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Archive for the ‘DIS9322B’ Category

Approved by the IRB

Friday, April 15th, 2011

I am super-excited today…I received IRB approval to begin data collection!!! Here is the letter (as is my custom, I abbreviated the names)….

April 14, 2011

Reference IRB: 2011-04-05-061

Dear Dr. M, Dissertation Chair:

On April 13, 2011, Northcentral University approved Cynthia’s research project entitled, Dimensions of Purchasing Social Responsibility in Sustainable Supply Chain Organizations.

IRB approval extends for a period of one year and will expire on April 14, 2012.

Please inform the Northcentral University IRB when the project is completed.

Should the project require an extension, an application for an extension must be submitted within three months of the IRB expiration date.

In the interim, if there are any changes in the research protocol described in the proposal, a written change request describing the
proposed changes must be submitted for approval.


Dr. C
IRB Committee Chair
Northcentral University

It was a tough day at work and I am coming down with a cold. So this info was just what I needed today. I am so excited!!

IRB Application: Another waiting game

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

My IRB Application has been in their queue since last Sunday, April 3. I hope to hear something soon. The IRB actually gets up to 21 days to review an Application.

In the meantime, I set up my survey on SurveyGizmo and it looks pretty good. I might set it up on SurveyMonkey as well – I haven’t decided yet.

I am looking for purchasing department industry professionals to review my survey as a pilot test. If you are a buyer, purchasing agent, procurement specialist or have a similar role, let me know. I would love to get your feedback on my survey. Just comment to this post or contact me privately.

This course ends on April 11, and then I will move into DIS9323B. I had really hoped to be collecting data by now, but at least I am continuing to move forward!

IRB Application Prep

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Dr. M has been a great help this week as I have been working on the IRB Application. I think that with his suggestions and my modifications, the Application is just about ready to be submitted. Tonight I updated the Application, adding the permissions that I received from the owners of the survey.

I have also been playing around with SurveyMonkey and SurveyGizmo, trying to decide which will best meet my needs. I will have some time this weekend to work on that again.

Very soon I will be in the data collection phase….!

DP Approved

Monday, March 14th, 2011

I am still pinching myself – my dissertation proposal (DP) was approved today!!! The OAR included some comments, actually more comments than they did when my CP did not pass the first time. My plan is to take each comment and throughly review it, before proceeding with IRB approval request.

One note was that I need to obtain copyright approval to use a figure that came from a source. I was not aware that I would need this because I properly cited the figure. There were two typos, that for some reason are not in my original file. Perhaps the reviewer tapped some keys unexpectedly.

Here is another point: “Avoid redundancies in hypothesis statements: The use of the phrase “significant difference” is redundant. There is either no difference (null hypothesis accepted) or a difference (null hypothesis rejected). See the Dissertation Center>School of Education Resources>Dissertation Best Practices for further guidance.”

The reference to the Dissertation Best Practices, includes this statement: “It is redundant to include the phrase “… is there a statistically significant difference…” when writing a research question. The process of hypotheses testing always checks for statistical significance. You need only say, “… is there a difference…”

Here is a research question from the DP:
“Among firms engaged in buyer-supplier relationships, what, if any, is the difference between firms identified as sustainable and firms not identified as sustainable in terms of environmental initiatives, as measured by the PSRQ?”

And the H0 and HA:

H0: Among firms engaged in buyer-supplier relationships, there is no significant difference between firms identified as sustainable and firms not identified as sustainable in terms of environmental initiatives, as measured by the PSRQ.
HA: Among firms engaged in buyer-supplier relationships, there is a significant difference between firms identified as sustainable and firms not identified as sustainable in terms of environmental initiatives, as measured by the PSRQ.

However, other texts state that the question should not be a yes or no answer, which the above seems to indicate. Others include the words “statistically significant.” So I am puzzling through this statement, and not sure how to modify my hypotheses….maybe just leave out the word “significant”?

Passing time; it’s DP Review #1

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

Today finds me pretty nervous – my chair received notification that we should hear something from the OAR by Monday March 14 regarding my dissertation proposal (DP) …that’s tomorrow!

I re-read my DP yesterday and even after hundreds of edits, changes, and augments, I found a few correctible items. I wish I had seen these before sending it off to the OAR. ;-/

Perhaps the reviewers will not see those items needing improvement, which were mostly related to how I stated something or where a sentence was (beginning or end or middle of a paragraph). My real concern (based on what I have heard from others) is that sometimes the OAR rejects a DP thoroughly – and the student has to start from scratch. Scary.

My topic is very timely (sustainability and social responsibility in supply chains), so perhaps this will be an advantage. The theoretical framework is built on stakeholder theory, which was first articulated in a 1960s study at the Standford Research Institute. Here is a snippet from my DP:

“Stakeholder theoretical models support a view of aggregate and composite supply chain relationships rather than those that are singular and simplistic. A stakeholder map of an organization may include various groups with an investment or interest in the success and activities of the firm, such as owners, suppliers, competitors, employees, customers, government, political groups, and others (Freeman, 2010). Stakeholder requirements are key motivators for strategic actions taken by firm managers, including ethical and financial activities (Freeman, 2010). By extension, stakeholders may mandate socially responsible actions as public awareness evolves through media influence, social changes, and cultural shifts. The perspective of placing responsibility on organizations developed from the acknowledgment that broadened corporate activities had potential for repercussions on the general welfare of members of society (Russo & Perrini, 2010).”

Yesterday evening and this morning, I have been working on my submission to the University of Phoenix Faculty Research Grant Program. This new program has three award levels, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000. It is designed to support meaningful research that will be reported in academic literature. It would really be great if my research would be recognized in this way. The money would help defray some of the expense of gathering data. I will finish up the grant proposal today and I should hear something within 45 days.

Wish me luck – both with the DP review and the research grant!

Loving the DP

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

After receiving comments/suggestions from my dissertation chair and two committee members, and making the necessary changes, I turned in my DP to my chair this afternoon. Today, I put in about 8 hours of work – polishing, adding, deleting, re-arranging, etc. I like the finished product.

We have a “Best Practices” document that I used side by side with my DP. I am hoping that I caught all the things I needed to! I am in week 6 of DIS9322B, which is the halfway mark. Wouldn’t it be WONDERFUL if I could have an approved DP in this course, and start collecting data pretty soon? I am worried a little about data collection, and sometimes I wake up at night and think, “What if NOBODY responds to my survey?” (I wonder if that has ever happened?).

It’s Saturday night and I can’t begin to count the number of Saturday nights that I have worked late on my schoolwork. Not just Saturdays but all the other nights, too! So I am a little punch-drunk because my brain is fried! Now on to bed to dream about OAR approval!

Reducing MS Word documents (with images) file sizes

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

My chair recommended that I follow these instructions to reduce the file size of my DP, which contains several images (charts, etc.). My DP saved as a .rtf was 12,516 KB. Using these instructions, my DP is now 2,418 KB when saved as a .rtf. When saved as a .docx, it is even smaller – it is now 342 KB. Dr. M said to send the DP as a .docx in the future.


Even after working in MS Word for many years, I never knew about this registry change!

I also received the first review of my DP by one of my committee members. Here is my plan: once I receive reviews back from BOTH committee members, I will incorporate their requests and modify the DP. Then, I will resend the final product to Dr. M. He may have some additional edits at that point. Once he is satisified, the DP will go to OAR review.

This committee member, Dr. W, only made some writing suggestions, such as clarifying some points and adding a few transitions. She made no major modifications to my proposal, or my research method! Wow! I am VERY EXCITED about this development. After reading, researching, and writing, I was afraid that I had become too myopic and was not clear enough, or overly complex. You will remember that I struggled with the Research Method section.

I don’t want to be overconfident because I am waiting for committee member #2 to weigh in, but I am lets say…hopeful…that I am moving forward…perhaps I see a glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel???

DP to Dissertation Committee – 1st go-around

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Dr. M and I corresponded back and forth several times and I made some changes in my DP. He now has it again, and after he proofs it, will send it to the Dissertation Committee for their comments and recommendations. I have two DC members.

The OAR comment on the CP involved investigating the feasibility of stratified random sampling, instead of simple random sampling. Stratified random sampling involves dividing the population into two homogeneous subgroups and then taking a random sample from each (Trochim & Donnelly, 2008). Instead of pre-separating into two groups, the surveys will self-separate the data into two groups as there will be a question asking if the firm publishes sustainability reports or not.

I can use stratified random sampling in the selection of firms, though. In an October 2010 download, there were 2,253 companies representing 128 industries on the NYSE (the population). I can use stratified random sampling as I make sure that each of the 128 industries has at least one company invited to the survey.

A reader asked me recently how many pages my current CP has in it. I am up to 139 pages at this point. I have six Appendixes, four tables, and three figures. I have 10 pages of references. I could probably write twice as much on my topic – but I am trying be economical with words!!

From RSH to DIS, cont’d as an allegory

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Imagine a wide and deep stream, wider and deeper than you can cross with one jump, like all those others you’ve crossed earlier in this journey. This stream is different – you can see the sharp rocks and poisonous snakes and teethy piranhas waiting to eat you for lunch. The water in the stream is boiling hot, too (don’t forget – this is an allegory).

You’ve never crossed a stream like this. Even though a trusted leader has given you a detailed “syllabus” map, you are fearful. You check the map, yes, you have to cross the CP Stream to get to RSH Land – there is no other way. All roads led to this stream, this path, this crossing. However, it is clear that the stumbling rocks, sharp sticks, angry fauna, and water temperature are shown in that map. They left that part out. Why didn’t they warn you about this dangerous stream?

The only way to cross is to build a bridge. So you do. But your first bridge has no foundation and falls into the stream and is swept away. Your second bridge has a better foundation, but the boards you used are old and rotten (read, 80% are not within 5 years). So you keep working and after even more failures, you finally build something that kind of looks like a bridge. You start across the rickety bridge over the stream. You hear your mentor’s voice, come on over. Your foot falls through first this board and then that one, but you make it across somehow. You stand shaking and tired from the fear and the exertion.

You turn and look at your bridge. What a sloppy piece of work! You are embarrassed. I suppose someone looking at it could call it a bridge, but its not one to brag about. You certainly won’t take any pictures or publish any articles about this bridge. But that shambly-looking thing did get you across the dangerous water, and I suppose that is what matters.

But wait, what’s going on here? You rub your eyes – you can’t believe it. The stream is calm, bubbling nicely! No sharp rocks or poisonous snakes or teethy piranhas…did you imagine these? Your shabby bridge looks terrible across that beautiful stream; so you start to work on the bridge, replacing the foundation, using new smooth boards that you found on the ground over here, and shiny nails right out of the box replace the ones you had used over and over.

Finally, your bridge is judged for beauty and merit, and the OAR Bridgemason Inspectors approve your bridge. Yea! You passed the test and can continue on your journey into DIS land.

So you check your map, and turn and start walking again. Oh no, there, just over the hill is a boiling, angry, shark-invested river named DP. You can see shipwrecks and broken bridges all along the river’s edge. It is clear that others have come this way and failed.

Oh no, you say, checking the map one more time, is there another way? Do I have to cross this river, too?

But you already know. Yes, you moan, I have to build a bridge….

From RSH to DIS

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Reader Dan recently asked if writing the CP in the RSH courses was valuable to writing the dissertation so far… and I really had to think about that question. I started with an RSH topic related to the Wal-Mart Sustainability Scorecard. My instructors in the RSH classes truly believed it was a good topic and I scored high in the classes. Then I got to the 3rd RSH class and my instructor had problems with my topic. “How are you going to gather data?” “Are you confident that Wal-Mart will reveal the information you need?”

It was true. My topic was good but the difficulties with data collection were insurmountable. This instructor told me that when he read my papers they were so convincing that he (and probably the other mentors) thought that I worked for Wal-Mart, which I do not.

So rather than throw out all the good work I had done to that point, I kept reading and found another topic, similar in that it is supply chain/sustainability/business strategy-related. So I used some of my earlier research in the new topic paper.

I think that the earlier RSH classes immersed me in what research is and allowed me to build a foundation for my lit review. My topic now involves purchasing social responsibility (PSR), which is a manifestation of corporate social responsibility (CSR), and whether those firms that publish PSR information are any different from those firms that do not. My hunch is that social pressure has forced sustainable activities on all firms, not just those talking about them. I am using some of the research from RSH but much is newer from working on the lit review in the DIS classes.

The most difficult piece for me were the problem and purpose statements. I don’t think that I was grounded in these in the RSH courses as I found that when I got to my first DIS class, I could not even get my topic paper past Dr. T. All those activities in the RSH were fine but did not address what they should have – building a topic, a problem statement, and a purpose statement. I feel like I wasted a lot of time – valuable time – when my topic did not work.

I, like many others pursuing a terminal degree, was always a good student. But there is a big leap between that and working on a dissertation topic, problem statement, and purpose statements.

An approved Concept Paper….

Monday, January 24th, 2011

….is a wonderful thing! I received notification today that my CP passed OAR review!!! Yippee!!!

The OAR made one comment about my sampling strategy, as to whether the “sampling strategy is likely to provide for enough participants within each of the two categories of companies to be studied.”

So I will dig a little deeper and see what needs to be added in that section, and make the appropriate changes in the DP. Speaking of my DP, Dr. M emailed me that he will look at it this week and give me some feedback soon.

So, I sit here at my desk with a silly smile on my face looking at a printed out copy of my accepted CP. The word “Approved” is sparkling on the paper – or is that sparkle just from the tears of joy in my eyes??

DIS9322B – assignments and DP

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

DIS9322B has 12 (can you believe it?) assignments. The course requires that I send in a weekly update to my chair, including the Personal Timeline. My course officially started on January 17, so I turned in my first assignment today.

I still haven’t received my CP back as approved yet, but that certainly did not stop my work on this project. The seven-day review period is up tomorrow, so I should hear something then. This week, I updated the DP with the changes that were required in the CP, so today, I also turned in my Dissertation Proposal (DP) to Dr. M for his first look at it. I removed the statements like so-and-so stated; we are supposed to keep those to a minimum in favor of stating and then citing.

The DP is 77 pages long, and includes a 41-page Literature Review. We are required to have at least 40 pages for the LR. I have five Appendixes and four tables.

This week I hope to look at the IRB review form. I have to figure out if a pilot study is a separate IRB form, or if I include it on the study IRB form. I am ready to move forward with data collection!

I am teaching UNIV/101 at our University of Phoenix local campus. This is a three-week class for new enrollees. I finished up my weekly grading today and submitted W1 weekly feedback. I also reviewed my teaching notes in prep for this week’s class.

So I have been working all day, and am ready to relax. I am going to go see if maybe there is a movie on TV tonight!

Second time the charm?

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Dr. M uploaded my revised and improved CP to the Dissertation Tracking System (DTS) on Friday January 14. The Office of Academic Research (OAR) has seven days to review it and return it. Will the second time be the charm? I am hoping and praying that the changes will be impressive enough to garner approval! My study proposal is very straightforward, and grounded in theory. The sticking points for the OAR on the first go-round was research methodology and the survey. One statement indicated that they did not believe that I could gather enough valuable data from 3-5 questions on a particular area of corporate social responsibility (CSR). However, the survey that I am planning to use has been used several times and proved reliable and valid. So I added that I would include a pilot study, stating:

“A pilot test will provide feedback and advance warning about any corrections, deletions, or additions to be made before extending the official survey invitations. The pilot test will invite comments about the relevance of questions as related to the research intent. Pre-testing the instrument in this way will contribute to ensuring reliability and validity of the PSRQ relative to the contemporary sample population.”

On the way to work this morning, my car slid off the road and did a 180 degree turn – I ended up on the side of the road turned around the opposite way that I had come. I could not get enough traction in the grass to get back up on the road. Husband came to try and he did not have any success either, so I waited hours on a wrecker. By that time, I was cold and wet, plus it was already mid morning by then. I called in to work and took a vacation day.

So this afternoon, I have been working on preparing the 12 activities for DIS9322B, which technically begins on January 17 and runs through April 11. In this course, I have to submit a weekly update Personal Timeline. I am also going through some papers on my desk – they just seem to accumulate there! I have checked my Learner site several times, hoping that the holiday gave the OAR an opportunity to approve my CP. I guess I will just keep waiting and checking….