Thursday, 18 November 2010

How to get a PhD! Essential reading

Many PhD students are challenged by a familiar set of problems and issues, which are familiar to experienced supervisors and have been written about extensively. If you are thinking about doing a PhD, or you are engaged in one, I strongly recommend these books:

White, B (2011) Mapping your thesis: the comprehensive manual of theory and techniques for masters and doctoral research. Camberwell, Victoria: Australian Council Educational Research. ISBN 978-0-86431-823-7

Phillips, E.M. and D.S. Pugh (2010) How to get a PhD. 5th ed. Milton Keynes: Open University Press. ISBN 978-0335242023

Petre, M and Rugg, G (2010) The unwritten rules of PhD research (2nd ed). Milton Keynes: Open University Press. ISBN 0-335-21344-8

Creswell, R (2013) Research design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. 4ed. London: Sage. ISBN 9781452274614.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Standards and regulations

Rosabeth Moss Kanter (1983: 22) wrote,

... the aspect of productivity that needs serious attention is not the mechanical output of a production facility; it is, rather, the capacity of the organization to satisfy customer needs most fully with whatever resources it has at its disposal ... But mechanical notions of productivity lead often to products that meet ever more refined minimum standards, frequently resulting in a decline in customer satisfaction with them. The former thrust calls out for innovation - indeed, for innovative thinking on every level of the organization’s affairs - while the latter confines innovation to a marginal and unexciting role

Is there a danger that the existence of minimum standards in professional work is problematic? To what extent do we need mechanical notions of productivity when undertaking professional work? The widespread use of key performance indicators, standards and regulations is clearly a reaction to increasing dissastisfaction with service from all sorts of professionals. But are we in danger of creating a situation that almost guarantees decreasing standards, because we make people accountable for measurable outputs, rather than for the quality of their decision-making?

Kanter, R.M. (1983) The change masters. New York: Simon & Schuster.

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