Sunday, 27 February 2011


I'm bored. I've done nothing for days, just waiting for feedback from supervisor#2.

I told supervisors and research school I was submitting in February, but supervisor #2 has offered to reread two chapters, and his comments are detailed and useful, so I'm waiting for his last feedback due on Tuesday 1st March, and I've delayed my submission until 7th March. Then it's go, go, go.

Unfortunately, this week I also have
Between Tuesday and Monday 7th I must check off each comment from supervisor #2, squash Word's idiosyncrasies like document map bugs and print out three copies of my thesis for the research school, to hand in along with their EX13 form (done). I've dealt with my supervisor's comments before. I can beat the Word bugs. I can print the copies. I shall submit a week tomorrow.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Grades of PhD degree

A doctorate from the Open University may ultimately be a pass or fail, but there are five grades given after the viva:
  • Award of the degree
  • Corrections and modifications
  • Substantial amendment
  • Major revision and resubmission for re-examination
  • Alternative recommendations for PhD candidates
  • Fail
Straight award with no corrections is rare. The most likely result is minor corrections and modifications, for which you get a couple of months to do them in. Substantial amendment is still a pass and you get six months to fix the deficiencies. With amendments you don't have to get reexamined. I am not contemplating the lower grades.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Social Networking pays off

I have wonderful Facebook friends. Four years, a young fellow post-grad encouraged me to join Facebook, which I'd thought was for my children. Since then, I’ve been idling away my time on Facebook, seeing it as a transitional activity between useful academic and productive research work - an alternative to playing cards. Now it pays off.

A few months ago I broke my hand, and typing one handed on Facebook, I bemoaned the delay to my thesis whereupon several friends offered help. Last week I took up the offer from three of them, also post-graduate students – though in other places – to read my cross-case analysis, a chapter that I started writing last April, and have struggled with. Even my knitting was never as entangled and useless as this chapter has been – supervisors have read versions of it again and again until they can’t read it any more. My three Facebook friends agreed to read it against the brief:
  • does it flow?
  • has it said something sensible about each of the four research questions (with a comment on supervisors’ different perspectives)
  • any typos, grammar problems or missing words
My friends have responded very helpfully and encouragingly with comments mainly about where they got confused, but also where I’ve said something interesting that I could pull out more and how to do that. They've also picked out 'an' when I meant 'and' and 'temporarily when I mean 'temporally', so done some proof-reading too.

This has really encouraged me, not only that I’m writing so someone else understands, and that my research has interest but also that I now have a justification for using Facebook. Social networking isn’t idling away time but an important activity!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Word bugs - document map

For a doctoral thesis you have to write a l-o-n-g document with several chapters, contents, appendices, so you need to use styles, but Word 2007 sometimes changes styles such as captions to a high level, which messes up the document map. I think I've found the trick solve this problem.

Go to Word options, then proofing, and choose the auto correct tab. Then AutoFormat As You Type. Untick 'Define styles based on your formatting'.

I've shown the relevant window in the picture.

However, you still have to unmess the captions. The quickest way to do this seems to be to select a piece of normal text, right click its style box, and choose update style to match selection.
Then watch your document map refresh itself back to what it should look like.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Examiner chosen

They chosen my examiner, contacted him and they've accepted. They've yet to choose the internal examiner.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Numbering thesis paragraphs

I'm writing this blog while my Word crashes. :(

I thought I'd try again to number the sections within each chapter, like so
2 Literature review
2.1 Introduction
2.2 public sector procurement

I found instructions at
and followed them down to modifying the style for my second level headings, where it has crashed. BANG, WALLOP! Silence.

Oh, bother! I'd really like to list my headings like this because I think it would make it easier to work out where you are in the middle of a long chapter.

Friday, 11 February 2011


In conclusion, this thesis provides useful insight that enhances understanding of engagement.

Advanced word processing

My colleague's sitting next to me updating her references to her diagrams manually. She's checking each one and changing them in her 90,000 word long thesis. And she's writing up her contents manually. Yeuch. I showed her how to
  • right click any new diagram,
  • choose caption,
  • add it in and
  • check its style is 'caption' so it goes centre and with the required line spacing. Then I
  • use insert cross reference to refer to the figure, and
  • add the page number if it's a figure in an appendix.
  • A quick scroll page (using view document map) to the list of figures in contents,
  • right click and update. Yep - all forty figures fine.
But this is not the time to learn advanced features like this - learn them in third year and keep practising. Here's a link to a pdf from Durham University on "Creating Long Documents Using Microsoft Word 2007" - it looks useful, simple and short (20 pages).

I would like to learn and easily do chapter numbers in the way that I did twenty years ago with AmiPro. That was a nice word processing package.

My colleague says (tongue in cheek) this isn't all my own work - I've been too technology-assisted!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Final thoughts

I want to write the final section that addresses the closing thoughts of my research. I can't! I'm just waffling, and I'm not allowed to write:
I've done enough. It's good enough. Just give me the doctorate!
Writing has been a struggle for me all the way through this process.

Research aims were achieved in that the researcher has developed and empirically validated a model that shows how participants engage on IT projects. The research aims have been achieved in that this researcher has written a heck of a lot of words.

By presenting empirical research with case studies of five IT projects, this thesis has detailed perceptions of how engaged IT project participants build relationships and get work done. By collecting and analysing my case studies (and thanks ever so much to my participants) I've got this model of engagement. It's quite neat really.

This thesis set out the findings that addressed the research question by developing a framework for engagement. Yes - that's what I meant to say above.

Engagement was seen to involve conditions and behaviours in a self-replicating system. That's the model I mean.

Suggestions have been made in this chapter as to how client management can manage the engagement process with their external consultants. But will practitioners believe me?

The results of this research fill a gap in the literature on understanding engagement. Like who cares anyhow?

By focusing on the process of building relationships rather than the outcomes and products of engagement, it identifies how engaged behaviours can produce value through exchanging and building new intellectual capital. I reckon that bit's new and clever and I'd just like to write it right.

This thesis has shown that the essential behaviours that emerge are sharing, sense making and adapting which interact and self-reinforce.
Actually, I'd like to write about it being an autopoietic system, but I don't use that word much so bringing it in now in the last section is a bit of a shock.

and then bla, bla boring bla

This thesis provides useful insight that enhances understanding of engagement.
It does.

I want to write this now. I've got other stuff to get on with, like life.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


We have progress.
  1. The draft my supervisors have just read is the penultimate draft. I’m acting on their feedback, and getting the thesis to supervisor #2 in two weeks time, who will return his feedback by 1st March, aiming at small, not restructuring points so that I can submit within a week of that. Good.
  2. We’ve discussed examiners and made a decision.
  3. Finally and interestingly, we haven’t got a date for a next meeting – there won’t be any more. Howzat?
That means I'll have time to work on the paper I'm submitting to the Management Consultancy Division for their biannual conference in June. That's the first conference paper I've ever submitted.