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Posts from the ‘Research Methods’ Category

Research tips: Consultancy skills

This post is a collection of tips I got from the doctoral training (RSSDP) onConsultancy Skills” by Dr Caron King at Cardiff University.

  1. Consultancy = professional practices that give an expert advise to the company, a problem solving work.
  2. Begin with the end in mind (2nd of 7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen R. Covey)
     – Outcome thinking, what do you have to get done in the end.
    – Consultancy is about recognising what your clients really want for you because they are paying for your what you are doing.
    – Knowing what it is that the clients want and satisfy then.
    – Moreover to sustain the job, your jobs have to be good value for money
  3. The hardest part is how to sell your jobs. Then delivering a good value jobs will increase the chance that client will hire you again.
  4. Dedicated time = 5:4:3 (5 days fearing, 4 days with clients, 3 nights away from home)
  5. Start by working with the big companies for 3-4 years to learn how to do it.

Why a would anyone hire a consultant?

  1. Temporal resources. GBP 36,000 is the average cost of recruiting a doctoral level employee.
  2. Someone to blame – troublesome jobs
  3. My time is too valuable – too busy for the day jobs, need someone to work for
  4. Specialist knowledge – problem solving
  5. For access to their network
  6. Branding – kudos
  7. Legitimise their projects – get endorsed or forced by laws
  8. To manage something unpopular
  9. Ratify decisions – In the most cases clients know the solutions/answers but hiring consultant to support/back up their decision. Therefore, consultants are like the voices/spokespersons

How to get a consultancy jobs

  1. Networks

Consultancy process

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Clarify the problem
  3. Collect data
  4. Analyse the data
  5. Solve the problem
  6. Suggest the solution
  7. Agree the solution
  8. Implement the solution

What are the skills, knowledge and attributes we need

  1. Communication skills e.g., presentation skills
  2. Project management skills
  3. Analytical skills, both qualitative and quantitative = data analysis
  4. Research skills e.g., collect data, analyse data, conclude the result

The skills that recruit consultants (used by consultancy firms)
(The following listed skills are perfect for researchers as well!) 

  1. Communication
  2. Leadership
  3. Initiative
  4. Flexibility + Adaptability
  5. Problem solving
  6. Self awareness
  7. Commitment / Motivation
  8. Numeracy
  9. Willingness to learn
  10. Resilience
  11. Independence
  12. G.S.O.H. (Good Sense of Humour)
Key skills
  1. Listening
    (Open your mind, Listen for empathy, just gather data no interpreting or thinking at the same time) 
    Repetitive listening – repeat what you are hearing in your head as simultaneous as possible to get rid of other things.
    If taking notes, tell the clients that you will do a few, ask them to send you important information and write the whole note after the meeting. 
  2. Questioning
    Three big questions
    – Asking the questions that allow opened thinking
  3. Rapport building
    – to build trustworthy relationships
  4. Critical information seeking
  5. Challenging Assumption
  6. Pitching, elevating lift (in 90 seconds)
    HOOK technique
    Hook -> emotion
    Outline the problem in a short time!
    – Call To action

PhD Tips: Impact and Research Communication

This posts are tips for researchers and PhD students on impact and research communication I have got from the training session at Cardiff University. The workshop was held by Ms Josie Dixon.

Why communication matters?

  • PhD is a specialist project. Hence communicating PhD research to non-specialists are challenging.
  • Funding: To apply for research grants, jobs you may need to communicate your research to non-specialists.
  • In the UK, REF (Research Excellence Framework) in 2014 is crucial for academics. Unlike REA (Research Excercise Assessment) in 2008, in REF, impact of the research has an important role apart from academic publication.
  • Non-academic publication, the process of publishing is highly mediated mostly by non-specialists e.g., publishers, librarians, marketing people (sales reps.).
  • Sometimes researchers may need to dealing with the media e.g., being interviewed by journalists.
  • Public engagement is now very important for applying for public funding. This is also very important to the universities to sustain the supports for the research in the long term.

Making the case why your research matter

  • Selling point: Not only academic ones but also non-academic, more general, ones.
  • What is the niche of your research. How did you fulfil the demand.
  • Elevating pitch. Presenting the value of your research in a short time (5 minutes)
  • Using keywords that cover all important aspects of your research
  • Balancing the “Big picture” vs. “Details” of your research.
    Big picture = abstraction, overarching, generic. Getting audiences to understand the research in general but too much big picture could lead to lossing human interest in the detail of the research
    Detail =  focus, specifics, concrete, human interest, story telling, using visualisation or comparing to the common/general phenomenons, problem to solution.
  • Organisation: Purposes -> Value -> Outcomes, What are the pay-off of your PhD project?
  • So what?” Values and outcomes
  • Who cares?” = who are the ‘stakeholders’ of your research i.e.,
    (1) Applied users: practitioners & professioners;
    (2) Public sector: communities, policy makers. Difficult to pinpoint and measure;
    (3) Academics: researchers, lecturers and students.
  • PhD thesis is an inward and backward approach that explaining the process and foundation of the research.
  • Public communication is an outward and onward approach to convey the outcomes of the research (what it yields)

Looking beyond the case study: Micro and Macro dimensions of your research

  • Micro dimension provides a specific group of your audiences. The most uniquely specific.
  • Macro offer more board audience of your research. The most board general aspect.
  • For example. My PhD thesis on
    The impact of supply chain collaboration on firm performance in the tourism sector.
    Micro dimension:  Supply chain collaboration in the hotel industry in Thailand using Structural Equation Models.
    Macro dimension: Business Management, Supply Chain Collaboration, Supply Chain Management.

Defining your contribution to the field

  • What, in a nut shell, have been discovered?
  • How will your research alter the way academic think previously?
  • Be confident about your research and the outcomes.
  • Recommended reading: Footnotes and Fancy Free by Prof. Peter Barry (In Times Higher Education)

Making the headlines

  • Telling a story about your research. Consider how to announce it for the public audience.
  • Get the energy and excitement in the statement
  • When you are writing, imagine the best day of your research when you discover something new or find significant results.
  • Exercise: Writing a headline and opening statement in 35 words. The below is mine.

Cheaper and Happier Holiday!
A cheap trip is usually not a happy one.
Now businesses can both reduce their costs and offer a better service at the same time by just sharing their business data.

Outcomes, Benefits and Impact

  • Think about what the research do for the audience.
  • Think about features and benefits, not just the features.
  • Ex. my research
    – Features: Testing a positive effect of supply chain collaboration on firm performance
    – Benefits: Firm can select the right collaborative activities by reduce cost and provide better service level

PhD Tips: Publishing a Journal Article in Social Science

Here are the Tips I have learnt from the doctoral training on “Publishing a journal article in social science” by Dr.Sara Delamont at Cardiff University, UK. (10 April 2012)

Type of publication

  1. Kickstarts with Book Review. Then you will learn about the publishing process. Get in touch with the book review editor of the journal you are interested to publish a research article in the future.
  2. Research note is another good way to get start. It is relative short. There is usually less review time and difficulty.
  3. Book chapter is another alternative. It is better to publish in a peer-reviewed book.
  4. Academic peer-review journal is the top quality type of academic publication. One of the main reason is they are peer-reviewed.

How to select the journals 

  1. Journals that fit with your subject
  2. Journals you read
  3. Consider audience of the journals. Who read it?
  4. Call for papers if it fits your paper. But it could be more competitive than normal submission.
  5. Rejection Rate. Some journals publish the rate. If not, you may ask the editors.
  6. STATUS including Impact Factor (refer to how much papers in that journal have been cited in other journals), Editors, Editorial board.

Check list

  1. Format of the journal
  2. In the right Length
  3. Since one of the reviewers often from the editorial board. You should have read their papers before unless it may be not the right journal for you.

Posible verdict

  1. Accept without correction – Unlikely happen
  2. Accept with minor revision – Very good possible outcome
  3. Revise and resubmit – Look at the feedback and Consider if you can do the required revisions.
  4. Wrong journal – Consider other journal and your decision!
  5. Reject – Revise the paper according to the feedback you receive. Improve the paper and resubmit to the same journal or other journals

How to deal with the feedback and revisions

  1. Be realistic.
  2. Reply that the feedbacks are useful (even though they are not)
  3. Reply what you will revise in the manuscript and how long it would take aproximately (be realistic!)
  4. Compile the feedbacks fro different reviewers. Make a table consisting of issues in the feedback and reviewers.
  5. Revise the issues that are mentioned by all reviewers.
  6. For the issues that are not mentioned by all reviewers, if you d not want to review, give the courtesy and explain why you have not done so.
  7. After finishing the revision, write a systematic report to the editor what the reviewers said and what you have done with the page of the correction. The report may be in a table format.

How to licence your thesis using Creative Commons

One of the main objectives of PhD thesis (dissertation) is to advance the subject by making a contribution. Traditionally theses have been licensed under the copyright where all rights are reserved. And I also did put “All rights reserved” on the cover page of my thesis when I first drafted it. But just today when I realised that I should replace it by a “Creative Commons” one which could enhance the contributions and the impacts of my thesis.

Therefore I adopted the CC BY-NC-ND licence.  Then others are free to copy, distribute and transmit the work with some conditions.

To do so, I inserted the artwork of the By-NC-ND licence and put the sentence ” This thesis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivs 3.0 Unported License.” with the link to Creative Commons site that explain the licence.

1. Choose a licence you will use for your thesis here

2. Download the button of the licence you here and save the image in the LaTeX script folder of your thesis. I named my image as cc-by-nc-nd.png

3. Put the following LaTeX code on the title page of your thesis

line 06: Place your licence file name. Mine is “cc-by-nc-nd.png”.
line 10: Place the URL link to your licence and its description.

LaTeX code:

%Insert Creative Commons Artwork
%Insert image file name below "cc-by-nc-nd.png"
%insert a link to the licence and its description below
\scriptsize{This thesis is licensed under a \href{}{Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivs 3.0 Unported License.}}

4. Finally you will get the following on the title page of your thesis.

Back to LaTeX tips

Tips for Refereeing for Academic Journals (Social Sciences)

Today I attended a doctoral training session on Refereeing for Academic Journals (Social Sciences) by Dr.Sara Delamont at Cardiff University. Here are some tips and lessons I’ve got from the session.

  • Being a reviewer is a tough and professional job since you are working with three masters; the author(s), the editor(s) and the publisher.
  • It is not a paid job (apart from getting a free access to the publisher’s online database).
  • However, the benefits are
    (1) Keep yourself update in the field,
    (2) Practicing critical skill and Developing skill to write your own paper, and
    (3) It’s good for your CV especially in the early career stage.
  • First thing that the journal editor and admin will check when the paper arrive is “If the paper is in the SCOPE of the journal.”
  • When you receive an invitation and you cannot, the best way is to reject it!
  • In your comments, never mention your institutes. It’s a double-blinded review!
  • What the editor want is something decisive to make a decision.
  • What the author(s) want is the useful feedbacks even though it is a rejection.
  • You should say the same things in “comments for the authors” and “comment for the editors” but be positive in the one for the author(s). It can be more negative and/or direct in the comments for the editor(s).
  • A check list should be provided for the author(s) to correct. It may include
    (1) Reference style is not the journal’s one
    (2) Grammar and typing mistakes + examples
    (3) Missing literature + examples
    (4) Poor presentation
    (5) Methods etc.
  • How to become a journal reviewer?
    – Publish in that journal or other related journal
    – Present or attend in the conference in that are or the one that related to the journal
    – Introduce yourself to the  editors of the journal you’d like to review. Also mention that that’s the journal you read regularly and your head of section or PhD supervisor are suggesting you to do so if you are a PhD student or RA or relatively new in the academia.
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