Session 1 What is a PhD?


Overview of the PhD process – what is and is not a PhD, the importance of the thesis proposal, reading and writing strategies, overview of research methods, styles of supervision, industry-based PhDs, PhD as a collection of papers.

Also, paper reviewing is a very important activity – it keeps one aware of leading-edge research, how it is framed and written up (the structure is not unlike that of a PhD/Masters by Research), and allows one to develop a critical capacity. Seeing how other reviewers have perceived the work provides extra insights.



Supplied Readings:

Davis, G (2003) Advising and Supervising Doctoral Students  pdf doc

Fitzgerald, B (2000) The Rough Guide to the PhD  pdf doc



Preparation for Session 1 Readings:

Read the supplied readings.

Section 2 in Fitzgerald’s Rough Guide to the PhD identifies six questions that should be addressed in a PhD proposal. Prepare a presentation of your PhD proposal addressing these six questions (what, why, what else, how, contribution, when) for your work (5 slides max).


Discussion Questions for Session 1:

Based on the Davis paper, identify:

  • Your doctoral program assumptions
  • Your motivations for a doctorate
  • Advising styles you face
  • Your needs for advice and supervision
  • Can a professor supervise all research topics?


Homework after Session 1:

  • Prepare a review of a paper (which will be supplied at the session)


Further Readings: 


Caplan, Paula J. (1993) Lifting a Ton of Feathers: A Woman's Guide for Surviving in the Academic World.  Toronto; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press.

Feibelman, Peter J. (1993) A Ph.D. Is Not Enough!  A Guide to Survival in Science. Reading, Massachusetts: Perseus Books.

Lee, A (1995) Reviewing a Manuscript for Publication, Journal of Operations Management, Vol 13, No 1 pp.87-92. Available at (last accessed April 20th 2007)

March, S. and Smith, G. (1995). "Design and Natural Science Research on Information Technology." Decision Support Systems 15 (1995): 251 – 266

Medawar P. (1963) Is the Scientific Paper a Fraud? The Listener, September 12, 1963, 377-378.

Peters, Robert L. (1997) Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student's Guide to Earning a Master's or a PhD, Farrar Straus & Giroux.

Saunders, C (2005) From the Trenches: Thoughts on Development Reviewing, MIS Quarterly, Vol 29, No. 2

Sternberg, David Joel (1981) How to Complete and Survive a Doctoral Dissertation.  New York: St. Martin's Press.

Toth, Emily (1997) Ms. Mentor's Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press

Wilson, J (2000) Responsible authorship and peer review, Available at (accessed April 20th 2007)