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Successful Paths to Your Dissertation José A. Quiles, Ph.D. Facilitator Education Faculty, Higher Education.

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Presentation on theme: "Successful Paths to Your Dissertation José A. Quiles, Ph.D. Facilitator Education Faculty, Higher Education."— Presentation transcript:


2 Successful Paths to Your Dissertation José A. Quiles, Ph.D. Facilitator Education Faculty, Higher Education

3 2 Goals of the Doctoral Dissertation To produce independent scientific research knowledge Make an additional contribution to the existing knowledge on a topic Demonstrate expertise in a topic area and basic skills to conduct research in a systematic and scholarly manner Continued…

4 3 Goals of the Doctoral Dissertation Write the research results into the form of a doctoral dissertation and make it available to the scholarly community

5 4 A Research Topic, Problem, Question? Where Do I Begin…? What Can I Do…? If Not Now…When…?

6 5 Remember As you Reflect on your research question…that “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Anais Nin (1903-1977), Frechn/American writer.

7 6 You Are Not A “Tabula Rassa” Search Process for finding ideas, topics, problems, questions Your Contribution Your Interest (passion) Expertise (knowledge & experience)

8 7 Getting research ideas Do these things and you won't lack for ideas!

9 8 Research problem or topic of interest Where to Identify My Problem…? Theoretical problems from the literature Work related problems or situations Personal experience and background Read recently completed dissertations on your topic (within two or three years) Suggested problem from an on-going project

10 9 Four steps for addressing the problem 1.Identify the problem or topic 2.Find out what is known about the problem or topic 3.Develop a plan for addressing the problem a. Research proposal 4.Implement your research plan and evaluate the results

11 10 Observations Propositions Models Theory Empirical Research Ideas, Concepts Scientific knowledge literature Assumptions Hypotheses Methodology, Design, Analysis, Instruments 1 2 3 4 6 7 8 A Scientific Analysis Model a b y-1 Dependent variables x Independent variables i iiii iii Represents actual or ideal direction of theory testing Represents direction of relationships of identified phenomena Represents feedback channel © Quiles, 2001 Application Actions 10 11 13 ii y-2 15 Applied Focus 14 9 12 5 Practice

12 11 Conceptual Approaches Etic Emic Nomotheti c Ideographi c Two Views to Study Social Phenomena Two Study Approaches Nomothetic Emic Ideographic Etic Nomothetic Etic Ideographic Emic Social & Behavioral Research Normative What should be ObjectiveSubjective

13 12 Etic & Emic Views Etic view - attempts to be objective and impersonal, standing outside of the phenomenon under study, without participating or being “ contaminated ” by direct involvement Emic view – seeks immersion of oneself in the situation, being deliberatively subjective and personal in studying a phenomenon, looking to be a “ participant-observer ”

14 13 Nomothetic & Ideographic Approaches Nomothetic approach – search for general laws and principles of behavior which are universally applicable making individuals alike (Normative) Idiographic approach – emphasizes ways which make each individual unique and focuses on identifying differences between people (What should be)

15 14 Applying a Learning Cycle ActionExperience Conceptualization Reflection

16 15

17 16 Look carefully at the design to the left, and find “your” flower. There are no right or wrong answers. Finding Your Idea or Topic

18 17 Surprises About Flowers People often look at the whole flower only… People can easily be oblivious to the individual petals… A single petal in a flower can be very easy to ignore… Each petal may have its own story to tell…

19 18 Knowledge & Your Dissertation Areas of diverse knowledge Your dissertation’s contribution to knowledge © 2003, Quiles

20 19 Topic Generating Strategies Find a existing problem which intrigues you Read “accepted” assumptions and exceptions Read the mavericks for untested propositions Pay attention to:  Important & unanswered questions (Gaps)  Conflicts that remain unresolved (Contradictions)  Proposed connections

21 20 Specific Problem Generation Strategies Read discussion sections in research articles Review related journal publications & textbook summaries Find holes in samples, designs, variables, & hypotheses Examine the literature review of research studies Explore new research ideas offered by existing research

22 21 Who should be your Chair?  Faculty Mentor?  Faculty You Know Well?  Faculty Expert? Supervisory Committee  Content  Methodology One outside member (optional) Chair & Committee Members

23 22 Dissertation proposal Writing a dissertation proposal is perhaps the hardest part of the dissertation process. Creating a proposal requires that you work on multiple tasks:  Developing an understanding of an issue  Identifying, reading, and summarizing the relevant literature  Defining your own take on the problem (i.e., The statement of the problem) Continued…

24 23 Dissertation proposal These tasks can often be time consuming and frustrating processes. Preparing a proposal is an iterative process. Be ready to cycle through the various steps over and over and to re-write drafts. The operational words are… “write, revise, rewrite, revise, rewrite, revise, rewrite…” Continued…

25 24 Dissertation prospectus A proposal is a linear argument to convince a reader (Chair) to permit you to do the study (with a Committee’s consent), while the construction of the proposal is a non-linear process. Continued…

26 25 Myths & Traps Myth #1: It will be easier if I switch to a new topic, method, and/or problem. Trap: It is easy to become interested and/or lost in the many “flower petals” that you can see. The challenge is… STAY FOCUS!

27 26 Myths & Traps Myths Myth #2: If I switch committee chair/members it will be easier. Trap: Starting over with a new chair and team is rarely an answer, and can even cause significant delays in completion of your research work.

28 27 Develop a Ph.D Support Network Doctoral Study Group Professional Collegaues Close Personal Friends You Trust Family Members Make Your Chair Your Best Friend

29 28 Important Tools Get a dissertation guide!

30 29 Important Tools Get the APA 5 th edition and learned it!  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association

31 30 Important Tools If doing a quantitative study, get books on Statistics… Get ready to learn SPSS or a similar computer data analysis program

32 31 The Dissertation Proposal Any Questions ???????

33 32 The Dissertation Proposal Contains three chapters (see Rubric) Chapter 1 defines the problem Chapter 2 reviews known literature about the problem Chapter 3 describes a methodology to address the problem

34 33 Chapter-1 Chapter-2 Chapter-3 Chapter-4 Chapter-5 Chapter-6 Dissertation Process

35 34 The Dissertation Proposal  Length of proposal* If a quantitative study, no longer than 45 pages, excluding references & appendices If a qualitative study, no longer than 55 pages, excluding references & appendices (*This is only Dr. Quiles’ recommendation and it does not represent an approved policy from WaldenU)

36 35 Chapter 1 The Problem Introduction (background, statement & justification of the problem) Statement of the problem (Thesis) Purpose of the study (Importance) Research question(s) Continued…

37 36 Essentials Include a problem statement that describes at least two variables and a conjectured relationship between them. Identify the independent and dependent variables. (Walden Prospectus- 2005) In quantitative studies, the problem statement concisely states what will be studied. It describes at least two variables and a conjectured relationship between them. In qualitative studies, the problem statement describes the need for increased understanding about the issue to be studied. (Walden Dissertation Rubric – July 2005)

38 37 Functions of a Problem Statement  Stipulating – to stipulate a problematic set of circumstances.  Relating – to relate the problem to its theoretical and research based antecedents.  Justifying – to justify the utility, significance, or interest inherent in the pursuit and possible solution of the problem – cost in time and effort.  Establishing – to establish the existence of two or more factors which, by their interaction, produce a connected state, yield a consequence, or result.

39 38 A Problem Statement Is: “A well articulated statement which establishes the foundation for everything to follow in the proposal and will render less problematic most of the conceptual, rhetorical and methodological obstacles typically encountered during the process of proposal development” (Cline & Clark, 2000).

40 39 Chapter 1 The Problem Assumptions Significance of the study So what? What is the contribution? D efinitions of terms Scope, limitations & delimitations Continued…

41 40 The Purpose of the Research Not a restatement of the problem – it is the next step after laying out the problem – therefore: The purpose of the study is to answer the research questions. Provide empirically supported suggestions for addressing the stipulated problem.

42 41 The Significance of the Research Discussing what stands to be gained by conducting the present research is an essential and vital ingredient to Chapter 1.

43 42 Chapter 1 The Problem Conceptual or Theoretical framework  A graphic research model? (May include a brief statement on expected methodology) Hypotheses (or propositions) Continued…

44 43 What is a HYPOTHESIS ? A hypothesis is a tentative proposition A hypothesis is subject to verification through research Hypotheses can be hunches that the researcher has about the existence between the variables. The hypothesis forms the framework for the study The hypothesis guides which literature to investigate, how to select/devise methods; how you discuss results and write conclusions

45 44 The Conceptual Framework A conceptual framework proposes explanations for potential relationships between variables (Theoretical). It helps to place the study in perspective among other studies and to justify the value of undertaking the proposed study.

46 45 The Conceptual Framework If no conceptual framework is provided, there is no indication of where the study might fit in the universe of other research and thus the value of the study is questionable. The conceptual framework is usually summarized in the form of questions supporting the tentative nature of the framework.


48 47 Chapter 1 A graphic design-1 The relationship of parental roles on children’s school performance, behavior with peers, and delinquent conduct Conceptual Model

49 48 Chapter 1 A graphic design-2 The relationship of parental roles on children’s school performance, behavior with peers, and delinquent conduct Operational Model -Lack of discipline -Lack of communication -Lack of attention -School tardiness -Disrespectful behavior -Breaking school rules -Isolation by peers -Fighting with peers -Negative behavior with peers -Poor study habits -High absence rates -Poor academic performance -Member of deviant group -Engage in deviant acts -Participates in gang activity -Anti-social behavior -Trouble-maker acts Independent variables Constructs Intervening variables Dependent variables Constructs

50 49 Chapter 2 The Literature Driven by the framework in support of the statement of the problem Provides a foundation for the acquisition of new knowledge Needs to be directly connected to the problem Continued…

51 50 Chapter 2 The Literature Helps determine what is already known and what knowledge gaps need attention Aids in interpretation of results Provides foundation for hypotheses and methodology of Chapter 3 Continued…

52 51 Chapter 2: Literature Review Include literature supporting the use of the theory Include literature on your topic (content) Narrow to the literature that supports the use of theory to your particular problem The final paragraphs of your literature review should convince the readers that your research is theoretically and empirically justified If you are testing a model, show it!

53 52 Strategies for searching literature Search by title or abstract only. Title only searches useful for identifying research whose focus is what you are looking for Use the word “review” in your search For your dissertation, you are required to state, in Chapter 2, the details of how you conducted your literature search. Write down your search terms carefully and keep track of them.

54 53 REPEAT AFTER ME: “MY DISSERTATION MUST CONTAIN PRIMARILY PEER REVIEWED REFERENCES” Common problems  Reliance on textbooks or books that are not peer reviewed  Reliance on websites of questionable worth  Reliance on secondary sources

55 54 Acceptable Sources Peer reviewed journal articles (most within 5 years) Edited books (these generally are peer-reviewed) Websites (.gov) that house statistics, some material from educational (.edu) sites When in doubt, consult your Chair

56 55 Focus on Your Goal: Your Contribution to the Literature What are the theoretical models used in the area? What populations have been involved and not involved in the research? What control variables have been examined? Which have not? What methods have been used? Which have not been used? What designs (cross-sectional versus longitudinal, univariate versus multivariate) have been used? Contribution to Social Change (Significance)

57 56 The Literature Review Chart  What did other studies find on variables of interest?  What theoretical perspectives were used to examine the variables?  What methodologies (qualitative, quantitative) were brought to bear?  What are the strengths / limitations of the empirical studies  What is left unconfirmed from the existing research?  Limitations of sample (who is in it, how generalizable)  What populations are left undescribed?

58 57 Chapter 3 The Method The content of Chapter 3 will depend upon the type of study being proposed There are different components parts depending on the type of study, but generally you need to develop the following aspects: Continued…

59 58 Chapter 3 The Method Procedures(Means – How)  Design of the study (experimental, descriptive)  Population & sample (setting)  Sample Size (Power & Effect size) Unit of Analysis (Target of study) Method for Sample Selection (e.g., random, convenient, stratified) Continued…

60 59 Chapter 3 The Method  Data collection (Schedule & timeline)  Instrumentation (Types of measures) (Reliability & validity) (Describe pilot test if appropriate)  Data collection procedures (Mailing, interviews)  Strategy for Data Collection Problems Continued…

61 60 Diciding on Research Methods What data will you collect? How will you collect these data? Interviews, questionnaires, or case studies? What is the methodology? Will there be the need for pilot testing?

62 61 Chapter 3 The Method  Accounting for Response Bias  Data analysis (Describe statistical method & computer software program) Provide a rationale for selection of statistical test(s) Level of Measurement {nominal, ordinal, interval, ratio}

63 62 What theory or framework will you use to analyse the data? Will it be quantitative or qualitative analysis? Quantitative (survey, statistically based). Qualitative (case study, detailed description). What tools will you use (i.e. software for analysis, SPSS, Excel)? What are your project timelines for completion? Analysis of Data

64 63 A Dissertation Reader’s Questions What are the possible use(s) which can be made of the information expected from this research? What’s new? – Particularly, how is this research distinguishable from previous research?

65 64 A Gantt chart is a horizontal bar chart developed as a production control tool in 1917 by Henry L. Gantt, an American engineer and social scientist. Frequently used in project management, a Gantt chart provides a graphical illustration of a schedule that helps to plan, coordinate, and track specific tasks in a project. Gantt charts may be simple versions created on graph paper or more complex automated versions created using project management applications such as Microsoft Project or Excel. Gantt Chart

66 65 Gantt Chart Proposal oral Dissertation oral

67 66 Doctoral Research Reminders Cite ALL references used in research (APA style) Ensure that you can address the problem in your life time Acknowledge credit for support and contributions Focus on the importance of positive social impact Remember the doctoral journey is not a linear process The dissertation is one piece not a whole life’s work

68 67 Your Goal… Walden Class of …!


70 69 All Rights Reserved © This presentation, Successful Paths to Your Dissertation, was developed by Dr. José A. Quiles, Faculty of Higher Education, Walden University, for a Special Session offered at the Ph.D. Lansdowne Residency, Virginia, from April 16 to April 20, 2008.

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