The PhD as a project: From Enrolment to Completion - Professor Felix T. Mavondo


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Part of the HDR Development Seminar Series, Professor Felix T. Mavondo presented the following lecture on: Guiding principles; Managing your PhD; Phases of a PhD; Conceptualisation phase; Development of Research Instruments; Survey Management; Analysing the data; Writing up; The Examination Process.

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The PhD as a project: From Enrolment to Completion - Professor Felix T. Mavondo

  1. 1. The PhD as A Project:From Enrolment to Completion Felix T. Mavondo Department of Marketing Doctoral Workshop 4th October 2012 Department of Marketing
  2. 2. My Guiding principles Every doctoral student is a special project Each brings their hopes, their personality and sometimes their family Each has special needs, working style and level of motivation and sensitivity Each brings a culture, previous experience and hopefully a willingness and desire to succeed. Because of or in spite of these the PhD must be completed!! Department of Marketing
  3. 3. Managing Your PhDAims Optimise time use and speed up project completion Maximise exposure to the research process and engagement Enhance critical analysis and synthesis Develop collegiality with other research students and staff Have some publications to gain a competitive advantage in the job market Department of Marketing
  4. 4. What are the Phases of a PhD?From Enrolment to Confirmation Finding The Research Area Literature Review Strategies 1. Identify 10 key articles in your domain of study 2. Find the latest publications in the area that appeared in the top journals 3. Work your way backwards and forward from then on 4. Learn effective literature review techniques 5. Some degree of wandering is acceptable in the early stages Department of Marketing
  5. 5. For each article you read Establish the main findings What was the sample size and unit of analysis What research design and methodology were used What scales (reliability and validity) were used What do you like and not like about the article? What future directions of research and limitations are suggested? Department of Marketing
  6. 6. Conceptualisation Phase Build a model of relationships identified in the literature Establish the ―gap‖ that you want to contribute to closing-your contribution Establish why closing these gaps is important (to academia, practitioners, policymakers or others). Establish who should care about your research Make explicit propositions/hypotheses In part these issues are now addressed by the PhD course work ( I hope) Department of Marketing
  7. 7. At this stage you should have Some idea of how the main constructs are going to be operationalised Well developed ideas about the research design, appropriate sample size, sampling unit and context of your study some idea about data collection and analysis A conceptual paper for publicationYou should be ready for your confirmation. This should be about 12 months from enrolment Department of Marketing
  8. 8. Development of Research Instrument Use what exists!!-This is knowledge accumulation for the discipline Always be conscious of the trade off between a long instrument and response rate if you are doing a quantitative study. There are advantages in pre-testing even on a small sample. Academics and their students are weird and should be avoided! When pre-testing establish the time it takes, the layout, the language and the clarity Department of Marketing
  9. 9. Survey Management Adopt a total design method 1. Minimise cost to respondent 2. Maximise benefits of participation Well designed survey instruments offer significant benefits!! A token of appreciation may work wonders External (industry) support can work wonders Data collection is the most hazardous part of the PhD. You do not have enough control. Department of Marketing
  10. 10. Analyse the data Data analysis should be relatively straight forward if prior work has been done Students should be familiar with the data analysis approach—this could be taught in other departments than your own Start with the simple methods that give an appreciation of the data and address the research questions. In my opinion the most critical chapter in the thesis is Operationalisation of constructs- measure reliability and validity and generalisability. Department of Marketing
  11. 11. Writing up In some sense my students never really have a writing up phase. They learn to write early and submit drafts of chapters for supervisor comments The supervisor should read every word in the first drafts and make many comments It is often desirable to submit of some chapters for publications—conference or journal The advantage is the free feedback. It is great to know you are on the right track Department of Marketing
  12. 12. Writing up (cont’d) Effective project management suggests that by the time data analyses begins you should probably have completed three chapters 1. Introduction 2. Literature Review 3. Research Methodology and Operationalisation of constructs Ideally you should have a complete layout of the thesis by this stage one must have fully developed the hypotheses, be familiar with analyses to be performed Department of Marketing
  13. 13. Critical Chapters Introduction Methodology Final Chapter 1. Main findings 2. Implications of study for  Academia  Managers  Policy Makers Department of Marketing
  14. 14. The examination Process1. The choice of examiners must potentially be done during literature review but definitely no latter than six months prior to submission.2. Candidates MUST be conversant with the work of the examiners—failure to do so may spell disaster3. Avoid recently qualified PhD’s they are over zealous and intolerant of differences! Department of Marketing
  15. 15. Problems: My Personal Experience Some students take very long to settle down—they continue attempting to change the topic or focus of study Poor communication with the supervisor—in some cultures saying NO is not encouraged yet in our system it is strong encouraged Failure to have frequent scheduled meetings— this encourages drift. The rules say once a fortnight!! Inadequate feed back from supervisor and provided late. Department of Marketing
  16. 16. Problems (cont’d)Supervisory Failure The student –Supervisor relationship breaks down—This is delicate but must be managed Incomplete sharing of expectations Supervisor is a mentor—the student has responsibility for the work Student doing to much work unrelated to the PhD Supervisor losses interest in the project and does not provide adequate feed back on time Department of Marketing