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Where are you originally from? Have you lived in other places? What kind of things do you enjoy (eg sports, dance, music, food, art, movies, reading etc)?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Sep 12 2019
I think one of my specialties are mostly Italian food but I like to make breakfast foods for my kids too. According to them, I'm the best crepe maker around but that might not be saying much in northern Indiana, so. Yeah, I tried but I shouldn't have any excuses now that I have plenty of time in my house so the weather can't be my excuse anymore. 

What are the courses taught in your undergraduate program, and jobs students get afterwards? Please also discuss about your graduate program(s), if you offer any.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Sep 12 2019
Sure. I don't think our information system's a degree. We actually call it IT management at the undergraduate level. I don't think it's that different from most of the other programs out there, but we teach systems analysis and design, VBA course, we keep strategic IT, quantitative decision modelling but then our students also take a large selection of elective courses, just in the business school. So, they are obviously getting finance, accounting, marketing, organizational behavior, and that sort of thing. But we also have a business analytics major now. So, we've enrolled our first class for that, and we also have a masters of science in business analytics. So, we have jumped into the waters of business analytics. Our MSBA has been out there for about three years now, and our undergraduate degree is just a year now. About half of our undergraduate students with the ITM major go to consulting firms. So, the Deloitte, Accenture, Booz Allen, they hire a lot of our students. We send some into like consumer products goods companies, technology companies, pure tech companies. Healthcare is another area where we send a lot of our students. We are not a gigantic program. Last year, we had just under 90 students graduating with an undergraduate in IT management. There's probably forty different firms that hire, but without a doubt, the biggest chunk of that is IT consulting. And a lot of our students go to Chicago because of proximity, but we've placed students in New York, Silicon Valley, down south. We tend to drive our students from all over the country so part of that is them going back home but the other part is just the recruiter's mostly from Chicago come in to South Bend for recruiting. 

What are your research interests? Can you discuss major research projects you have worked on?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Sep 12 2019
About eighty percent of my work is in health information technology, but the vast majority of my published work is in health IT. Most of my work is at the firm level. I do a lot of work with panel data so I have IT adoption for pretty much all the hospitals in the United States and I use that database quite a lot. But I also have interest in some emerging technologies in healthcare. I don't know that I would call health information exchange as emerging anymore but ten, fifteen years ago we didn't hear a lot about health information exchanges. I have a paper that's coming out on that and we're working on another, but for the most part I would say that my work is trying to understand where we can extract value from information systems that are used in healthcare and all of the offshoots of that. So, some of it I would describe as topical and that we see some things in the process that we're reading about. For example, a recent thing that was discussed is that physicians are moving hospitals as a result to the hospital adopting disruptive technology. So, the article was saying that some doctors are leaving the profession because of medical records are tiring. We have been able to quantify some of the results. In fact, we found out that the doctors are definitely not retiring as a result to disruptive innovations entering healthcare, but there is some evidence that they might be moving to different facilities. So, that makes up most of the work that I do and it's pretty much been that way since the early 2000s when I was still at University of Maryland and working in the center there where our focus was specifically on studying health information systems. 

How did you come across these ideas? How did you decide that these projects would be worth pursuing?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Sep 12 2019
Again, it definitely goes back to the early 2000s when I was getting my PhD. I have to attribute my wife to a part of this because she was running an electronic personal health record company at the time and she teases me that she was my first dataset and that in fact is true. We surveyed the users of her electronic health record software, but that really sparked my interest in health IT in general because there was a lot of discussion particularly in the circles around Washington, DC that technology should be implemented in healthcare. There wasn't at that time a lot of academic research on it. So, part of this was being opportunistic that here was a phenomena that we felt needed to be studied that wasn't being studied to a great extent and I think the willingness of partners, people in organizations that also had interest in this space and in many cases had data that they were willing to share with us and funding was also available for it. So, all of those sorts of beacons were firing that said this looks like a places that we might want to be or where my research might wanna take me. But I also have and this I have carried with me for fifteen years, this desire to understand how my work and research may relate to practice. Without a doubt, the work that I do does have application to healthcare practice and I seek out projects that offer that. How do I decide what's worth pursuing? I mean that's a tougher question because I've had dead ends. There's no doubt about it, and sometimes you can't see what those dead ends are gonna be until you get sort of deep into a project but it can be extremely disappointing to craft an entire research study and build it around for example a set of data that you're acquiring and then the data don't turn out to offer what you hoped they offer. That can be a problem that with the integrity of data, it can be a problem with the company you're working with thinking that what they're giving you is better than what it is. It can also, just to be frank about this, be a problem with not designing the study appropriately and accounting for everything that you need to account for and believe me, I've been a victim of those sorts of things too. I think one of the things I've learned over the years though is you do have to figure out when you're gonna cut data in a project and I've had to do that a couple of times, and it's never fun. It's always painful to get down the road with a project and realize there's just nothing that's gonna come of it. 

What criteria do you use to evaluate papers while reviewing? What are common reasons for papers getting rejected? How can authors improve the chance of getting their papers accepted?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Sep 12 2019
So, I think the first thing is I read it with an eye towards what's interesting, what's new here, what's exciting, and maybe this goes directly along the lines of that but at the same time, as I'm trying to do those things, assess is this interesting, is this good work? There are a couple things that just really are deal breakers if there's sloppy execution and I'm not just talking about like the experimental design, I'm talking about how they write, the flow of the paper. If the attention to detail is not there, it is so hard to get over that. And now, for about I guess three or four years I've been an associate editor at MISQ, I see that phenomena not just through my own eyes but also through the eyes of the reviewers that send the reports to me. There's just so little tolerance for sloppy execution. I think that it introduces this concern in everyone's head that if they didn't pay attention to how they wrote this, then maybe they didn't pay attention to how they did the study, design the study and analyze data. I don't think that's a hundred percent fair. I mean there are instances where I've seen a study is executed really well and the paper is just not been written well, but it is a strike against you, there is no doubt about it. So my first advice to any author is spend a lot of time going through the paper. But just never send anything out that hasn't been completely vetted. It just would hurt you in the long run. I think some other things that are becoming more obvious to me, again because of the editorial role, is that it seems, particularly in the IS discipline, we're really shifting away from this what I call the one-shot surveys that try to capture everything in a single time frame. Anything that has common methods, bias problems is a real red flag and again, I mean it's not just me saying this but the reviewers that I'm using seem to latch on to that a lot. Another piece of advice I think I would give is don't try to gloss over the shortcomings. I mean every paper has weaknesses and I think that it's better to try to address those things even if it's acknowledging to the readers that you identified this is a weakness. And you try to do things to overcome it, but you couldn't overcome it. I too often think that authors are purposely trying to avoid talking about something that they even recognize as a weakness but it's really rare that those things get pass a reviewer. So, I think it's just better, and this is a lesson from my own writing too. I've just found I'm better off putting in the text and saying here are some problem and we acknowledge the problem, wish we could do something to fix it but we hope that the body of work can more than make up for what we believe this shortcoming is.

What are some major research gaps that you believe needed to be addressed?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Sep 12 2019
I guess I don't really think of it as research gaps. I know we use that phrase a lot but for me, I get really excited about papers that introduce something totally new to me, and I'll go back to this old saying of the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns. I would say research gaps are without a doubt the known unknowns, and they're certainly plenty of those out there but for me, I want more creativity. I want us to reach more and more, and when I say us, I mean the field of IS. I want us to be thinking more broadly about the unknown unkonwns and that's an entirely vague concept. It's really ambiguous. I'll give an example, fifteen, twenty years ago, we weren't thinking about the impact that social media would have on society. We weren't running studies on privacy issues associated with the data that's available on the internet. Those were unknown unknowns but now we are deeply embedded in that domain and we're drawing from what we know from IS and applying it to this new context. To me, that's the most exciting piece of this like I really would encourage not just young faculty or PhD students but everyone to try and identify like what are the next big things out there and how should we be studying them. I think those are the needed opportunities. The other one thing I'll saying quickly is I think we have a long way to go on understanding IT use. We've made some strides in recent years on this but healthcare is one area where they are recognizing that it's not good enough that we have adopted systems, but they have this meaningful use criteria now where they say not only do you have to have these technologies in place but you have to be using them in certain ways. And we have literature now in the discipline that talks about effective use. I really wanna see those sorts of things tested a lot more. I wanna understand. I think we can provide this to society, a better understanding of what it means not just to adopt technology but to use it and then use it in meaningful ways that provide value. I could say what is a gap, that would probably be a bit of a gap right now because we have theories of it but we haven't really empirically tested a lot of this yet. 

How do you find collaborators outside your University for joint research projects or writing grants?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Sep 12 2019
I'll address the second part of that first. I typically don't write grants anymore. I say anymore because when I was at Maryland with the center, we did a lot of grant writing and kind of have mixed feelings about grants. On the one hand, they definitely give you visibility in certain circles and the federal agencies in particular that offer grants, if you are in with them, it can be a really lucrative prospect and I'm not talking financially. I mean more from the publication standpoint. I think there is value in doing it from that perspective but in the IS domain, I would say it's much more mixed. You absolutely have to be able to generate grants in pure healthcare research and healthcare informatics but there are times when I question whether it's the appropriate mechanism for pure IS researchers. And I'll just briefly say that my experience with that is more from the perspective of why do you want the grant? If it's because you need the money to execute the study then it's probably the only means that you have to get to execute the study to do the research but if it's more to get visibility, that's when I really question whether there's value in it and the primary reason for that is there's just a lot of administrative headaches associated with grant money. I mean there's a lot of reporting. They tend to operate on timelines that are not as conducive to our type of of projects. So, I mean here at Notre Dame generally, I don't need big dollars but if I need funding, there are mechanisms through the university here where I will seek funding on my own but if I were in need collaborators, I've never actually had an issue where it was difficult to find folks to work with. I'd say as a junior person, it was a little bit harder but some of the things that I did that I think were a factor that works for me, is obviously attending conferences, getting your name out there, presenting your work or even beyond presenting your work like find the tracks or the sessions are really interesting to you and try to stick in that track for multiple sessions, so you start to see who the people are that are doing that type of work and then you don't go to them after their talk and ask them a question. Ask if you can sit down and have a coffee with them. Those are truly some of my most favorite moments. I really love it when other faculty or PhD students come up to me and ask about my work and just ask if I want to chat about it but those sorts of things lead to collaborations. So, I would encourage in particular students to do that sort of thing.

What approaches have you found to be effective in working with various grant making agencies? What common mistakes researchers do while applying for grants and funding?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Sep 12 2019
I think the first mistake that I made was thinking grant money was free money. I think anybody who's been a recipient of a grant realizes really quickly that there is no free lunch. There's a lot of reporting. There are high expectations. The other thing that's sort of a practical thing is you really need a good team. Having people who are just on the grant for figure head reasons, big name reasons does not help you. I mean it might help you in securing the money. It definitely does not help though in terms of getting the work done and the work has to get done. So, build a really strong team and have people on there who have experience with it. It was very eye-opening for me to receive funding as a PhD student and seeing the inner workings of it and how much was required of you and again back to this reporting issue. Frankly, really not understanding how all the pieces work together and managing their expectations too. I should probably say too that I didn't have bad experiences. I don't think my experience was any different than anyone else. It wasn't that we were mistreated by any means. I think it's just a very different model than a lot of us were accustomed to. The other thing I'll say about this is like once you're in with an agency and that's where it tends to be that you want to get the ball rolling. It just keeps rolling and rolling, and that's great. You learn what they want. They learn that they can trust you and it becomes easier and easier than to just get the next grant, the next grant, and the next grant. But breaking into that is tough and that's yet another reason why you really need to have somebody with experience who understands the whole process, the demands of it, and what the expectations are. 

What suggestions would you give to a faculty member who hopes to start a new research center or set up a new lab?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Sep 12 2019
Probably one of the most rewarding things is helping to build a center. We started it from scratch at Maryland and it was without a doubt, the hardest I've had to work. It's a lot of work and there's tradeoffs. There's absolutely tradeoffs. You have to really manage your time effectively. Some advice I would give to faculty members in particular, back to the grant thing, create a really good team. One person does not create a center and you need really good project managers. You need people that you can trust to get work done. You might try to negotiate person of teaching relieve too because running a center and building a center is more than a forty-hour a week job and just layer on top of what you're already doing. It's a lot of work. It's very time-consuming and it's doing things that a lot of academics are not accustomed to doing. I've learned a lot of lessons about how to manage that processes as well. I would say the same advice I give my MBA students or my undergrads though is have metrics. Know what it means to be successful and things that you can point to as these are our goals and here's what we want to accomplish because you are operating a business within an academic arena within a university. And they're looking for outcomes. They want to see something. Whether its publications or fund raising, conferences or workshops or whatever it is, make sure that you have some metrics that you can say here's what we said we're gonna do and here's what we did. I also found that you really need an internal champion -- somebody that can help fight your battles, somebody that really supports what you're doing -- and having a dean or someone that at least at the rank that you are or above that can guide you, give you heads up when things might be coming down the pipe that could impact your center, somebody that can really be an advocate for you. And another thing I'd say on that is I, mentioned creating a good team, but for me, the next center that I would do and hopefully, there's one down the road here, I would make sure that I had a director that could manage the operations of the center. Otherwise, it's just way too time-consuming. It's just so much work. I'm not convinced that person has to be a PhD or on the faculty. In fact, there are probably some advantages to not having them on the faculty, but they absolutely need to understand what academic research is and how it's conducted and what expectations there should be for a faculty working within the center. That was a bit of an eye-opener for me as well. It's thinking just because you have a center that faculty are going to just jump into the center and embrace any sort of research project that's available within the center. We all have the things we wanna accomplish and we have our own constraints and you really need to be willing to work within the constraints that other faculty members have too. 

What approaches have you found to be effective in working with industry for funding, getting data, and picking consultancy projects?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Sep 12 2019
Expectation setting. I've learned my lesson over the years that soft pedalling your way into a relationship with industry and corporate players just doesn't work. I found that if I'm upfront with them from literally the first engagement, the first time we meet, and say my objective function is writing papers and getting papers published and making that explicity clear to them that I'm not a paid consultant on this, that we wanna work with you because there's a particular research project embedded within this. That was a surprising lesson for me maybe because I've been burned on this in the past where you start a conversation with a company for example and you go weeks, sometimes months, of back and forth of here's what we wanna do and they're telling you here's the data that we have and you start crafting this idea and then you get to this point where they hand over the data kind of thing and it's not nearly as simple as you thought it was. You might even get into this situation which happened to me where we didn't talk about what happens if we find something that you guys don't want published, and sadly we had a situation like that and it did not end well. The bottomline is that we just came back to this conclusion that lay it out on the line in the early stages and say here's what our expectations are, here's what we want from the relationship and let them tell you whether or not that's something that they're willing to do, but be clear too about it that for us, the researchers, we'll do this like de-identify the data and not talk specifically about your firm. but if it comes back that there's actually not any value in what your doing, we also need to be able to publish that and that's a tougher conversation to have but you're just better off doing it upfront than having the situation where you get through a year or two of work and realizing that they're not gonna like what they have to hear and they could potentially tell us not to publish this. So, those sorts of things I've just learned. You got to address it. Another thing I'd say is that my experience with getting data for example from companies, it's like either super easy or super difficult and there's not a lot of in-between. Like I have situations where five minutes after a meeting, they send you a massive file data. I've had other instances where the data's coming and goes through potentially months and years of negotiation and then something happens at the end where it's usually contractual but sometimes related to a compliance issue where all of that work is for naught and you don't get the data out of it. I don't know if there's any rule of thumb or any tip I could give someone except that I set my expectations really low these days when I go into meetings with corporations that I'm actually going to get data and then if I do, it's just a real bonus. I'm also dealing with healthcare data so a business use agreements and all of these sorts of things can be very challenging to work around. In summary, my expectations are always really low about getting data but hopeful at the same time. Actually can I comment one more thing on that? In the early days, I was reluctant to involve what I'll call like the general counsel or the legal and contractual people. I thought that it was an unnecessary complication to the process and what I realized particularly while being here is that they actually make my life so much easier. They know what to look for in data use agreements and contracts, and they've actually streamlined the process for me. So, I would very much encourage other faculty to engage with their legal departments even if you don't think this is not a legal issue which, as I was saying in the early years, I never thought that it was a legal issue. But they're really good at dealing with how do you manage the engagement with this corporation or this entity. They have lots of experience doing it and it makes my life easier. I don't have to spend my time now combing through contracts looking for what could come back to haunt me. 

What do you look for while accepting PhD students or postdocs?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Sep 12 2019
 Well, we don't have a PhD program here at Notre Dame. We are in discussions to admit postdocs and we're doing that in some of the departments in the business already. But I would say, in general terms, we look for the same thing that we look for with new faculty. We're looking for people who are doing interesting research, very motivated and passionate about what they do. We don't necessarily look for a specific domain. For example, I'm not just looking for health IT researchers. In fact, our recent hires haven't been healthcare focused at all. But we're looking for people who have interest in obviously information systems topics but more broadly just anything that we think is exciting and has oppotunities to get published. Ambition, motivation, good training -- those are really important for us, and I'd say more than anything else, we look for people who we think fit into the group from a personality standpoint. We look for people that we want in the hallway that we wanna see everyday -- somebody that matches well with us. 

What advice would you give to PhD students, particularly who are searching for dissertation topic, and who are looking to enter the job market?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Sep 12 2019
Well, it comes back to somebody who's really solidly trained in methods and it could be econometrics. It could be psych methods. But you have to have a really strong background in that particular area. So, you have to understand stats. The dissertation topics thing, that's a tougher one. Sometimes, I think you need a crystal ball because you want to choose a topic that is timely and matters, but it's a long process too and sometimes, I think it was just dumb luck on my part that I ended up working on a dissertation topic health IT that sort of came into its own as I was doing the process and thankfully, has stuck around. For me, I would say for the student, you have to be watching for what beacons are firing like what's happening in society that I think will be an important topic not just today but in the next five years because that's when you really have to sell your research which is when you're out on the job market. I hate to say it this way but it's almost like a writer entry these days when you're applying for a faculty position that you don't even get in the door without at least one A publication on your your CV. I think in a lot of the tier one research schools, that's almost a requirement for them but beyond that I mean we're also looking for a deep pipeline. What that really means is that you got to hit the ground running and say in your second, third year of the PhD program, you really have to start working with faculty and getting some papers out there and under review because the review cycle is so long. I guess one last piece of advice I would give is that in your first and second year of a PhD program, really look around the department and see who's doing that type of work that interests you and begin to align yourself with that person. If there's nobody that's really working in the area, then you find somebody still within the department who you think would be willing to kind of steer their research in the direction of yours because it's invaluable that you have a seasoned professor -- somebody that you can work with -- that's really motivated to continue doing research . That's what's really going to help you get your papers out there and and have stuff that's under review and in advanced stages. It's critical that you have that. 

What classes do you teach? How has your teaching philosophy changed over the years?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Sep 12 2019
Well, right now I teach consulting course. It's called business problem solving and I wouldn't necessarily call it an IT course but it's a course that our IT management students have to take. It's a required course with a case-based class and we teach students different problem solving frameworks. It's kind of like doing five case competitions in a single semester because we bring in real consulting firms that have actual problems that they bring to the students and then the students work in groups and present their solutions back to the firms. It's a lot of fun to teach that class. I've also taught strategic IT and project manangement -- also classes I really enjoy. I don't know that my teaching philosophy has necessarily changed in the twelve years or so that I've been teaching but for me, I have this sticky note on my computer here in front of me that says every student matters and I see that and I carry that with me hopefully every day to class because the one thing I've realized over the years is that I don't just teach to those that are really motivated and want to be there and are engaged in what I'm saying. I also teach to those that barely drag themselves to class that day and I don't consider myself an edutainer, but I do think it's my job to engage students, or at least try to engage students. A lot of what I do in classroom is geared towards how do I draw them in to this and because I do mostly case-based teaching style or lectures, it really is imcumbent on a successful session to have them engaged with what I'm saying. I mean I need to draw them in. I need them to contribute. So, my philosophy is very much wanting engagement. How do I get them interested in the topic and how do I bring them out in the classroom and fully recognizing that there's just some students that don't want to be engaged in the classroom setting. So, I spend a lot of time emailing students and seeing if I can bring them in on a topic through other means than just in the classroom whether it's them coming into my office or just us exchanging emails about what they thought of this case and why they did what they did. And it's been very successful approaching certain students that way. We also have the luxury here of having mostly small classes. To be honest with you, I don't know if that same method would work in a big lecture hall, but I've never had to teach that big lecture here. My class this semester, I have three sections of about on average twenty, twenty-two students. It's very nice. I get to know the students really well and it's almost like running a seminar with three different sections of students. It's a really fun and, for me, exciting way of teaching. It's something that appreciate because I know that it's not available everywhere. 

Do you have any parting advice for young faculty? Is there anything you would have done differently?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Sep 12 2019
I don't know about differently. Maybe I would have joined a PhD program earlier in my life because I worked for ten years in corporate before pursuing a PhD, but then again, I wouldn't have had the ten years of experience in corporate that I could bring to the classroom and I don't think a day goes by that I'm teaching that I don't bring in examples from the corporate world. So, yeah, I don't know that I would do anything different. I'd say that you really have to give it your all. I'm more speaking about when you're in PhD school. It was really exciting to help build a center but it was at the same time frightening. Here you are trying to finish a dissertation and trying to help build something and you have all those thoughts in your mind -- probably the same doubts every PhD student has -- am I good at this? Am I actually gonna be able to publish stuff? But then you're also compounding that with geez, can we effectively build this center? Can we get funding? Can we run projects? And you have to have advocates. You have to have people there that are cheering for you, that are pulling for you. It is really that more than anything else that I attribute whatever success I have. I mean and I don't think I'd be where I am right now if we didn't start that center. It helped me understand so many things. It helped me understand not just operating this business with any university but also corporate engagement -- how do you deal with federal agencies, what are the challenges there are associated with getting faculty to engage in research projects -- and at the same time then steering my own research agenda towards something that I was excited about. Thankfully, things fall into place and I got lucky, but I think the biggest part of that was I worked hard to try and make those things happen and took some chances. Luckily, it worked out. I would say the same thing of any PhD student. I'm not sure I would recommend that they try to start a research center as a PhD student but I would strongly encourage them to do something that's setting them apart from the flock because every job we post, we get a hundred and twenty, a hundred and thirty applications for. You got to do something that gets you noticed. Pick interesting topics. Find something that really can carve out the niche for you.