Academic journal article Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods

Demystifying the Arduous Doctoral Journey: The Eagle Vision of a Research Proposal

Academic journal article Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods

Demystifying the Arduous Doctoral Journey: The Eagle Vision of a Research Proposal

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Many doctoral students in the field of environmental design join graduate studies with several years of professional practice and experience. Due to the obscurity in creating their individual new knowledge contribution, we found many doctoral students concentrating much on the research methodology instead of enjoying the journey of knowledge discovery. This vague and rather confusing start of a graduate life is risky when some students realise that graduate study is a challenging feat. As a result, many opted deferring their studies for a semester or more, or dropping from a programme after encountering a number of setbacks. This issue is critical since fast-paced business organisations have growing needs for conducting systematic research so as to explain and solve recurring problems in the industry. Despite the need for inoculating research into professional practices through formal graduate programmes, we have noticed over the years that many building professionals-who tend to be mature students-are losing their patience over the unknown end of a doctoral study as most of them act as problem-solvers in their jobs since they were formerly so trained. In teaching new graduate students how to prepare their research proposals, we realised in due time that if these mature professional students were provided from the beginning a quick overview of what their doctoral journey will involve, they will be less fearful of uncertainties and will accordingly fulfil the requirements of their doctoral studies successfully. In this article, we will first present the issues and concerns by graduate students, the background foundations of the Eagle Research Design Table (Eagle Table) and the step-by-step development of an Eagle Table. These are followed by steps on how to illustrate the design of an Eagle Research Workflow Framework and scheduling in the necessary time for each step within a typical three-year journey that mature building professionals will undergo to answer their research inquiries.

2. Issues and concerns of matured professional students

Here are several recurring issues and concerns voiced by our students during class discussions. Among them include:

2.1 What is my research problem?

"I want to do a survey about how people perceived their garden" or "I want to conduct an in-depth interview with the Malays to find out about their socio-cultural practices". For experienced supervisors, we know that these statements do not provide explanations why students want to use either inquiry strategy to answer their research problems. In fact, supervisors should become concerned because instead of problem seeking at the initial research stage, graduate students concentrated much on how they should collect and analyse their data. Of course, the graduate students would become very defensive when their supervisors instructed them to change their inquiry strategies later.

2.2 What is the best topic to research?

"I am proposing a new system to improve a building's sustainability in my field of study". During class discussions, we often hear students aspiring to solve the world's problems. At our faculty, sustainable themes are common in the last decade due to global warming issue. Each sustainable theme has multiple sub-topics for doctoral students to uncover. Novice researchers tend to "feel confident that this topic is big enough to get me a degree" and have misconceptions that the more complex a topic is, the better the guarantee for obtaining a doctoral degree.

2.3 What do I need to read?

"When I started my research, my supervisor told me to read about engineering technologies. When I asked how many articles and he/she told me as many as I can". "How do I know what to read because each time I gave my supervisor my reading summary, he/she kept telling me to read more!" "When can I stop reading?" "I had spent so many weeks reading this topic and it is not fair for my supervisor to ask me to read another topic after telling me what I had just read was irrelevant! …

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