Volume 6 Issue 4 (2017)

Factors Influencing Gen-Y Undergraduates’ Choice of Research Supervisor: A Case Study of a Malaysian Private University

pp. 20-34  |  Published Online: December 2017  |  DOI: 10.22521/edupij.2017.64.2

Ali Shafiq, Anbareen Jan


This paper explored what factors Gen-Y undergraduates deem important, and how they are ranked in selecting a research supervisor. Focus group was used at the first stage to elicit factors that were important to the respondents. The second step included ranking those factors through qualitative survey. The 12 identified factors ranked in descending order of importance are: Educational qualification, experience in the field, previous encounter with the supervisor, previous projects supervised by the supervisor, word-of-mouth related to the supervisor, referral by other faculty members, research methodology used by the supervisor, age, gender, nationality/ethnicity, religion, and profile picture of the supervisor. Being an exploratory study, the data is collected from a small sample from one university only, hence raising generalization issues. For future research, these dimensions can be validated via a large sample study. This research sheds light on what attracts millennials when selecting their research supervisor; from which academics and higher education institutions can identify potential areas of weaknesses and introduce subsequent improvements. The existing literature focusses on postgraduate researchers, after they have chosen a supervisor; whereas this research explores how undergraduates choose a research supervisor. The model formulated in this study could also be applied to postgraduate students as to what attracts them when selecting their supervisor.

Keywords: research supervision, millennials/Gen-Y, services marketing, consumer decision making process, qualitative research


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