Introduction: Doctoral Education in Transition
Our introductory chapter explores the importance of applied interdisciplinary research to professional doctorate studies. We discuss the theoretical and epistemological issues that seem rather unique to applied research in the workplace in addition to the practical issues faced by students. We provide a theoretical and policy framework for the research that typifies our program and introduce the chapters that form the soul of our book. In particular we will show how case studies can illustrate how applied doctoral research meets the ideal of melding professional and academic interests in a research-based degree program. The case studies illustrate several foundational issues that frame a successful program including: (a) the importance of a well-founded epistemological framework that explains and defends a particular “way of knowing” incorporating culture and ethnicity-based knowledge systems; (b) the importance of maintaining an approach to research that is curiosity-driven despite the demands from organizations for targeted research; (c) the need to develop a writing style that meets the demands and audience requirements of policy and academic interests as well as the general public; and (d) the significance of developing a research program that extends well beyond the time frame of the doctoral program. In the end, we discuss how our program has advanced our understanding of scholar-practitioner-based doctoral research, and, importantly, we discuss the long-term implications for a foundational reform of doctoral research, in general. We based these final discussions on experience within our program and on awareness of the demands from the changing worlds of work and education.