Drafting a Dissertation Proposal: Common Errors and Solutions


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Drafting a Dissertation Proposal: Common Errors and Solutions

  1. 1. Jamie Patterson, EdD (Writing Expert) Philip Adu, PhD (Methodology Expert) National Center for Academic & Dissertation Excellence (NCADE) The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
  2. 2.  Chapter one: 1. Overall Chapter one 2. Problem statement 3. Purpose statement 4. Research question(s) 5. Limitations and delimitations 6. Conceptual framework  Chapter two 1. Searching literature 2. Reviewing literature 3. Writing the review (synthesizing) 4. Citing sources  Chapter three 1. Clarity/heading levels 2. Research approach/design 3. Participants 4. Statistical analysis 5. Qualitative data analysis Common errors and Solutions
  3. 3.  Pitfalls related to: 1. Overall Chapter one 2. Problem statement 3. Purpose statement 4. Research question(s) 5. Limitations and delimitations 6. Conceptual framework Chapter One
  4. 4.   Common errors a. Length b. Informal language  Remember that Chapter 1 is meant to be an introduction of your study. The average Psychology dissertation has a Chapter 1 that is 14.4 pages in length (although your chair might require more or fewer!).  Avoid epigraphs, personal observations, experiences, or opinion. Overall Chapter One
  5. 5.  Common Error: a. Inability to clearly state a specific problem that needs to be addressed in the study Features of a good problem statement 1. Stating the problem of interest 2. Relating it to a real life situation 3. Describing what has been done in the existing studies 4. Identifying gap(s) the studies in relation to the problem 5. Describing how the study is going to fill the gap identified Problem statement (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011)
  6. 6.  Common Errors: a. Stating the contribution the study will make as the purpose of the study b. Missing features of the purpose statement Purpose Statement: Describing what you want to do/conduct in the study  The purpose statement should contain:  Research method/approach  Central phenomenon  Specific participants  Specific research location(s) Purpose statement (Creswell, 2009)
  7. 7.  Common Errors: a. Mismatch between purpose statement and research question(s) b. Improper construction of research question(s) Research question: It is the question to be addressed using data collected  Functions:  It drives the study  Informs data research approach  Informs data collection and analysis process Research Question(s)
  8. 8.  Research Question(s) cont... (Saldana, 2013; Trochim, 2006)
  9. 9.  Common Error: a. Inability to distinction between limitations and delimitations of a study Limitations: They are weaknesses related to decisions made in a study which are difficult to contain Delimitations: They are features in a study that can be controlled so as to determine the parameters or scope of the study. Limitations and Delimitations (Simon, 2011)
  10. 10.  Common Errors: a. Misunderstanding of conceptual framework b. Difficulty in developing a conceptual framework Conceptual framework: It is comprised of concepts, assertions, models, prepositions, and/or theories developed by researchers that explain your topic of interest, research problem , and/or phenomenon of focus Conceptual Framework
  11. 11.  Developing a conceptual framework is like solving a puzzle Solving a puzzle Developing conceptual framework 1. Looking at the puzzle Clearly describing the research problem/phenomenon 2. Examining each piece of the puzzle Assessing each of the existing concepts, assertions, models, prepositions, and/or theories in terms of how they explain the phenomenon: examining underlying meanings, assumptions, strengths and limitations 3. Putting the pieces together Synthesizing them to explain the phenomenon and identifying a gap, which your study would fill 4. Forming a picture with the pieces Developing a diagram to illustrate the synthesis http://www.public.iastate.edu/~laanan/ACTER/2010/symposia/Building_Conceptual_Knobloch.pdf http://ocedtheories.wikispaces.com/file/view/Camp+on+Theoretical+Frameworks.pdf
  12. 12.  Chapter 1 Questions?
  13. 13.  Pitfalls related to: 1. Searching for literature 2. Reviewing literature 3. Writing the review (synthesizing) 4. Citing sources Chapter Two
  14. 14.   Common Errors: a. Relying too heavily on sources other than the library databases b. Not properly tracking searches  Although you will come across many, many relevant and informative resources try to keep in mind that the vast majority of these will serve as your own education. The vast majority of sources that will be referenced in your dissertation will need to be from peer reviewed literature.  Use a matrix or some form of a tracking tool so that you don’t lose time (and sanity!) repeating searches. Searching for Literature
  15. 15.   Common Errors: a. Too much time b. Too little time  Develop your own system for determining whether to spend time on an article. Skim the article for main items you’re interested in before investing time in reading the full article.  Once you determine that a source is worth the time of reading—read it! Highlighter in hand! Avoid quoting an abstract. Reviewing Literature
  16. 16.   Common Error: a. Summarizing but not synthesizing  Avoid summarizing a source—good rule of thumb is that every single paragraph in the literature review should have at least two sources. The goal is to show what sources have in common, which doesn’t take a lot of background. Writing the Review (synthesizing)
  17. 17.   Common Errors: a. Lack of citations b. Missing elements of the citation  Take the time to familiarize yourself with the APA manual. Find tools on the internet that work for you (Purdue OWL, for example).  Always include a page number when citing to help yourself as you move through the process (citations are only required when directly quoting, but citations are far easier to remove than they are to put in place after the initial draft). Citing Sources
  18. 18.  Chapter 2 Questions?
  19. 19.  Pitfalls related to: 1. Clarity/heading levels 2. Research approach/design 3. Participants 4. Statistical analysis 5. Qualitative data analysis Chapter Three
  20. 20.   Common errors a. Organization and use of headings  Headings are a wonderful tool that will help guide your reader through the material.  APA p. 62 has an outline of all headings. Note that you’ll only drop from a Level 1 down to a Level 2 (and Level 2 to Level 3, and so on) if there are two or more headings at the next level. Heading Levels
  21. 21.  Common Errors: a. Unable to clearly articulate research method/approach/design and the rationale b. Confusing research approach with data collection strategy (such as interviews, surveys and focus groups) especially for a qualitative study c. Mismatch between research question/hypothesis and research approach Research method/approach: It is a specific strategy used in conducting research. It guides research decisions related to the sampling strategy, number of participants, data collection strategy, data analysis and interpretation of findings. Research Approach/design
  22. 22.  Research designs cont... (Creswell, 2007; Creswell, Plano Clark, Gutmann, & Hanson, 2003; Keele, 2011)
  23. 23. Common errors:  No idea about the number of participants needed  No justification of the number of participants chosen  No idea about how participants will be accessed Participants Qualitative Quantitative Number of participants Enough to collect rich data to address the research question Large enough to prevent committing Type II error (for inferential statistics) Justification Using research approach, participants’ homogeneity, phenomenon being studying, and level of saturation Using the results of power analysis (Cohen's Power Tables and G* power) sampling strategies Sampling strategies: Convenient, purposive, random, stratified, and cluster sampling
  24. 24.  Statistical Analysis Common Errors: a. Unable to determine appropriate statistical analysis b. Unable to justify the statistical analytical analysis chosen  Descriptive statistics  Central tendency – mean, median and mode  Measures of variability – Standard deviation, range, and variance
  25. 25.  Inferential statistics Determining appropriate statistical analysis a. Rationale for the hypothesis i. Prediction, relationship or causal effect b. Variables involved in terms of the number c. Level of measurement of the variables d. Appropriate statistical test e. Assumptions associated with the test Statistical Analysis cont...
  26. 26.  Statistical Analysis cont...
  27. 27.  Common Errors: a. Unable to articulate how to analyze qualitative data b. Little knowledge about coding process c. Unaware of appropriate specific coding strategies A code is a word, phrase, or sentence that represents aspect(s) of a data or captures the essence or feature(s) of a data Qualitative Data Analysis (Saldana, 2013)
  28. 28.  Qualitative Data Analysis
  29. 29.  ncade@thechicagoschool.edu  Schedule a methodology consultation with Dr. Adu or Dr. Glazek  Submit your draft for review by Dr. Patterson or one of our other DWEs Questions?
  30. 30. American Psychological Association. (2009). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, D.C.: Author. Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches (3rd). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Creswell, J. W., Plano Clark, V. L., Gutmann, M. L., & Hanson, W. E. (2003). Advanced mixed methods research designs. In A. Tashakkori & C. Teddlie (Eds.), Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioral research (pp. 209–240). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Creswell, J. W. , & Plano Clark, V. L.. (2011). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Thousand Oak, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.. Simon, M. K. (2011). Dissertation and scholarly research: Recipes for success (2011 Ed.). Seattle, WA, Dissertation Success, LLC. http://dissertationrecipes.com/wp- content/uploads/2011/04/AssumptionslimitationsdelimitationsX.pdf Hanson, W. E., Creswell, J. W., Plano Clark, V. L., Petska, K. S., & Creswell, D. J. (2005). Mixed methods research designs in counseling psychology. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 2(55), 224- 235. doi:10.1037/0022-0167.52.2.224 Saldana, J. (2013). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. London: Sage Keele, R. (2011). Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice. MA: Jones & Bartlett, LLC References