Archive for Juli 2012

Using tables to keep an overview on reviewed literature

I am currently working on the literature review part of my dissertation.  After having read quite a bunch of articles I realized, that I kind of lost the overview. Further, when I go back to a topic which I reviewed some time ago, I had difficulties to remember which article had which content.

So I developed a workflow for documenting the reviewed literature. Up to now this approach works quite well:

  • Define the detailed topic, for which you need to review the literature (e.g. definitions of Supply Chain Risks, approaches to Supply Chain Performance Management etc.). I think that the review is easier, when you try to define the topic as narrow as possible.
  • Create a table which includes the main aspects you want to keep an overview on. An example can look like that:
Article Year Research question of the article Approach / method used Main Results Comments


  • Then search for relevant literature
                          1. Look for literature review articles
                          2. Search the key words in the relevant database
    Review the cited literature
  • Read the introduction and summary and decide if the article is relevant for your topic
                          If yes: read the article and afterwards fill in the information
                          If no: archive the article in case you need it later on
  • After having done this summary, I proceed with the detailed annotation. For doing this I use Citavi.

 I am quite happy with this approach as it keep me focused on the main aspects of the detailed topic I am currently working on. I think this approach works best, when you already have developed a structure for your thesis. Then you can split this structure into smaller topics and create for each topic an overview table (each of the tables can have different columns, this is depending on the topic). This makes it easier to  identify the commonalities and differences of the articles and to writea topic or review summary. Later on in the process, when writing or editing your text. You can have a look into the table and see the articles at a glance. If you need more details for a specific topic , then you can look into the reference software, where more details are noted.

Kategorien:Organization, Research Schlagwörter:

Part-time phd: some problems and solutions

Juli 9, 2012 2 Kommentare

I am working on my phd-thesis approximately since one year now. As I am not a full-time-phd student, the time I spend for the phd is only a part of my working time. In parallel I am working as a project manager for an industrial company. Today I would like to share some problems I face and how I try to handle them:

  1. Reserve time for phd
    When doing a part-time-phd and work for a company at the same time, you have to organize very well. I try to organize min. 3 days of the week according to the following plan: I start working early and then try to finish at a certain time which I communicate to my colleagues the day before and in the morning. Afterwards I try to work at least 2-3 hours a day on my phd-topic. Sometimes this does not work (for example some urgent tasks have to be done in the office). But my experience shows, that my colleagues respect the time slots and it is getting easier to stick to this plan. In addition I reserve 1 – 1,5 day(s) at the weekend for the phd. The rest of the timeI try to do something else and to relax.
  2. Connect to other students and researchers:
    As I am mainly researching at home, I have realized that it is really important to stay in touch with other academics. I have developed two strategies for this: first one is to keep in touch with the other doctoral students, which are supervised by the same professor. On the one hand you have people with whom you can discuss your topic and on the other hand the other students know the professor and can give you valuable advice on what to do and what better not to do.
    The other one is to actively look for interesting discussions on twitter, to follow blogs by academics and to use researchgate. The blogs I am following cover my research topics but also phd-discussions in general. Another way to build up a network is to register at researchgate. This is like facebook for researchers
  3. Stay in contact with non-phd-people:
    The third important part is to keep in touch with other people. As already mentioned under point 1. It is very important to relax sometimes and to forget the phd sometimes. One way to do that is to keep in touch with your friends or to go to a sports club or similar.  After meeting some friends and having a nice time with them, I fell that it is easier to get back to the phd and work concentrated on that topic.

For me the biggest problem is to reserve time for the phd and to work concentrated on the topic.
Do you have other problems or solutions? Would be happy to hear from you J

Kategorien:Organization, Research Schlagwörter: , ,

Research methods usage in logistics and SCM: an overview of three literature reviews

There is an ongoing debate on empirical research methods in the logistics and supply chain management area. The more traditional way of quantitative research helps to test hypothesis in a more statistical way. Researchers try to validate the cause and effects of the variables by the help of statistical methods. In the qualitative research approach the researcher aims to identify processes and contents and analysis them in a more interpretative way. In the discussions on methods usage some researchers argue, that the qualitative research approach is not “real research” and is more storytelling. On the other hand the quantitative approach is criticized for just “testing theory” and not generating new insights. There are several articles published, which analyze the methods usage in Logistics and SCM. I reviewed three of them (the newest I found) in order to identify the status quo in terms of methods usage and the emerging trends. Before identification of the commonalities and differences of the three, the main results of each article are shown in a brief summary.

Frankel et al. 2005 reviewed all articles from the JBL published in the period 1999-2004 in terms of methods usage. They differentiate between survey, interview, observation, focus groups, cases, experiments, literature reviews/ document study and content analysis. They also identify first and secondary methods usage.  The results show, that appr. 50 % of the articles use survey based research as data collection method. Case study method was applied in 10 articles, 9 used interviews as primary data source and 20 as secondary.  The increasing usage of case studies and the improving documentation of the case study method is one trend emerging from their analysis. Another one is the growing number of articles using triangulation. The authors emphasize, that a “withe space” in the area of methods usage exists in logistics research and call for application of these methods (case study, focus groups and observations) in order to gain further knowledge in the logistics discipline.

Sachan und Datta 2005 analyze 442 articles published in JBL, IJPDLM, SCMIJ from 1999 until 2003. They categorize the articles according to the research design, the number of hypothesis testing, the research methods and the data analysis techniques applied in the papers. The results show, that 57% of the articles use empirical research designs. Interestingly 18 % are categorized as qualitative research designs and 2% as triangulated empirical designs. According to the methods used, survey based research counts to 34,6 % followed by other approaches (20,8%). They identify a lack in “innovative usage of secondary data”, in application of theory from other disciplines and in research at an interorganizational level.

Craighead et al. 2007 analyze all articles published in JBL, TL, IJLM in the years 1993, 1996 and 2003 using a content analysis approach and a classification framework based on Meredith et al. (1989). They identify, that the number of empirical research methods used in logistics and SCM is rising, esp. more positivistic approaches such as survey based research. Further they call for the usage of more qualitative research approaches and for triangulation.

The three articles have some commonalities in their results. All of them show that a focus of supply chain and logistics research lies in positivistic research approaches. The survey method seems to be the most popular research method in this field. But also some trends emerged showing that the research changes over time. It seems that more qualitative approaches are used and also that triangulation is applied in a growing number of articles. All authors call for the usage of appropriate research methods for the research questions. They also emphasize that it is necessary to clarify the research paradigms in the publications. This means it is not the question if one method is „good or bad“, the question is which research method is the best one for your research question(s). Unfortunately the articles take into account publications until 2004, it can therefore be possible, that the methods usage in logistics and SCM has changed since 2004.

Please let my know your thoughts! If you know about some newer articles please let me also know.

Craighead, Christopher W.; Hanna, Joe B.; Gibson, Brian J.; Meredith, Jack R. (2007): Research approaches in logistics: Trends and alternative future directions. In: The International Journal of Logistics Management 18 (1), S. 22–40.

Frankel, Robert; Naslund, Dag; Bolumole, Yemisi (2005): THE “WHITE SPACE” OF LOGISTICS RESEARCH: A LOOK AT THE ROLE OF METHODS USAGE. In: Journal of Business Logistics 26 (2), S. 185–209.

Sachan, Amit; Datta, Subhash (2005): Review of supply chain management and logistics research. In: International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management 35 (9), S. 664–705.

Meredith, J. (1989): Alternative research paradigms in operations. In: Journal of Operations Management 8 (4), S. 297-326.