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OPTIMIZING YOUR PHD
Jan Recker
QUT Workshop
November 15, 2020
Cologne Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
About myself
 I study how very large or very small firms deal with
digitalization.
 How their processes change.
 How their products change.
 How their organization changes.
 Broadly speaking, I focus often on issues of process, design,
and/or representation.
 My field research mostly draws on quantitative, qualitative and
computational methods.
 My current interests include:
 How do small and large organizations deal with digital innovation
and transformation?
 How do products, processes, and organizations change through
digitalization?
 How can digital solutions help building a sustainable future?
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
My Three Main Messages Today
Do not compromise on Hygiene 
Skills and nurture your Motivator 
Skills
Practice Engaged Scholarship. Expand mindfully for network 
effects.
#01Message	
Manage Hygiene and Motivator
Skills.
Dissatisfaction
Success
Requirements
exceeded
Requirements
not met
Hygiene Factors
 Rigor
 Command of the literature
 Theoretical foundation
 Writing
Motivator Factors
 Relevance
 Phenomenon
 Uniqueness of data
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
#01Message
Manage Hygiene and Motivator
Skills.
 How do we optimize hygiene skills?
 Seek method experts as co-supervisors.
 Attend workshops beyond your course requirements.
 Workshop your papers.
 Read.
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
#01Message
Manage Hygiene and Motivator
Skills.
“As a scientist, you are a
professional writer.”
Joshua Schimel, “Writing Science”, Oxford University Press.
Cologne Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
#01Message
Manage Hygiene and Motivator
Skills.
 How many books have you read?
 What is a great article that you
know? Why?
 Who is a great writer? Why?
 Do you know professional writers
personally?
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
#01Message
Manage Hygiene and Motivator
Skills.
 How do we nurture motivator skills?
 Follow content alerts from journals.
 Go to industry events, read industry press, speak to industry.
 Do not step into the “we followed the approach by XXX” trap.
 Be driven by phenomena, not by method, theory, or problem.
 Problems in the literature are by necessity historical.
 Go out and observe the real life instead of trying to find holes in the literature.
 Your focus should be on events in the real world and the question “why is that?”
#02Message
Practice engaged scholarship.
“The Duty of Intellectuals in Society
is to Make a Difference.”
Sir Thomas More (shortly before his execution in 1535).
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
A common misconception
 Publish or perish is not about succeeding. It is about surviving.
 Dissemination is not impact: You do not suceed as a scientist by getting
papers published. You succeed by creating impact.
 What is impact?
 Citations?
 Rankings?
 Tweets?
 Changes in the world that go back to your ideas?
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
Engagement and Impact is a choice of
identity, not method.
Research Practice
IMPACTING
Change
Research Findings
UNDERSTANDING
Inspiration
Empirical Evidence
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
Example: Positive Deviance
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
Example: Positive Deviance
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
Impact first, papers later.
• Mertens, W., Recker, J., Kummer, T.-F., Kohlborn, T., & Viaene, S. (2016). Constructive
Deviance as a Driver for Performance in Retail. Journal of Retailing and Consumer
Services, 30, 193-203.
• Mertens, W., Recker, J., Kohlborn, T., & Kummer, T.-F. (2016). A Framework for the Study
of Positive Deviance in Organizations. Deviant Behavior, 37(11), 1288-1307.
• Mertens, W., & Recker, J. (2020). How Store Managers can Empower their Teams to
Engage in Constructive Deviance: Theory Development through a Multiple Case Study.
Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 52, 101937.
• Mertens, W., & Recker, J. (2020). Can Constructive Deviance be Empowered? A Multi-
level Field Study in Australian Supermarkets. Journal of Retailing and Consumer
Services, 54, 102036.
#03Message
Expand mindfully for Network 
Effects.
“You will never again have as much time
to learn new things, methods and
techniques than you have now.“
Michael Rosemann, in my final year as PhD student
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
Build a Portfolio View of your Research
Crafting an Idea
Identifying a Research 
Question
Designing a Study
Theory Development
Data Collection
Data Analysis
Manuscript 
Development
Paper Revision
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
Some rules about your portfolio
 Make sure you always have the buckets sufficiently filled but
not too full.
 Make sure the items work across the portfolio.
 Always work on the piece that is closest to being finished. New
ideas are always more attractive.
 Discipline is critical.
 Manage your co-authors (supervisors).
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
Expand your Portfolio mindfully.
Three strategies
1. Maintain interest in a theory, and explore a variety of
domains and methods.
2. Maintain skills in a method, and apply to various theories and
domains.
3. Maintain a domain of interest, and vary method and theory.
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
My Three Main Messages Today
Do not compromise on Hygiene 
Skills and nurture your Motivator 
Skills
Practice Engaged Scholarship. Expand mindfully for network 
effects.
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
You don‘t have to do it all at once.
Researcher
Results as outcomes
Engagement and impact
Benefits as outcome
Scholar
Theory as outcome
Projects
Programs
Ideas
Problems Public Intellectual
Change as outcome
Postdoc timePhD time Tenure clock time Mid‐life crisis time
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
Set yourselves values you want to life by.
 Read. Read again. Read more. Read everything. Read outside the box.
 Do what you want to do. Not what others want you to do.
 Enjoy what you do. Look after yourself.
 Engage. If you don’t like something, do something about it.
 Don’t be busy being busy.
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
Remember you are doing extra-
ordinary things.
Celebrate progress, not success.
Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker
Prof. Dr. Jan Recker, PhD
Chaired Professor for Information Systems and Systems
Development
Cologne Institute for Information Systems
University of Cologne
email jan.recker@wiso.uni-koeln.de
web www.janrecker.com, www.is4.uni-koeln.de
twitter janrecker
youtube Jan Recker

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Optimizing Your PhD

  • 1. OPTIMIZING YOUR PHD Jan Recker QUT Workshop November 15, 2020
  • 2. Cologne Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker About myself  I study how very large or very small firms deal with digitalization.  How their processes change.  How their products change.  How their organization changes.  Broadly speaking, I focus often on issues of process, design, and/or representation.  My field research mostly draws on quantitative, qualitative and computational methods.  My current interests include:  How do small and large organizations deal with digital innovation and transformation?  How do products, processes, and organizations change through digitalization?  How can digital solutions help building a sustainable future?
  • 3. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker My Three Main Messages Today Do not compromise on Hygiene  Skills and nurture your Motivator  Skills Practice Engaged Scholarship. Expand mindfully for network  effects.
  • 4. #01Message Manage Hygiene and Motivator Skills. Dissatisfaction Success Requirements exceeded Requirements not met Hygiene Factors  Rigor  Command of the literature  Theoretical foundation  Writing Motivator Factors  Relevance  Phenomenon  Uniqueness of data
  • 5. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker #01Message Manage Hygiene and Motivator Skills.  How do we optimize hygiene skills?  Seek method experts as co-supervisors.  Attend workshops beyond your course requirements.  Workshop your papers.  Read.
  • 6. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker #01Message Manage Hygiene and Motivator Skills. “As a scientist, you are a professional writer.” Joshua Schimel, “Writing Science”, Oxford University Press.
  • 7. Cologne Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker #01Message Manage Hygiene and Motivator Skills.  How many books have you read?  What is a great article that you know? Why?  Who is a great writer? Why?  Do you know professional writers personally?
  • 8. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker #01Message Manage Hygiene and Motivator Skills.  How do we nurture motivator skills?  Follow content alerts from journals.  Go to industry events, read industry press, speak to industry.  Do not step into the “we followed the approach by XXX” trap.  Be driven by phenomena, not by method, theory, or problem.  Problems in the literature are by necessity historical.  Go out and observe the real life instead of trying to find holes in the literature.  Your focus should be on events in the real world and the question “why is that?”
  • 9. #02Message Practice engaged scholarship. “The Duty of Intellectuals in Society is to Make a Difference.” Sir Thomas More (shortly before his execution in 1535).
  • 10. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker A common misconception  Publish or perish is not about succeeding. It is about surviving.  Dissemination is not impact: You do not suceed as a scientist by getting papers published. You succeed by creating impact.  What is impact?  Citations?  Rankings?  Tweets?  Changes in the world that go back to your ideas?
  • 11.
  • 12. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker Engagement and Impact is a choice of identity, not method. Research Practice IMPACTING Change Research Findings UNDERSTANDING Inspiration Empirical Evidence
  • 13. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker Example: Positive Deviance
  • 14. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker Example: Positive Deviance
  • 15. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker Impact first, papers later. • Mertens, W., Recker, J., Kummer, T.-F., Kohlborn, T., & Viaene, S. (2016). Constructive Deviance as a Driver for Performance in Retail. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 30, 193-203. • Mertens, W., Recker, J., Kohlborn, T., & Kummer, T.-F. (2016). A Framework for the Study of Positive Deviance in Organizations. Deviant Behavior, 37(11), 1288-1307. • Mertens, W., & Recker, J. (2020). How Store Managers can Empower their Teams to Engage in Constructive Deviance: Theory Development through a Multiple Case Study. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 52, 101937. • Mertens, W., & Recker, J. (2020). Can Constructive Deviance be Empowered? A Multi- level Field Study in Australian Supermarkets. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 54, 102036.
  • 16. #03Message Expand mindfully for Network  Effects. “You will never again have as much time to learn new things, methods and techniques than you have now.“ Michael Rosemann, in my final year as PhD student
  • 17. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker Build a Portfolio View of your Research Crafting an Idea Identifying a Research  Question Designing a Study Theory Development Data Collection Data Analysis Manuscript  Development Paper Revision
  • 18. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker Some rules about your portfolio  Make sure you always have the buckets sufficiently filled but not too full.  Make sure the items work across the portfolio.  Always work on the piece that is closest to being finished. New ideas are always more attractive.  Discipline is critical.  Manage your co-authors (supervisors).
  • 19. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker Expand your Portfolio mindfully. Three strategies 1. Maintain interest in a theory, and explore a variety of domains and methods. 2. Maintain skills in a method, and apply to various theories and domains. 3. Maintain a domain of interest, and vary method and theory.
  • 20. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker My Three Main Messages Today Do not compromise on Hygiene  Skills and nurture your Motivator  Skills Practice Engaged Scholarship. Expand mindfully for network  effects.
  • 21. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker You don‘t have to do it all at once. Researcher Results as outcomes Engagement and impact Benefits as outcome Scholar Theory as outcome Projects Programs Ideas Problems Public Intellectual Change as outcome Postdoc timePhD time Tenure clock time Mid‐life crisis time
  • 22. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker Set yourselves values you want to life by.  Read. Read again. Read more. Read everything. Read outside the box.  Do what you want to do. Not what others want you to do.  Enjoy what you do. Look after yourself.  Engage. If you don’t like something, do something about it.  Don’t be busy being busy.
  • 23. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker Remember you are doing extra- ordinary things. Celebrate progress, not success.
  • 24. Institute for Information Systems | Chair for Information Systems and Systems Development | Prof. Dr. Jan Recker Prof. Dr. Jan Recker, PhD Chaired Professor for Information Systems and Systems Development Cologne Institute for Information Systems University of Cologne email jan.recker@wiso.uni-koeln.de web www.janrecker.com, www.is4.uni-koeln.de twitter janrecker youtube Jan Recker