In this study doctoral students in psychology and social anthropology/ethnology were interviewed as to their selection of research problem for their Ph.D. thesis. From the perspective of activity theory it is suggested that the research problem can profitably be seen as the object of activity in research. Graduate students’ selection of a research problem was analyzed as a process occurring over time, and the results showed that that the selection process was characterized by a mutual adaptation of interests between the Ph.D. student and the research community. Different factors appeared to have influenced the selection process at different points in the process, ‘external factors’ having had a greater influence on the choice process in its early stages, especially for the social anthropologists. In the present study, compared with the anthropologists, the psychologists’ selection processes were more clearly directed by the discipline, for example through the availability of research funds. The results suggest that the Ph.D. student often arrived at a research problem by acting opportunistically in an activity system that was partly unknown to them.
|Name||Lund Psychological Reports|
|Volume||Vol 4 no 1|