Participant Feedback - London School of Economics 2016

Noëlle Payton, Researcher, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS)

The Doctoral ‘Sweatshop’ led by prof. Sarosh Kuruvilla was extremely insightful. It stimulated me to engage with my research in ways I hadn’t before: in terms of my own philosophy of science; the coherence between that philosophy, my research question, theory and methodology; how I relate to my empirical data; and how I am going to use my PhD research to shape my further career. How to forge an academic career was extensively and very pragmatically discussed, and prof. Kuruvilla and invited guest speakers were very generous in sharing their personal experiences. The Ivy League context that was taken as a starting point made such discussions a bit daunting sometimes, but the information and the created awareness will certainly prove useful nonetheless. On the whole I would describe the workshop as intense, personal, generous and deeply engaging.

Arron Phillips, Doctoral Researcher, Work and Employment Relations Unit (WERU), University of Greenwich Business School

The course fills a massive gap that is not covered anywhere else on doctoral programmes in the UK that I am aware of. Sarosh is a very engaging academic who clearly strives for each student to reach their maximum potential. Sarosh’s knowledge and wide research history meant that he was well equipped to cover the content of the course, which was well placed to meet the needs of the course. Whilst the pre reading was heavy it was very relevant and fuelled some very interesting discussions. The cohort of students from a variety of backgrounds made the week engaging and I have come away with a new community of people. I would highly recommend the course to anyone who is considering it in future. I have come away from the course with an expanded knowledge in areas where I was weak. The course has provided me with a refreshing of enthusiasm for a future career in academia.

Nima Omar Ali, Doctoral Researcher, School of Management, University of Bath

It was an amazing opportunity to attend the PhD sweatshop, and that’s for many reasons:
Learning how to improve the quality of my research, by focusing on aspects that weren’t covered in the PhD university courses.

Learning about the elements that we need to focus on to develop our academic career like publishing and attending conferences. The professor’s teaching style was great, as we had an open discussion for every topic, which helped us to share our knowledge and experiences.

Also, Sarosh shared with us his own experience during his academic career life, as well as the other external speakers.  Getting all these information will help me not only to develop my research but also to plan for my academic career and set my goals for that.

It was a good chance to meet other PhD students from different universities, which helped us to expand our academic network. In general, the whole event was well organized, and I recommend the PhD students to attend it.

Declan Owens, Doctoral Researcher, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies, Amsterdam University

In addition to the emphasis on the need for quality research and tips on how to achieve it, I very much appreciated your ethos of 'citizenship' within the academic community and guidance for the next generation of researchers. I commenced my introduction to the group with the rather presumptuous assertion that I wanted to know what the 'enemy was thinking' yet I feel that I left the workshop with the feeling that I had a better insight into what friends were thinking and that there is scope for recognition of labour rights as human rights within management and industrial relations research methodology. It is true that we differed on our 'taste' and research paradigms but I felt that the week has provided me with some excellent tools and insights for the duration of my PhD research and beyond. Therefore, I will always be grateful for the inspiration you provided and the grace with which you did so. I will certainly recommend the course to other researchers in the field. I hope our paths will cross again in the future.

Arianna Tassinari, Doctoral Researcher, Warwick Business School

As a 1st year PhD student currently dealing with the difficult choices of picking a compelling research question, developing a sound research design and articulating my contribution within the literature, the Doctoral Sweatshop delivered by Prof. Kuruvilla could not have come at a more timely moment! Over a week of intense and stimulating discussions with an interesting group of peers from the fields of industrial relations and organisational behaviour, we dealt with all the crucial topics that a social researcher working within a qualitative framework needs to be aware of in order to design and execute high-quality, theoretically driven and meaningful research: the fit between theory and method, the sources of interesting and relevant research, and how to achieve the level of quality and rigour in our research that will help us to thrive (i.e. publish) but also maintain intellectual engagement during the course of our PhDs and, indeed, our careers.
The sweatshop was particularly helpful for me to achieve a new sense of direction for my research, to reflect critically on my own epistemological and methodological positions and to start thinking of the PhD and its aftermath with a long-term perspective, also being aware of what might be awaiting in the job market once the PhD is done. Sarosh was extremely generous with his time and with sharing his knowledge and experiences, and I think we all came away feeling inspired and extremely lucky to have had the chance to attend this course and engage in so many in depth conversations with a senior scholar working at the cutting edge of the field. Meeting early careers academics from across London institutions was also very useful, as it enabled us to hear from those who are a bit more advanced in the career pathway what we may expect and how we can be best prepared to enter the academic job market in a strong position.
In terms of time investment - the preparation for the workshop in terms of reading load was certainly demanding, but actually it really paid off. We engaged in great depth with seminal works in the field and the fact that we all had a common basis of reading done meant that the discussions were always stimulating and participated (as opposed to many a methods class that I've taken in the past, in which you mainly sit there listening passively...). In terms of focus of the literature, I perhaps would have appreciated reading and discussing more works from labour relations rather than management studies, but that's only because of my own disciplinary interest. I must say that even if at first I was a bit skeptical about what I could take away from reading so many AMJ or ASQ articles, in the end it all made sense.
Lastly, what I have surely taken away from the workshop is also a strong sense of community and collegiality with the other PhD students who attended, who were a very inspiring and interesting bunch. I am sure that we will stay in touch and that the network that we have started to build during this week will stay with us for long in our future careers.
Many thanks to Sarosh and to LSE's Management Department for facilitating this great development opportunity - it's definitely to be repeated!

Estera Onoakpovike, Doctoral Researcher, University of Greenwich

I really enjoyed the sweatshop – it was a great place to learn, meet other like-minded individuals and bounce ideas. I learnt a lot especially about making a contribution and theory building, which were specifically things that I initially was uncertain about. I have left more confident and have already started to apply the knowledge learnt.

Philippe Demougin, Doctoral Researcher, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University

First and foremost: What a fantastic course! Many, many thanks in particular to Sarosh for all his time, patience and insightful comments into academic life. It is very rare for us as PhD students to receive the undivided attention of an experienced academic (at times even including our busy supervisors) – this week Sarosh provided us with nearly 40 hours of undivided attention – this is priceless! Also a big thanks to Sarah Ashwin and the other guest speakers during the week (e.g. Jonathan Booth, Daniela Lup) who all gave helpful talks and provided answers to our many questions. Last but not least, a big thanks to Leo for organising everything, making sure we had a smooth and enjoyable course.
This is not simply a methodology course (most of us have experienced enough of them). Not that methodology courses aren’t helpful, which they are in my opinion. However, this goes far beyond methodology and systematically proceeds throughout the various stages of both academic writing and the academic life in general. We discussed the pressures to publish, to teach, to create networks, to deal with rejection, etcetera… and how to approach these issues. In addition, it covers philosophical foundations, theory building, methods and good tips of writing for academics. Be warned: Sarosh convincingly argues for an inductive research approach, so if you’re a deductive researcher you might just find yourself considering to change your allegiance when participating in this course.
The group was fantastic. Everyone was extremely friendly and open. I hope to have made some friends to meet at conferences and start building a network across the UK (and the Netherlands). The group was diverse and there was a good amount of people, so as to get a diversity of opinions whilst simultaneously not losing the personal touch of the course.
As you might be able to tell I really enjoyed the course and thus I find that there is very little to critique. If I was forced to give some constructive critique, whilst perhaps running the danger of nit-picking, I would state that the following could perhaps be improved:
On the website, some of the details were not accurate, such as the dates of the application and application outcome, as well as that lunches weren’t included etc.. Perhaps more details and accuracy would help future applicants to know exactly what they are signing up for. For example, I only found out 4 days before the course that the “5 night accommodation” was Monday – Saturday, not Sunday – Friday, thus making it difficult to plan in advance and buy train tickets.
This ties in to my 1st point, namely that the email responses before the course could have been somewhat faster and more informative.
Although the articles from AMJ and ASQ provided fantastic insights, I think since many of us came from industrial relations, I personally would have liked to read more from these journals (e.g. BJIR…).
I would have liked to tie in our own research into the course more effectively. For example, people’s tasks could have been more geared towards presenting certain articles and then discussing how this could potentially inform their own research. As such I think it would have been interesting to attempt and apply the discussed issues then and there. To a certain extend we did do this with the typologies, which I found very helpful!
As mentioned above, I am aware that with these four suggestions I am nit-picking. I really enjoyed the course and I will warmly recommend it to any friend or colleague.

Anna Milena Galazka, Doctoral Researcher, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University

Nearing the mid-point of my doctoral training and having begun my fieldwork a month before attending the 2nd Doctoral Sweatshop, I thought I had a solid conceptual connection with relevant theory in my research domain and could boast about a relatively strong empirical design of my project. The 5-day, intensive training in conducting high-quality research (NB: not another-methods-training-course) was, to me personally, a novel socialisation context, alerting me to the pressures of the academic environment which, although known, appeared a rather distant worry in my little ‘PhD bubble’. Consumed by iterating between reading, collecting data and writing I had not managed to create a mental space to strategically reflect on the direction of my doctoral research as a decade-long programme rather than a 4-year-long project. The no-mobile-phone policy and no-need-for-a-computer nature of the workshop helped me take my eyes off my electronic screens and listen to my colleagues whose insights on preparatory reading carefully compiled by Professor Sarosh Kuruvilla helped me reflect on the academic reality outside of my said ‘PhD bubble’. Perhaps we must be reminded that the trajectory we sign up for is not a 4-year-long journey, but a lifestyle which comes at the cost of incorporating strategic thinking and practices into our daily routines. This reminder translated into a number of outcomes and follow-up actions.

Sara Alshareef, Doctoral Researcher, School of Management, Royal Holloway University

The workshop was constructive, informative, the content was heavy and useful.
- The teaching techniques ( in terms of assigning each student to read and present a high quality papers).
- The quality of papers were impactful.
- The density of the workshop 5 days from (9:00-19:00) provide depth and allow for discussion.
- The guest speakers was an added value to the workshop.
-These papers were insightful to students who are not necessarily from organisational or labor industry studies. Although students from organisational studies background may benefit the most from the workshop, other students who have a different background can still benefit from it.
- The workshop was insightful as to how to build our academic career from an early stage of our PhD study.
- Although there was a constant comparison between the UK and USA education system, this was a motivational workshop to escalate our productivity as a UK students.
- I would love to see such quality of workshops expand in universities across the UK given the fact that it motivate students for academic progression.
- So much to taken in and a way to move forward.
- LSE is generous to provide this workshop for UK students and I wish that this continue.

Richard Meredith, Doctoral Candidate, Human Resources and Organisational Behaviour, University ofGreenwich Business School

How can a phd student gain competitive advantage in an academic market that increasingly only recognises published papers as a metric for ability?
A 10 year timeline with single-minded focus on a programme of inductive qualitative research projects producing high quality theoretical contributions. Professor Sarosh Kuruvilla (Cornell University in the US) provides the theoretical, empirical and experiential evidence to make the case for this strategy.
To gain the benefits, you must
(a) prepare - 500,000 words in 49 papers and chapters to absorb before you arrive
(c) absorb - 50 hours of mindbending, intense discussion and debate over a week at LSE.
In UK/EU, LSE are at the vanguard of a doctoral training and early career research development approach in recognition of this change in the HE market.

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