I have been offering a telephone consultation for 3 years and exchange ideas with students on a regular basis, sometimes up to 12 students call me a month and ask me their questions. I think that’s very good and I’m happy to help. Since I can only help a limited number of students per month, I pour the most common questions into blog articles.

In this article I would like to address a very frequently asked question: “I plan to XY, can I do it like that?”. Examples are:

  • I want to include non-academic sources in my work
  • I would like to do expert interviews before the literature analysis
  • I would like to include a study that has limited relevance to the topic

First of all, the good answer: You can basically do anything if you meet two criteria:

  • You justify it sufficiently in the work
  • You coordinate it with the supervisor

I recommend this approach for anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Coordinating with the supervisor is quite easy and I don’t think you need any tips. Make an appointment and explain the advantages of your new approach in a meaningful way. Now we come to the justification. Here students stumble often and I would like to give some help in the form of examples.

example 1 : You can justify the inclusion of specialist literature (non-academic) very easily, stating that the study is not academic but can still add value to the topic.

Example 2: You want to do an expert interview before the literature analysis because you want to narrow down the topic in this way. Just write that: Due to the complexity of the topic, relevant content will be narrowed down through an open interview with experts.

Example 3: You don’t want to define your terms in the basics because there are too many and are often only used in one place. The important terms of this thesis are defined in the course of the thesis because they are only used in places and for better readability.

You will see that it is very easy. Just don’t hesitate and tell the reader clearly why you are deviating from one possible standard and why you are considering other steps. Whoever has justified has nothing to fear in the end – provided the supervisor agrees to your work.

[Student] [fotolia]

I blog about the influence of digitalization on our working world. For this purpose, I provide content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday professional life. I am an executive in an SME and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the Chair of IT Management.

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