How to Do Research for the Award of a PhD Degree in Management Studies?

The Main goals of Ph.D. research

The evaluators check for the certain important outcomes of the research for Ph.D.

(a)The main aim of effort for Ph.D. award should be creation of new knowledge.

(b)The insights should be useful to the industry or academic community.

(c ) It should bridge the gap between what the current knowledge is and what knowledge is required.

(d) It should clear the suspicions, or find answers to major questions which have been lingering in the minds of practitioners and academics for quite long. These questions are called ‘ dilemmas ‘ or ‘hypotheses’.

What does not qualify to be called ‘research for Ph.D.’:

1. Collection of material from different sources and writing a voluminous book does not qualify to be called ‘ Ph.D. research’. Ph.D. research is not about writing a book.

2. Writing a thesis based on a few books or a few newspaper articles or internet sites is not Ph.D. research.

3. Ph.D. is not a survey with some questions ( like: Are you married? How many children have you? How long are you employed? Which soap do you prefer? )or some kind of form- filling feedback. The research should use standard instruments (also called measures, scales, standard scales and published scales).

How to Go About Research for Ph. D. in Management Studies?

1. The researcher has to do extensive literature review; he has to download as many as 500 research articles from online libraries like: ebscohost, emeraldinsight, proquest, jostor etc. The primary purpose of literature review is: identification of research gaps. It means that you have to understand where extant research has stopped or what is left un-researched. The gap so found can be converted into hypotheses.

2. Hypotheses -framing (hypotheses formulation or identification of hypotheses) is the most critical part of research. Hypotheses are the research questions or dilemmas that the academic community is faced with and are waiting to be resolved by a scholar like you.

3. A hypothesis looks like a question. For example, ‘Are women more satisfied than men on their jobs?’ is a hypothesis. This is just an example. (This might have already been resolved by a research scholar like you.) Ideally, a Ph.D. thesis should comprise resolution of 10-50 most critical and interesting hypotheses.

4. Literature review reveals to you what hypotheses were already resolved and you don’t have to solve again. Literature does not mean anything that you find in the newspapers, magazines, websites, textbooks etc. Literature should primarily comprise the articles made based on empirical research. Empirical research is the one done based on experiments, observations and data collected with scientifically-developed research instruments. Research articles are found in scholarly journals, particularly online journals carried by online libraries like emeraldinsight, jstor, proquest, ebscohost etc.

5. Literature review, if diligently done, will provide the researcher with a proper background of his research for logical documentation. The background presented in the thesis will explain how the subject or research question evolved or how it was understood till now, where it stands now and what the researcher is going to do on that.

6. Literature review gives: (1) research questions/ hypotheses,(2) justification for the study/ research topic.

7. It is needless to say that research topic should be identified only after extensive literature review. It is quite sad that the universities ask for research topic and hypotheses at the time of application for enrollment itself (at a time when the candidate did not read even a single research article yet). Ideally, the universities should have identified research questions/hypotheses; but it is never the case with our universities over here.

8. While doing literature review, the important findings should be noted. These notes are the main part of the thesis under heads like: introduction, background, literature review, etc. All the referred articles should be properly listed under References. There should be cross linkages between the articles noted in the references list and text in the thesis. What you note in the main text is called ‘in-text citation’. It means that if you have something in the list of references, it should appear in the main text. In-text citation looks like (for example): (Meesala, 2011). This should be expanded in the references list. The way these references are noted is called, ‘academic referencing style’, ‘academic format’, ‘academic style’ etc.

9. The referencing style follows certain order in noting authors’ names, year of publication etc. and also the punctuation. Read the information by Googling. There are many academic formats like Harvard style, APA style, MLA style, CMS style etc.

10. Referencing for your thesis is very easy if you are familiar with how to use ‘References’ in MS Word 2007.

What To Do After Identification Of Hypotheses?

If there are no hypotheses identified, there is no research at all. Research on management issues is about resolving the hypotheses, not book-writing, mind you. Hypotheses formulation is followed by research design. Research design is about determining how to collect the data (primary data) and how it has to be analysed.

When hypotheses are clearly identified, the constructs are clearly identified and available in your hands. (Examples for constructs are: personality type, job satisfaction, engagement, commitment, and innovative behavior). In your research based on your hypotheses, you may have to deal with 15 to 20 constructs. For each construct, there is a specific, standard, published instrument ( also called ‘questionnaire’,’measure’, or ‘scale’). An instrument is a set of questions whose reliability and validity are already established. Visit this site for some scales. This is an e-handbook of management scales.

You can find many marketing scales in one book if you are affiliated to a big library like the one in Indian School of Business. Search Google for “Marketing Scales”.

What to do if ready research scales are not found in the published journals/books?

It is not possible to find a scale for every construct that is related to your research.

You have to construct the scale yourself.

The process is: (1) conduct a meeting of some experts, and with their help, generate as many statements as possible, on that particular construct. Delete all the duplicates. With the remaining items, conduct a pilot survey. Do item analysis by arranging all the responses to an item in ascending order and finding t-statistic for two groups of extreme responses. If the t-value is 1.75 or more, the item is good and can be retained. After that, for all the items in the construct, find out Cronbach’s alfa. If the Cronbach’s alfa is more than 0.60, the construct is reliable. Reliability means that the items (statements in the questions) are well-correlated. It is the average of item-to-item correlations. Further, the researcher has to work out Content Validity Index. If the index is more than 4.00, the scale can be considered a valid scale. Search Google for content validity index.

It should be noted with care, that questionnaire should relate to hypotheses but not any questions that occur to an innocent researcher’s mind.

The instrument, of course, should contain a section consisting of questions about the respondents’ profile like age, gender, income, length of service etc. The data on these items can be later checked for their relationship with other constructs.

Determination of Sample Size

Sample means the number of respondents from whom the responses on the questionnaires should be taken (with how many respondents the questionnaires are to be administered).

Sample size should be large enough. The number may be in the range of 200 to 1000. A large sample only is valid and valuable. The research done on a large sample only earns the respect of academics and research scholar community.

Sample size is determined by the size of the population, expected standard deviation, and confidence interval. There are formulae for sample determination. They are: Cocheran’s formula and Slovin’s formula. For learning more about them, Google-search those terms and use the formulae.

One important point to note is that the validity of your research is improved by randomized sample but not by selection of respondents by convenience.

Tabulation and Analysis

All the collected responses should be entered in an Excel Sheet. One row should be allotted to enter the data given in one questionnaire. For 500 filled questionnaires, 500 rows should be allotted. Data entered in Excel sheet can easily be imported into SPSS for analysis.

The tabulation of data is made easier by use of MS Excel. For high quality analysis, use SPSS (Statistical Procedures for Social Sciences). Even without SPSS software too, alternatively, Data Analysis Tool Pack in MS Excel can be used. With the help of this, descriptive statics, regression analysis, inter-correlations, Anova tests etc. can be done.

Report -Writing

For report-writing, skills in paragraph-writing, making the table of contents, and making of thesis statement, tie-in/transitional phrases, tie-in words, topic sentence etc. are critical. Particularly, English language should be idiomatic and grammatically correct.