Insert the email address with which you have registered at the website to receive a new password.

The one hour free seminar 'Design and defend your PhD with the Idea Puzzle® software' has had 239 editions and 6805 participants in over 70 higher education institutions in 17 countries. A longer version of the seminar is organised annually by the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management (EIASM) in Brussels.



'PhD' means 'Doctor of Philosophy'. Yet, most doctoral students have never attended a course on Philosophy of Science (Abrahamson, 2008). They thus perceive their research project as a sequence of tasks such as the literature review, data collection, and data analysis rather than a system of dilemmatic decisions (McGrath, 1981) that integrates epistemology, methodology, ontology, and axiology (Tsang, 2016). Such a gap may explain the fact that almost 50% of North American students fail to complete their PhD in 10 years (CGS, 2007). It is not a problem of time, but of focus. 

Idea Puzzle® software is therefore a decision-making tool that integrates the theory, method, data, rhetoric, and authorship of a research project to focus an academic text such as a research proposal, a thesis, or a journal article. The Idea Puzzle® software asks 21 questions, helps answer them, and allows the self-evaluation of each answer. The sequence of 21 questions follows a funnel logic to help focusing a research design.

The output of the Idea Puzzle® software is a research design with around 2000 words, an overall score and a visual map, based on the 21 answers and the respective self-evaluation (examples: DesignEngineeringManagement; MedicinePsychology). The estimated time to complete a research design is of one working day, ideally six months after enrolling in a PhD.

The main benefits of the Idea Puzzle® software are the coherent design and defence of a research project from the point of view of Philosophy of Science. In 2016, the Academy of Management Learning & Education (3.796 Impact Factor) presented the Idea Puzzle® software as "a useful tool for any research project regardless of the experience level of the user" (Parente & Ferro, 2016, p. 643). To date, the Idea Puzzle® software has helped design around 4000 research projects worldwide, in all fields of knowledge.



Doctoral candidates, supervisors, and methodology teachers in all fields of knowledge.



After the seminar, participants will be able to design and defend a research project in all fields of knowledge with the Idea Puzzle® software. Such results constitute an investment in life-long research skills.



1. Empirical research as a system of 21 decisions

2. Theoretical decisions of your research

3. Methodological decisions of your research

4. Empirical decisions of your research

5. Rhetorical decisions of your research
6. Authorial decisions of your research
7. Implications for your research



Ricardo Morais is Head of the Management Department at Católica Porto Business School, coordinator of the doctoral seminar "How to design your PhD" at the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management (EIASM) in Brussels, founder of Idea Puzzle, and alumni of HPI School of Design Thinking in Germany. He holds a PhD in Strategic Management from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, having graduated in Management from the Faculty of Economics of the University of Porto. His research are interdisciplinary, including critical realism, strategic thinking, and design thinking. Since 2002, he has lectured these topics in over 70 higher education institutions in 17 countries. He is a member of the Academy of Management, Strategic Management Society, and Christian Association of Entrepreneurs and Managers.



Aalborg University, Denmark

Academia Militar, Portugal

ADDICT - Agência para o Desenvolvimento das Indústrias Criativas, Portugal

ADI - Agência de Inovação, Portugal

Aalto University, Finland

Associação Comercial do Porto - Câmara de Comércio e Indústria, Portugal

Associação Nacional de Jovens Empresários, Portugal

EDP Inovação, Portugal

EIASM - European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management, Belgium

Escola Superior Artística do Porto, Portugal

Escola Superior de Saúde de Viana do Castelo, Portugal

Escola Superior de Tecnologia da Saúde do Porto, Portugal

Escola Superior de Turismo e Tecnologia do Mar, Portugal

Escola Superior Gallaecia, Portugal

Escola Superior Náutica Infante D. Henrique, Portugal

EUA-CDE - European University Association Council for Doctoral Education, Belgium

Eurodoc - European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers, Belgium

Finnish Graduate School of Applied Bioscience, Finland
GC University, Pakistan

Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, Finland

Hanken School of Economics, Finland

Hochschule für Musik Carl Maria von Weber, Germany
Instituto de Estudos Superiores de Fafe, Portugal

Instituto Piaget, Portugal
Instituto Politécnico de Beja, Portugal

Instituto Politécnico da Guarda, Portugal

Instituto Politécnico de Leiria, Portugal

Instituto Politécnico de Lisboa, Portugal

Instituto Politécnico de Santarém, Portugal

Instituto Politécnico do Cávado e do Ave, Portugal

Instituto Português de Administração de Marketing, Portugal

Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestão, Portugal

Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto, Portugal

International Society for Professional Innovation Management, UK

ISCTE-IUL, Portugal

ISM University of Management and Economics, Lithuania
Quality in Postgraduate Research, Australia

Sociedade Portuguesa de Terapia da Fala, Portugal

Southern Denmark University, Denmark

Stockholm Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden

Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship, Sweden

TECMAIA - Parque de Ciência e Tecnologia da Maia, Portugal

UCLA - University of Californa, Los Angeles, USA

Universidad Antonio de Nebrija, Spain

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain

Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción, Chile

Universidad de Concepción, Chile

Universidad de La Coruña, Spain

Universidad de León, Spain

Universidad del Bío-Bío, Chile

Universidade Aberta, Portugal

Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa, Portugal

Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Portugal

Universidade da Beira Interior, Portugal

Universidade da Madeira, Portugal

Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal

Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal

Universidade de Évora, Portugal

Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal

Universidade de Vigo, Spain

Universidade do Algarve, Portugal

Universidade do Minho, Portugal

Universidade do Porto, Portugal

Universidade Fernando Pessoa, Portugal

Universidade Lusíada, Portugal

Universidade Lusófona, Portugal

Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal

Universidade Portucalense, Portugal

Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Portugal

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Spain
University of Economics in Bratislava, Slovakia

University of Jyväskylä, Finland

University of Lancaster, UK

University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

University of Tampere, Finland

University of Uppsala, Sweden