Challenges and Issues in PhD Research

With Prof. Mohamed Sulaiman, School of Management USM

Common Complaints by Examiners
Research gaps not clearly identified Research significance in doubt Research problem not clear Subject of research not of current interest Underlying theory not appropriate Literature not exhaustive, current, coherent Local literature not reviewed Literature review not critical enough

Common Complaints (cont.)
Seminal works in literature not included Related theories left out Research design – quantitative, qualitative, experimental design - justification Link between literature and research framework not strong Theoretical support for the research framework is weak Link between phenomenon under study and dependent variable Definition of variables, why these variables Factors to explain phenomenon and how they are operationalized Measurements of variables Hypothesis, too general, not directed, not testable

Common Complaints (cont.)
Unit of analysis not clear, not appropriate Bias in sampling Credibility of respondents/data Coding, integrating, analysis of data Statistical tools not appropriate Interpretation of results Presentation of results

Common Complaints (cont.)
Discussion not in depth Implications for theory not clear, not related to research results Implications for practice not clear, not related to results Limitations not clearly spelt out Conclusions too skimpy Missing references in bibliography Standard of language, grammar, spelling, sentence structure Abstract too long, not summarizing study accurately Title not reflecting contents of thesis

Let’s get to the basics (How do you get a PhD?)
Why do we do research? How do we get knowledge? Use of Scientific Method What level of knowledge is worthy of PhD? What is meant by significant contribution? PhD evaluation process Supervisor-student relations

The Research Process
Literature -----Real world Gaps in theory-- Gaps in practice Research problem Research questions, research objectives Research framework, research design Variables and measurements Hypothesis statements Population, sample, respondents

The Research Process (cont.)
Research instruments Data collection Data analysis, results Discussions & conclusions

Scientific method – robustness, honesty and integrity Ethical issues –questions asked, info. Disclosure Plagiarism

Keys to Success
Hard work (reading) and sacrifice (collect material, money and time) Critical thinking (analysis) and creativity (synthesis) Networking (colleagues and friends) Support from supervisor and school Support from family Personal motivation and perseverance Self confidence and language proficiency

Time to help release your pent-up tensions

I Wish You All Success in Your Quest for PhD and Future Career

Thank You

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