3Why a PhD? Research expands the frontiers of human knowledge. Significant research achievements advance human civilization and improve the quality of our lives.PhD students are the person in charge – exciting projects, intellectual stimulation, collaboration with people!
4Is a PhD for you? You want to do research. You want to be at the knowledge frontier of a research domain.In today’s world, a PhD is a requirement to pursue a career in a research lab or in academia.Or you do a start-up based on your thesis research.
5What is a PhD?You spend 3-5 years in a research lab, discovering new theorems, evidence, concepts, or algorithms that expand current knowledge.TheorySystemsApplications
6What does it entail?You start with getting familiar with the current state-of-the-art.You start developing your own ideas (with the help of other experts in the field).You “prove” your ideas and submit it to internationally peer-reviewed conferences and journals.
7What does it entail? You continue to improve your results. Your ideasIn collaboration with other experts.You build your professional network.Colleagues in the labColleagues in the fieldYou write your thesis.
8What is a PhD thesis? Approximately 150 pages describing: What the knowledge base was before.What your contributions to the knowledge base is.Why your contributions are relevant to the world.
9What are typical career developments of PhDs Provides greater lifelong freedom of movement and more independence.Typically less involved in corporate hierarchies.More emphasis on individual creativity.More self-starting and internally motivated.
10What are typical career developments of PhDs More focused on ideas and less on process, politics, or economics.Working on leading edge ideas and future products.Comfortable financially.Use a wide range of skills (design, analysis, synthesis, working with others …).
11(Defining a thesis topic) What?(Defining a thesis topic)
12Preparatory stepsWhat are the core dimensions of the field of research in which the thesis is situated?Which problems are still unsolved to date? Why do these areas need further exploration?How could this gap be filled? Is the problem solvable at all?Are these problems addressed in many previous approaches? Is it feasible to think that my thesis would greatly contribute to solving these problems? Is there room for improvement?
13Preparatory stepsWhat are the critical success factors? How can these risks be minimized? What are the worst case strategies; the worst expectable outcome?Are these problems addressed (possibly under a different name) in other communities and what are the results achieved in this context?Is it a hot topic or is it becoming already obsolete?What is the impact of a potential solution on the community?Which are the application scenarios in which this problem is relevant?
14Defining the Thesis Topic What are the main research questions?What is your approach better when compared with related approaches?What issues that are relevant to your problem space you do not solve in your thesis?What are the assumptions you make in your approach?
15Solving the ProblemWhat are the methods you (intend to) apply in your research (design research, case studies, user interviews, statistical methods etc.)What are the main actions which need to be carried on in order to achieve the desired results?What is the expected outcome? How does this outcome differ from related approaches (improve the performance of an algorithm, reduce the costs of a process, improve the usability of a method etc.)
16Evaluation What methods do you use to validate your research? What are the main target audience groups for your evaluation results? Who should be interested in the results of your research?What are the results of the evaluation procedure?How well does your approach perform compared to related solutions?Is there room for improvement? How could your solution be improved?Do your results have implications beyond the scope of the thesis and which are these implications?
17Advice: Keep a Research Journal! When you read an interesting article, note it in your journal [Kuther]:what was the research topichow did they study itwhat did they findideas the authors suggest for further researchwhat was striking about the articleyour own ideas
18(Problems during PhD studies) How?(Problems during PhD studies)18
19Overcoming Problems in PhD Studies “Studying for a PhD can be a real roller coaster ride. A doctorate takes at least three years to complete and lots can go wrong during a student's doctoral study.”Alistair McCulloch
20Overcoming Problems in PhD Studies Problems With Identifying a Good Research TopicProblems With Data CollectionIsolationRunning out of MoneyProblems With a SupervisorWhat if Someone Publishes a Student’s Original Idea Before He Does?
21ABD = "all but dissertation" stage several studies have shown that the attrition rate in doctoral programs could be as high as 50 percent [Smallwood, 2004]Reasons: personal nature (financial difficulties, family obligations) academic nature (difficulty in coming up with adequate research topics or writer's block)
22Supervisionsupervision plays a critical role in helping doctoral students to complete their degrees“supervision has to be seen as a form of teaching. Like other forms, it raises questions about curriculum, method, teacher/student interaction, and educational environment” [Connell, 1985]
23Ideal Relationship Supervisor - Student the graduate student receives constant and timely feedback on progress madethis type of interaction and feedback can be accomplished in a variety of ways but it should be frequent enough to maintain a periodic dialogue on the issues and research questions raised by the investigative work conducted by the studentthe writing may not be as fluid and frequent as the supervisor might have expected but even in these circumstances, it is important to maintain a regular conversation to help the student continue the process of elaborating on a dissertation topic [Galbraith, 2003]
24LiteratureConnell, R. W. (1985). How to supervise a PhD. Vestes, 2,Galbraith, M. W. (2003). The adult education professor as mentor: A means to enhance teaching and learning. Perspectives: The New York Journal of Adult Learning, 1(1), 9-20.Kuther, T. (2009). Getting Started in Research: Your Research Journal. About.com GuideMcCulloch, A. (2009). Overcoming Problems in Studying for a PhD. Graduate schools suiteSmallwood, S. (2004, January 16). Doctor dropout. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 50.