Archive for the ‘III. A Journey to A PhD’ Category

Jakarta, 27 January 2016

“Look at the bright side! The beauty of having to revise your PhD thesis is that you have both the experience of writing and submitting, as well as rewriting and resubmitting the thesis.  No, you don’t fail if you respond well. So don’t give up!” (Ikong, my husband, 2 September 2014).

I submitted my PhD thesis on 7 January 2014, and two years later, I finally received my PhD degree on 17 December 2015.

When I was notified that I needed to do quite a major revision on September 2, 2014, I was not certain how to react.  I was given one year, up to 2 September 2015, to revise and resubmit; and needed to advise the Examination Office of ANU about my plan.  The reactions from my husband and my supervisors, Dr Royston Gustavson and Dr Andrew Bradly, were very encouraging, more positive than my own.  They were so sure that I could actually get this done, and they were willing to support me all the way.

Indeed, this PhD journey was one of the most challenging endeavors that I have ever done in my life.  It took me almost six years altogether to get it done: four years full time at ANU to submit, 8 months to wait for the Examiners’ comments, 10 months to revise and resubmit. It was a truly spiritual journey.

Here, I would like to share my responses to one of the Examiners.  Maybe it can be of use to those who are interested in getting a PhD; or who need to revise their thesis.  Don’t give up!  We’ll get there somehow. (more…)

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Canberra, 21 July 2013

Apparently there has been no downhill in doing PhD.  Just when I felt relief as I managed to submit two conference papers in the last few weeks, I had to go back to my dissertation chapters.  When I started to do my cross-case analysis (chapter 9), discussions, implications, limitations and further research (chapter 10), and conclusions (chapter 11) few weeks ago, I realized that I would not be able to do those last chapters without improving my literature review.

My thesis is about the linkages of CSR, social capital and corporate sustainability in the context of developing countries.  There are recent research about the role of companies in developing countries that should go beyond economic interests (e.g. Scherer and Palazzo, 2011) .  There are also studies on the role of social capital in improving the capabilities of the people at “bottom of the pyramid” (who earn below $2 per day) so people can function in living their lives they chose to live (e.g. Anshari et al, 2012). Therefore, I need to enhance my literature to be able to analyze the last three chapters of my dissertation. (more…)

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Canberra, 24 July 2012

Glad to be back in Canberra after my trip to Jakarta.  This time my trip was to reconfirm my preliminary findings with my respondents from 6 to 23 July.  Rifqi was in his school holiday during that time, so he agreed to manage our house while I was away.  Well, the house needs to be managed because I rent out two of the four bedrooms in the house.  I also sublet my bedroom for a friend who just arrived in Canberra and needed a temporary accommodation when I was in Jakarta. The property in Canberra is very expensive, so it is very important for us to have friends to share the house.  That way, we could afford to live in a decent house with reasonable share of rents.  (more…)

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Canberra, 22 June 2012

From 18 to 22 June 2012 ANU conducted a ResearchFest to acknowledge and celebrate contributions of research students to the university. During the week, various informative and stimulating activities were implemented, including competitions of 3MT (three minute thesis), posters, photos and research note.

I joined 3MT and research note competitions. My research note won the price for ‘people’s choice’ category and my 3MT made it to the final.

Writing a 300 words research note was not an easy task. I was forced to think very innovatively about how to convey my message to the lay audience who does not understand about the topic before, and to make them interested in my thesis.

The 3MT preparation was even more challenging. To be able to talk about my thesis in three minutes, I had to revise my speech for more than 50 times and improved my slide (only one slide was allowed) for more than 20 times. I rehearsed for more than 400 times in front of 20 different people. The 3MT preparations have actually sharpened my own idea about what my thesis is all about. It also allowed me to appreciate the supports that I have at my school (Research School of Management – RSM), my college (College of Business and Economics – CBE), and my university (Australian National University – ANU). (more…)

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Canberra, 7 May 2012

I wonder, there were many PhDs in the past, long before analytical software was invented.  If they were able to get their PhDs without such software, why can’t I?

I use qualitative research methods to analyse my case study, and some of the main issues with qualitative method are managing and analysing a large amount of narrative.  There are tools available in the market to help me with this, but to be able to operate such tools, I have to train myself.  By this time, I have spent over three months to help myself understand which software I can use, until I finally decide to go back to the basic tools, which are Excel and Word.

At the first time, I decided to try software A because an introductory training for such software is given at my Faculty.  But then, despite the potential benefits that I will gain from software A, the learning process is very long, and there is no support I can get, except to learn it from the manual.  Then I was advised to try software B, which is supposed to be able to help me to recognize the content and to draw themes.  But apparently, the software can only recognize words, so I have to struggle to “teach the software” to understand the themes.  Then I was advised to learn about software C, which could help me to analyse the events and processes.  I spent more than two weeks to understand software C but still could not figure out how to export and import the data as suggested by its manual.  Eventually, I was so devastated and frustrated! (more…)

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Canberra, 5 April 2012


“Hey Risa, I see from your FB that you almost finish your PhD.  Congratulations!” said my friend who met me on campus.  “Oh, that one, that was only the beginning of my data analysis when I translated over 1,100 pages of interview transcript.  I still have 14 months to go to submit my final draft to the editor.  Then I need another 6 months to finalize my thesis, to present on the conferences, to write journal article.  Besides, I still need to do the second phase of my scholarship from AusAID (Alisson Sudradjat Award) to learn about the best practices on the role of the budget committee of the parliament (Badan Anggaran DPR) in passing the country’s budget within presidential system.  I will conduct desk research at the Parliament House in Canberra, and compare the best practices with what has been done in Indonesia and Brazil. Fingers crossed, I will do my best to finish everything and submit my PhD by December 2013 and return to Indonesia thereafter. I may join the graduation ceremony in July 2014”  “Oh, that long?” “Yes, a loooong way to go!”

 20 months seem to be a long time, but actually, time is running really fast.  Here is my plan, and you will know why 🙂  (more…)

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Canberra, 19 March 2012

So relieved!  Today at 4.30pm I have finished translating the last page, page 1223 of my fieldwork interview transcripts, from Indonesian into English.  I invested almost 8 weeks of days and nights on my computer, racing against my own daily targets to translate at least 25 pages a day.  Whew! What a feeling!  Tomorrow I can start working on the next step of my data analysis.

I have done all translations at my home office, which I love so much.  My housemate, Victor, has helped me setting up a PC, so I have quite an ergonomic work station. I only come to my office at ANU if I have to attend seminars, to meet my supervisor, or to catch up with my friends.  Canberra weather has been very funny lately; it has been cold, windy and rainy.  I really appreciate not having to come to my office in such an unpredictable weather.  So I can be very productive. (more…)

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