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Archive for July, 2009

RSH9101B Activity 5: Development of Research Questions

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

I have been working on Activity 5 for about week and struggling with development of the research questions. It’s one of those “I know what I want to say but not sure it makes sense to anyone else” dilemmas. I found some good research on supply chain and want to bring this into my paper. Creswell (2009) states “The most rigorous form of quantitative research follows from a test of a theory (see Chapter 3) and the specification of research questions or hypothesis that are included in the theory” (p. 133). If I can pull the thread of a theory through my paper, it would give direction and validate my findings.

I was asked by a reader how I find literature for my paper. First I came up with key words related to my topic, then searched the NCU online library databases, including ProQuest, EBSCOHost, and Gale OneFile. I read each article and classified them into relevant or not relevant. Relevant articles were added to RefWorks and downloaded or printed. I paid special attention to the introductions and conclusions, as well as the References. I found some great articles through looking at the References used in other papers, and tracked those down as well.

As I read the articles, I keep a notebook, pencil, and yellow highlighter handy, marking each document as I read. I am writing down quotes and ideas in the notebook drawn from the articles as well as the books I read. Yes, this takes a long time to go through the articles but the act of reading, writing, and summarizing helps me understand and remember more thoroughly.

I discovered several papers that I felt would be applicable to my topic were not in the library, so I have used the Article Linker and the Interlibrary Loan service. The Interlibrary Loan service has been very fast. I have also identified certain authors with a history of relevant articles. Often, there will be several papers from a particular author over several years as he develops his work on a topic.

I hope I am working through the path to a good topic paper, which is the final assignment in this course. Here is what I have left in this class:

Finish Activity 5: Development of Research Questions

Activity 6: Update Annotated Bibliography

Activity 7: Abridged Literature Review

Activity 8: Topic Paper

Welcome new readers

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

Welcome to new readers of my thinkPhD blog! Thanks for all the emails from everyone encouraging me in my quest and asking about earning a degree!

This blog traces my path to a PhD. I am currently in my first research class, RSH9101B at Northcentral University (NCU). I work full time, teach as an adjunct, and write articles for a few different websites. My writing specialty is distance learning, and I am the Richmond Distance Learning Examiner. I earned my BS in Environmental Science at Troy University, Troy, Alabama in 1980. I graduated from Troy University, Phenix City, Alabama with an MBA, which I earned attending classes in the evenings after work at the paper mill.

I love to teach and to learn. I am earning a terminal degree so that I can work through retirement from my company. Teaching keeps me fresh on current business topics, which make me a better informed employee. My work at the paper company keeps me up on how business works, making my teaching relevant in today’s business workplace. The two sides of me compliment each other.

Our three children are all grown and we’ve replaced them with a poodle named Tucker and a chihuahua named Charlie!

Here are the boys looking through the gate:

Charlie Brown and Tucker look through the gate

So if you are new reader or just dropping in from a link or search engine, make yourself at home. Comment on a post if you like or contact me directly with suggestions or questions.

And remember…think learning, think success, think PhD!

Back on eBay

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

I used to post regularly on eBay but I moved away when the listing fees went up and the site got covered up by large vendors. It’s hard for the little guy to compete when the playing field is tipped toward the big guys. eBay has a special running right now – list 5 items every 30 days with no listing fee. If the auction has a winner, the final value fee of 8.75% still applies. I listed 5 items yesterday so hopefully they will sell. I listed 4 books and one mobile video screen. One of the books was a duplicate of something I had. Here are the listings if you are interested:

Sears & Zemansky’s College Physics 8e V2 Young & Geller
NEW Natural Capitalism by Hawken, Lovins & Lovins
The Enjoyment of Music 8th Edition

Teach Yourself Gulf Arabic Audio CD by Smart & Altorfer
NIB Legacy LM56 Mobile Video Monitor for VCR/DVR/Game

Activities 3 & 4 + Amazon box

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

RSH910B Activity 3 is “Begin Annotated Bibliography.” I ended up with 44 references, each of which I read and analyzed for content. This paper was 33 pages long. Essentially, I wrote about what the article or book’s main points, the authors’ conclusions, reflections on the author’s authority, and how it tied into my subject. This paper actually took me longer than I thought it would because of all of the reading. I found some useful information and was able to build on my thinking for my dissertation. I dived the references into three sections to keep me organized; Research Questions, Facts and Information, and Related Topics, Examples, and Case Studies.

I turned in the 4th assignment today; this one is Research Problem Statement Development. From the syllabus, the general outline of the assignment should be:

After reviewing feedback from your Mentor on your topic, problem statement, and annotated bibliography develop your purpose statement. Present this purpose statement in approximately 1-4 pages that includes an introduction, problem statement and purpose statement. Your purpose statement will align with your problem statement reviewed by your Mentor in Activity 2. Refer to the course resources and the Dissertation Review Form for additional information regarding purpose statement requirements. Conclude your paper by explaining and justifying your purpose statement.

I set this assignment up like this…on the first page I have:

Research Problem Statement Development

Working Dissertation Title: XXXXXXXXXXXX

I divided the paper up into Introduction, Problem Statement, Purpose Statement, and Justification of Purpose Statement. I add these headings before I begin to write, to keep me focused on what I am writing about. I use this same system of adding headings which I sometimes delete before turning in the paper. It works like an outline and I stay on track.

Well, my Amazon order came in today, too. I am VERY excited as each one of these books should help me with my paper. Here are the titles:

Making Sustainability Work: Best Practices in Managing and Measuring Corporate Social, Environmental, and Economic Impacts by Marc J. Epstein

Green to Gold: How Smart Companies use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage by Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. Winston

The Sustainability Revolution: Portrait of a Paradigm Shift by Andres R. Edwards

Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution by Paul Hawken, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins

Harvard Business Review on Green Business Strategy (miscellaneous authors)

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough and Michael Braungart

Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How it Can Renew America by Thomas L. Friedman

> Have you figured out what my GREEN dissertation topic is?

Virtual High School – Distance learning for teens

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

I had the opportunity to write a few articles for Examiner on Virtual High School. If you haven’t heard about this wonderful distance learning program, start with this article:

Virtual High School: A world of learning opportunities 

then move on to the remaining articles to read the interview:

Virtual High School: VHS and distance-learning

Virtual High School: VHS impacts Richmond, the state of Virginia, and beyond

Virtual High School: Challenges to distance-learning

Virtual High School offers quality distance-learning educational opportunities for middle and high school students and professional development courses for teachers. After a federal education grant proved their methods successful, VHS became a non-profit entity in 1996. The focus at VHS is on the student: classes are small, content-focused, and facilitated by trained educators. VHS offers full-year as well as semester courses, Advanced Placement (AP) and Pre-AP courses, summer school for enrichment or credit recovery, and gifted courses…..

Research Problem Statement Development

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

Now that my Topic Selection paper has passed muster with Dr. R, I am on to Activity 2, Research Problem Statement Development, worth 15 points. This assignment is a 1 to 4 page paper that will include “an introduction to your topic and the research problem statement, which includes appropriate documentation.” The problem statement “should explain and justify your envisioned research.”

I found a peer-reviewed article that I believe will work for the appropriate documentation. The authors danced around the topic and indicated that they believed there was much research to be done in my topic area. My topic is very current and is getting a lot of magazine and newspaper press but there is not much journal treatment specifically on this topic.

My topic is based on supply chain, which has received a lot of attention in the past decade or so. The connections and interactions between supply chain members is often complex and industry specific. Most chains are actually matrices rather than a straight line between two points. The specific area that I am focusing on is sustainability and the supply chain. I won’t reveal the exact twist on this topic right now because I want to keep it fresh. I have a number of ideas that I am hoping will yield an interesting paper for several diverse groups. I am very excited to be at this stage and my husband M has been a great help to me by listening and giving me feedback.

It’s a rainy day here in Virginia, so I hope to get some concentrated work done and perhaps turn in this paper today.  

Conference with Dr. R

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Just got off the phone from a conference with my mentor for RSH9101B, Dr. R. I initiated the call because I felt as though I needed a few words to encourage me and to get some clarity on some of the assignments. I am so very glad that I did this! Dr. R was very encouraging and provided useful insights into the dissertation process, as well as give me some direction on my topic. I had a few questions to ask, related to the topic as well as moving forward. She had written a comment on my paper that I really like:

I think it’s helpful to think of a dissertation research study as a hole in the ground that is 2 inches wide and 1 mile deep – that is narrowly defined, but deeply studied.

Excellent analogy! I am vascillating between thinking my topic is too broad, yet too narrow at the same time – go figure! My topic is very current and I am not finding a whole lot of scholarly literature exactly on the topic – only related to it. That’s OK, she said, because we will develop this as time goes on. She cautioned me not to do the whole dissertation now, but rather take it in stages and build it slowly.

I am very glad that Dr. R had some time for me tonight. Those 30 minutes really made a difference in my thinking about this project.