Sunday, December 16, 2012

"No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking." - Voltaire

The quote by Voltaire is an interesting one to remember by researchers. Once you decided to solve a research question and started literature review you need not abandon the problem totally at any time. The solution may take time and you may need to take breaks and divert your attention to some other activities, but if you are at it you are likely to solve it. Well sometimes you may not solve it, but if you still did some thinking and explored some ways to solve the problem and failed, you can leave your trail to somebody else. You may not be able to publish a paper on it. But you can still pass on your manuscripts. In this digital age, you can still self publish your research endeavour and leave the trail on online space.

Remember "No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking."

Add the quote of Einstein

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Research Methods in Physical and Natural Sciences

Research Methods in Science - Introduction

Description - Describing what is happening in planetary movements.

Modeling - Developing a model of the phenomena being studied

Experimenting - Changing the inputs of an experiment or giving a treatment to a sample of subjects

Comparison - Examples: Comparing the health of smokers with the health of non-smokers

Process of Science

How to Do and Write Literature Review?

Literature review has to be done by every researcher to make a research proposal. The proposed research is trying to extend the understanding of a particular phenomenon. This necessarily implies that the researcher made a review of the present understanding of the phenomenon and identified the need for further understanding. In academic research that is knowledge enhancing research, literature review is done using research journals.

Read an interesting paper

A Systems Approach to Conduct an Effective Literature Review
Yair Levy and Timothy J. Ellis
Nova South Eastern University, Florida, USA
Informing Science Journal, Vol. 9, 2006

Video Lecture based on the above Paper

Effective Literature Review - Video Lecture by Yair Levy - Part 1/5 - YouTube Video












English Language to use in Literature Reviews







Structuring and Writing Literature Review

Introduction: Literature needs to have introductory paragraphy explain the focus of the literature review.

The suggestions are start from a broard area discussion to more specific topic close to your area of research.

Present the literature chronologically.

Where multiple themes or topics are there, present the review theme wise. Within each of these, chronological order needs to be followed.

Critical analysis of the papers brings out the areas of agreement and disagreement expressed by other scholars as well as the conclusion of the candidate writing literature review. Hence carefully reading the criticism of a paper by other scholars and evaluating it is important. The candidate has to make judgment whether the criticism is justified or not and if it is needed the candidate may correct the unjustified criticism or misrepresentation.

A concluding paragraph or section summarizes the key issues covered in the literature review and the gaps identified for further research.


The Literature Review: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students (SAGE Study Skills Series)
Diana Ridley


Bryman 3 edition chapter

Friday, November 9, 2012

Theoretical Research Strategy: Seven Step Approach - Introduction

Academic norms

Scholarly work is inter-subjective: every scholar draws upon the work of other members of the community in terms of theories and problem awareness, and also contributes to the community by offering new insights.
Scholarly work is self-critical. Self-criticism is important for rendering valuable contributions to the academic community. The scholar has to take responsibility for his or her own work.
Scholarly work is argumentative: it recognizes that personal bias is in the way of every scholar’s attempts to explain the world, and therefore tries to convince the readers, by awareness-building, consistent argumentation, and critical questioning.
Scholarly work is precise: it checks the matter debated critically, it questions various possible conclusions or claims made, in order to back-up one's theses more safely, explaining them clearly.
Scholarly work is explicit: The scholar has to explicitly define his or her concepts which are subjectively relevant, and clearly explain the line of argumentation so that others can understand what s/he is saying.

A Seven-step Approach for Theoretical Research

Research question formulation
 Literature review
Concept reflection and identification
Theoretical conjecture formulation
Discourse with peers and other knowledgeable individuals
Theoretical conjecture refinement and acceptance
Discussion on the impact of theory


Research Skills in the Liberal Arts Paradigm

Dan Remenyi and Arthur Money, “Theoretical Research and Management Studies:Some Preliminary Thoughts”, in 3rd European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies: University of Reading, Reading UK, 19-30 April 2004 By Ann Brown, Dan Remenyi (Ed.),  Academic Conferences Limited. 

Lee Freese, “Formal Theorizing” Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 6, (1980), pp. 187-212   


The Ph.d. Process - What it Takes to Get it Done

On the Nature of Theoretical Research:

A Tutorial on Survey Research: From Constructs to theory

Theory Building in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Ten Years of Entrepreneurial Education and Research: Theoretical contributions - Gives categorization of researchers 2012


Originally posted by me in

Friday, November 2, 2012

Case Study Research Methodology - Introduction and Bibliography

In case study research, limited number of instances of a phenomenon are studied in detail to develop theory or test theory. The sample is selected on the basis of convenience or power to develop the theory.

Yin wrote a book on case study research methodology.

See a note giving various questions to be answered in developing case study research proposal.

What is the difference between proposition and hypothesis?

In research methodology also, these words were used with different meanings by different authors, and there is sufficient confusion now.

One view is that in theory building, a set of assumptions are developed and from these assumption through deduction, theoretical propositions are created. From these propositions, once again through deduction hypothesis is derived. This hypothesis is now tested. This explanation is given in a nice way in a summary of  "A Primer of Theory Construction"

It was made clear that theory has to use abstract concepts which are applicable over time and space and hypothesis has to use variables which are present in the observation to be made now.

But a slightly different explanation which does not use the word proposition is given in
the research methodology course material on economics by Prof. Yang.

Wikipedia note on hypothesis follows Yang's way.

My preference is for the first explantion. Theory builder first builds a theoretical proposition out of abstract concepts and then derives the hypothesis.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Study on Living Without Water and Food by a Yogi

A study was conducted on a yogi who claimed that he had not eaten for 70 years. The study was done for 15 days. But its results were not available in any paper as per search on Google Scholar.

Yogi - Prahlad Jani

Year 2010

Even though the doctors and scientists wanted to confirm the phenomenon first and then explain it, so far we have not seen any explanation.
October 2010

Monday, October 22, 2012

Proceedings 11th European Conference on Research Methods - Full View Google Book

Proceedings of the 11th European Conference on Research Methods
28-29, June 2012

Some Papers

A Case Study and Best Practices for Teaching Research Methods Online  P. 102

Friday, September 28, 2012

Review of Research in Management - Course Plan

Course September to December 2012

Class 1: Introduction

Class 2: Discussion on concepts Effectiveness and Efficiency

Course September to December 2011

Interesting papers

The Reality of Brands - Towards an Ontology of Marketing

Management - Ph.d Disserations (Thesis)

Management and Cybernetics - Paper by MIT Profs
Zenon S. Zannetos and Jarrod W. Wilcox

Research Papers Reviewed in Course

Strategic Moves and Organizational Survival in Turbulent Environments: The Case of Spanish Banks (1983-97). By: Zúñiga-Vicente, José Á.; Vicente-Lorente, José D.. Journal of Management Studies, May2006, Vol. 43 Issue 3, p485-519, 35p,
Structural Inertia and Organizational Change, Hannan and Freeman, American Sociological Review,  April 1984, Pp.149-164

XIAO-PING CHEN, University of Washington
XIN YAO, Wichita State University
SURESH KOTHA, University of Washington
Academy of Management Journal
2009, Vol. 52, No. 1, 199–214.


 Summary of the paper "Building Theories from Case Study Research"  (Pradeep Kumar and Vikrant Patil)
(A recent paper on case study research 2007, Academy of Management Journal, by Eisenhardt and Graebner available )
Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 12, 95-117 (1991)  (October?)

Books on Research in Management - Business

Jan Dul and Tony Hak, Case Study Methodology in Business Research, Butterworth Heinemann, Amsterdam, Oxford, UK., 2008
NITIE Library: 001.42/Dul-Hak
Course September to December 2010

Research Papers Reviewed in Course

Let chaos reign, then rein in chaos—repeatedly: managing strategic dynamics for corporate longevity. By: Burgelman, Robert A.; Grove, Andrew S.. Strategic Management Journal, Oct2007, Vol. 28 Issue 10, p965-979, 15p

Strategic Moves and Organizational Survival in Turbulent Environments: The Case of Spanish Banks (1983-97). By: Zúñiga-Vicente, José Á.; Vicente-Lorente, José D.. Journal of Management Studies, May2006, Vol. 43 Issue 3, p485-519, 35p,

XIAO-PING CHEN, University of Washington
XIN YAO, Wichita State University
SURESH KOTHA, University of Washington
Academy of Management Journal
2009, Vol. 52, No. 1, 199–214.


Summaries of References in Wacker

1. Summary of the paper "Building Theories from Case Study Research"  (Pradeep Kumar and Vikrant Patil)
(A recent paper on case study research 2007, Academy of Management Journal, by Eisenhardt and Graebner available )
2. A summary on Broader Product Line: A Necessity to Achieve Success Author(s): Sunder Kekre and Kannan Srinivasan
Avadhut Patwardhan and Barun Thakur
3. Summary of Fading memories: A process theory of strategic business exit in dynamic environments by Burgelman, Robert A.

Course in 2010

1. MANAGEMENT AS A PROFESSIONAL DISCIPLINE. By: Squires, Geoffrey. Journal of Management Studies, Jun2001, Vol. 38 Issue 4, p473-487, 15p,
2. Strategic Moves and Organizational Survival in Turbulent Environments: The Case of Spanish Banks (1983-97). By: Zúñiga-Vicente, José Á.; Vicente-Lorente, José D.. Journal of Management Studies, May2006, Vol. 43 Issue 3, p485-519, 35p, 
3. Performance management: a framework for management control systems research
Management Accounting Research, 1999, 10, 363-382
Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 12, 95-117 (1991)  (October?)
5 Let chaos reign, then rein in chaos—repeatedly: managing strategic dynamics for corporate longevity. By: Burgelman, Robert A.; Grove, Andrew S.. Strategic Management Journal, Oct2007, Vol. 28 Issue 10, p965-979, 15p

XIAO-PING CHEN, University of Washington
XIN YAO, Wichita State University
SURESH KOTHA, University of Washington
Academy of Management Journal
2009, Vol. 52, No. 1, 199–214.
7. Autoconscious mind and consciousness . It is a research paper more of theoretical research paper published in open journal of medicine.

Related Knol


Knols on Research Methodology

Literature Review

A Systems Approach to Conduct an Effective Literature Review in Support of Information Systems Research

Recommended for Reading
Four Steps That Turn Reading into Learning (you have ask questions during reading and connect your present reading to the knowledge you already have)
Summaries by the Participants in the Course of Selected Research Papers Quoted in the Main Papers
BJ Nitnaware.

Assignment 1:

Assignment 2:

Assignment 3:

Assignment 4:
Rajiv Ranjan Sinha
R K Meshram
---Assignment1: On the nature of managerial tasks and skills: their distinguishing characteristics and organization

---Assignment2:Resource – based View of the Firm

----Assignment3:Dynamic Capabilities and Strategic Management

----Assignment4:Random Walks and Sustained Competitive Advantage
Somnath Roy
1. Professionalizing Management and Managing Professionalization - Reed, M. and Anthony, R. (1992). 
3. Core Competence of the Organization
Original knol - 2utb2lsm2k7a/ 2386

Friday, August 3, 2012

Effectiveness and Efficiency - Concepts

Effectiveness is the extent to which outputs of service providers meet the objectives set for them.

Efficiency is the success with which an organization uses its resources to produce outputs — that is the degree to which the observed use of resources to produce outputs of a given quality matches the optimal use of resources to produce outputs of a given quality. This can be assessed in terms of technical, allocative, cost and dynamic efficiency.

Technical and Allocative Efficiency - Concepts

Technological change and efficiency improvement are important sources of production growth in any economy.

Technological change is defined as a shift in the frontier production function.

Efficiency improvement can be further decomposed into technical and allocative efficiency.

The concept of technical efficiency is based on input and output relationships.  Technical inefficiency arises when actual or observed output from a given input mix is less than the maximum possible.

Allocative inefficiency arises when the input mix is not consistent with cost minimization.  Allocative inefficiency occurs when farmers do not equalize marginal returns with true factor market prices.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Top Universities and Business Schools for Management Ph.D.

University - School - Institution

University of Pennsylvania (The Wharton School)
Harvard University (Harvard Business School)
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (Ross School of Business)
Duke University (The Fuqua School of Business)
University of Chicago (Booth School of Business)
New York University (Leonard N. Stern School of Business)
Stanford University (Graduate School of Business)
University of Maryland at College Park (Robert H. Smith School of Business)
University of Texas at Austin (McCombs School of Business)
Columbia University (Graduate School of Business)
Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Management)
University of Southern California (Marshall School of Business)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan School of Management)
Pennsylvania State University at University Park (Smeal College of Business)
University of Texas at Dallas (Naveen Jindal School of Management)
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of California at Los Angeles (Anderson School of Management)
University of Minnesota at Twin Cities (Carlson School of Management)
University of Toronto (Joseph L. Rotman School of Management)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (College of Business)
Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper School of Business)
University of California at Berkeley (Walter A. Haas School of Business)
University of British Columbia (Sauder School of Business)
London Business School
Arizona State University (W.P. Carey School of Business)
Indiana University at Bloomington (Kelley School of Business)
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler Business School)
Washington University at St. Louis (Olin School of Business)
Ohio State University (Fisher College of Business)
University of Florida (Warrington College of Business)
Michigan State University (The Eli Broad College of Business)
Emory University (Goizueta Business School)
Texas A&M University at College Station (Mays Business School)
Cornell University (Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management)
University of Washington at Seattle (Michael G. Foster School of Business)
Georgia Institute of Technology (College of Management)
Tilburg University (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration)
Erasmus University (Rotterdam School of Management)
Yale University (School of Management)
Boston College (Carroll School of Management)
National University of Singapore (Business School)
University of Pittsburgh (The Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business)
Purdue University (Krannert Graduate School of Management)
University of South Carolina at Columbia (Moore School of Business)
Rice University (Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management)
University of Wisconsin at Madison (Wisconsin School of Business)
University of Utah (David Eccles School of Business)
University of California at Irvine (Paul Merage School of Business)
City University of New York, Baruch College (Zicklin School of Business)

School Name

Stanford University
University of Chicago
Ohio State University
The University of Texas at Austin
Texas A & M University
Purdue University
University of Arizona
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - New Bruswick
University of California - Berkeley
University of Georgia
Harvard University
University of Pennsylvania
Columbia University in the City of New York
Northwestern University
Syracuse University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Stanford University
University of Chicago
Vanderbilt University
Yale University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Rice University

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Regression Models with Qualitative Dependent Variables

Regression Models with Qualitative Dependent Variables

Regression Models with Qualitative Dependent Variables


1.     Probit Models

2.     Logit Models

3.     Discriminant Analysis

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Data Analysis Techniques - Chapter Contents

Data Analysis Techniques

Data Analysis Techniques

Chaper of Ph.D Research Methodology - Knol Book of Readings


Cluster Analysis

Cluster Analysis

Cluster Analysis


Using cluster analysis, persons or objects can be categorized into groups having similar measurments of number of characteristics or attributes. Cluster analysis techniques form groups such that the simimilarity among the group members is maximized.
The similarity measures used in clustering are:
Distance measure
Correlation coefficient
Association coefficient
Distance measure
For distance measure, the Euclidean distance between two points is used. Actually, the distance measure is commented as dissimilarity measure also.
In two dimensional space, if the coordinates of two points are (x1,y1) and (x2, y2), then the distance between two points is
d12  = SQRT[ (x2-x1) + (y2-y1)2]
In the case of a cluster of points, the representative point of the cluster for calculating the distance between a cluster and a point or another cluster is the centroid.
The coordinates of the centroid are calculated by the formula:
X  = Sum of xi (i = 1 to n)/n
Where X = x coordinate of the centroid
n = number of points in the centroid
Association coefficient
Where number of attributes are there for each object, a value of zero is assigned for an attribute in case of an object if it is not present in the object. If the attribute is present value of one assigned. For each object, the total score is found out and it is termed as the association coefficient.
Clustering Techniques
Hierarchical clustering and non-nierarchical clustering is a classification of clustering techniques.
In hierarchical clustering there is bottom up approach termed as agglomerative method. In this methods, all objects are initially treated as independent clusters and clustering starts with reduction in number of clusters till one cluster of all objects is formed. No doubt at some point in the process, there will be best cluster output.
In the top-down approach termed as divisive method, at the start all objects are included in a single cluster and clustering process breaks them into more number of clusters.
In non hierarchical techniques, some inital solution is used and clustering takes place. In these techniques, objects are allowed to change clusters at the various steps in the process.
Some of the popular hierarchical clustering techniques are:
Single linkage clustering method
Complete linkage clustering method
Average linkage clustering method
Ward's method
Cnetroid method
Further References
Hierarchical Clustering Methods - Presentation in PDF file
Research papers
Multi parameter Hierarchical Clustering Methods,   2009


Included in chapter data analysis

Narayana Rao - 08 Dec 2010

Dissertation Collections and Search Facilities
Search and download dissertations from Sweden

Monday, April 30, 2012

Rational Theology - Book by John A. Widtsoe

Rational Theology - Book by John A. Widtsoe

Rational Theology - Book by John A. Widtsoe

As Taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Rational Theology, by John A. Widtsoe

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at

Title: A Rational Theology
As Taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Author: John A. Widtsoe

Release Date: March 12, 2011 [EBook #35562]


Collected Knols

Research Methodology - Videos - Collection

Research Methodology - Videos - Collection

Philosophy - Introduction - Knol Book - Online Book

Philosophy - Introduction - Knol Book

Philosophy - Introduction - Knol Book



Collected Knols


On emotions

Read Philosophy of Spinoza: An introduction for a discussion on emotions.

Narayana Rao - 10 May 2011

Short urls

Narayana Rao - 20 Dec 2010

Knol book - Good way to organise knols of a subject

Knol Books is a good concept that was developed early on Knol. Knol collections were created to facilitate development of knol books. The development of knol books slowed down after an enthusiastic start. I now feel it is a very good way of organizing many knols and presenting them to readers. Hence I am personally planning to develop 100 knol books and encourage fellow authors to develop around 1000 knol books. Creating various collections of knol books in this context to popularize Knol Book Concept.

Knol authors can identify gaps in various chapters and write new knols to fill the gaps.

Knol Books - Catalogue

Knol Book Collection

List of Knol Books by Narayana Rao K.V.S.S

Narayana Rao - 20 Dec 2010

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Security Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management - Concepts Used in Research Papers and Theses

Security Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management - Concepts Used in Research Papers and Theses

Security Investment Analysis and Portfolio Management - Concepts Used in Research Papers and Theses


Performance Persistence
We use the approach of Goetzmann and Ibbotson (1994) and Malkiel (1995).
A winner (loser) is defined as a fund that has achieved a rate of return over the calendar year that exceeds (is less than) the median fund return. Performance persistence or 'hot hands' occurs when winning is followed by winning in the subsequent year (s).
(Sinha, Rajeeva and Jog, Vijay, "Mutual Funds - Do They Add Value?", Proceedings of the International Confernece, 2005 on Emerging Securities Market, Vol. III,  Pp.1-30)

Collected Knols

    Top 50 Knols - Research Papers

    Top 50 Knols - Research Papers

    Top 50 Knols - Research Papers


    Collected Knols

    Research Methods Design - Lecture Video

    Lisa Campbell 
    Nicholas School at Duke

    Knol - 4799

    Research Paradigms - Videos

  Number of videos in blended learning

    Knol  4807

    Some Philosophers and Their Contribution to Philosophy

     Socrates, Plato, Aristotle - The knol has only brief material


    Virtue is an excellent feature in character of a person. The traditional Greek moral theory advocated that there are four virtues: wisdom, courage, temperance and justice. Accoding to Socrates, knowledge or wisdom is the virtue of virtues.


    According to Plato, there are mainly two types of knowledge:
    1. Sense perception
    2. Reason
    Aim of Philosophy: According to Plato, the main aim of philosophy is love of wisdom.
    Rationalism:  Plato rejected the view that knowledge is the perception of opinion. He emphasized that reason  is the characteristic instrument of knowledge.


    He was the first scholar to discover "the series of syllogisms". It is a series in which from certain principles something new is concluded.
    Related Web Sites/pages
    Virtue - Views of Aristotle and Kant Compared
    Knol - 1718

    Saturday, April 28, 2012


    Earth, stars and the vastness of space; yesterday, today and tomorrow,
    and the endlessly increasing knowledge of the relations of forces,
    present an illimitable universe of numberless phenomena. Only as a
    whole, and in general outline, can the human mind understand the
    universe. In its infinite variety of expressions, it wholly transcends
    the human mind.

    **Man in the Universe.** In the midst of this complexity, man finds
    himself. As he progresses from childhood to manhood, and as his
    slumbering faculties are awakened, he becomes more fully aware of the
    vastness of his universe and of the futility of hoping to understand
    it in detail.

    Nevertheless, conscious man can not endure confusion. From out the
    universal mystery he must draw, at least, the general, controlling
    laws, that proclaim order in the apparent chaos; and, especially is he
    driven, by his inborn and unalterable nature, to know, if he can, his
    own place in the system of existing things. Every normal man desires
    and seeks an understanding of his relation to all other things, and
    practically every man has worked out for himself, on the basis of his
    knowledge, some theory which explains, more or less satisfactorily,
    the mystery of star and earth and man and life. No other quest is
    followed by man with such vigorous persistence, as is that of
    establishing an intelligible and satisfactory philosophy of

    **A Man's Religion.** The philosophy, or system of thought, adopted
    to explain man's place in nature determines largely the joy and manner
    of a man's life. If the philosophy be poor and loose, life will be
    confused; if rich and firm, life will be clear cut, and if law be made
    supreme, life will be orderly. Those who have no religion at all
    become the playthings of unknown forces. Every act of a man's life is
    influenced by the philosophy of his life. It is the most important
    product of an individual life, and is the most compelling power in

    In a broad sense, the philosophy, according to which a man orders his
    life, may be called that man's religion. It may or may not involve the
    idea of God or an organized body of believers. If it guides a life, it
    is that life's religion, whether it leads to weakness or to strength.

    **Theology Defined.** Since all men are placed in the same universe,
    with approximately the same powers, and under conditions nearly alike,
    it is possible for each person to establish for himself a religion as
    above defined, for the guidance of his life. All religions must be
    organized from the content of the one, and so far as we know, the only
    universe; and the presumption would be, therefore, that the religions
    of all men should be the same, in as far at least as men are the same.
    In fact, however, during the course of human history, many more or
    less dissimilar religions have been established and accepted. True,
    most of these religions show close kinship, but the vital differences
    are often very great. For instance, the religions of men fall
    naturally into two great classes: those that adopt as their central
    idea a great governing intelligence and power--a God; and those that
    refuse to include a God in their system of thought.

    A religion which accepts the idea of a God is a theology. The great
    majority of the religions of men are theologies, for the majority of
    men believe in some form of personal divine power.

    **The Gospel.** The word gospel is also frequently used, among
    Christians, to designate the religion of men. The Gospel is a theology
    which includes the doctrine of the life and mission of Jesus Christ,
    as the Son of God. Among Christians, the words religion, theology and
    gospel are freely used in the same sense. It is well, however, to bear
    in mind the distinction in meaning of the three words. The Christian
    religion, the Christian theology and the Gospel are equivalent in
    meaning. In the following pages, the terms are often used
    interchangeably without the qualifying words. Indeed, the Gospel will
    be used most frequently, and wherever used, it must be understood to
    stand for the rational theology discussed in this book.

    **The Purpose of This Book.** This volume is devoted to the
    exposition of the fundamental principles of a rational theology--a
    philosophy of life which, because of its complete harmony with all
    knowledge, should be the one to which all men might give adherence.

    Shared under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

    Knol - 5063

    Sunday, April 22, 2012

    How to Write a PhD Dissertation Proposal & a PhD Dissertation by Mark Bond

    PhD Dissertation Writing Made Easy (if that's possible!)<br>

    This is a brief overview of the process involved in selecting, refining, and then writing a PhD Dissertation. It includes a representative outline, a section on the literature review, thesis or dissertation research methodologies, and the overall process. <br>

    Many aspects of writing a dissertation are the same as those for preparing a Master’s Thesis. However, PhD dissertations are somewhat more involved and complex but yet they can be broken down in stages and completed part by part making them much more manageable. Just as with a Master’s thesis, a dissertation involves the assignment of a supervisor, a mentor, or a tutor depending on where you are going to school. Additionally, there is also a committee that must be selected which consists of different professors from a variety of disciplines that will act to review the final dissertation document and approve or disapprove it. Bear in mind, between your tutor or mentor and the committee, you are going to deal with a lot of intellectual phlegm from academics who make a career out of being critical.
    That said, just stay focused on your research project and work on it one stage at a time. The first thing that you should do is examine the outline of what a completed dissertation should include. For your benefit I have included a detailed table of contents below that you can look over to get an idea of the type of work and thesis you must become familiar with. You would be surprised at how many people enter a PhD program without any idea of what is involved in terms of the final completed project which is the dissertation. Just by looking over the various chapters and stages of the typical dissertation you can get  better grasp of what you need to do and where you should start:

    One of the first things that you should notice is the level of detail that you must achieve in relation to a specific thesis and that is where you should first focus you energies on—identifying an appropriately refined thesis. Basically, if you thesis is specific enough and, better yet, is one that you are actually interested in then half the battle is over because you will enjoy doing the project except for dealing with the bloated heads who you are going to have kowtow to in order to get your project approved. So, before beginning your dissertation I have detailed some steps that you should take in preparation for getting started on your PhD dissertation proposal which is usually the first three chapters, in shortened form:

    *Identify a narrow thesis that is interesting to you

    *Identify a methodology which is going to be either qualitative or quantitative (Hint: if you have a choice select a qualitative methodology and go with the case study or bracketing method if you can. However, if you must choose a quantitative methodology then utilize descriptive statistics because these are relatively simple statistical analysis procedures and can be accomplished in Excel. If you go with a more complex statistical analysis method such as ANOVA or MANOVA then you will need SPSS or a similar statistical analysis application)

    *Do a brief online database search for similar research reports or articles

    These simple steps will accomplish much in preparing you to formulate your proposal and crystallize your overall dissertation project.
    Your thesis/dissertation proposal provides an overview of your proposed plan of work, including the general scope of your project, your basic research questions, research methodology, and the overall significance of your study. In short, your proposal explains what you want to study, how you will study this thesis, why this thesis needs to be studied, and (generally) when you intend to do this work. (Occasionally, you may also need to explain where your study will take place.)
    Dissertation/Thesis proposals are designed to:
    * Justify and plan (or contract for) a research project.
    * Show how your project contributes to existing research.
    * Demonstrate to your advisor and committee that you understand how to conduct discipline-specific research within an acceptable time-frame.
    Most proposals are written specifically for your academic advisor and committee.
    Proposal Writing and Anxiety
    General Advice:
    * Establish a writing schedule, preferably writing at the same time and place each day.
    * Begin by free-writing. Remember that no one but you has to see the initial draft.
    * Keep a small notebook with you throughout the day to write down relevant thoughts.
    * Say parts of your writing into a recording device and then play it back to yourself.
    * Compose different parts of the proposal in different computer files or on different index cards to help with arranging and rearranging.
    * Start with more “clear cut” stages first, rather than with the Introduction, since it may be the most difficult part to write.
    Proposal-Specific Advice:
    * Understand that the proposal will be a negotiated document, so be prepared to draft, redraft, and resubmit it.
    * Think of the proposal as an introduction to your thesis—not a chapter, not an extensive literature review, not an opportunity to rehearse the major conflicts in your field. You are “bridging the gap” between existing work and your work.
    * Remember that the proposal is not a contract that determines what your thesis will demonstrate. You will likely modify and refine your scope, argument, and methods.
    * Remember that your proposal is not meant to limit your ideas, but to help you think in practical terms about how you intend to research and write your dissertation.
    * Ask colleagues to form a writing group that you can use to exchange ideas, drafts, and experiences. As lonely as it may seem sometimes, writing is a social activity.

    Because proposal requirements vary broadly by department, program, and advisor, generalizing them is difficult. The best advice is the simplest: consult with your advisor, ask to see past successful proposals, and talk to your colleagues. Using other proposals to help you generate ideas in not plagiarizing!
    The following table provides an overview of the entire dissertation proposal and dissertation process that you can check off as you complete each stage or step:
    Main task to be completed by end of this week:
    Find time this week also to explore:
    Possible interim deadlines
    Background reading
    Follow interesting ‘trails’, until one leads to a provisional question or ‘thesis’

    Finalise thesis and title
    More background and focused reading on your chosen aspect of the thesis
    Agreement of title
    Literature search – what has already been written about your thesis? Seek out up-to-date resources, asking for help from library staff
    Investigate methodological issues, implications of particular methods and ethical issues.  See the Developing an Appropriate strategy Guide  and Using Endnote Bibliographic Software Guide for help with constructing and maintaining a bibliography
    Brief annotated bibliography
    Dissertation plan, informed by your literature search
    Reflect on methodological issues in writing and revising your dissertation plan
    Overview of design of dissertation plan
    Develop dissertation plan
    Begin to conduct your research and gather evidence or data

    Gathering evidence or data

    Gathering evidence or data
    Begin to analyse evidence or data

    Gathering evidence or data
    Begin to analyse evidence or data

    Use initial findings to begin to draft the dissertation
    Continue to analyse and evaluate evidence or data
    Interim report to supervisor
    Refine assignment plan and develop draft, referring to self-evaluation checklist in Stage 4
    Focus on adopting an appropriate academic tone and style, together with accurate, reader-friendly presentation of evidence

    Continue drafting and refining

    Complete draft
    Refine style
    Completed draft
    Apply self-evaluation checklist again
    Last refinements of written style and presentation; final check of data and its presentation

    Produce final assignment

    Submit dissertation

    Despite their wide differences, proposals across programs generally include at least some form of the following stages (though you will want to check with your academic advisor about the specific stages s/he requires): Title, Abstract, Introduction/Background, Problem Statement, Purpose/Aims/Rationale, Review of Literature, Methodology, Significance/Implications, Overview of Chapters, Plan of Work, Bibliography.
    Sometimes these stages may be combined—in some fields, the problem statement, aims, and review of literature are all part of the introduction. The most common elements are the introduction/problem statement, review of literature, and methodology (which in some fields roughly correspond to the first three chapters of the dissertation).
    At this early stage, you need only provide a working title. You can decide on the exact wording for your title when you are nearer to completing your dissertation. Nevertheless, even at the start, aim to create a title that conveys the idea of your investigation. Normally, a title beginning “A study in . . .” is too vague; decide whether you want to compare, collate, assess, etc.  Also, don’t worry if you compose a long title. You are preparing to write an academic document, not to devise a snappy headline for a tabloid newspaper.

    A good title should:
    * Orient your readers to the thesis you will research.
    * Indicate the type of study you will conduct.
    Not all fields require abstracts, so check with your advisor to see if you are required to include one. The abstract should:
    * Provide a brief (100-350 word) overview of the proposal that gives a reader a basic understanding of your proposal and encourages her or him to read more.
    Summarize Introduction, Statement of the Problem, Background of the Study, Research Questions or Hypotheses, and Methods and Procedures.
    (In some cases, the abstract may need to be very brief—no more than 50 words—in which case, it will be more descriptive than complete.)
    The introduction helps put your project in conversation with other projects on similar thesis. Generally, the introduction provides necessary background information to your study and provides readers with some sense of your overall research interest. A good introduction should:
    * Establish the general territory (real world or research) in which the research is placed.
    * Describe the broad foundations of your study, including some references to existing literature and/or empirically observable situations. In other words, the introduction needs to provide sufficient background for readers to understand where your study is coming from.
    * Indicate the general scope of your project, but do not go into so much detail that later stages (purpose/literature review) become irrelevant.
    * Provide an overview of the stages that will appear in your proposal (optional).
    * Engage the readers.

    Statement of the Problem
    This stage may be incorporated in your introduction or your purpose stage, or it may stand independently (it depends on the field). Some proposals start with the statement of the problem, rather than a more general introduction. Regardless of placement, at some point you need to clearly identify the problem or knowledge gap that your project is responding to. This stage should:
    * Answer the question: “What is the gap that needs to be filled?” and/or “What is the problem that needs to be solved?”
    * State the problem clearly early in a paragraph.
    * Limit the variables you address in stating your problem or question.

    You may want to consider framing your problem “statement” as a question, since you are really seeking to answer a question (or a set of questions) in your study.
    Purpose/Aims/Rationale/Research Questions
    Most proposals include a clear statement of the research objectives, including a description of the questions the research seeks to answer or the hypotheses the research advances. This may be included as part of the introduction, or it may be a separate stage. Spend significant time brainstorming before and while you draft this stage. Once you begin your dissertation research, you may find that your aims change in emphasis or in number. What is essential for you at this point, though, is to specify for your readers—and for yourself—the precise focus of your research and to identify key concepts you will be studying.

    A clear statement of purpose will:
    * Explain the goals and research objectives of the study (what do you hope to find?).

    * Show the original contributions of your study by explaining how your research questions or approach are different from previous research (what will you add to the field of knowledge?).

    * Provide a more detailed account of the points summarized in the introduction.

    * Include a rationale for the study (why should we study this?).

    * Be clear about what your study will not address (this is especially important if you are applying for competitive funding; narrowly focused studies are more likely to win funding).
    In addition, this stage may:
    * Describe the research questions and/or hypotheses of the study.
    * Include a substage defining important terms, especially if they will be new to some readers or if you will use them in an unfamiliar way.
    * State limitations of the research.
    * Provide a rationale for the particular subjects of the study.
    The literature review is a critical look at the existing research that is significant to the work that you are carrying out. Obviously, at this point you are not likely to have read everything related to your research questions, but you should still be able to identify the key texts with which you will be in conversation as you write your dissertation. Literature reviews often include both the theoretical approaches to your thesis and research (empirical or analytical) on your thesis.
    Writing the literature review allows you to understand:
    How other scholars have written about your thesis (in addition to what they have written).
    * The range of theories scholars use to analyze their primary materials or data
    * How other scholars connect their specific research thesiss to larger issues, questions, or practices within the field.
    * The best methodologies and research techniques for your particular thesis.

    The literature review has four major functions or rhetorical goals that you should keep in mind as you write:
    * It situates the current study within a wider disciplinary conversation.
    * It illustrates the uniqueness, importance of and need for your particular project by explaining how your research questions and approach are different from those of other scholars.
    * It justifies methodological choices.
    * It demonstrates your familiarity with the thesis and appropriate approaches to studying it.

    Appropriate literature reviews should:
    * Flesh out the Introduction’s brief description of the background of your study.
    * Critically assess important research trends or areas of interest relevant to your study.
    * Identify potential gaps in knowledge.
    * Establish a need for current and/or future research projects.
    Advice on drafting your Literature Review:
    * Categorize the literature into recognizable thesis clusters and begin each with a sub-heading. Look for trends and themes and then synthesize related information. You want to
    1)      stake out the various positions that are relevant to your project,
    2)      build on conclusions that lead to your project, or
    3)      demonstrate the places where the literature is lacking, whether due to a methodology you think is incomplete or to assumptions you think are flawed.
    * Avoid “Smith says X, Jones says Y” literature reviews. You should be tying the literature you review to specific facets of your problem, not to review for the sake of reviewing.
    * Avoid including all the studies on the subject or the vast array of scholarship that brought you to the subject. As tempting as it might be to throw in everything you know, the literature review is not the place for such demonstration. Stick to those pieces of the literature directly relevant to your narrowed subject (question or statement of a problem).
    * Avoid polemics, praise, and blame. You should fight the temptation to strongly express your opinions about about the previous literature. Your task is to justify your project given the known scholarship, so polemics, praise, and blame are unnecessary and possibly distracting.

    Point to Remember: You are entering a scholarly conversation already in progress. The literature review shows that you’ve been listening in and that you have something valuable to say.  After assessing the literature in your field, you should be able to answer the following questions:
    * Why should we study (further) this research thesis/problem?
    * What contributions will my study make to the existing literature?

    This stage is essential to most good research proposals. How you study a problem is often as important as the results you collect.  This stage includes a description of the general means through which the goals of the study will be achieved: methods, materials, procedures, tasks, etc.

    An appropriate methodology stage should:
    * Introduce the overall methodological approach for each problem or question. Is your study qualitative or quantitative? Are you going to take a special approach, such as action research, or use case studies?

    * Indicate how the approach fits the overall research design. Your methods should have a clear connection with your research questions and/or hypotheses. In other words, make sure that your methods will actually answer your questions—Don Thackrey notes that the most common reason for the rejection of professional proposals is that “the proposed tests, or methods, or scientific procedures are unsuited to the stated objective.”

    * Describe the specific methods of data collection you are going to use—e.g. surveys, interviews, questionnaires, observation, archival or traditional library research.

    * Explain how you intend to analyze and interpret your results. Will you use statistical analysis? Will you use specific theoretical perspectives to help you analyze a text or explain observed behaviors?

    * If necessary, provide background and rationale for methodologies that are unfamiliar for your readers. (Typically, the social sciences and humanities require more explanation/rationale of methods than the hard sciences).

    * If applicable, you may also need to provide a rationale for subject selection (particularly if you have not already provided one). For instance, if you propose to conduct interviews and use questionnaires, how do you intend to select the sample population? If you are analyzing literary texts, which texts have you chosen, and why?

    * Address potential limitations. Are there any practical limitations that could affect your data collection? How will you attempt to control for potential confounding variables and errors?

    Advice on drafting your methodology stage:
    * Break down your methodology into easily digestible substages.
    * In the physical sciences, these stages may include subjects, design, apparatus, instrumentation, process, analysis, etc.
    * In the social sciences, these stages may include selection of participants, interview process, profiles, interpretive and analytic framework, methods of qualitative analysis, etc.
    * In the humanities, these stages may include scholarly research, archival research, theoretical orientation, etc.
    * Remember that your methods stage may also require supporting literature.
    * Anticipate and pre-empt the audience’s methodological concerns.
    * If the audience might have a problem with a facet of the methodology, admit this difficulty and justify your approach.
    * If your methodology may lead to problems you can anticipate (including timeframe problems), state this openly and show why pursuing the methodology outweighs the risk of these problems cropping up.
    Point to Remember: If you have demonstrated that you have considered even the downside of your methods, their advantages will seem more carefully developed.

    Significance/ Implications
    Some proposals require a separate stage stating the significance of the study. A clear statement of significance may:
    * Discuss the methodological, substantive, and/or theoretical contribution you anticipate making to existing knowledge in your (sub)field.
    * Plainly state the practical and/or theoretical importance of the problem and/or objectives of your study, given current knowledge and practices.
    * Explain the usefulness or benefits of the study, if possible (and especially for funding agencies), to both the outside world and the research community.

    Overview of Chapters

    Some proposals also include a brief description of relevant chapters. Check with your advisor to see if this is required for your proposal. Finally, I have included the following table that allows you to synthesize the proposal into the final project and to complete the overall dissertation. Remember, the more detail and effort you put into your proposal then the less work and effort you will have to put into the final dissertation:

    Not sure
    1    Dissertation thesis
    Is the thesis clear and well defined?  Does it involve a problem, question, or hypothesis that sets the agenda and points precisely to what needs to be explored or discovered?

    Is the thesis of genuine relevance or interest within your subject discipline? Does it pick up on important or interesting themes or subjects arising from your studies?

    2    Literature review
    Have you accessed the most recent literature of relevance to your thesis, as well as seminal sources from the past?

    Do you refer to major books, articles, artefacts?  Since quality is more important than quantity – how well have you selected your material?

    Does the literature review hang together, to show how the ideas and findings have developed, or is it merely a shopping list of books and articles?

    Is the review critical?  Does it briefly evaluate, showing how your dissertation fits into what is mistaken or lacking in other studies?  The literature review should provide a critically appraised context for your studies.

    3   Theoretical underpinnings
    Does theory permeate the structure from beginning to end, from statement of problem to conclusion? Are you asking yourself a key question, presenting a thesis, or defending a statement?  Be clear about your approach.

    Theory is the framework of your study – not a luxury. Your dissertation will be judged, in part, by how well you express and critically understand the theory you are using, and how clearly and consistently it is connected with the focus and methodology of your dissertation.

    4    Methodology
    Two primary criteria:
    Is your choice of methods and research techniques well suited to the kind of problem you are studying?   Methods work if they provide a persuasive response to your question, positive or negative.

    Is your description of the methods you have adopted clear enough to take a blueprint and replicate?

    5     Results
    Are your findings faithful to what you actually found – do you claim more than you should? Don’t ‘massage’ your evidence or findings…

    Have you provided enough evidence to make a convincing case?
    Have you presented everything directly relevant to the question in such a way that the reader doesn’t have to flip back and forth to make her or his own connections?

    Are results or findings clearly and accurately written, easy to read, grasp and understand?

    6    Conclusions
    Have you answered the question ‘So what?’. What should we do with your findings and conclusions?  What do they imply?

    Findings don’t speak for themselves – they need to be analysed. Have you explained what your findings mean and their importance, in relation to theory and practice?

    Posted under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
    Original post in on Knol
    by Mark Bond

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