Framing and Maintaining a Research Agenda

Dr. Fred A. Bonner II, along with Drs. Aretha Marbley and Stella Smith, took the MACH III Center’s Framing and Maintaining A Research Agenda Institute to different venues during the fall semester, including the Houston Galleria on Oct. 31, 2019 for the 26th Annual HBCU Faculty Development Network Conference.

A previous session with students and faculty was held Oct. 24 at Prairie View A&M University with Marbley, who is professor and director of Community Counseling in Counselor Education at Texas Tech University.

Bonner described the 2019 Fall Semester as a blessing for the MACH III Center. PVAMU President Dr. Ruth Simmons has set aside funding through her FIE Initiative for faculty to do research and conduct workshops.

“One of the things we decided to do was use that funding to set up workshops around Framing and Maintaining a Research Agenda. We are looking to move around to all seven HBCUs in the state of Texas and starting there and taking Framing and Maintaining on the road,” he said. “Prairie View is not unique. No institution is unique. All of us struggle around this notion of framing and maintaining a research agenda.

“As we move forward, one of the things I would like for you to do is not only engage with us today, but think about what can we do to bring this message to you, to your faculty to get the word out. Because I’m invested and I am determined to get our HBCUs stronger in the area of research and scholarship and to help as many faculty as I can on our HBCU campuses to establish a research agenda.”

With the objectives of understanding the importance of a research agenda, understanding the publication process, and providing participants with tools to move their research agenda forward, the seminars covered 15 key points.

Participants engaged by giving input and asking questions about how they should go about framing and maintaining their individual research agendas. Of interest to some was seeking a mentor.

“When I’m teaching my leadership class, one of the books I use is Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In.” She does a really good job of talking about mentoring and how we go about seeking mentors the wrong way,” Bonner told the participants. “You need to bring something to the table because 9.99 times out of 10, people don’t want to mentor you. Not because they don’t like you. They just don’t have time.

“One of things I require my doctoral students to do when they go to conferences is to tell me your elevator speech from the fifth floor to the first floor. Think about the major anchors of who you are and lead into a nice narrative,” he said. “Be succinct and articulate who you are. You need to package up for me who you are by way of your research.”

Marbley explained that different types of mentors are needed, noting that one of her mentors is a Jewish white man.

“Based on our own research we know that students and faculty of color need emotional mentoring and family support,” she said. “And when you are retaining faculty of color, especially at predominantly white institutions, oftentimes they want to be hooked up with folk in the community and at the church. It is all levels at different dimensions.”

Another key point for those seeking to publish articles is to look at their own writing and research.

“Your dissertations can be gold mines. You should be able to get two publications out of your dissertation,” said Bonner, as he made reference to Dr. Donna Y. Ford, a distinguished professor in the College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University, who was able to get 35 articles out of her dissertation.

Bonner walked the participants through how to get at least five articles.

“Let’s think in terms of breaking your dissertation apart. The grand tour article is number one – your entire dissertation,” Bonner said. “The first thing you need to do before grand tour article you got to do your homework. You need to identify where you want to place that article. There are some journals that are minority/ethnic specific.”

During the PVAMU session, a participant asked about single versus collaborative authors for publications. “Is there more weight and appeal to being the only author on the articles?”

“What we know from our experiences is that there is very little difference between only author and first author in terms of impact,” Marbley said.

Bonner chimed in and said, “Find out what your department says. Ask that question and make them be specific. Is it 75 percent, 60 percent? Should half my articles be single author?”

There is an unwritten policy pertaining to this, according to Marbley.

“Part of the issue is – as for the dissertation- that is your original research. So, no one else can be first author on your original research,” she said.