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Considering a DBA? Motivation is key...

By Heinz Brodbeck - Posted on 27 August 2020

Advice before you start a programe of study is always welcome - Heinz Brodbeck looks at what you should think about before embarking on a DBA.

Doctoral study means "deep drilling", rigour, depth and discourse. A DBA investigates a narrowly stated research question from different perspectives based on a set of proven theories. If you are thinking of embarking on doctoral studies, here are a few tips:

Motivation is key

Is your motivation for research strong enough to hold-up for many years to come, strong enough to help you recover from frustrating experiences during your study and thesis writing, and will your motivation resist your potential loneliness during the journey?

What is your rationale for a DBA? In my profession a doctorate is conditional. I am obsessed with closing my particular research gap. To earn the degree is painful but the mental reward and feeling are great. Don't let potential fiduciary gains be your driver - there are easier ways to increase your income.

Resources required

These are: time, money, and intellectual capabilities.

Allow yourself three to five years. The actual time taken depends on time spent on study; research design; detours and iterations; and obligations beside your study. Data collection and thesis writing are often the most time-consuming parts. Start with the writing as early as possible and agree thesis structure with your supervisors before a lot of writing is done.

Education is a financial investment. Consider not only tuition fees but also opportunity cost (loss of income during study), travel expenses, cost of implementing research, and so on. Unfortunately there is very seldom direct-income from a dissertation.

Stakeholder management

The most important stakeholders are your doctoral supervisors. Establish best relationship for guidance and for keeping their interest in your research. There is often little benefit to them from an average thesis - and honestly most doctoral theses are not scientific breakthroughs. It does not enhance their reputation if their student delivers "lousy" work or drops out. On the other hand it's part of their job to develop doctoral students. Once they have accepted you and your proposal they will give their best to help you to be successful. Hence, follow their guidelines and discuss deviations thoroughly.

Reflecting about the object of your research at an early stage will save a lot of time and avoid frustration. Evaluate possibilities for where (e.g. a case study company) and with whom (e.g. test persons, survey participants) you would like to perform the research. Depending on your topic and research partners, there can be reluctance to allow external data access. Demonstrate that all - science, you and the researched - benefit from your intervention.

Seek also support from family, your peers, your company and keep them informed about how your work is progressing. Visually track your successes on the journey; it boosts motivation.

This blog is based on an article which can be found here. To find out more about the Strathclyde DBA please click here

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