I have a PhD!

This is not a research post. Yet, it is all about my research so far. The people, and the papers.

The people

After four years of work, numerous conferences, and eight chapters of dissertation, I defended my dissertation successfully (with summa cum laude!) on April 12th, 2016. The journey so far had not been a cakewalk. I had moments when I questioned my ability to do a PhD at all, and other (better) times when I got way too excited about getting an article accepted at a conference or receiving a ‘revise and resubmit’ from a journal (which made my husband wonder if I am on Ritalin). And all throughout this, what kept me going was the love and support of a few good people: my husband, my supervisor, a few great colleagues and my dearest friends. Thank you, guys!! (I should probably thank them in person, yeah.)

…And to those of you who would rather hear more about the papers than my virtual declarations of gratitude, here we go! (This is gonna be a pretty long post.)

The papers

The originality of the idea, rigor of the study, and clarity of writing have been identified as the most significant universalistic parameters of scholarly impact. My dissertation sets out to do a detailed examination of these parameters. Our first empirical article focuses on case studies, points out different types of replication logic, and illustrate how their individual research actions have differential effects on the internal and external validity (in that order of priority) of the emerging theory.

In the next study, we extend the investigation to quantitative as well as qualitative research, and offers replication logic as a tool for analyzing deviant cases identified during the course of a qualitative or quantitative study. We call this technique the ‘Deviant Case Method’ (‘DCM’). Through this study, we explain the theoretical consequentiality (Aguinis et al., 2013; Cortina, 2002) of analyzing three different kinds of outliers (construct, model fit, and prediction outliers/ deviant cases) and offer DCM for analyzing prediction outliers/deviant cases.

In the third study, we extend this method to have a look at medium-N studies. Here we focus on inconsistent or deviant cases which turn up during a fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA). We offer a method called ‘Comparative Outlier Analysis’ (‘COA’) which combines DCM and Mill’s canons (1875) to examine these multitude of inconsistent cases. We explicate this using exemplars from fields like politics, marketing, and education.

Unlike in other disciplines or methods, it is far from clear what the label ‘transparent research procedures’ constitutes in management field studies, with adverse effects during write-up, revision, and even after publication. To rectify this, in the fourth article, we review field studies across seven major management journals (1997-2006) in order to develop a transparency index, and link it to article impact.

Article 5 is a sequel to the previous chapter. We propose a new method for assessing the methodological rigor of grounded theory procedures ex-post using an audit trail perspective. While existing research on the methodological sophistication of grounded theory was typically done from the perspective of the author or producer of the research, our perspective is customer-centric, both in terms of the end-customer (i.e. the reader or other author), as well as the intermediate customer (i.e. reviewers and editors).

The last empirical article in the thesis, article 6, focuses on yet another parameter influencing impact: the style of academic writing. Specifically, we focus on the attributes of article titles and their subsequent influence on the citation count. At this early stage of theory development on article titles, we do this in the specific application context of management science.

Through theses six articles, the dissertation contributes to the discourse on generating and developing novel solutions for addressing the paucity of rigor, transparency, and clarity of reporting in the field of management. It demonstrates the prominence of the involved research inquiries either by illustrating their contributions with the help of exemplars or by indicating their relationship with scholarly impact in management.


What’s in a title?!


The idea to explore ‘article titles’ and their influence on scholarly community came up while we were working on a project examining the reporting standards of academic articles in management. We noticed that several other disciplines have thoroughly examined the attributes of article titles and sometimes, even their role in making the concerned articles more attractive to the intended audience. (Furthermore, it seemed like a fun project to work on!)


Amusing, compounded thesis titles. Would similar titles in journal articles help you boost your citation count? (Picture source: http://www.phdcomics.com)











So, what makes a “good” title for an article, i.e. one which might attract citations in the academic community? Answers to this question are manifold, though inconclusive across disciplines. In an attempt to provide cohesion, in our article – What makes a ‘good’ title and (how) does it matter for citations? A review and general model of article title attributes in management science (Nair. L.B., & Gibbert. M. Scientometrics, 107 (3), 1331-1359), we integrate significant title characteristics from previous studies across disciplines into a comprehensive model and link it with citation count. Keeping the application context constant, we focus on management science.


We find that only ‘non-alphanumeric characters’ and a ‘balanced’ title structure have small, but significant effects on citation count. Titles with non-alphanumeric characters appear to have a negative relationship with citation count, whereas the ones with balanced structure seem to have a slightly positive association. Surprisingly, attributes which tended to show significant effects in other disciplines (though often in opposite directions), such as length, context, and linguistic attributes exhibit no relationship with citation count. So next time you are thinking of an attractive title which would make your article more visible to the management scholars, keep in mind that a simple balanced structure with fewer colons might be the way to go!