Planning your PhD in Accounting and Finance

Planning your PhD in Accounting and Finance can be so frustrating if one does not follow a systematic approach from the very beginning. This article is in response to the question asked by one of our followers on Facebook page.

Most of the tips in this article on planning your PhD in Accounting and Finance are from a close friend who recently successfully defended his PhD thesis from the University of Glasgow.

Planning your PhD in Accounting and FinanceHis tips worked for him because he completed his program in record time. So here are his suggested approach that can help you in planning your PhD in Accounting and Finance.

Please be aware that the content of this article is not a substitute to you attending your various orientation events. The emphasis of this post is to help you plan your PhD in Accounting and Finance.

Pre PhD program

Deciding on what kind of PhD to go for

There are two options that you can select from PhD or DBA. The PhD option is suited for those that want to get involved in enhancing theory while the DBA option is good for practicing professionals who want to contribute to accounting in practice. Both options are perfectly acceptable and confers doctoral degree on you upon completion.

You also decide whether to dive straight into the core program thereby using a minimum of 3 years or to take a one or two years of masters program and then transition. The masters’ degree route is good for people who have gap in knowledge or who feel the need to refresh on their area of interest.

Decide on the route i.e; full time or part time

It is very important that your chose a route that will suit your everyday activities. Except you got a scholarship which mostly come with taking up a teaching assistant job, it is advisable to take the part time path. Also at this point of your planning, you need to decide whether to take an online course or not.

Online accounting courses have in recent time gained good reputation that it is now down to a matter of personal preference and choice. Go for whichever you think is best for you.

Self Evaluation

Here, you have to carry out a personal SWOT analysis. This process is basically embarking on a self discovery journey. Asking questions that will help you find out if you are really cut out for the kind of rigour and hard work involved in starting and completing your PhD in Accounting and Finance.

Arrange for Funding

It is a must to ensure that a relatively guarantee source of funding for your PhD is arranged before starting the program. There are loads of people who could not complete their research due to lack of funding. The time spent researching funding for your program is well worth the effort. You may also consider getting scholarships.

Chose a University

Many personal factors play significant role here. My friend who inspired this article chose University of Glasgow because he wants to be associated with Adam Smith who graduated from the institution. Some people consider the city’s night life while some considers the prospect of getting a job in the city.

Start by researching the universities that have research opportunities in your area of interest and then do some research about the city that the university is situated in. You can also have a look at things like league tables bearing in mind the advantages and disadvantages of league tables.

Write your research proposal

Many institutions will require that you write a research proposal to accompany your application. The length of this document varies from one university to another. The most important thing is that you write a convincing proposal that will enhance your chance of being accepted into the program of your choice

Make your application

Once you have your proposal ready, the next thing to do will be to package and submit your application. Your application will have to include some academic reference letters and professional letters in some cases.

Establish a relationship with your supervisor

It is good to establish quality relationship with your prospective supervisor. One benefit of doing this early is that you have the chance of receiving useful resources that will prove invaluable in your planning stage of your PhD in accounting and finance. Care has to be taken not to cross the line while doing this. Know what is acceptable and what is not. It will for example appear rude to invite your prospective supervisor for a night out with your clique.

Start building your research toolkit

You will not be making a mistake if you start building your research toolkit from the very beginning. You can add and remove some items that prove not to be necessary as time goes on. You can never have too much tools to work with as a researcher.

During PhD

Familiarizing yourself with ethics of research

You can start by buying some books on research and methodology. Your supervisor will be of great help here. Things like why it is not good to plagiarize other peoples work and the importance of confidentiality are some examples of ethical issues that you will have to get familiar with. Your research must not negatively impact the lives of others.

Understand the importance of referencing

One of the major differences between an academic writing and a professional writing is the volume of references in academic writing. Manually doing your references will be time consuming and prone to error. It is advisable to use referencing software. They should be part of your research arsenal.

Finding and maintaining sources

Information source is the backbone of most research. Employing an ad hoc approach in this area can lead to serious problem down the line. Online databases like ScienceDirect and Jstor changes on a regular basis, so it is wise to start exploring them on time to identify and save stuff that you think you might need.

Spontaneously taking notes

Don’t wait until you have it all before you start writing. PhD research is like writing a book. You write things down as they struck you. Write block of ideas and fit them in later.

Planning for workshops

Workshops are integral part of the whole program. You have to plan ahead of time so as to get the best out of the workshops you have. Write down probing questions to help you benefit from the workshops.

Start writing your research plans

Research plan serves as a roadmap that has to be followed by researchers. This will not only serve as a roadmap but will also serve a selling document when you become a doctor of accounting.

Review literatures

At this stage, you will start reviewing what other researchers have done on the subject matter you are writing about. This will serve as a stepping stone towards testing and redrafting your hypothesis.

Formulate and test methodology

Based on your original interest and your findings from your literature review, you should be formulating hypothesis and testing methodology.

Start attending conferences

Researchers regularly attend conferences where ideas are shared. You have to plan in advance to make yourself available for the seminars.

Publish scholar articles

Depending on the route you choose, publishing peer reviewed articles can form reasonable part of you being conferred with doctoral degree in accounting and finance.

Plan your viva

Viva is another word for defense. You will become a doctor of Accounting and finance the next day If you are successful at the viva.


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