Centre for IT Service Management Research


Ph.D. in IT Service Management by Distance Learning

Introduction Research Areas Process Milestones Cost


The Centre offers PhDs by distance learning under the 'six week rule'. This requires the research student to be on site for any six weeks within an annual period. These six weeks may be taken together during the summer, or in smaller units during the year.

Research Areas

The following defines research areas of particular interest to staff in the Centre. Research studies are possible in other areas relating to service management within IT, adaptive evolutionary information systems and information systems evaluation (see front page of website for links to most recent papers).


1. Controlling the help desk.

Defining priorities; analysis and development of workflow models.

Use of knowledge management. Capturing organisational knowledge.

2. Help desk quality.

Developing new quality model.

Effect of culture and distance on quality.

Developing new tools for measuring help desk quality. For example, service scripting.

3. IT Service Strategy

Developing models link business services, process, IT services and IT support.

Defining management tools for supporting IT service strategy development.

Developing IT service strategy methods.

4. Service Integration

Studying the relationship between IT services, software development, software configuration management and software reuse management.

Developing models for the seamless integration of IT services and information flows.

Modeling software development as a service process.

5. Service Innovation

Developing models and processes for IT service Innovation and initiation.

Analysing approaches to service innovation and adapting to IT services.

Studying links between IT service innovation and business service innovation.

6. Availability Management

Defining integrated models for planning availability management.



The following gives a more detailed account of what would be involved in doing a pH in IT Service Management.

1. Motivation

Questions to ask yourself

Is there a burning problem on your mind?

Do you want to get into investigative research?

Are you prepared to commit the time and money necessary?

Does your workplace and position offer the right opportunities to do research?

How would a pH benefit you in your career aspirations?

How committed are you to developing your knowledge and abilities in IT Service Management.


2. Prerequisites.

A good honours first degree.

Significant industry experience.

Possibly a Masters in Computer Science, Sociology, Psychology or Information Systems.


3. Process Steps

The following indicates, in general, what activities you would undertake in the course of your pH studies. However, in all probability you will require more than the five visits described here. Your studies will take around five years to complete on this part time basis.

  1. Read round the web sites, check your prerequisites.
  2. Send a CV and details of your current experience to Dr Neil McBride
  3. If CV is acceptable, write a brief outline of your research proposal.
  4. Talk through research proposal with Neil McBride or Ivor Perry at the Centre for IT Service Management Research.

  5. Once research proposal is agreed, obtain a formal application pack from Neil McBride and make a formal application.
  6. Once formal application is received an interview is conducted by phone or video conferencing.
  7. Receive formal acceptance and formally sign up. An initial fee will be payable at this point.
  8. Under guidance, start working on the literature studies. Also plan first visit to De Montfort. Either a six week session in the summer or several smaller period of two to three weeks.
  9. Investigate your target organisation and prepare some initial data on IT Services in reference to your research problem.
  10. Start studying research methods.
  11. Make first visit to De Montfort, bring with you your initial literature review and over view of organisation.

11. During the visit:

Develop the literature studies.

Analyse research problem with supervisor.

Define research approach - questionnaire, survey, interviews etc.

Develop research instruments.

Define registration document.

Visit two or three reference companies in the UK

12. On returning:

Finalise registration document and hence achieve formal registration.

Develop and finalise pilot research project - whether pilot survey or initial case study.

Run pilot study and analyse results.

Continue literature survey.

Develop initial theoretical model which will drive the rest of the pH project.

Plan contents of Transfer Document.

Plan second visit.

13. During second visit:

Review transfer document, finalise contents.

Gather more literature, finalise and write literature survey.

Review, discuss and investigate theoretical models.

With supervisor's help, refine and finalise theoretical models.

Write outline for theoretical model and pilot survey section of transfer document.

Give presentation to IT service managers and department of Information Systems academics.

Visit two organisations to investigate appropriateness of theoretical model.

14. On returning:

Finalise and submit draft transfer document.

Receive comments on transfer document from supervisor.

Revise transfer document and submit to research committee.

Receive approval of transfer to PhD.

Do further background reading - this is a continuous process.

Plan core research and carry out core research.

Carry out initial analysis of results

Plan next visit to De Montfort University

15.During Third Visit:

Review results of research with supervisor.

Analyse conclusions and refine theoretical model in the light of empirical research.

Develop literature further.

Define, if necessary, further research work.

Plan thesis.

Write outline of Introduction and literature review.

Visit two companies to derive extra ideas and compare.

16. Plan additional research

Execute additional research.

Start completing chapters of thesis and delivering to supervisor for comment.

Review additional research with supervisor by e-mail.

Write and submit further draft chapters.

17 During fourth visit:

Bring draft thesis.

Go through thesis looking at problems and revisions.

Trawl literature for anything you've missed and additional references.

18. Rewrite draft chapters and submit thesis.

19. During fifth visit:

Attend Viva.

Start any revisions, do minor amendments.

Submit revised thesis.

Wait for examiner's comments.

Breathe a sigh of relief and congratulate yourself!

4. Milestones


Registration is the formal start of the pH studies and involves you being formally accepted as a research student by the De Montfort University Research Committee.

This involves writing a registration document which defines the research problem and how you are going to tackle it. It is in effect a Terms of Reference.

Transfer Document

You will be registered as a MPhil student. Your first year of study involves defining the project, understanding the research area, studying and understanding research methods and understanding the literature in your research area.

The transfer document demonstrates your understanding of the area and your ability to do research in the next phase that will result in new knowledge. The transfer document runs to some 40- 50 pages and defines:

Research problem

Literature in the area

Research so far

Research methods to be used and their justification

Research to be done - activities and schedules.

This document of formally assessed by a De Montfort University examiner. When accepted, the research committee will formally transfer you from MPhil student to PhD student.


A bound thesis is required to be submitted. This is examined externally by an examiner selected by the Centre. A viva is then carried out at De Montfort University, Leicester. Awarding the thesis depends on the outcome of this viva examination. You will most probably be required to do corrections, emendations or even additional work as a result of the viva.

5. Cost

The fee for tuition for a Ph.D in IT Service Management under the 'six week rule' scheme will be $2200 per annum.

In addition you will incur travel costs and accommodation costs for the six weeks you are required to attend at De Montfort University.

Reasonably price accommodation may be available through university halls of residence.