Friday, August 15, 2014

Research proposal supplement accepted

During the past two weeks, I've had many headaches which have affected to me to varying degrees: I had a really bad one a few days ago which forced me to leave work early and go home. The various anti-headache medications which I have seem to have no effect; I discussed the issue with my doctor yesterday evening and he may start me on a prophylactic medicine if there is no improvement. It might well be that the extra headaches are being caused by a new medicine which I will be taking for about a year: 13% of the people taking this medicine complained of headaches. The doctor gave me a prescription for an alternative medicine which has a lower level of side effects. We'll see whether this switch makes any difference. It's also been very hot in the past few days, though I don't think that dehydration has played a part in causing pain.

When not suffering from headaches, I have been working hard on my research proposal supplement. As I wrote a week ago, I had started finding quality papers which have been published in the past few years. Since then, I've found more quality papers, including one published very recently which discusses similar research to mine which was conducted in Denmark. This paper was published in a very expensive book although each paper is available separately for purchase from the publisher. I wrote to the paper's lead author asking for a copy of the paper, which he sent me the same day. The paper turned out to be even more interesting that I had originally expected; I asked the Danish professor a supplementary question and again he answered immediately.

I prepared what I thought was the final draft a few days ago and sent it to my mentor. His only criticism was that I needed to write in more forceful language - replacing statements like 'this could be researched' with 'data will be collected'. The language is too polite, reserved and passive, whereas it needs to be confident and active.  Fighting off the bad headache of that day (see opening paragraph), I made the required changes then sent the final draft to the research committee secretary.

I have just been informed that the committee (or representatives, as the committee did not meet in entirety) has accepted my proposal and that I now move on to the next stage. A new supervisor has been appointed, along with a second supervisor (this is the reviewer who was "on my side" for my initial proposal and who I met a few years ago). As my research proposal mentor expressed a desire to continue working with me and supervising my research, this switch comes as a surprise. I have written to the second supervisor asking what happened.

Over the next few days, I will refresh my memory regarding the requirements of the literature review and synthesis. As far as I remember, the material wasn't particularly clear; no doubt my supervisor will explain in greater detail when he gets in contact (he may not do this until I pay the supervisory fee, a stiff 4,000GBP per year). This is one of the major differences between a mentor and a supervisor: the mentor reviewed what I wrote but his suggestions were supposed to be confined to bringing the proposal - all my work - to the required level (in fact, mine helped no small amount with the statistics material, but the first half of the proposal was written by me and effectively edited by him). The supervisor will be much more actively involved, suggesting how to do things as well as reviewing my prose. It's not clear to me at the moment what the role of the second supervisor is, but no doubt I'll shortly find out.

I'm trying to compare that supervisory fee with the fees that I paid as a MBA student: each course cost - together with the exam - 1000GBP, so each year I paid 3,000GBP. But in a sense, that was pure profit for the university as the marginal cost per student was almost zero. Presumably some of that money made its way to Ramat Gan college, but someone who studied on their own (as I did for the Business Research courses) would have cost the university only the cost of the learning materials - which had already been printed. Now the university is 'employing' a professor to supervise me directly, so my fees go in no small amount into paying the salary of that professor. Another part of the fees will go into paying the salary of the DBA manager and a further part will go to the library. This obviously is how modern universities manage to stay alive.

Update, 16 Aug 2014: The second supervisor passed the letter which I sent to him on to the DBA manager who must have realised that something was wrong. Later in the evening, I received a letter saying that there had been a mistake and that my mentor would be continuing as my supervisor.

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