Phd Talk…I speak funny now…



Two thoughts today:

  1. Lots of Phd terminology I have to wrap my brain around…
  2. How do I make a dictionary…

Because, I had a melt moment where I was applying all this terminology and it was so different from the original terminology I had to remind myself when to cite…


Learnings for today:

  1. When to Cite Sources (source: Princeton University)

    You’ll discover that different academic disciplines have different rules and protocols concerning when and how to cite sources, a practice known as “citation.” For example, some disciplines use footnotes, whereas others use parenthetical in-text citations; some require complete bibliographic information on all works consulted, whereas others require only a list of “Works Cited.” As you decide on a concentration and begin advanced work in your department, you’ll need to learn the particular protocols for your discipline. Elsewhere on this website, you’ll find a brief sampling of commonly used citation styles.

    The five basic principles described below apply to all disciplines and should guide your own citation practice. Even more fundamental, however, is this general rule: when in doubt, cite. You’ll certainly never find yourself in trouble if you acknowledge a source when it’s not absolutely necessary; it’s always preferable to err on the side of caution and completeness. Better still, if you’re unsure about whether or not to cite a source, ask your professor or preceptor for guidance before submitting the paper or report.

    1. Quotation. Any verbatim use of a source, no matter how large or small the quotation, must be placed in quotation marks or, if longer than three lines, clearly indented beyond the regular margin. The quotation must be accompanied, either within the text or in a footnote, by a precise indication of the source, identifying the author, title, place and date of publication (where relevant), and page numbers. Even if you use only a short phrase, or even one key word, you must use quotation marks in order to set off the borrowed language from your own, and you must cite the source.

    2. Paraphrase. Paraphrase is a restatement of another person’s thoughts or ideas in your own words, using your own sentence structure. A paraphrase is normally about the same length as the original. Although you don’t need to use quotation marks when you paraphrase, you absolutely do need to cite the source, either in parentheses or in a footnote. If another author’s idea is particularly well put, quote it verbatim and use quotation marks to distinguish his or her words from your own. Paraphrase your source if you can restate the idea more clearly or simply, or if you want to place the idea in the flow of your own thoughts—though be sure to announce your source in your own text (“Albert Einstein believed that…”) and always include a citation. Paraphrasing does not relieve you of the responsibility to cite your source.

    3. Summary. Summary is a concise statement of another person’s thoughts or ideas in your own words. A summary is normally shorter than the original—a distillation of the source’s ideas. When summarizing other people’s ideas, arguments, or conclusions, you must cite your sources—for example, with a footnote at the end of each summary. Taking good notes while doing your research will help you keep straight which ideas belong to which author. Good note-taking habits are especially important when you’re reviewing a series of interpretations or ideas on your subject.

    4. Facts, Information, and Data. Often you’ll want to use facts or information to support your own argument. If the information is found exclusively in a particular source, you must clearly acknowledge that source. For example, if you use data from a scientific experiment conducted and reported by a researcher, you must cite your source, probably a scientific journal or a website. Or if you use a piece of information discovered by another scholar in the course of his or her own research, you must cite your source. But if the fact or information is generally known and accepted—for example, that Woodrow Wilson served as president of both Princeton University and the United States, or that Avogadro’s number is 6.02 x 1023—you do not need to cite a source. Note that facts are different from ideas: facts may not need to be cited, whereas ideas must always be cited. Deciding which facts or pieces of information require citation and which are common knowledge, and thus do not require citation, isn’t always easy. For example, finding the same fact or piece of information in multiple sources doesn’t necessarily mean that it counts as common knowledge. Your best course of action in such a case may be to cite the most credible or authoritative of the multiple sources. Refer to a later section of this website, “Not-So-Common-Knowledge,” for more discussion of how to determine what counts as common knowledge. But remember: when in doubt, cite.

    5. Supplementary Information. Occasionally, especially in a longer research paper, you may not be able to include all of the information or ideas from your research in the body of your own paper. In such cases, insert a note offering supplementary information rather than simply providing basic bibliographic information (author, title, place and date of publication, and page numbers). In such footnotes or endnotes, you might provide additional data to bolster your argument, or briefly present an alternative idea that you found in one of your sources, or even list two or three additional articles on some topic that your reader might find of interest. Such notes demonstrate the breadth and depth of your research, and permit you to include germane, but not essential, information or concepts without interrupting the flow of your own paper. Additional claims or analysis of your own that you want to include in your essay without distracting readers from the central line of argument may also appear in footnote form. In these cases, the footnote will not include a citation because the ideas or findings presented belong to you.

    In all of the cases above, the standards of academic integrity require both citing the source in the text of your essay and its incorporation into your bibliography. To be clear, it is not enough to simply list a source in your bibliography if it deserves explicit citation in the essay’s body. Failure to provide that citation may result in being charged with plagiarism.

    Sometimes, though rarely, a source merits inclusion in your bibliography even when it doesn’t merit a particular citation in your paper’s text. This most often occurs when a source plays a critical role in your understanding of your topic, but never lends a specific idea or piece of evidence to your essay’s argument. For example, imagine you’re writing a paper about totalitarian regimes, and your thinking about such regimes is heavily influenced by your reading of George Orwell’s 1984. Imagine further that nothing from the novel appears explicitly in your essay, and your strongest reference to the book is describing these regimes as “Orwellian” in passing. Here there would be no need to cite 1984 directly, but it would be appropriate to list it in your bibliography. As always, if you’re unsure about a particular case, err on the side of providing a citation and a bibliography entry.

    For international students, it’s especially important to review and understand the citation standards and expectations for institutions of higher learning in the United States. Students who have done their college preparation at schools in other countries may have learned research and paper-writing practices different from those at Princeton. For example, students from schools in East Asia may learn that copying directly from sources, without citation, is the proper way to write papers and do research. Students in France, preparing for the Baccalaureate examination, may be encouraged to memorize whole passages from secondary sources and copy them into papers and exam essays. Those cultural differences can sometimes lead to false assumptions about citation practices and expectations at Princeton. Again, you are responsible for reading and understanding the University’s academic regulations as defined and explained in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities. You must ask for assistance from your professors or preceptors if you’re not sure.

    The Writing Center, located in Whitman College, is also a key resource for students wanting to learn more about proper note-taking and citation practices. To make an appointment, visit or drop in without an appointment Sunday through Thursday evenings.


  2. How to make a dictionary:  Maybe someone will have a really simple to use app to suggest, but I ended up using an index book…Have tried Microsoft Word and Excel but would LOVE an app where I can add the terms and flick them up on my phone or computer.

Ciao for now!!


Changing my PhD Supervisor…


So, the first year of my Phd was more about searching for lightbulbs in a sea of dark with my wonderful primary supervisor leading much of the way.

Now that I’ve grown a whole year older and wiser, and I should probably learn to walk on my own abit more…I am thinking about changing my supervisors.

Your supervisors can make of break you and your Phd.  It’s a balance of getting supervisory team with strengths that cover the whole range of your PhD.

Things I learnt making me want to change my supervisors:

  1. Your PhD is YOUR PhD.  It will be rare to find a supervisor that knows and loves your PhD topic in detail so don’t expect them to.  They should be able to at least help you meet all of your academic requirements (like the administration requirements and help you “learn” your way into a PhD).
  2. Is your supervisor helpful NOW and in your FUTURE?  Do they have networks and contacts to help you with your PhD content even if they don’t know the specifics of your topic?  Have they used their contacts and will they support your future career?  (Mine has mentored me through and helped me get my first teaching roles).
  3. If your supervisor isn’t meeting your needs, you need to tell them.  I’ve yet to meet one who was telepathic and can read your mind although mine is pretty amazing at it.

So after all that…why am I changing supervisors?

Thank goodness my primary supervisor is amazing and I’ll keep her.  Yay!

My other supervisors are not covering the full range of technical expertise and support that I require to get me through the next few years of my thesis.  Thankfully I have found a willing supervisor with those goods who is happy to take me on so now it’s time to see if I can replace one of my other supervisors….

I might make a deal too…as there is a recent PhD graduate who needs to start getting PhD candidates to supervise.  (We all have to start somewhere and I’m hoping karma comes back to me lol!!)

*TIP:  Academia is a tough world and supervisors have to rely on grants and funding and prove their worth through their workloads so forgive them if they don’t have the same amount of energy and love to give you constantly – tell them what you need and work something out with them that is reasonable.

*Secret tip:  Supervisors may give you a lot of attention in the first 12 months that you are with them after that, they do have other people to look after.  An option is to review your supervisory team every 12 months in time for the new year and where you and your Phd is headed.  Make adjustments as necessary balancing YOUR needs with UNDERSTANDING their time and energy limits and TALK honestly and openly with them to find a solution together.  This is how you can tell that they are a good supervisor – if they work it out with you and understand.

Found these helpful articles on the net from other people who have gone through supervisor team changes….

How one university facilitates supervisor changes

Strategies to change supervisors

The most important thing for a PhD – What they don’t tell you…

The most important thing with a PhD…from experience and I’ve gotten 100% agreement from all PhD’ers I’ve spoken to…


Take your time to find the right supervisor.

I was blessed enough to find my brilliant supervisor, I know so because other Phd candidates with very interesting supervisors have very interesting stories to compare with.

What makes her awesome:

  1. Understands my style and supervises to suit my style (if you’re someone who needs structure and frameworks, get a supervisor who can provide that for you, if you’re someone who prefers a more flexible / “when the lightbulb strikes, I’ll call you” type approach, make sure your supervisor can support you to still meet your deadlines and understand you at the same time.
  2. Well timed patience, understanding, nagging and management: linked to the point above, can they get outputs out of you without killing you?
  3. Reputable: Their reputation and networks are worth more than their pride or knowledge.  Can they put you in contact with the right people to support you or help you find what you need because PhD studies are very unique, no one supervisor can be an expert in every study.  Also…they can help you find a job this way hee hee…
  4. You like them.  Strange but true.  A PhD usually takes 3 to 4 years full time and up to infinity part-time (average 7 years).  Can you and your supervisor work well together for this long?

How to find them?

  1. Patience: It took me a year to find my supervisor.  I interviewed 4 professors and either they understood my topic but didn’t understand me or the other way around.
  2. Conferences:  You will find like minded people at conferences around your topic of interest.  Even if they are not a PhD themselves, you may still be able to get them on your supervisory team if they have the relevant proven experience and your primary supervisor has the academic credentials.  You can ask your university or organisation for their supervisory requirements.
  3. Interview them:  If you live outside of Facebook, the real-world usually requires you to choose who your friends are.  You wouldn’t “employ” a supervisor to guide you through one of the most stressful projects of your life without checking them out and spending some time with them first.

Research Proposal Ingredients


Seems like everyone has their own template for research proposals, here’s one I’m using that combines the requirements and an example.

Please note that my research is theoretical rather than scientific.  Feel free to let me know if you have found good templates for other research types also and I can add it here…



Contents Page

A. Proposed Study

1.0 Introduction

2.0 Research Aims

3.0 Research Objectives

4.0 Research Context

5.0 Literature Review

5.1 Concept

5.2 Definitions / context

5.3 Areas of related research

B. Research Plan

6.0  Theoretical frameworks for research (Philosophy / Epistemiology, Approach, Ontology, Axiology, Strategy / Method)

6.1 Research Approach and Questions

6.2 Research Design

6.3 Participant Selection

7.0 Methods

7.2 Data collection

7.2.1 Interviews

7.2.2 Reflective journals

7.3 Data Analysis

7.3.1 Interviews

7.3.2 Reflective journals

8.0 Significance of study

9.0 Trustworthiness / Bias / Validity

10.0 Ethics, Consent, Access and Human Participants Protection


Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Sample Research Proposals

Theoretical frameworks for research

This goes into the bag of big words I wish I could understand and say just like my Professor…confusionchaos

This guy seemed to speak my talk..bless him for simplicity..


Research approach Ontology Axiology Research strategy
Positivism Deductive Objective Value-free Quantitative
Interpretivism Inductive Subjective Biased Qualitative
Pragmatism Deductive/Inductive Objective or subjective Value-free/biased Qualitative and/or quantitative


My e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Dissertation in Business Studies: a step by step assistance contains discussions of theory and application of research philosophy. The e-book also explains all stages of the research process starting from the selection of the research area to writing personal reflection. Important elements of dissertations such as research philosophyresearch approachresearch designmethods of data collection and data analysis are explained in this e-book in simple words.

John Dudovskiy

Pragmatism Research Philosophy

[1] Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2012) “Research Methods for Business Students” 6th edition, Pearson Education Limited

[2] Collis, J. & Hussey, R. (2014) “Business Research: A Practical Guide for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students” 4th edition, Palgrave Macmillan, p.54

[3] Source: Wilson, J. (2010) “Essentials of Business Research: A Guide to Doing Your Research Project” SAGE Publications

Day one…

A wise man once said to me…what will you do in the next 5 to 10 years?

I said I didn’t know.owl.jpg

He said, if someone can’t do anything else…they should at least look after themselves…this prevents others from having to look after them…

If they can achieve that, they can maybe look after someone else as well as themselves.

If they can achieve steps 1 and 2…a few manage to look after themselves and touch the lives of many…


How to write…when you don’t want to…

After much procrastination and doing an immense amount of unneccessary housechores like cleaning the oven twice and bathing the cat a third time…I needed a new approach for the new year to get my research proposal done…


Have started a 1 hour on 1 hour off approach…seems to be working so far (day 1).

1 Hour – write

1 Hour – do whatever I like…like all the unnecessary things I usually find necessary to do when I’m supposed to be writing…

1 Hour – back to writing and so forth…