|dc.description.abstract||Anecdotal evidence suggests that students perceive the research component
of the Master’s Degree in Technology: Homoeopathy (M.Tech: Homoeopathy)
qualification at Durban University of Technology (DUT) in a negative light, and
as an unnecessary obstacle to the qualification and the practice of
homoeopathy (Naude, 2008). One of the reasons for this negative perception
is that in terms of the Homoeopathic programme, the only exit point is upon
completion of the Master’s Degree. Although relevant status is awarded upon
completion of N. Dip: Homoeopathy after the third year of study and B. Tech:
Homoeopathy after the fourth year of study, no actual
certificates/qualifications are awarded or issued nor can the student
register/practice as a Homoeopath (Durban University of Technology, 2009).
The Homoeopathic profession in South Africa is unique as there are very few
professional qualifications which prescribe an obligatory Master’s level
qualification in order to register and practice the respective profession.
Due to the M.Tech: Homoeopathy being the only exit point in the
Homoeopathy programme, every registered student must complete a Master’s
dissertation in order to qualify and ultimately practice Homoeopathy in South
Africa, this often results in students conducting research for the wrong
reasons, without the genuine academic desire to do so or the maturity and
skills required (Naude, 2008).
According to the Education Department of South Africa (2007), the primary
purposes of a Master’s Degree are to educate and train researchers who can
contribute to the development of knowledge at an advanced level, or prepare
graduates for advanced and specialised professional employment. A Master’s
Degree must have a significant research component.
The Education Department of South Africa (2007), states that a Master’s
Degree may be earned in either of two ways: (1) by completing a single
advanced research project, culminating in the production and acceptance of a
thesis or dissertation, or (2) by successfully completing a course work
programme requiring a high level of theoretical engagement and intellectual
independence and a research project, culminating in the acceptance of a
dissertation. In the latter case, a minimum of 60 credits at level 9 must be
devoted to conducting and reporting research.
According to the Education Department of South Africa (2007), Master’s
graduates must be able to deal with complex issues both systematically and
creatively, make sound judgements using data and information at their
disposal and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and nonspecialist
audiences. Graduates must be able to demonstrate self-direction
and originality in tackling and solving problems, act autonomously in planning
and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level, and continue to
advance their knowledge, understanding and skills.
A non-experimental descriptive survey was conducted to determine the
perceptions of DUT M.Tech: Homoeopathy graduates with regards to
research as a component of the degree. A self-administered questionnaire
was distributed and 50 anonymous responses were obtained. Raw data was
analysed using descriptive statistics and the relationships between variables
tested for correlations.
27% of practicing graduates felt that research had a direct benefit on their
professional development. Graduates said that after completing research they
felt more competent and gained more faith in their profession.
34% of graduates thought that research had a direct benefit on their personal
development. Graduates felt that on the path of working towards a long term
goal they had discovered that they possessed a significant amount of
patience and will power.
40% of graduates agreed that research had no contribution to their personal
and professional development as a Homoeopath. Although some graduates
said they felt a “sense of accomplishment” upon completing research, other
graduates argued that the delay in qualifying as a result of research
contributed to the loss of income and valuable clinical knowledge.
Conclusions and Recommendations
The process of research is a multi–factorial problem. One has to look at each
individual case in order to gain insight into how to best address respective
problem areas in order to improve the process of research and reduce the
delays in qualification. Many graduates expressed dissatisfaction at the
inconsistent time factor, from conception of the research design, to awaiting
both approval of the DUT 186 and finally the marking of the completed work.
Some graduates felt that difficulties relating to the quality and quantity of
supervision as well as poor patient/ participant compliance were the factors
responsible for their delay in qualification. Many graduates reported that the
previously limited Homoeopathic research budget left them compromised for
scope, diversity and new ideas.
It was recommended that future students insist on formal supervision
contracts which clearly define issues such as accessibility and timeframes. It
was also recommended that future students consider at least two supervisors,
preferably one being an external supervisor with suitable specialist skills
concerning the respective research study. Furthermore, it was recommended
that future research should be designed around easily accessible target
The M.Tech: Homoeopathy programme is currently undergoing recurriculation;
the new curriculum will be most likely implemented in 2011. A
draft curriculum has been designed by academic staff of DUT and University
of Johannesburg. The proposed new curriculum aims to addresse issues such
as difficulties with research as well as solutions to these difficulties.||en_US