Category Archives: PhD

PhD completed!

visualizing the phd 3

(Visual by Word Count)

visualizing the phd 1

(Visual by Thumbnail)

The illustrated guide to a Ph.D.


Professor Matthew Might from Utah University has created this illustration and I think if you are considering getting an online Ph.D. you should check it out.

Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge:

By the time you finish elementary school, you know a little:

By the time you finish high school, you know a bit more:

With a bachelor’s degree, you gain a specialty:

A master’s degree deepens that specialty:

Reading research papers takes you to the edge of human knowledge:

Once you’re at the boundary, you focus:

You push at the boundary for a few years:

Until one day, the boundary gives way:

And, that dent you’ve made is called a Ph.D.:

Of course, the world looks different to you now:

So, don’t forget the bigger picture:

Keep pushing.


Similarities between PhD dissertations

Stanford Dissertation Browser- electrical engineering

Certain fields of study tend to cover many of the same topics. Many times, the two fields go hand-in-hand. Electrical engineering, for example, ties tightly with computer science. Same thing between education and sociology. Daniel Ramage and Jason Chuang of Stanford University explore these similarities through the language used in their school’s dissertations.

Source: Network Visualization

The Null Hypothesis…

Carl wants to know whether there is a difference in how fast men drive versus women. He’ll be using radar to clock the speed of every car that goes by for an hour and record whether the driver was a man or woman. In Null Hypothesis testing, the Null Hypothesis must be stated and the study results will lead to either rejecting the Null Hypothesis or not. The Null Hypothesis, symbolized H0, is that there will be no effect. In this case, the Null Hypothesis is that there will be no mean difference between the driving speed of men and the driving speed of women. Just as in America people are considered innocent until proven guilty, we consider that the Null Hypothesis is true unless the data is strong enough to suggest otherwise. After analyzing the data, the Null Hypothesis is either rejected or not. If Carl rejects the Null Hypothesis based on his data, then either men are driving significantly faster than women, or women are driving significantly faster than men.

google sites used for PhD studies

information visualization theory and taxonomic framework




Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation

  Motivator Factors  
  1. Achievement
  1. Recognition
  1. Work Itself
  1. Responsibility
  1. Promotion

  Hygiene Factors  
  1. Pay and Benefits
  1. Company Policy and Administration
  1. Relationships with co-workers
  1. Physical Environment
  1. Supervision
  1. Status
  1. Job Security

Glen: Motivation of Geeks Theory/Model

Motivation Factors Demotivation Factors
  1. Select wisely
  1. Exclusion from decision making
  1. Manage meaning
  1. Inconsistency
  1. Communicate significance
  1. Excessive monitoring
  1. Show a career path
  1. Focus on task, not goals
  1. Projectize
  1. Unqualified evaluation
  1. Encourage isolation
  1. Misaligned extrinsic motivators
  1. Engender interdependence
  1. Artificial deadlines
  1. Control resource availability
  1. Team without skills
  1. Offer free food… intermittently


The SQR3 reading method (survey, question, read, recite, review)

How to Read Textbooks from 

Use the SQR3 method of reading to be an active and effective reader. The passive reader learns little. The aggressive reader organizes information and answers questions. SQR3: survey, question, read, recite, review.The SQR3 Method of Reading.

Survey the chapter.
Read the introduction to the chapter. Look over the major section headings. Glance at the figures. Skim questions, key words and summaries at the end of the chapter. Create a context for remembering information. Generate interest and a sense of what is important. Plan your study session. Set a time limit for working. Include breaks and rewards. 

Question. Create and answer questions.
For each section in the chapter, ask these 4 basic questions:1.    What is the main point? 2.    What evidence supports the main point? 3.    What are the applications or examples? 4.    How is this related to the rest of the chapter, the book, the world, to me?  

Read the section.
Skim or read the section actively. Search for the answers to your questions. Make notes in the margins to create your own organization

Recite the main points.
Look up from the book and verbalize the answers to your questions. Talk out loud and listen to the answers. Recite to remember.  

Now go back and highlight or underline the main points in the section. Add more notes in the text and margin. Repeat SQR3 for each section; mini-survey, question, read, recite and review. When finished, create a one page hierarchical summary of the entire chapter.Now do any homework assignments. Use your summary first, then the text.Review often and reward yourself for a job well done. 

How to mark the book.
Do not highlight or underline main points while you read. Most students make too many marks. Wait until you’ve finished a paragraph or section, then mark.Mark the text and the margin to outline the structure of the book. For each main point, indicate evidence, examples, steps, proofs, connections to other points, definitions and your own thoughts. The book holds the information. Your marks create organization. Mark to simplify review.

SQR3: Method for Quick Study 

SURVEY Ø    A survey is a quick preview or overview of an entire textbook or a single chapter. Ø    Read the title. This helps your mind prepare for the subject at hand, and it also lets you know what the chapter/text will be about. Ø    Read the introduction and/or summary. This helps you focus on the main points that will be discussed in the chapter. You can also determine what the author wants you to understand or be able to do after you read the chapter. Ø    Always pay attention to headings and subheadings. These will indicate the details to come and will also reveal the author’s method of organization and development of topics. Ø    Pay attention to charts, graphs, maps and diagrams. These provide lots of information in an easy to read/understand format. Ø    Note whether key words or terms are italic, boldface, defined within the text, or listed at the beginning or end of the chapter. The author is trying to call your attention to these bits of facts, so pay due notice. In other words, know what these terms or key words are and how they are used. Ø    Look for any problems or questions for discussion at the end of chapters or sections. These will help you determine which concepts the author wants you to apply.  

QUESTION Ø    Questioning helps your mind engage and concentrate on what you are reading. Ø    Turn boldface headings and subheadings into as many questions as you think will be answered in the section you are reading. Ø    Turning headings into questions directs your reading so that you can find the details and examples that support major points. Ø    As you read each section carefully, try to find the answers to questions you formed from the headings. Ø    The better the questions, the better your comprehension will be.

 READ Ø    Read slowly and carefully, concentrating on one section at a time. Don’t worry about how long you take because you are trying to absorb ideas, not become a speed-reader. Ø    Read each section with your questions in mind. Ø    Do not skip unfamiliar words or technical terms. If you cannot infer their meanings from context, look them up. Be sure to reread the sentence in which each new word appears to ensure you understand it. Ø    Try to determine the main point of the section. Summarizing the main point in your notes or in the margin of your text will aid your recall when you review. Ø    Always read through the section again, especially if it seems particularly technical or complex. Be sure to underline main ideas and/or key thoughts. Ø    Writing down the author’s ideas in your own words also aids your recall. Ø    Creating notes, underlining or highlighting, and constructing study guides are essential to active reading.  

RECITE Ø    Recitation is an essential aid to memory and comprehension. Ø    At the end of each section that you read, try to state, aloud or silently, the important points covered. Ø    If you have trouble doing this, then you probably have not understood the section and you need to reread it. Don’t move on to the next section until you can recite. Ø    If the central idea comes easily to mind, then you can be confident that you understand what you have read.  

REVIEWØ    Review a chapter immediately after you finish reading it. Ø    Review by skimming back over the chapter looking over any notes you made in the margin. Do they still make sense? Ø    Reread any passages that you underlined or highlighted. Ø    Go back over all the questions from all the headings, and see if you can still answer them. If not, refresh your memory and continue. 

Requirements for a Dissertation (MindMap)


Structure of the Proposal – Chapter 1• Introduction “Since the late 1990s, scholars and practitioners investigating the global economy havestruggled in understanding if whether or not a developing country’s “e-readiness” is or canbe an emerging factor in accelerating economic growth and political stability…”• Background to the Study Why is this an issue What has been accomplished to date• Statement of the Problem What are the gaps in the body of knowledge• Purpose of the Study An attempt (based on empirical research) to close a gap or explain why there is a gap• Research Questions and/or Hypotheses A question: “Is e-readiness a significant factor in accelerating economic growth andpolitical stability?” Related hypotheses: Null hypothesis – “There is no relationship between e-readiness andeconomic growth and/or political stability in a developing country.” Alternate hypothesis – “There is a relationship between e-readiness and economic growthand/or political stability in a developing country• Nature of the Study Quantitative, qualitative or both• Significance of the Study May close a gap in the body of knowledge May help developing countries close the gaps in the distribution of wealth andresources in the global economy• Definition of Terms E-Readiness Global economy Developing country Economic growth Political stability• Assumptions and Limitations Identify the assumptions that “allow” you to conduct the research Identify the limitations to your proposed research, particularly as theypertain to your choice of research design/methodology

Structure of the Proposal – Chapter 2• The literature search should provide knowledge and citations to support threethings: Rationale for undertaking the research Background of previous research bearing on the topic (helpful hint – youshould follow the related literature back to its seminal origins) Theory generating research questions and/or hypotheses• Every successful literature review addresses basic issues The review helps to focus the topic within the scope of the related literature The review substantiates the researcher’s hypothesis, or research question, withtheories of respected authorities in the field The review shows how the topic will contribute to the research field• The purpose of the literature review is to offertheoretical and/or research support for the problemyou want to investigate and for the methodology youplan to use in your research• The expectation is that you will be able to prepareChapter 1 and Chapter 3 once you have completed thereview of the literature on your topic

Structure of the Proposal – Chapter 3• The research design should derive logically from the problemstatement• The discussion of method should include sources of data(sampling), instrumentation, the collection of data, the analysisof data, and participants• The design should provide for field and/or pilot testing ifappropriate• The details of each step taken to respond to the researchquestion(s) or test the hypotheses should be clearly described• The following elements, where relevant, should be identified: Who or what is being studied? How will it (they) be studied? How will the information be gathered? How will the analysis be undertaken?• The ethical considerations of your proposed research should beaddressed Do you speak fluent “IRB” yet? Are you planning to collect data from within your employerorganization?

Structure of the Dissertation – Chapter 4• Chapter 4 presents findings and analysis• Brief summary of the research design and methods employed inyour study• Presentation of the first research question and/or hypothesis andthe quantitative or qualitative analyses employed to test/addressthat question/hypothesis Typically, quantitative findings are summarized in tables, graphs,and/or figures followed by brief interpretations of the statisticaltests used to test the hypothesis Note that any extensive output should be placed in an appendix• Repeat the process for the second research question/hypothesis,and repeat the process until the findings in support of allresearch questions/hypotheses are presented• Each research question/hypothesis should represent asubheading in this chapter• Each of your statistical tests and organizing your findings intables, graphs, or figures should be reviewed with your Mentor• With qualitative studies state each research questions and reportthe results by an analysis of the data• Content analyses are usually presented case by case with anattempt to refine or modify the research question or hypothesesin the presentation of each case• Regardless of the qualitative or quantitative nature of yourfindings and analytic procedures used to interpret your data, it isnot the purpose of Chapter 4 to engage in elaborate discussionsof your findings

Structure of Dissertation – Chapter 5• Summary and discussion of results, conclusions, and recommendations An overview and discussion of the entire study including beginning with a restatement of thepurpose statement The types of literature reviewed and their relevance The methodology used The study’s findings• Analysis and interpretation of what was found in the study and recommendations foradditional research This section typically goes beyond the study’s findings in an attempt to place them within theconceptual framework• The only place in the dissertation where you may have your own opinion General recommendations – those developed directly from the data Recommendations for further research – including ideas for further study that have arisen butare not supported by the data – here you can elaborate on what you thought your woulddiscover and why you did or didn’t… your suggestions for further research are based on yournewly “informed” opinions

Structure of the Dissertation – References and Appendix • References (Bibliography) No texts (except to support Chapter 3) Peer reviewed journal articles Previous dissertations A small number of monographs/books and “popular” literature • Appendix (Proposal) Copies of data gathering instruments, permission letters, informed consent, i.e., anydocumentation that pertains to inviting participants, getting their consent, collecting data IRB application including the CITI completion certificate • Appendix (Dissertation) Everything except the IRB application Do not “pad” the Appendix to add “heft” to your completed dissertation… rule of thumb:unless you make reference to information in your Appendix in the body of the dissertation,then it shouldn’t be there… another rule of thumb: and if you reference your Appendix then why isn’t that information in the body of your dissertation?

Requirements for a Prospectus (MindMap)




Many people have asked me what a PhD residency is like in my field (IT) and school (Capella). First, Capella University doctoral learners are required to complete three in-person residencies otherwise know as Colloquia in addition to their courses.

Residencies allows one to interact with fellow learners and faculty in person, as well as gather important information to help you through your program. Each Colloquia lasts for 1 full week and is presented in a structured, lecture-style format covering areas such as:

  • Developing the Scholar-Practitioner
  • Critical Analysis Skills
  • Research Skills
  • Professional Communication Skills
  • Development of Learning Communities
  • Program Specific Content

Each learner can select the tracks they are most interested in and their is no grading involved. It is advised  you bring copies of a summary of yourself to share with faculty: your contact information, your profession, which program/specialization you are in, the courses you have taken, the dissertation topic and research methodology you are interested in using, and other relevant information about yourself that you wish to share with a potential faculty tutor, committee member, and/or mentor.


phd folders

I started keeping a folder for those that I ran across and found it interesting for a variety of reasons. I renamed the files for easy reference and have the following rather small database:

  • 80 pg Servant-Leader Dissertation (Walden)
  • 149 pg Enterprise Database Management Dissertation (Miami)
  • 161 pg Project Management Dissertation (Walden)
  • 191 pg Generation X Dissertation (UOP)
  • 217 pg Intercultural Leadership Dissertation (UOP)
  • 435 pg Integrated Project Planning and Control Dissertation (Colorado)

In the names I attempt to capture some important metadata including the length, the topic and the school.

It is important to note that length is not a factor in success as some of the better papers are the shorter ones.

Other folders I keep organized for the PhD include:

  • Capella Advisor
  • Capella Mentors and Staff Bios
  • Chicago – PhD Presentations and Handouts
  • Comp Exams (and related)
  • Dissertation Collection (and related)
  • Future Paper Ideas
  • Library & Research
  • Motivation
  • Registration, Class Lists and Finance
  • Theories (Cross-Study)
  • Tools and Books (to buy, sell, etc)
  • Visualization
  • Writing

Under the folder Theories (Cross-Study), for example I have:

  • Hypothesis Testing
  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  • Mixed Method
  • Org. Theory
  • Positivism
  • Qualitative (Research Types, etc)
  • Research Design and Cases (From Cooper & Schindler)
  • Sampling

While this is just a start, I hope this encourages others to organize their academic life. On student I meet at my last colloquia gathered over 150 citations in preparation for his Comps, which of course he passed just the other day.


Thesis ideas… 2007

For my dissertation I am looking less at doing detailed data crunching, but more on how participants (project managers, geeks, managers, etc) react (or interact) with complex data and/or “information overload” for the very purpose of improving their own (or the organizations) information management.

Websites to check out on visualization

  • information aesthetics
  • data mining (and more)
  • flowing data
  • many eyes
  • Junk Charts
  • Stat. Graphics & Data Visualization
  • Pictures of Numbers
  • Forest and the Trees
  • programmableweb
  • serial consign
  • coding horror
  • bokardo – social design
  • Information Visualization Journal

    Forthcoming in 2007 is our special issue on Visual Analytics by Guest Editor: Pak Chung Wong. Free online access to these papers will be available to you upon publication.

    Included in the Visual Analytics special issue:

    • Interactive Wormhole Detection and Evaluation;
      Weichao Wang, Aidong Lu
    • NetLens: Iterative Exploration of Content-Actor Network Data;
      Hyunmo Kang, Catherine Plaisant, Bongshin Lee, Benjamin B. Bederson
    • ScentIndex and ScentHighlights: Productive Reading Techniques for Conceptually Reorganizing Subject Indexes and Highlighting Passages;
      Ed H. Chi, Lichan Hong, Julie Heiser, Stuart K. Card, Michelle Gumbrecht
    • Ewall: A Visual Analytics Environment for Collaborative Sense-Making;
      Paul E. Keel
    • A Visualization Testbed for Analyzing the Performance of Computational Linguistics Algorithms;
      Stephen G. Eick , Justin Mauger, Alan Ratner
    • An Automated Approach for the Optimization of Pixel Based Visualizations;
      Jörn Schneidewind, Mike Sips, Daniel A. Keim
    • Visual Analysis of Historic Hotel Visits;
      Chris Weaver, David Fyfe, Anthony Robinson, Deryck Holdsworth, Donna Peuquet, Alan M. MacEachren

    List of Graph Visualization tools

    List of Graph Visualization tools from
    Other Resources
    - CAIDA Directory
    SourceForge Directory
    INSNA Directory
    Google Directory
    Wikipedia Directory
    List of Mind Mapping Software
    List of Concept Mapping Software
    Open Source Graphs in Java

    A Working Brain Model Forces of Modernism Co-authorship Network - LRI Lab Typographic Links Resource System Reference Database Queens Library A social network visualization
    Mapping APRIL's Topological Distribution Maps series Visualizing the Aging Process Mobiglobe Flare Overlapper Google Mappish Mondrian
    Sharon Molloy's work EtherApe Mother Tongues of Computer Languages London Air Pollution in 3D CMM Skyrails Hyperonyme
    The Spread of Obesity in a Large Social Network Janice Caswell's Landscapes Road traffic between Swedish counties WikiMindMap Cinematic Particles orient - Migrating Architectures Map of Science
    Visual Medical Dictionary Facebook Friend Wheel Anymails The Product Space and the Wealth of Nations Hypergraph Generator Fidg't Visualizer Netflix Visualization


    Fascinated about visualization models and tools (Gallery 1)

    DocuBurst by Christopher Collins

    Uncertainty Lattices by Christopher Collins

 by Heer, Viégas, and Wattenberg

    StudiAnalyse by Christoph Gerstle and Florian Moritz

    Enron Explorer by Trampoline Systems

    Social Action by Adam Perer

    Nearword by Gregory Vaughan

    34all by Martin Dudek

    Zone Manager by Martin Dudek

    timeVis by Can Altineller

    Small-World Networks by Stephen Frowe Ingram

    NameVoyager by Martin Wattenberg, rebuilt by Jeffrey Heer

    ¢ongress by Jeffrey Heer

    zipdecode by Ben Fry, rebuilt by Jeffrey Heer

    TreeMap Demo by Jeffrey Heer

    RadialGraphView Demo by Jeffrey Heer

    TreeView Demo by Jeffrey Heer

    GraphView Demo by Jeffrey Heer

    FisheyeMenu Demo by Jeffrey Heer

    DataMountain Demo by Jeffrey Heer

    Vizster by Jeffrey Heer and danah boyd

    Flow Map Layout by Doantam

     PDF archive: vis.pdf