Archive for the ‘Organization’ Category

Do you have a backup strategy?

Januar 25, 2013 1 Kommentar

Since mid-january I have got the possibility to work four weeks from home and I use this time for making progress with my phd. Now after two weeks I just remembered that I did not back-up my work since very long time. Honestly I just forget it. Although my Laptop crashed some months ago and I had really difficulties to recover all my data. The problem was, that I was so concentrated in progessing with my work, that I did not think about backing it up. Today I realized it and I instantly became a bad feeling, so I immediately took care of my backup.

I could imagine, that some of you also do not think about the worst case.
I would like to share with you, how I decided on my backup strategy last year:

After the crash of my laptop I did some internet research on how to back up best. You can either use external hard drives, usb-sticks etc. or you can use webspace. I decided to use webspace. This has the avantage, that I can access all my documents from another computer (e.g. at my work). There are a lot of different provider for such services, so I looked at the service they offer (and the prices, in case it was not for free). For me the data security is an important point. So I decided to use webspace provider, which was awarded the TÜV seal for ISO 27001 certification for outstanding security.  This was the main point for choosing this service provider, though the service was not for free. But further they also have an Ipad-App which enables me to synchronise all my documents with the Ipad. In addition they have a windows program which you can install and (what I discovered today) which gives the possibility to make automatic daily backups. So I so not have to do anything … except my computer has to be online at 6 p.m.

This is just one possibility on how to set up a backup strategy. The only thing which is important is to make backups regularly …to be on the save site in the worst case!

Kategorien:Organization, Research

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: , ,