Research café: An informal learning space to promote research learning experiences of graduate students in a private university of Pakistan

Document Type



Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


Purpose: Developing strong research skills among graduate students is a prime focus of higher education around the world. Thereby, universities are striving to maximise opportunities that can foster and enrich students’ learning experiences of research; however, the focus is mostly confined to formal opportunities such as research method courses and thesis writing. The provision of informal learning spaces has been recognised as a useful tool for fostering research learning experiences of graduates. This reflective paper is among a few focusing on a model of student-led informal learning space for enriching research experiences in higher education in the context of Pakistan.
Design: This paper uses a reflective approach to generate a metalogue. The research experiences shared by the participants were further reflected by the authors after each Research Café session. The authors then shared their collective metacognitive reflections with each other, generating metalogue, which was used as the data set. The metalogue was analysed thematically to generate themes.
Findings: Findings reveal that the Research café is an informal space to promote academic socialisation by providing a conducive environment, peer support, and informal supervision opportunities to foster the research learning experiences of graduate students. Importantly, the model presented in this paper provides a complimentary pathway for boosting learning experiences.
Implications: This paper would be useful for graduate students, faculty, and university manager to acknowledge the potential of informal learning spaces in promoting research learning experiences. This paper highlights opportunities for replication and further empirical research are needed to establish the efficacy of research café.
Originality: This study contributes to the global debate about graduate research learning experiences through informal learning space which is yet to be explored particularly in developing contexts like Pakistan. The idea of the research café is original as it was conceived keeping in consideration the contextual and cultural aspects. The methodology employed was specifically derived in this paper which can be replicated by other researchers.


Pages, Volume and Issue # are not available.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education.