MIS 9003 – Prof. Min-Seok Pang

Survival Skills

Survival skills-How to prepare for job talk

p: Sometimes campus visit can be great but exhausting experience.These are often 2 day events(2 dinners) with faculty and can be extremely exhausting.On top of that these are often back to back from different schools making it even more tough.The main idea of the job talk is to collect and consolidate perspectives from all people(all faculty in the department) ,not only from the dean etc.the whole department needs to give their opinion. That’s the reason for full day interviews.Department also shows that we really are a great group and care for future candidate thus building reputation of the school.

S: How is the decision on the job candidate made,is it a single person’s decision or a consolidated effort.

P:In many cases there are a committee who decide about the candidate who to interview and who to invite,its a collective decision.In some cases all people decide and in some cases only senior people decide.One of the important criteria is whether candidate can survive the high pressure environment.

S:Its often a big decision on the part of school since we are adding another permanent member.Apart from that credentials for tenure/productivity also play an important role.

P:There are two kinds of hires one who join fresh out of school and the second are the tenured Professors.The decision on tenured cases are even more important sometimes,because they will become a permanent part of the department,so the school doesn’t want to hire jackasses ie candidates who are very productive but tough to get along with.It is tough to do research and collaborate with these people often and so the school has to be extra careful while hiring.

P:Its often important to impress and make a great impression,if you make a bad impression you are screwed.Even if most of the committee agrees,one strong “no” is often sufficient to be rejected,so everyone’s opinion matters.Its also important to acknowledge shortcomings and answer  critical questions asked in the best way possible.For a person who is a jackass he will stress under such pressure and might challenge them back which often leads to rejection .You don’t want to be offensive but also not cave in,its a really balance,its acknowledge that your research has issues.We often want to see how the person can teach top MBA students/exec -MBAs. Its often like  a date,to make the date work you have to show commitment and interest in each other,same for the interviews.

S:We School wants to hire people who are committed to the program,who is not going to leave in 2/3 years , as its a huge investment loss,expensive to hire tenure track person.

P:You have to show interest in the city who are going to.You have to take every interview seriously.Lack of interest can be a rejection even for strong profiles.too much movement is often a bad signal.

P: Job talks can often be research collaboration opportunities with faculty members from that school.Candidates can also talk about other interesting questions and miscellaneous stuff though the focus remains on the job market paper.Candidates should also prepare 5 min intro,10 min intro,30 min intros respectively.Its often important to have a strong research portfolio along with various teaching interests to diversify your chances further.




Week 9 – Survival Skills – How to Prepare for A Job Market From Now On?

How to Prepare for A Job Market From Now?

P: The sooner you prepare it, the better. Since most(all) of us are international students, how to prepare a job market depends on where you want to go after graduation. Finding a job here in academia is different from finding a job in other counties or in other fields beyond academia.

S1: ISB in India is more similar to those in the US.

P: Yes, but still if you want to end up with a school, you have to prepare for it and meet its faculties’ expectations. For example, in some counties, schools prefer quantity to quality and the first author to other authors than the first author. They accept publications in any journal. It is very different from what we do here. In the US, schools prefer candidates with one paper on a top journal to those with five papers on a lower rank journal. Therefore, we need to have different strategies preparing for different kinds of jobs. Other factors you may need consider is family. For example, if your spouse finds a job in a certain city, then you may need to target the city and contact the universities in the city in advance. A happy family is also important for your academic/professional career.

Also, you need to think about the timeline. You need to prepare in advance! Usually, IS job market starts in ICIS(Dec). Now is more flexible, we also have AMCIS(Aug) and informs. This means you need to finish the preparation on July

P: I remember a former student asked me the three important factors for the recruiters. Guess what are those factors?

S6: Paper! Paper! Paper!

P: Yes, research! Research! Research! For most research schools, that is the case, which means you need to have at least two papers under the second-round review by July. If you need papers R&Red by July, you then need to submit them five months earlier, Jan or Feb on your fifth year, assuming your papers won’t be rejected right after your submission. Also, you need more papers, which means you need to write your papers right now!

S6: Which practice do you prefer? Working on a first-year paper and submit later or working on the second or third year with higher quality?

P: You should focus on the first-year paper. The faculty should help you evaluate the quality of the paper and if it cannot be published, you need to switch to another project soon. Working on an unpublishable paper in the beginning years is wasting your time.

S6: My advisor also mentioned that we should also build our image via conferences. Do you have some suggestions for attending a conference?

P: True, it is important! Buying a nice suit can be a good starting point. On the conference, remember to act as professional professor candidate, not a student at the conference. Schools are recruiting professors not students there.

P: Alright! I believe we have already touched all the points. Time flies! A five-year program is fast. Keep working hard from right now!

Week 8- How to become a productive writer?

P: professor S: students

P: Ph.D. students need a variety of skills, but writing skill may be the most important one. How many time did you spend on the literature review?

S: Reading and writing take a pretty long time.

P: I spent almost 5 hours on writing a 2 pages grant proposal from scratch, but 2 hours were spent on Facebook, Twitter, and some websites.  The difficulty in starting writing on a blank page is called “Writer’s block”. Do you have the similar experience and how you overcome it?

S: Before I write, I would think in my mind and organize some ideas, it could help me start writing soon.

S: I would start with small paragraphs.

P: Are there any other strategy to fix “Writer’s block”?

S: For me, talking with others could help me to generate ideas and frame my thought.

S: Making an outline takes a lot of time, and it would be modified several times. I would rather write and don’t think too much.

S:  As for me, Mindmap is a good tool to help me build a framework for a paper, it can also catalyze my writing.

M: Right. There are many strategies. I want to recommend a book to you in terms of  how to improve writing,  <How to Write a Lot>. A good practice is writing every day, even only a small paragraph.  Back to the “Writer’s block”, the most difficult part is the start, writing on a blank page. To overcome it, I would go to a Starbuck or an unfamiliar place, then start writing. Because it is said that in a new environment, people would become more productive. Another strategy is writing on Sunday evening. Thirdly, just writing. Because writing is an iterated process, thus do not read any literature, just use my own mind to write and revise it over and over again. You can never expect writing a good article from one shot.

S: Sometimes, surfing the internet during writing is not necessarily a bad thing, I can copy-paste a few useful sentences and paragraphs, they can be used in my article and help me create new ideas.

P: Yes. Another book I want to recommend is <To the Point: A Dictionary of Concise >. Writing a lot doesn’t mean write well. For many journals, they have explicit page length limits. In the near future, you would find it’s more difficult to write a concise paper. However. the trend is that shorter papers are more preferred by editors.

P: Non-native speakers pay more attention to the grammars and expressions, which could be an advantage. Another thing is that Fox school provides proofreading, you can use it to polish your papers.

S: Some reviewers criticize the logical flow in my paper, how to improve that aspect?

P: It’s more like a problem of logic and theory.

S: Think about hamburger, your paper has different layers but you should make the transition as smooth as possible.

P: Ture, and remember, always think from a reader’s view.



Week 7 – Survival Skills

Note: Students in italics, Prof normal

Why do we go to conferences and introduce our research?

  • To get feedback
  • To market yourself: your presentation is like a business card, everyone will know you through your research
  • It’s signalling: self-branding (see above point), shows you’re a good presenter (e.g. English-speaking skills), technical skills (e.g., PowerPoint skills)
  • WHEN GIVING A TALK AT CONFERENCE OR ANOTHER SCHOOL, YOU ARE BECOMING A SALESMAN – think about what a good salesman does in his pitch

Gives intro to John Hopkins talk

  • Graph for # of IT outage incidents isn’t the most convincing justification for the study (might want to control for the amount of air travel over those years)

Presentation Tips

  • Don’t start presentation with “$XX-billion-dollar industry” – every industry is big, think of a way to sell a story (use examples that demonstrate the importance of the research)
  • Don’t go directly to the theoretical literature review
  • If you are selling a product (say a laptop), are you going to start with all the details of the product you are going to sell (e.g., screen resolution, battery life, etc.)? No.

In most conferences, you only have 10-20 minutes. The shorter the time, the more difficult it is to give the talk. How are you going to present your research in only 15 minutes?

  • Cut down literature review, but then lit review, methods, results, discussion.

That sounds like a 20-minute talk. In a shorter amount of time focus on ideas, contribution, and motivation. Think about what is the most important aspect of your research (though literature review and methods are important, you don’t have time to introduce these aspects in only 12 minutes)?

  • Don’t waste half of your time on robustness checks – might not be interesting for your audience, probably isn’t the key part of your research
  • For example, 1/3 of the slide deck is on motivation of the research
  • Includes a large number of pictures or graphs
  • No more than three lines of text on a slide – the bigger point here, limit your amount of text. Don’t assume the audience will read the text on the slide
    • Remember that the audience can’t read and listen to you talk at the same time – if there is too much text on the slide, they will read that instead of listening to you
  • Show results with figures and visualization
  • Summary of findings is it

You are becoming a salesperson – focus on the important parts that will convenience your audience you are doing important research

  • This even holds true in 90-minute job talk. Rule of thumb, you would probably only speak for 40 minutes (and 40 slides) which isn’t enough time to talk about your research details

I expected feedback on my research at conference talks, but I haven’t had much luck.

  • I have experienced the same
  • It’s really about introducing / marketing yourself and your research – you speak English well, you are an engaging speaker, etc.
  • The chance of getting good feedback from a conference increases if it has discussants (e.g., WISE)
  • Better to find a few audience members at breaks and ask directly for feedback (e.g., “Thank you for attending my talk. Do you have any feedback or thoughts?”)

Any questions about conferences?

I think it is understandable as faculty to tell stories about research, but PhD students have to demonstrate their skills (e.g. show models to show you have vigorous method skills). My advisor says to focus on the methods and show that I am well trained in those areas

  • Think about having back up slides in your deck that have your full methods, tables, etc. Your presentation is all storytelling, pictures, etc. Then when you are done and taking questions, you can pull up your method slides from the back of your deck
  • Think about it has having Appendix slides – you have all your details and tables in the back of the deck that you can pull up if questions come up about those areas of the research
  • To your advisors point that technical aspect is most important part of the research, that is true to some extent. He is trying to sell you as a rigorous, well-trained person. If that’s the goal, that’s helpful advice.

In my experience, just listing out the robust checks on an Appendix slide is appropriate. Even for method, empirical papers, it can be enough

Different people, even at different conferences, have different tastes.

Week 6 – What makes a good teacher?

(S – Students  P – Professor)

S: I do not have one favorite teacher inspiring me, but I like some aspects of different teachers. For example, they care about the students, not just the number of scores. In my class, I try to remember students’ names. It’s hard, but it is something good to try. It shows that you care about them.

S: My favorite teacher is my advisor when I was a master student. When I started research, I knew little about it. My advisor gave me a lot of hands-on advices such as how to collect data, how to write a paper. She was busy, but she still spent a lot of time on student. Besides, she is very passionate about her research. She is a role model for me.

S: I want to talk about my Chinese verbal teacher in my 7th grade. At that time, I was very shy and not good at speak in front of people. The teacher made a lot of try to encourage me. For example, he asked us to describe a latest news in front of class every week. He tried to open my mind and speak in public. He changed my life.

P: A good teacher is someone inspired you. He or she cares about students, gives an opportunity to change the student’s life. It is hard to say which aspect is the most important, there are different aspects matter for students in different stages.

S: My favorite teacher is a mathematics teacher who helped me in the college entrance exam. With his help, I became strong in Calculus at that time.

S: I think for a teacher, it is hard to inspire every student. But there are a lot of little things you could do. You need to be organized, preparing for the class, doing a good time management, sending students emails to remind them of homework.

P: I know there are professors who have a class at 9:00. They will arrive at 9 and start to prepare for the slides, then the exact time when the class begins will be 9:05. Do not do that. You should arrive earlier for preparation work. This is a small thing, but it’s important. You need to show that you are ready, well prepared and professional.

S: I like the teachers who do not just teach based on the lecture notes or textbooks. They will extend from the text book and teach something else within the current topic. And a good teacher should be encouraging, always inspire students. They should be approachable, not only in class, but also by email, office hours though they might be busy.

P: The teacher need to be a good guy. You could not be a different person in class through the whole semester. If a teacher is not a good person, he or she doesn’t care about students. Students will know that.

S: And a teacher should think the course is important and put effort in it. If the teacher doesn’t think the course is important for them, the students would not think it’s important.

P: This is what I am doing for this class. Teaching a doctoral seminar means I need to spend one day to reading all the papers which we will discuss each week. Compared to teaching undergraduate or MBA courses, teaching doctoral seminar means more effort.

S: One teacher I like often thought of some games or tools to help us understand the difficult concepts. He was well prepared, and students will know that he put many efforts in it.

P: You mean that the class is not just about lectures, right? Here is something very important. The more you talk, the lower your teaching evaluation would be. A good teacher should interact with students, provide many different ways for students to understand. There is a study about different ways for learning: Reading textbook, listening to teachers, talking as a group, watching videos, practicing and teaching others. Reading and listening are not the most effective ways because they are passive learning methods. Teaching is a very good way. I am practicing this method right now. Each week I asked you to summarize the paper and explain it to others, it is a good way to understand the paper.  Something fuzzy might become clear when you explain to others. And I always asked you to tell us what you think in your mind. Something will become concrete when you organize it in your mind.

S: Sometimes a big name in academia will inspire students.

P: I think it is very important to inspire students, but it is difficult.

S: Doctoral students are motivated, but for undergraduate students, some of them do not care about the classes. They even do not want to make a cheat sheet for exams, it seems that they do not care about this degree.

P: This is the 2nd point I want to emphasize. It is very important to convince your students why this course is very important. Especially for MIS field, although students are forced to take core IS course, they do not think it is necessary for business students. I spent a lot of time to explain why we need to care about technology and this IS course. For those which are not core course, students choose them because they have enough motivation. But for core course, the teacher should try to convince them.

Another key ability a good teacher should have is to think from the student’s perspective. When you are designing slides and homework, think about effectiveness from a student’s perspective. Are they going to enjoy this? It is not saying that just to make students happy. But we need to make the course durable, enjoyable and student could learn something from it. One example is about deadline. If you set the homework deadline to Friday, there is always students asking whether they could have an extension.  So you could specify the penalty, for example 10% deduction after Friday submission. Things could happen to students so there should be some flexibilities.

Here is something I found useful when I am teaching. I will give unofficial grades in the middle of the semester. Because students are anxious when they are waiting for the final grading. If I tell them the unofficial grades of B- in the middle of the semester, they would be not that surprise when they find their final grading is B because they already know their performance.

S: I think it is good if you give students feedbacks. I will tell students their performance in the previous sections. If they don’t do well, they still have a chance to fix it. In addition, I will design the course to make sure it includes different ways for grading, test, group study, project, etc.

P: Business school usually emphasize active learning. They care about students’ participation, but sometimes they just kill introverts. There is an article online “When Schools Overlook Introverts”. When I was in University of Michigan, I was required to take MBA courses in Marketing and Finance. It was a nightmare. Look back the experience, I knew that someone just hate participation in class. So, I use in-class participation and online participation when I am teaching. Students love that. The principle behind this is, understand what the students think.

S: That’s what I did in class. If someone likes answering questions, let them do. If someone don’t like it, don’t force them.

P: It is true that some students will dominate the class. Sometimes I will wait and ask whether someone else would like to answer the questions. Teaching is important, you have to put effort, try to get high teaching evaluations, and develop your own best practice. When you just at the beginning, you need to take a lot of effort, but it will get easier after you figure out all of these. There is a resource which would be helpful –  Temple University Center for the Advancement of Teaching. There are several programs and events you could take. When you are doing a TA, you could learn a lot by actively involved in the class. There are two senior students sitting in my class, we will review the class together after each class. What went well, what went wrong. They could learn a lot from it.

S: I have a question about how to arrange the time for your teaching work. I think most of the research universities require teachers to teach three each year.

P: Yes. There is a tip when you are choosing the university if you have options. Life in a university with big undergraduate program will be easier. Because the same course will be opened multiple times, then you just need to prepare for one course material but teach them several times. It is good for both teaching and research.

Week 5 – Why Do We Need To Attend Conferences?

S1: The goal of the organizer is to show the trends of academia, collecting the latest ideas from the whole fields.

S2: Experts in different tracks come together to discuss their own research. They may come up with a new inter-tracks idea or evaluate the same methodology from different angles.

S3: People or even co-authors from different counties can meet during the conferences.

Prof.: Ture, exchanging ideas is a big part of attending a conference. How about others?

S1: Social networking!

S3: People from different colleges attend a conference. Networking is important for Ph.D. application. Before she applied Temple, she noticed a lot of applicants have already met the Ph.D. recruiters at the conferences.

Prof. Why conferences have breaks? Even 30 mins break? Why do we need to network?

Prof: We are in business School. Our papers are judged by other peers. No absolute double-blind reviewing. Therefore, networking plays an important role in the publication process. You need to build a group of researchers to connect with a pool of potential reviewers to nominate as reviewers. Before the publication, it takes years to revise the paper. Therefore, networking during these years is important.

Prof. My first US IS conference is one of the awful experiences in my life. I did not know most of the attendees. Therefore, I just talked with some Ph.D. students. Today, those students currently researchers in different universities and they are doing quite well in IS research. The connection established several years and then last long during my career. I recommend you talk with people on a conference, starting from people from your own counties or same fields.

Next time, talking with guest speakers you have met on MIS or your weekly seminars.

Prof: How to choose Conference? You may need to focus on small conferences.

S2: Large conference may involve a lot of topics may quite unrelated to your owns.

Prof: I will show you the difference between large conferences and small ones.

Prof: AMA and ICIS are too big to have an opportunity talking with others. The likelihood to meet the people next time is relatively low. It is important to take a home conference to attend every year.

S2: Then you can build your own reputation within a group.

Prof: You need to attend the home conference serval times. The people will know you for years. Conferences are evolving. WISE is turning crowed. Then small conferences pop up, such as SCECR, CIST. Attending these small conferences every year and do not hesitate to join the social events.

S3:  How about NBER workshops?

Prof: It is not the core group of IS. We need to keep in touch with the core senior researchers within your own fields. You may lack connection with people in other fields. I attended some public policy conference. I find it is hard to get in the other groups. Then I just attend them and present my papers and learn new ideas. The networking function of the attending a conference cannot be my first priority.

S2: How to follow up with the people we meet after conferences?

Prof: Emails, SNS, you can contact them by different means. We teach SNS; we should use it.

S3: Also attending a conference it more like a self-branding process!

Prof: Ture!

S4: I find it is hard to talk with others during a conference as a junior Ph.D. student. Do you have some suggestions?

S3: Stay with your advisors, s/he will help introduce you to the related researchers when you attend your first conference.

Prof: Remember not to do this when you are on the market! You should be an independent researcher by then.

Prof: More, try to be the conversation starters by reading their papers in advance and follow them on SNS, etc.

Survival Skill- The role of advisors

Prof: Two principles of advisors: your advisor is not your boss; your advisor will not do research for you

What that means?

Xi: In Asia culture, the perception for advisor is different from that of Western culture, we will do whatever the advisor asks to. But in the Western culture, we may critically think what is right and wrong from the advisor.


Zhe: It depends on how we define “boss”. Some students are dependent on their advisors, but advisors expect students to be more independent and live on their own. As Zhe pointed out, he is more independent and would like to spend nights to develop his own program. But we as students all need the general guidance from our advisors

Sid: When students join the program, we all have the mentality what a PhD looks like, but as we grow up in the program, we develop our own research ideas, working patterns, and perception for research.

Prof: In Asia, we treat teacher’s guidance and order as God truth and hold no doubt on them. But it is nor right, we should have the courage to disagree with our advisors. In Asia, the knowledge is one-way straight, the knowledge imparted from advisors to students, but in Western culture, the knowledge is two-way communication.

HK: In her class, she tries to build up collaboration atmosphere and encourage discussion about disagreement. It also depends on the stage we are in the program, as first year PhD students, we may follow completely on what our advisors ask us to do; but when we start to develop our own research, we will be more independent from our advisors and stand on our own points.


Prof: In terms of the second principle, we majorly focus on the research project that we are the lead authors.

Leting: Do not expect our advisors will do everything for us. As doctoral students, we need to initiate and lead our own project. The earlier we start our own work, the more we could grow up. But as young scholars, we do need inspiration and guidance from our advisors.  We need to better plan our communication strategy with our advisors and get their support to deal with challenges.

Prof: Our advisors are very busy. They are working on multiple projects at the same time, and they can not help us for detailed work. We could not expect our advisors spend much time to take care of us for every minute. Thus, Do not blame your advisors when your research goes south. We have to take leadership and responsibility for our own research. Advisors will help us and disagree with us, but at the end of the day, it is us who make the decision and lead the project. In the PhD program, we are trained to be independent researchers. Handoff advisors may let the students suffer from the program, but the ones who survive in the program usually are very successful in future career.

Prof: My advisor does not review my Stata code and even my data. If she/he wants to see the data and code, probably she/he is too hands-on. What if advisors are too hands off? It is a good idea to have two advisors: one is senior and experienced advisor who will give us big idea and general guidance; the other is junior advisor that is willingness to offer more hands-on guidance. The senior advisor may give us very great help to deal with the positioning of the paper, the contribution of the paper, and how to respond to the reviewer’s comment.

Zhe: To some degree, our research with the advisor is a kind of training. Thus, learning from the process could be more important than publishing the paper itself.

HK: If we have two advisors, we may face to deal with contradicting opinions. What shall we do?

Prof: We need to make the decision on choosing the opinion because it is our project and we need to think who right and which opinion is more reasonable. Like choosing coauthors, it is best to have 3 coauthors in one paper.


Why to business school’s need PhD students

While other departments of universities like Physics, Math etc need PhD students to assist Professors in their research, Business schools don’t necessarily do so. They want to cultivate new scholars in the field. Scholars who create new knowledge. PhD students in business schools bring in fresh perspective and new ideas. The university wants to create independent research scholars for the future with support from faculty members. When these students graduate with great quality papers and go to reputable schools the university’s reputation goes up. Also, when these students make tenure in good research schools the university’s reputation as a research driven school goes up. All this attracts new and better students to the school thus making the entire process cyclic in nature. The school invests a lot in the students and its their duty to reward the school back through not only great research publications but also through increasing the reputation of the school in the broader research community.