DBA Journey at FIU: Insider Tips for Success

As you embark on your doctoral studies at Florida International University, I’d like to share some tips and strategies that I have used. These have helped me to make the most of myr time in the DBA program.

Readings:  You will be doing a lot of reading! 

1. ACTIVE READING

For in-depth reading, I like to read from paper copies and make handwritten notes in the margins – highlighting key sections and noting useful phrases or arguments. I print out all of the research papers for a particular week (on 3 hole punched paper) and keep them in a folder (Letter Size Paper Portfolios with Prongs).  These are lightweight and I like to take them with me to the gym, on the train, airplane or waiting for the doctors office, nail salon, hair appointment, etc. I keep a highlighter handy and sometimes sticky notes so that I can find important references at a later time. Trust me:  You will want to refer to them later! Alternatively, some people like to read from e-readers like adobe and highlight section with the app – this is good for finding/searching keywords at a later time.

Printing can get expensive – there is a 20% coupon at Staples.com.  I ended up buying a laser printer (HP Color LaserJet Pro M255dw) to save time, and the laser printed paper allows for highlighting – where as a deskjet will smudge. 

2. PASSIVE READING (Listening on the go)

For the papers that you can skim or if you are pressed for time, you might consider listening to audio readings while you are on the go.  I use Listening.io. It converts research papers, academic texts, PDFs, and web pages into audio and removes all citations, charts, etc.  It uses natural and human sounding voices, making it easy to understand – allowing you to listen while multitasking.  I listen to the reader with a headset while I:

  • Walk the dog
  • Fold laundry
  • Wash dishes

3. CHOOSE CRITICAL THINKING OVER AI ASSISTANCE

Don’t use chatgpt!  This program is an investment in expanding your intellectual capabilities, and engaging deeply with the material yourself is crucial for this growth.

 If you use chat gpt to do the writing for you, then it’s like paying a personal trainer to get you fit but then you don’t do the weight lifting yourself and let someone else do it for you and at the end of 3 years you don’t see much improvement!  Do your own critical thinking.

4. READING FOR PLEASURE

It will ruin the book store for you!  After a few months in the program, you will start to become a critical consumer of information.  You will go to the business section at Barnes and Noble and find the books silly because so many are based on anecdotal stories and have little data or empirical evidence to back them up.

5. FIU OFFERS MANY GREAT BENEFITS

  • Take full advantage of FIU’s offerings, such as the writing workshops, conferences, and networking groups like the FIU DBA Research Foundation. These resources are invaluable for staying engaged with other practitioners during your academic journey and beyond.

6. PUT EVERYTHING IN ZOTERO

Download Zotero today (or whatever archival software you prefer).   Start saving everything in there right away.  It’s an excellent tool for storing and retrieving references and citations.

And you can  search your library by keywords.  I even saved my syllabus there!

START A GROUP (WHATSAPP or SLACK, etc.)

Some one should start a group with your cohort contact information.  Tip:  You can install the app on you pc and easily share documents/links on the spot during zoom calls 🙂 Here is a link: Download WhatsApp for iOS, Mac and PC

7. GRANTS

Soon you will be writing like a scholar, even better, you will be thinking like a scholar-practitioner!  That can put you in the advantageous position to apply for grants and other types of funding for applied research.  For example, if you have a small business, you can apply for Small Business Innovation Research Grants.  The skills you acquire here will be directly applicable to grant proposals and research projects and this application is somewhat similar to the proposal format that you will be learning in your methods class.  For example, abstract, background, literature review, problem statement, question, data collection plan and analysis are part of the application process. grants.gov/search-grants

8. CLASSES / ZOOM AND RESIDENTIALS

Take lots of notes and screen shots and write tips to your future self.  The first couple of years you are actively attending classes, doing assignments and reading. Then in the final year you will be working on your research. You will want to go back and read your notes for tips.  I keep a google doc that I can open up from any computer at any time.  Also, schedule your zoom meetings on your calendar.  You will have zoom meetings which last about 2 hours, twice a week.  Just do yourself a favor and save the links on your scheduled calendar event.  If you are on the run or having problems with your PC – or you just want to dig around in canvas/syllabus/emails for the zoom link.

9. SLOW AND STEADY

This is not a sprint – it is a marathon and it will go on for about 3 years. Remember to get exercise at least twice a week, go for walks and get fresh air.  Read a little bit every day because the material can be dense  – so allow time for it to really sink in. 🙂 Remember: regular exercise, outdoor activities, and consistent reading habits are the key.

Trust the process…