$64,000 Question

Instead of perfecting my theory, and reducing some of the quoted material, I wanted to get into something a little more practical.  I’ve started looking at the questions that I will ask in the survey, and at what each of these questions (or a cluster of questions) will capture.  Although this too is theory-based, I will be able to switch on and off easily from it- unlike writing a critical review of the literature.  In this way I am hoping to be able to get back into it as work is starting to invade my time in a rather big way.  Alarm bells are going off everywhere!

The family’s summer holiday is close.  I should be back into gear soon after.

Confirmed!

No detail of my confirmation viva, nor the destruction I’ve caused to my nerves, would come close to describing the relief I feel today. I am pleased to confirm that I’m through! After a meeting of over an hour followed by an agonising twenty-minute deliberation – whilst my supervisors and I waited outside, I was given some recommendations and informed that I am now a confirmed PhD student. This sounds like zero progress, but this is huge considering I faced being kicked off the programme in October. The letter of my unsatisfactory performance was as recent as January 14th.

What does this mean now? It means with doing the recommendations of the panel (which add about three months work) I can move ahead with the research. I have received a nod from the university for the topic and how I intend to study it. I have successful defended its potential theoretical contribution and (less importantly) its practical.  I can move ahead with the empirical work soon. The recommendations are sound and although they will add three months work now, they will save a some time during the analysis stage- so I’m hoping to remain on target for a completion in 2016. Anything beyond that would be financially, psychologically and probably physically no longer feasible.

Today I will just remind myself that I’ve passed, upgraded, transferred, confirmed or whatever the hell anyone wants to call it.

Eureka

Although there were words on paper that described – in detail too – what I wanted to do with my research, I was not quite sure what it actually meant.  What did I mean by ‘testing a theory’? It took me long enough to grasp the significance of theories and how they draw the pencil lines for management systems that come years (sometimes decades) later.  My draft of the Literature Review is forcing me to put down the little I have learned over the past few months into sentences and paragraphs.  My supervisors who have left me alone to get on with it thus far explained in our last meeting that my aims would become clearer after I finish the Literature Review.  Like many things I am learning in this process, I chose to ignore that and tried many times to adjust my aims to make it into a ‘real doctoral research’.  I kept asking them and my wife if there was enough there… Well, today I have finished my Literature Review plan (which is yet to be appropriately filled) and my God it is all making sense.  I almost know what I meant when I wrote my proposal over a year ago.  It should not be a celebration – but it sure feels like one.

How to get a PhD

I mentioned this book before when I came across it in an article in The Guardian’s archives.  After reading ‘Authoring a PhD’ I wanted a book that described the process of research and what doing a PhD involves, rather than just writing the thesis.  This is without doubt an excellent reference if you’re looking for an overall description of virtually everything.  For example, it sheds light on the vagueness associated with words such as ‘originality’ and describes how a ‘Literature Review’ should be made relevant – something I noticed missing in some of the theses I’ve been scanning.  Another chapter I found very useful is the one about the relationship with the supervisor(s).

It gets great reviews on Amazon and I agree that it’s an excellent start – and companion – to anyone doing a PhD.  I read the older edition (my wife found it among her books from her PhD days).  The current one is the fifth and you can find it here and there is a Kindle version too.

Authoring a PhD

Having read the many positive reviews this book gets on Amazon, I thought it was time I had a look at it before my reading time becomes more focussed on my research. I’m still not 100% sure about my place on a programme but it’s looking good and my offer letter will be with me ‘in the next few weeks’ according to Admissions.

This book, in my opinion, is a little too long. I find myself skipping paragraphs and sections. Having said that, if I had to remove a section I would find it difficult to choose – so this is probably an unfair criticism. The chapter summaries are very useful if, like me, you’re looking for a quick read. It is very well written and covers everything about ‘authoring’ hence the title. It’s not a book about doing a PhD which is probably what I need to be reading at this stage. It’s more about the thesis itself and research planning. I need to know/learn more about the actual process, expectations of and from supervisors.

Amazon link and there is also a Kindle edition

Find a PhD

In preparation for the work that I will hopefully start soon, I have been searching for forums and blogs about PhDs and found a great place which has already been of help.  I joined their forum as a prospective student and asked a question in the forum about where to find archives of successful theses.  I received a reply within minutes, garnished with words of encouragement.

Check out the link below for everything you can imagine you would need to know about doing a PhD and click the link on the top right hand corner for the Postgrad Forum.

Link: http://www.findaphd.com/

Proposal? I’m down on both knees!

The Literature Review is more of a challenge than I had anticipated. I’ve never read a book in one day and this week I’ve done it twice! Not sure whether to be impressed or concerned.

My amazing wife is helping me with this part. I need my proposal finalized soon so I can start taking control of my life again and actually apply for a place.

The Proposal

This is step one and not one I can simply bypass. It’s the heart of any application not only from the point of view of presenting what I intend to do for my PhD, but also to crystalise it in my own mind. I’m happy with the subject and I’m sure of its merit – but I need to commit it to paper. It needs to flow and make sense to someone other than my wife and best friend.

It’s time to shut away from the world. Reread the research methods books and contact some people to see if I can negotiate access to collect data. It’s exciting if only for having a clear objective for the next few weeks. I have to be ready to apply by the end of this month!

It’s Called Teleworking!

Ok I’ve been reading quite a bit about this subject. It’s called teleworking, and whilst we don’t have anything like it in this part of the world, it’s a growing phenomenun in the West. I was surprised to see how many companies have offered more flexibility in the last few years – both in order to make savings (and keep jobs) and to offer a better work-life-balance to employees.

Still wondering how to bring this subject into a PhD… It has to be within the area of career progression and maintaining contact with virtual teams.

Working Remotely

This is an exciting time, my wife keeps reminding me. I’m thinking about topics! BAsed on my experience, I’ve been thinking about the possibility about this topic. People who work away from their head offices. I’ve had an interesting mix in my work: both managing representatives across the Middle East and reporting back to head offices in France and USA.

This could be very interesting. The angle may be closer to home than I would like… I’m thinking about motivation and career progression among people who have are in similar positions… The notion of ‘Out of sight, out of mind’.