PhD Submission

I submitted my PhD The Development of Strategic Culture in Terrorist Organisations today to Monash University. My thesis is currently under examination. My thanks to PhD Supervisors Pete Lentini, Luke Howie, Zareh Ghazarian, Benjamin MacQueen, and Andy Butfoy for their support, and Michelle Buckley and Tilly for their love and encouragement.

PhD Pre-Submission Seminar / Final Review Documentation

My PhD Pre-Submission Seminar / Final Review documentation can be accessed here. My thanks to the Monash University committee in the School of Political and Social Inquiry: Associate Professor Steven Roberts, Associate Professor Ben MacQueen, and Dr Bill Flanik, and to my PhD Supervisors, Dr Luke Howie and Dr Zareh Ghazarian. This PhD milestone was passed on 14th November 2018.

Monash SPS Symposium Presentation on Fourth Generation Strategic Culture

On Wednesday, I’m giving a snapshot presentation on Conceptualising Fourth Generation Strategic Culture for the Monash SPS Symposium. This covers material from my PhD’s Chapter 1. It also covers some further development of my research program. Thanks to the SPS Symposium committee for organising the event.

 

Further details:

 

Disciple: Strategic Studies, Terrorism Studies.

 

Key words: strategic culture, research program, conceptual framework

 

Abstract: Strategic culture emerged from United States think tanks in the late 1970s as a comparative framework in strategic studies. Early proponents such as Jack Snyder, Colin S. Gray, and Ken Booth each sought to understand foreign decision-making on the use of force. In 1995, Harvard University’s Alastair Iain Johnston conceptualised three generations of strategic culture theory-building in an influential International Security journal article called ‘Thinking About Strategic Culture’.

 

This presentation (1) responds to Johnston’s framework to explore issues of generational selection, change, and continuity; and (2) proposes a new fourth generation that I trace to Jeffrey S. Lantis’ ‘constructivist’ turn in 2002. Lantis’ research and active sub-field building (such as with the United States-based Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the International Studies Association) involves national security policymakers using strategic culture to understand emerging trans-national security threats in a possibly multipolar world.

 

I outline a developing research program which develops strategic culture frameworks, qualitative case studies, and causal inference methods. Current research focuses on the possibility of strategic culture in terrorist organisations. Recent developments in (nuclear) complex deterrence, economic statecraft, and terrorism studies provide the necessary and sufficient context for strategic culture research to have greater policymaker relevance.

 

Update: The snapshot presentation audio can be downloaded here and the slides here. Thanks to Dr Pete Lentini and Dr Tom Chodor who were discussants.

Monash SPS Symposium Presentation on Islamic State

Yesterday, I gave a presentation on in-progress thesis research about Islamic State to the annual SPS Symposium at Australia’s Monash University. For the past several years I have used the SPS Symposium to gain feedback on thesis chapters as I am drafting them. This year, I had about 25 minutes of great questions from fellow Monash graduate students and researchers. Thanks to the SPS Symposium committee for a great event.

PhD Mid-Candidature Review Panel Presentation Slides

On 26th October 2015, I will present my in-progress PhD research on strategic subcultures in terrorist organisations to a Mid-Candidature Review Panel at Australia’s Monash University. The MCR presentation slides are here.

 

My thanks to MCR Review Panel members Professor Jude McCulloch (coauthor of Pre-Crime: Pre-emption, Precaution and the Future), Associate Professor Pete Lentini (author of Neojihadism: Towards a New Understanding of Terrorism and Extremism?), and Dr Narelle Miragliotta (coeditor of Contemporary Australian Political Party Organisations).

25th October 2012: PhD Confirmation Talk Slides

I’m giving a PhD Confirmation talk as part of Monash University’s annual PSI Symposium on 26th October (at the 1:30-3:00pm session in HB.39, Caulfield campus).

 

You can download the slides here and read the 2011 initial PhD proposal here.

 

My thanks to Michael Janover, Pete Lentini, Ben MacQueen, Andy Butfoy and Luke Howie.

 

I opted for a ‘document format’ rather than the aesthetic communication wizardry of Nancy Duarte’s Slide:ology. Maybe next time.

28th June 2012: Should You Publish With Your PhD Supervisors?

I recently started working with a copy-editing colleague and a group of Victoria University higher degree students. I also advise business and law academics on their research programs. Both activities provide a reflection cycle on my PhD studies in political science at Monash University (my November 2010 PhD proposal). These experiences highlight some different approaches and research cultures at both universities.

 

Publishing with your PhD supervisor is an opportunity that should be explored carefully. It is the norm in some scientific laboratory work and was also the case in a Cooperative Research Centre team I was on where the professor was the lead author. In that case, the professor had contacts with industry partners and government policymakers; had deep historical knowledge of the academic field; was able to arrange media coverage and a launch; could secure research funding and budgets; and could make judgments about the analytical research product. Some of the more novel, multidisciplinary and risk-seeking ideas were never published or written up formally from presentations. A professor or PhD supervisor who is the lead author will usually call the shots.

 

A good PhD supervisor will help you publish in certain ways. They will provide developmental editing feedback on your draft. They will inform you about the appropriate journals to publish in; the editorial board and peer review standards; specific methods and research design issues; who the international and national experts are; and what current debates you can tap. They can explain obscure but important research administration like Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) forms and Field of Research (FoR) codes. In doing so the PhD supervisor helps to socialise you into a research community and discipline.

 

A PhD supervisor may also be unable to do this for several reasons. You may be one of their first PhD students and they are growing into the PhD supervisor role. They may be unfamiliar with your research questions. They may have been socialised into a different sub-discipline or sub-field. They may have gaps in their publication track record or may have changed topics. They may have signed up too many PhD students for workload points. They may have accepted a range of PhD students who are not in their specific area of research expertise and are spread too thinly. Or, they may not have kept up with these research and scholarly issues, and may be in a mid-career or late-career drift. You will sense this early on in PhD supervision meetings — and in good cases the PhD student provides renewal for the PhD supervisor. In bad cases you might change your PhD supervisor, and your university research office can advise you on how to do this.

 

So, preferably, do your ‘due diligence’ on your PhD supervisors before you begin to discuss publishing with them. Avoid if possible a situation where you do the work and the PhD supervisor insists on first name on the published article in order to ‘game’ the workload points system. Don’t publish in an obscure journal that no-one will read or that has a ‘pay to publish’ fee. Use social media like academic blogs in an appropriate manner to make your research more visible to others (and don’t let this detract from your research writing).

 

My personal preference is to either publish as sole author or in a team where the roles and name order are clearly negotiated upfront. My Monash PhD supervisors’ preference is for me to publish during my PhD and to publish alone in order to build my expertise and reputation in the field. They already have established their reputations and publishing track record, and have made specific contributions that also differ from my PhD research topic. I have already published in A-level journals without a PhD and been internationally cited. To achieve this you need exciting research questions; good research design; and to write to the standards of the ‘target’ journal or conference. Victoria University’s research culture is different and is more weighted toward PhD candidates co-publishing with their PhD supervisors.

 

I hope this advice helps and good luck with your PhD research.