June 17, 2019
From 6th to 8th June 2019, we ran our first Research Execution and Thesis Crafting Workshop, a three-days hands on workshop focused on research execution and thesis crafting. The format worked well, with participants coming from different stages in their research, ranging from initial proposal stage up to those that are at their data collection and analysis stage.
Participants came well prepared and had identified, though perhaps not verbalized, their workplace-based problem or issue. Verbalizing and bringing out the problem was one of the things we worked on through various formats during each of the three days. Likewise, we also trained extensively on how to derive the research questions from the problem statement.
Both, problematizing and research question framing are crucial skills to undertake research (see also this summary on a recent webinar on this matter). It was therefore great to see how this skill developed further during those three days.
On the final day we spent some time looking at DBA thesis from the University of Liverpool repository to analyze and understand what a UoL thesis should look like. This allowed participants to apply their skills from an evaluation perspective.
On the positive side, all participants could immediately detect weaknesses such as lack of focus, weak problem statements, biased research questions, or “gambling for random solutions” instead of problem focused analytics.
On the downside, it was quite interesting to see that there was a large variation in the quality levels. And while some theses read very nicely, there were also quite a number that showed poor quality and where rich in the above-named weaknesses. I will not go into more detail on this matter, except that I saw such variations at repositories of other universities as well. As such, it is not isolated to UoL.
And while there apparently have been some ‘lucky ones’ that managed to get out with a doctoral degree for doubtable work, what their work equally shows is that they clearly went out without some of the critical learning inherent to the doctorate. It also appeared that the authors of such works took quite a long time to complete.
However, I am confident that this won’t happen to the participants in this workshop since their understanding on this has now been sharpened, including through understanding the difference in between solution versus problem focused engagement with the literature and as exemplified in the image below.
Another outtake of the workshop was that the learning outcomes provides a good guidance on how to take the research concretely further. Participants also felt that they would benefit from further workshops scheduled alongside their further research journey, likely every 3 to 4 months. Thus the next support option to provide such guidance would be the forthcoming residency taking place 9th to 13th September, and again in Liverpool.
However, and thinking further ahead, we agreed to look for a common date to run another Research Execution and Thesis Crafting Workshop in Dubai around December 2019 or January 2020. For those interested in learning more about this opportunity, please get in touch with us.