position to write the introduction and conclusion of an empirical master's thesis or dissertation. Besides, experimental studies often take longer than expected. My tip: Finish the bachelor's degree quickly, enjoy the sense of achievement, and free yourself to concentrate on your master's. Write your bachelor's thesis on a topic that is related to the experimental work you are planning for the master's.
Is it ok to do a bachelor's thesis with one supervisor and a master's with another? Or change between master's and PhD? Or both?
It is generally good to compare the approaches of different supervisors. All supervisors have their special strengths and weaknesses. By changing supervisors you learn to evaluate them, which in turn helps you find a new, independent approach to your research topic. But this process will only be beneficial for you in the long run if all chosen supervisors have good international publications. By "good" I mean highly regarded by international experts, i.e. frequently cited, in good journals, or with good publishers. "Good" also means that there was a thorough, anonymous peer review procedure with a reasonable rejection rate. That is the most reliable way to promote academic quality.
Does that mean I can do a master's with you even if I never implemented your guidelines for bachelor's theses? Or a dissertation if I did not do a master's with you?
Yes, provided you have written a previous thesis under the supervision of a researcher with good international publications. In addition, before doing a PhD with me you should have performed a small empirical research project by yourself (or as leader of a group) and written up the results. The normal and recommended way to do that is to write an empirical master's thesis.
You seem to expect a lot from your students. Why should I choose you as a supervisor?
I expect the same level as my international friends and colleagues in music psychology. If you are considering an international research career, you will need many different skills, and you will need to acquire them gradually and systematically. You will need to be fluent in the international language of systematic musicology, which is English (but you should also be able to speak and write fluently about your research in your native language, and if you your native language is English, you need a good command of another major language). As a master's student you should present your first paper at an international conference with your supervisor as second author, and start to build up international contacts. As a doctoral student you should do the same but more independently, and it is also a good idea to submit a major contribution to a leading international journal before you submit your dissertation. I will never force you to do these things, but I will certainly help you to do them, because they will increase your chance of getting research and teaching positions later on. To make all that possible, you will need to get started as a bachelor's student. Start early to lay the foundations for your later success. One of those foundations is the ability to construct and present a convincing argument, as explained in the above guidelines.
world is your
oyster. Über den Tellerrand schauen!
Parncutt -> Lehrveranstaltungen -> Konversatorium (current
SysMus conference series: global coverage of events and opportunities in systematic musicology
Musikologie mailing list: for musicology students in Graz
*The research seminar was previously called "research colloquium". In the Musikologie curriculum, it is called "Konversatorium"
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