The rise of professiolly-oriented research degrees has been a notable feature of the higher education sector in the last decades (Brenn, 1998; Tuning, 2004) and in Australia this has been most visible in practice-led disciplines including education, nursing and jurisprudence. Most recently, creative artists are enrolling in research programmes in ever greater numbers where the boundaries between professiol practice, research and its outcomes increasingly take on new forms and meaning. The idea of 'artistic research' now has currency and significant trajectory while research training pedagogies continue to evolve in response to these events (Borgdorff, 2012). This paper examines the processes of defining and teaching artistic research in this emerging landscape through the experiences of supervisors, students and graduates at an Australian conservatorium of music. In particular, we details aspects of second and third cycle studies in the Master of Music (M.Mus) and the Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) programmes. Central to the project are important relationships between creative products and accompanying exegetical writing - together as 'dissertation'. Because these programmes respond to the differing relationships between research and practice, blended learning frameworks are often deployed as a mechanism to respond to students' professiol commitments or distance candidatures, and also to frame authoring and display considerations for time-based and/or digital works (Carter, 2005). On the exegetical writing side of the equation, we also examine pertinent issues including: reflective thinking; validity; alytical models; and the examition expectations for both art works and text. To do so, the paper utilises a multiple case study methodology in order to probe indicative artistic research projects. In this we unpack issues relating to student progression, scaffolding and coursework support to the dissertation as seen from the perspective of the actors indicated above. The investigation highlights particular milestones in the higher degree lifecycle in order to ascertain the efficacy of the pedagogy in question, and in particular, as to how the balance of creative content paired with scholarly writing may or may not translate to on-going portfolio careers or otherwise. Overall, we seek to understand what has been achieved to date, what has worked, and what may not be working as well as it might. This frames answers to the questions: on this basis, how will these research programmes continue to improve and adjust and what forms might they take in the future?
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