PhD Research

International Doctoral Training School (IDTS)

  • Real World Research, Virtual Learning, New Learning
  • Innovative, theoretically excellent, and high-impact PhD research globally

There comes a time in the experience of an idea when the story must change, sometimes radically so, because of the need to refit the idea to become fit-for-purpose.

Before reading further!

Please be reminded that more insights into the radically innovative nature of ICRED research and learning programmes, including PhD/DTech twin degrees, are provided in the notes in the School of Global Business and The International Open University (TIOU).

Some questions at issue in traditional PhD research

An intriguing question we often ask is: Why do some people acquire PhDs that are personally, organisationally or nationally useless?

Why do some parts of the world still remain underdeveloped even when they produce competitively knowledgeable scholars and knowledge workers? Why, for example, are countries like Nigeria, Ghana, India, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, even Russia and China, relatively underdeveloped, despite producing great scientists, professors, and other professionals, most of whom are at the forefronts of cutting-edge research and enterprise development in developed countries’ higher education institutions, industry sectors, and public services? How do we fix this malaise in the development of researchers in those environments and globally?

Innovations in PhD research and supervision

We identified a major failing in traditional academia, which all Worldhero 3E Research and Enterprise Schools are dedicated to resolving, in their specific disciplinary contexts. This failing is the lack of ability to practically deploy disciplinary knowledge in real-life situations, through killer products, services, and enterprises, especially for non-professional disciplines.

In this school, we legislate a corporate-academic way to originate, formulate and implement PhD research topics, such that they make substantial  contributions to theory, research, practice, and policy. This is to use, live and breathe an integrated Research Methods Canvas(c).

This canvas mandates a far deeper set of contributions to knowledge, based on seven main criteria of originality, the first three of which are typically used to rate traditional PhD topics for excellence.

New criteria of excellence in PhD research

These criteria, encapsulated in a Ladder of Critical Contributions to Knowledge discussed in related publications, emphasise the need to pass beyond theory and clarify how the research can produce models, frameworks, tools, and pathways for implementing the research ideas practically. This is in form of products, services and enterprises which identified stakeholders and users can pay for.

The ways forward

Hence, the school uses international Doctoral Training Centres and Conferences (DTCCs), in particular Worldhero 3E schools and disciplines, to arrange the best forms of split-site supervision of such ambitious PhD topics.

This way, the topics are structured deeply enough to provide these affordances, and enable the graduates to have corporate-academic careers as distinguished academics and entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs. The key features of the PhD topics are therefore:

  • Co-creation of the topics to suit the corporate-academic interests of both students and supervisors, thus avoiding deliberate or inadvertent enslavement of students by supervisors, just for mere publications;
  • Deeper articulation of the problem statement, linked to appropriate local contexts, Global Issues and World Systems;
  • Approximately (70:30 or 80:20)% balance between theory and practice, respectively;
  • A fractal design of the PhD thesis structure which enables fast completion, good integration of the thesis across preliminary and substantive chapters, with chapter sections and more technical literature reviews distributed in the chapters, as in the main thesis, thereby making them independent entities for quick publications during and after the research;
  • Deep training on 64 key research and enterprise development skills not done this way before in conventional academia, using proprietary Worldhero 3E technologies, systems, and case studies, alongside emerging results from the research itself;
  • Therefore, warrants to produce significant theoretical contributions, and pronounced impact points, namely
  • Models, frameworks, products, services, policy blueprints, case illustrations, spin-off enterprises, and pedagogical innovations, as appropriate;
  • A deeper reflection on the nature of future work, and why it matters;
  • An articulation of wider dissemination plans, beyond outstanding academic journal publications, including:
  • high-ranking conference papers, professional reports, seminars and workshops, symposia, demonstration case studies, existing and new professional networks;
  • policy-relevant notes related to particular aspects of Global Issues and World Systems to which the underpinning problem belongs;
  • Support for getting the PhD proposals right, if needed;
  • An annual International School on Advanced Research Methods and Software Training, organised by the IDTS in different partner institutions, with follow-on support and detailed response to research surgery questions accessible by all IDTS scholars and paying delegates;
  • Critical mass of Research and Post-Doctoral Fellows covering all the 3E Schools and projects;
  • Involving PhD students in myriad consulting and teaching engagements related to their areas of specialisation, as appropriate;
  • Research and Development in Society: Knowledge, People, Methods and Technologies.

Philosophy and supervision process

The above PhD research philosophy is used in all 3E Research and Enterprise Development Schools, and supervising academics and students are trained in the process at the start of the PhD journey.

It is a requirement for viva and successful awards by 3E and affiliate universities that the thesis produces at least one academic paper in a reputable journal and one high-ranking conference paper, whilst demonstrating the above-mentioned features. Recent topics produced an average of four strong publications.

Admission process

Admission to the PhD programmes consists in: a) submission of a detailed PhD proposal which articulates the above principles, albeit in less detail than a final end-of-year proposal, together with prospective students’ CVs and transcripts, and b) a rigorous interview to gauge the ability of the students to successfully complete the research as explained.

These standards are even more rigorous than what it takes to get admitted to leading global universities, because of the extra requirements for real-life impact.