Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Switching mentors

I was very surprised (and pleased) to receive this morning the following email from my DBA mentor (presented here with small edits)

As promised I have been consulting colleagues in the university about your proposed research. One of the colleagues I consulted is the Director of IT Services who commented
"This is a really interesting area of research. I can certainly think of cases .... where spreadsheets have been used at the margins of centralised systems - with all the problems (and benefits) that Noam describes. I'd certainly be interested in keeping up to date with this as the research progresses."

One unexpected turn, however, was that another colleague, Professor X, was so interested in your topic and your outline that he has offered to mentor you. I would emphasise that this offer was totally unsolicited and I would be happy to continue to mentor you, but Professor X is an internationally recognised expert on innovative behaviour by small firms and has published widely on the subject so his advice should be of immense help to you, For that reason I have agreed the switch would benefit you and we shall see about putting this into effect.

Coincidentally, yesterday I started reading an ebook entitled "The craft of research" by Wayne Booth, Gregory Colomb and Joseph Williams. The book discusses research at several levels (from what might be required from a secondary school project through doctoral research); it is valuable because it presents finding a research topic (or question) in a different light from the way that the IBR courses present it. From what I've read so far, when choosing a research topic, one has to keep on asking the question "so what?". My research is about spreadsheet use in companies which implement ERP. So what? What's important is that false data presented in spreadsheets can cause companies to lose large amounts of money, so companies should take steps to prevent such false data being presented (the false data can result either innocently through mistakes in collecting the data and presenting it, or maliciously/fraudulently by the presenter inventing the data). The best way of obtaining accurate and timely data is to use the native reporting tools built into the ERP program.

I await to hear from Professor X and my new way of presenting the research proposal. Fortunately, I will have a ten day holiday starting next week (Passover), so I'll have plenty of time to rewrite the proposal in a different style.

For reasons which I won't go into, I was feeling unhappy about the DBA the other day; today's email shows that I have chosen a very interesting subject, making me feel validated.

[SO: 3517; 2,12,30]
[MPP: 366; 0,0,4]

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