Thinking Tools: Navigating a 3-Year PhD Journey

Rahinah Ibrahim

Publisher: Partridge Pages: 172 Price: (paperback) $14.83 ISBN: 9781543757712 Reviewed: April, 2021 Author Website: Visit »

Rahinah Ibrahim, a professor of architecture at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), shares a unique blueprint to help students obtain a Ph.D. in three years by using this clear, rigorous guide to hone their critical thinking skills.

Her innovation is the EAGLE table, a research design framework that requires students to think through key research decisions sequentially and in depth, thus avoiding common obstacles. Succinct chapters lead readers through refining main research questions (RQ) and sub questions, inquiry strategy (IS), objectives, and expected knowledge output. Throughout, Ibrahim dispenses practical advice, stressing the importance of a thorough literature review, offering templates for composing a title and abstract, and distinguishing a master’s-level research question from the doctoral level.

Sample EAGLE tables from prior student projects illustrate each step, while flowcharts break down decisions for the visually minded. The mechanical approach is explicitly designed to help students organize their studies with maximal efficiency and minimal emotional cost.

Targeting students from developing countries, the book’s tone is authoritative, businesslike, and encouraging. Ibrahim treats a Ph.D. as a premiere job credential, not a process of training a lifelong researcher into a field of expertise. She doesn’t specify the programs for which a three-year calendar is viable, though the samples include projects in the fields of organizational design and management, Ibrahim’s specialties. She also doesn’t clarify whether the three-year window covers an entire course of doctoral study or only the research portion. With coursework, exams, and life responsibilities, a Ph.D. program in the U.S., for example, takes at minimum five years to complete and, on average, eight.

Still, Ibrahim’s efforts to help students from developing nations are generous, her EAGLE table is intellectually rigorous and sound, and the writing is for the most part clear and direct. Students seeking Ph.Ds from many disciplines and backgrounds can benefit from this book’s sensible insights.

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