'Polifonia' Database of Student Research Projects and Supervisors


For students, teachers and academic managers working in conservatoires, music academies and Musikhochschulen, the requirements of a research project database are not exactly the same as those for users working in departments of music in universities.  Research projects in institutions dedicated primarily to the artistic development of practical musicians need to be relevant to that development.  That is why many projects at Masters and Doctoral level are now embedded in the student’s musical practice, rather than taking the form of a separate written document.  Written text is still important, but it is often accompanied by spoken presentations, reflective diaries and other formats, often preserved in the form of video or audio recordings.

A student embarking on such a practical project needs to know what else may have been done in a similar area.  Lists of dissertations such as the American Musicological Society’s ‘Doctoral Dissertations in Musicology’ (DDM) or the Royal Musicological Society’s ‘Register of Research Students' Dissertation Topics’ will not necessarily supply this.  Especially as the body of practically-focused research activity, including what is known as Artistic Research, grows ever larger, it becomes increasingly important that a student should be able to find out whether work of the kind they are proposing has already been carried out in another institution.

Similarly, because the skills required of peer reviewers, supervisors and external examiners in these new areas combine both practical and theoretical elements, finding suitably qualified people for these tasks is not always easy.  Being able to consult a database that shows who, within the world of Higher Music Education, has relevant experience of supervision can be a valuable aid.

It is for this reason that the ‘Polifonia’ database has been created especially for the European Higher Music Education sector and that it combines information about student projects with details of their supervisors.  Because its focus is upon projects that will often combine performance with other elements, the database has been embedded within the Research Catalogue (RC) of the Society for Artistic Research (SAR). 

The Research Catalogue is ‘an open source, online, collaborative workspace for the archiving, designing and publishing of artistic research’.  It is being increasingly used by staff and students in European higher arts education.  Placing multi-media data on an RC page allows the creation of visual or textual interconnections through which research can be exposed.

Embedding the ‘Polifonia’ Student Research Project and Supervisor database within the RC makes it possible for a student whose project details are entered in the database to create a link to their own page within the RC where recordings of their performances and other material can be exposed.  This benefits them in raising their profile, but it also means that a student or teacher searching the database can go directly to examples of actual musical performance that amplify, explain and validate the simple entries that they find in the database itself. 

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. The Database portal reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.