How to use both Quantitative and Qualitative research in Thesis

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A Guide to Quantitative and Qualitative Dissertation Research (Second Edition) March 24, 2017 James P. Sampson, Jr., Ph.D. 1114 West Call Street, Suite 1100 College of Education Florida State University Tallahassee, FL 32306-4450 jsampsonfsu.edu James P. Sampson, Jr., is the Mode L. Stone Distinguished Professor of Counseling and Career Development in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems, Associate Dean for Faculty Development in the College of Education, and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Technology in Counseling and Career Development at Florida State University. This book is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives 4.0 license, allowing any reader to copy and distribute the book’s content without permission of the author, provided that the author of the content is given proper attribution and that the content is not modified in any way. Dissertation Research Guide Acknowledgements I am indebted to Ashley Chason, Jill Cooley, Casey Dozier, Sarah Hartley, Stephen Hills, Gary Peterson, Cheryl Porter, Bob Reardon, Lauren Sampson, and Jon Shy for providing helpful comments on initial drafts of the manuscript and to Darrin Carr for suggesting the development of the book. Finally, I am particularly indebted to Sandy Sampson for her critical thinking skills, clarity of expression, and support in commenting on drafts of this book, as well as my other writing for the past 45 years. Dedication This book is dedicated to my doctoral students who have taught me a great deal as we collaborated on their dissertation research. ii Dissertation Research Guide Table of Contents Preface ......................................................................................................................................... vi The Nature and Writing of this Book .................................................................................. vi A Recommended Approach to Reading and using this Book ............................................. vii Chapter 1: The Nature of Dissertation Research ........................................................................ 1 Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 1 The Components of Dissertation Research .......................................................................... 2 The Dissertation Concept Paper ................................................................................... 2 The Dissertation Prospectus ......................................................................................... 3 The Dissertation ............................................................................................................ 4 The Dissertation Manuscript ........................................................................................ 5 A Sequence for Completing the Four Dissertation Components ......................................... 5 The Dissertation Concept Paper ................................................................................... 6 The Dissertation Prospectus ......................................................................................... 6 The Dissertation ............................................................................................................ 7 The Dissertation Manuscript ........................................................................................ 7 Integration of Quantitative and Qualitative Dissertation Research ..................................... 7 The Potential for Researcher Bias ....................................................................................... 8 Chapter 2: Successful Dissertation Research .............................................................................. 10 Collaboration among Researchers ....................................................................................... 10 Integration of Doctoral Student Research ............................................................................ 11 Factors Contributing to Successful Dissertation Research .................................................. 13 Good Communication .................................................................................................. 13 Good planning .............................................................................................................. 14 Using an Effective Process for Writing ........................................................................ 14 Attention to Detail ........................................................................................................ 15 Openness to Serendipity ............................................................................................... 15 Visualizing Success ...................................................................................................... 15 Chapter 3: Organization of the Dissertation ............................................................................... 16 Schema Development and Dissertation Organization ......................................................... 16 A Recommended Organization of Dissertation Components .............................................. 20 Chapter 4: The Initial Parts of the Dissertation .......................................................................... 24 Title ...................................................................................................................................... 24 Supervisory Committee Page .............................................................................................. 25 Dedication ............................................................................................................................ 25 Acknowledgements .............................................................................................................. 25 Table of Contents ................................................................................................................. 25 List of Tables ....................................................................................................................... 26 List of Figures ...................................................................................................................... 26 Biography ............................................................................................................................ 26 Abstract ................................................................................................................................ 26 Chapter 5: The Introduction Chapter .......................................................................................... 27 Statement of the Problem ..................................................................................................... 28 Research Questions .............................................................................................................. 28 Social Significance .............................................................................................................. 30 iii Dissertation Research Guide Chapter 6: The Review of the Literature Chapter ....................................................................... 31 Critical Analysis of the Literature ....................................................................................... 32 Research Questions .............................................................................................................. 32 Operational Definition of Terms ......................................................................................... 33 Chapter 7: The Method Chapter ................................................................................................. 34 Methodology ........................................................................................................................ 34 Hypotheses ........................................................................................................................... 34 Research Design .................................................................................................................. 35 Variables .............................................................................................................................. 36 Measures .............................................................................................................................. 37 Statement of Purpose .................................................................................................... 38 Development of the Measure ........................................................................................ 38 Scales and Subscales .................................................................................................... 38 Potential Bias in the Measures ..................................................................................... 39 Standardization ............................................................................................................. 39 Adequacy of Normative Groups ........................................................................... 39 Representativeness of Normative Groups ............................................................. 39 Reliability ..................................................................................................................... 39 Validity ......................................................................................................................... 40 Face validity .......................................................................................................... 40 Content validity ..................................................................................................... 40 Construct validity .................................................................................................. 41 Factorial validity ................................................................................................... 41 Convergent validity ............................................................................................... 41 Discriminant validity ............................................................................................. 41 Criterion validity ................................................................................................... 41 Summary of Evidence of the Appropriateness of the Measures .................................. 41 Transparency ................................................................................................................ 41 Coherency ..................................................................................................................... 42 Credibility ..................................................................................................................... 42 Relevancy .............................................................................................................. 42 Plausibility ............................................................................................................. 43 Competency ........................................................................................................... 43 Summary of Evidence of the Appropriateness of the Measures .................................. 44 Treatment ............................................................................................................................. 44 Participants .......................................................................................................................... 45 Sampling ....................................................................................................................... 46 Population ..................................................................................................................... 46 Characteristics of the Participants ................................................................................ 46 Data Analysis ....................................................................................................................... 47 Research Questions and Hypotheses ............................................................................ 48 Data Analysis Validity ................................................................................................. 48 Delimitations ........................................................................................................................ 49 Procedures ............................................................................................................................ 50 Procedures Prior to Data Collection ............................................................................. 50 Procedures during Data Collection ............................................................................... 52 iv Dissertation Research Guide Procedures after Data Collection .................................................................................. 53 Chapter 8: The Findings Chapter ................................................................................................ 54 Research Questions and Hypotheses ................................................................................... 54 Additional Findings ............................................................................................................. 55 Chapter 9: The Discussion Chapter ............................................................................................ 56 Research Questions and Hypotheses ................................................................................... 57 Additional Findings ............................................................................................................. 58 Limitations of the Study ...................................................................................................... 59 Limitations in Sampling ............................................................................................... 59 Limitations in the Measures ......................................................................................... 59 Limitations in the Treatment ........................................................................................ 60 Limitations in the Data Analyses ................................................................................. 60 Implications ......................................................................................................................... 60 Implications for Theory Development ......................................................................... 60 Implications for Research ............................................................................................. 61 Implications for Practice ............................................................................................... 61 Implications for Education and Training ...................................................................... 62 Implications for Public Policy ...................................................................................... 62 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................... 63 Chapter 10: Dissertation References and Appendices ................................................................ 64 References ............................................................................................................................ 64 Appendices .......................................................................................................................... 64 Chapter 11: An Example of Dissertation Organization .............................................................. 66 References ................................................................................................................................... 78 Appendix A: Checklist for Completing the Dissertation Concept Paper ................................... 79 Appendix B: Checklist for Completing the Dissertation Prospectus .......................................... 80 Appendix C: Checklist for Completing the Dissertation ............................................................ 82 Appendix D: Checklist for Completing the Dissertation Manuscript ......................................... 83 List of Tables Table 1: Questions Answered in the Sequencing of Sections of the Dissertation ...................... 18 Table 2: The Organization of Dissertation Sections ................................................................... 21 List of Figures Figure 1: Potential Integration of Doctoral Student Research .................................................... 13 Figure 2: The Sequencing of Sections of the Dissertation .......................................................... 19 v Dissertation Research Guide Preface The Nature and Writing of this Book The impetus for writing this book on dissertation research began with an effort to improve the quality of dissertation supervision that I offer to my own doctoral students. The process for writing this book began with a selective review of dissertations I have directed in the past. This review led to a clarification of the content, process, and organization of quantitative and qualitative dissertation research based on the needs of doctoral students who are completing the research and the needs of readers who are consumers of the research. This book begins with an explanation of the nature and characteristics of successful dissertation research. An approach to organizing the dissertation concept paper, the dissertation prospectus, the dissertation, and the dissertation manuscript is then described. The specific elements of the dissertation are described in detail. The book continues with an example of dissertation headings for a specific research question. The book ends with a dissertation research bibliography and four checklists for completing the dissertation concept paper, the dissertation prospectus, the dissertation, and the dissertation manuscript. This book is not intended to reflect an analysis of the evolution of dissertation research as represented in the literature, a critical review of the content and process of dissertation research, nor a systematic analysis of the quality of dissertation research. The book does present my recommendations for designing and executing quantitative and qualitative dissertation research based on my own experience writing a dissertation, reading other dissertations, and directing dissertations. My intention was to present one consistent voice and line of reasoning with little interruption from citations, as opposed to synthesizing prior thought in the literature on dissertation research and then integrating this body of knowledge with my own point of view. This type of writing is a significant departure from my typical approach to scholarly writing. I have intentionally not reviewed other resources on dissertation research before or during the writing of this book in order to bring a fresh perspective to this topic. However, I did briefly examine the topics included in a variety of research texts to reduce the chances that I had inadvertently omitted a relevant research method. The specific content that I have included in this book can be found in multiple sources, as opposed to the contribution of a single author. If there was a chance that the idea I presented was a unique contribution of one author, I included a reference as is appropriate. I have included selected references from cognitive psychology in the section on “Recommended Organization of the Dissertation” to support my rationale for dissertation organization. I do recommend reading other resources on dissertation research to provide additional perspectives on dissertation research. Kerlinger and Lee (2000) and Patton (2002) are excellent general sources of information on conducting quantitative and qualitative research. A Web-site link to a listing of dissertation writing resources and a bibliography by Sarah Hartley on dissertation research are provided in this book. Any similarities between the recommendations in this book and recommendations made in other dissertation resources is purely coincidental and likely represents a prevalent view of dissertation research espoused in doctoral research courses, dissertation supervision, and doctoral defenses at my own university and other universities where I have served. vi Dissertation Research Guide The second edition of this book includes updated content based on my work with doctoral student dissertations since 2008. Former students were very helpful in suggesting additional content based on their dissertation research experience. A Recommended Approach to Reading and Using this Book This book can be used by doctoral students at several points in the process of planning and completing their dissertations. The following recommendations are designed to help students use the portions of this book that are most likely to meet their needs at the time. Of course these are only suggestions and the reader can choose to read portions or the entire book in whatever sequence that seems appropriate. The recommended sequence is as follows: 1. Read the Introduction, Nature of Dissertation Research, Potential Synergy in Dissertation Research, and Factors Contributing to Successful Dissertation Research to promote an understanding of the factors that contribute to successful dissertation research. 2. Since the dissertation is the most comprehensive document of the four dissertation manuscripts, skip to the chapters of the book on the Dissertation and read the Identification of Dissertation Components, Recommended Organization of the Dissertation, and Description of Dissertation Components to promote an understanding of the content and the sequencing of the dissertation. 3. As work begins on the dissertation concept paper, read the section of the book that describes the concept paper and than review the dissertation components that are a part of the concept paper to promote an understanding of the nature and specific elements of the document. Use the Checklist for Completing the Dissertation Concept Paper in Appendix A as a step-by-step guide for preparing the document. 4. As work begins on the dissertation prospectus, read the section on the prospectus and review the dissertation components that are a part of the prospectus to promote an understanding of the nature and specific elements of the document. Use the Checklist for Completing the Dissertation Prospectus in Appendix B as a step-by-step guide for preparing the document. 5. As work begins on the dissertation, review the chapters on the dissertation to promote an understanding of the nature, sequencing, and specific components of the document. Use the Checklist for Completing the Dissertation in Appendix C as a step-by-step guide for preparing the document. 6. As work begins on the dissertation manuscript, review the section on the manuscript to promote an understanding of the nature and specific elements of the document. Use the Checklist for Completing the Dissertation Manuscript in Appendix D as a step-by-step guide for preparing the document. vii Dissertation Research Guide Chapter 1: The Nature of Dissertation Research Introduction A dissertation is a systematic investigation of a socially significant research question that makes a contribution to the literature and demonstrates the skill of doctoral students to conduct original research. Dissertation research is a collaborative process primarily involving students and their major professors with additional input and evaluation provided by the supervisory committee. Further input for students’ research may be provided by fellow students and researchers in other organizations. Having a clear understanding of the nature and process of dissertation research, as well as a clear understanding of the organization of dissertation documents, helps students to make more effective use of their time, as well as more effective use of the time of their major professor and supervisory committee members. 1 The recommendations in this book are only intended to provide doctoral students and their major professors with a starting point to discuss the development and organization of the student’s dissertation concept paper, dissertation prospectus, dissertation, and dissertation manuscript. Each major professor works with his or her student to select an organizational schema that is appropriate for the nature of the student’s research. The organization of dissertation documents varies according to students’ research questions and the unique perspective each major professor brings to conducting research. The organization of dissertation documents also varies according to the traditions in specific academic departments and disciplines. Hopefully this book will help students and their major professors to clarify their own views of the content, process, and organization of dissertation research. While this book is written for students in the social sciences, many of the recommendations can apply to dissertation research in other disciplines as well. Also, while this book focuses on the dissertation, many of the recommendations may also apply to the Master’s thesis. This book describes the nature and process of dissertation research, as well as the recommended organization of the dissertation concept paper, dissertation prospectus, dissertation, and dissertation manuscript. The method of presentation and extent of referencing required is indicated for each section of the dissertation concept paper, dissertation, and dissertation manuscript. All headings in this book follow the 2010 edition of the American Psychological Association style manual. A bibliography of some of the available resources on dissertation research is presented at the end of this book. In addition, Levine (2004) maintains a bibliography on thesis and dissertation preparation that can be used to inform doctoral students and their major professors of the range of current opinions on the content and process of dissertation research. This book begins with a discussion of the nature of dissertation research, followed by a discussion of potential synergy in dissertation research and an identification of factors contributing to successful dissertations. Each of the four dissertation documents (dissertation 1 While doctoral students who have passed their preliminary examinations are typically referred to as “doctoral candidates,” the more general term, “doctoral students” is used for the sake of simplicity in these guidelines to refer to students completing their dissertation research. 1 Dissertation Research Guide concept paper, dissertation prospectus, dissertation, and dissertation manuscript) are then described. The book concludes with references, a bibliography on dissertation research, and checklists for completing each of the four dissertation documents. This chapter begins with an explanation of the four components of dissertation research and continues with a description of a sequence for completing the four dissertation components and a discussion of the integration of quantitative and qualitative dissertation research. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the potential for researcher bias. The Components of Dissertation Research Conducting dissertation research involves preparing two to four documents. Ideally, students prepare the following four dissertation documents: 1. Dissertation concept paper 2. Dissertation prospectus 3. Dissertation 4. Dissertation manuscript While only the dissertation prospectus and the dissertation are usually required, preparing a dissertation concept paper typically improves the quality of the proposed research by increasing the early involvement of supervisory committee members in the planning of the research. Submission and subsequent publication of the dissertation manuscript meets the obligation of social scientists to disseminate their research to the profession. All four dissertation documents presented in this book use APA style (2010). The final preparation of the dissertation itself is typically governed by a combination of APA style and the dissertation guidelines of the university where students are seeking their degree. The following sections describe the components of the dissertation concept paper, the dissertation prospectus, the dissertation, and the dissertation manuscript. The Dissertation Concept Paper The dissertation concept paper, sometimes referred to as a pre-prospectus paper, is a brief twelve to fifteen page research proposal that describes what might be studied in the proposed dissertation, why it needs to be studied, and how it might be studied. Writing a dissertation concept paper provides an opportunity for students, in collaboration with their major professors, to explore a potential dissertation research study. Obtaining feedback from supervisory committee members at a supervisory committee meeting helps students to prepare a better developed dissertation prospectus or to select a more promising research topic. A dissertation concept paper and a dissertation research proposal that is required as part of the written and oral portions of the doctoral preliminary examination are redundant. In this case, the dissertation concept paper is not necessary. The dissertation concept paper includes the following sections: • Introduction (What will be included in the paper by the headings indicated as follows.) • Statement of the Problem • Research Questions 2 Dissertation Research Guide • Social Significance of the Problem • Hypotheses (if needed) • Research Design • Variables • Measures 2 • Treatment (if needed) • Participants • Data Analysis • Procedures • References Each of the above twelve topics included in the dissertation concept paper are described in Chapters 5 through 10 of this book. The specific presentation format and referencing requirements for each of the above components of the dissertation concept paper are described at the end of appropriate dissertation sections. Instructions for completing the dissertation concept paper are identified with the term “Dissertation Concept Paper” in the bulleted item. The Dissertation Prospectus A dissertation prospectus is the complete plan for executing the dissertation and is built upon the dissertation concept paper. The prospectus provides an opportunity for the supervisory committee to review the appropriateness of the research questions based upon the student’s critical review of the literature. Given that the research questions are appropriate, the prospectus then provides an opportunity for the committee to determine if the planned method will adequately answer the research questions. The student’s ability to write and defend his or her philosophy of science, research questions, and method helps the committee to judge if the student has the requisite research skills necessary to conduct the research. The prospectus defense allows the student to defend to the supervisory committee members the importance and appropriateness of the research questions, as well as defending the proposed method for the dissertation. The dissertation prospectus includes the following components: • Title page • Supervisory Committee page • Table of Contents • List of Tables (if needed) • List of Figures (if needed • Chapter 1 Introduction • Chapter 2 Review of the Literature 2 For experimental designs only. 3 Dissertation Research Guide • Chapter 3 Method • Tables (if needed) • Figures (if needed) • References • Appendices. The recommended organization of the introduction chapter, the review of the literature chapter, and the method chapters are described in Chapters 5, 6, and 7 of this book. Portions of the introduction and method chapters of the dissertation prospectus are written in future tense. The Dissertation The dissertation is the final presentation of the design, execution, and interpretation of the research that was planned in the dissertation prospectus. The dissertation defense allows students to: a) demonstrate that the procedures agreed upon in the dissertation prospectus were faithfully executed, b) explain how the findings were derived, and c) defend the discussion, implications, and conclusion. Completing and defending the dissertation helps students to acquire the basic research skills necessary to function as a behavioral scientist. This section begins with an identification of the components of the dissertation and continues with a recommended organization of the dissertation. This section ends with comprehensive descriptions of dissertation components. The dissertation includes the following components: • Title page • Supervisory Committee page • Dedication (optional) • Acknowledgements (optional) • Table of contents • List of Tables • List of Figures • Biography • Abstract • Chapter 1: Introduction • Chapter 2: Review of the Literature • Chapter 3: Method • Chapter 4: Findings • Chapter 5: Discussion • References • Appendices 4 Dissertation Research Guide The Dissertation Manuscript The dissertation manuscript is a succinct presentation of the literature review, the research questions, the research method, the findings, the discussion of the findings, and the implications of the research. The objective of preparing the dissertation manuscript is publication in a peer reviewed journal, monograph, book, or book chapter. Assuming the acceptance of the dissertation manuscript for publication, the editorial review process provides external verification of the relevance and quality of the dissertation research. Regardless of the decision about the acceptance of the manuscript for publication, the review process often corrects or enhances the presentation of the dissertation research. • Doctoral students have an ethical obligation to publish the results of their dissertations in the professional literature. Dissertations in the social sciences typically investigate variables and interventions that have important implications for the delivery of educational and social services. The knowledge gained from a dissertation needs to be readily available in the professional literature regardless of the results obtained. • The specific topic organization of a dissertation manuscript will depend upon the manuscript preparation guidelines provided by the journal where the manuscript is submitted for publication. General recommendations for converting the dissertation into a journal article are provided in the APA Style Manual (American Psychological Association, 2010). • It is possible that more than one manuscript may be created from the dissertation research, e.g. the findings and discussion are published in a refereed journal and a comprehensive critical review of the literature published in a lengthier book chapter. • The results of some dissertation research have important implications for practice, including the creation of learning resources that can be used during the delivery of educational and social services, as well as being marketed directly to consumers as self- help products. Such resources could include text documents, video or audio recordings, or application software delivered by the internet or other methods. Researchers have a moral obligation to share the knowledge they contribute to the general public, as well as the profession, if such knowledge is applicable to specific needs, has been appropriately validated, is readable for the intended population, and is available in alternative formats for persons with disabilities (as appropriate). • Presenting an initial version of the dissertation manuscript at a professional meeting provides an opportunity to obtain feedback that may improve the manuscript before submitting it to a journal. A Sequence for Completing the Four Dissertation Components The following recommendations provide a specific sequence for completing the dissertation concept paper, the dissertation prospectus, the dissertation, and the dissertation manuscript. More detailed checklists for completing each of the four dissertation documents are presented in the Appendences B, C, D, and E. The Dissertation Concept Paper 1. Complete the critical analysis of the literature 5 Dissertation Research Guide 2. Formulate the research questions 3. Write the introduction to the concept paper 3 4. Write the statement of the problem 5. Create the hypotheses if needed 6. Describe the research design 7. Describe the variables 8. Describe the measures 9. Describe the treatment 4 10. Describe the participants 5 11. Describe the data analysis 12. Describe the procedures 13. Complete the references 14. Create the title page 15. Create the table of contents 16. Create the references section 17. Dissertation concept paper is complete The Dissertation Prospectus 1. Supervisory committee review of the dissertation concept paper 2. Write the biography section 3. Update and write the review of the literature as Chapter 2 of the prospectus 4. Write the introduction, Chapter 1, based on the dissertation concept paper 5. Write the method, Chapter 3, based on the dissertation concept paper 6. Create the appendices 7. Update the references from the dissertation concept paper 8. Update the title page 9. Create the dissertation prospectus supervisory committee page 10. Update the table of contents as needed 11. Create a list of tables if needed 3 The statement of the problem is based upon the content and method gaps identified in the critical analysis of the literature. 4 The term “participants” and “sample” can be considered synonyms. The term “participants” is used in this guide to refer to individuals who were previously characterized as the “sample.” 5 While multiple analytical techniques are typically used in a dissertation and “data analyses” is then the correct term to use, the term “data analysis” is used in this guide for the sake of simplicity. 6 Dissertation Research Guide 12. Create a list of figures if needed 13. Dissertation prospectus is complete The Dissertation 1. Implement the recommended changes from the major professor and the doctoral supervisory committee review of the dissertation prospectus 2. Update the review of the literature, Chapter 2, as needed 3. Revise the introduction, Chapter 1, as needed 4. Change the tense in the method, Chapter 3, from future to past tense 5. Write the findings, Chapter 4, including appropriate tables and figures 6. Write the discussion, Chapter 5 7. Write the abstract 8. Update the appendices as needed 9. Update the references as needed 10. Revise the title page 11. Update the table of contents, list of tables, and list of figures 12. Write the acknowledgements if needed 13. Write the dedication if needed 14. Dissertation is complete The Dissertation Manuscript 1. Write the dissertation manuscript according to the submission guidelines for the journal selected for submission 2. Submit the manuscript for publication 3. Create print, audio, video, or Web-based learning resources from the dissertation research for use in service delivery or in a self-help mode, if appropriate. 4. Dissertation manuscript is complete The Integration of Quantitative and Qualitative Dissertation Research There is disagreement among some social science researchers about the compatibility of quantitative and qualitative research methods. Some researchers believe that the philosophical assumptions and methods of quantitative and qualitative research are incompatible, and that the use of both methods is inappropriate, either in a single study or in a program of research. Other researchers believe that both methods are complementary and mixed-methods designs are appropriate. The position taken in this book is that quantitative and qualitative research methods can be appropriately integrated to make distinct and substantive contributions to knowledge. This issue can be clarified by adding a section to the Method chapter on Methodology that explains 7 Dissertation Research Guide the assumptions guiding the selection of specific methods to answer particular research questions. Potential for Researcher Bias Both quantitative and qualitative researchers acknowledge that the potential for bias exists in research. However, quantitative and qualitative researchers often take different positions on the likelihood of bias impacting their research. Different points of view are also taken on the likelihood of success in controlling bias in research. Quantitative researchers promote objectivity as a fundamental aspect of science and contend that it is possible to answer research questions without bias invalidating the results. Qualitative researchers contend that bias is inherent, yet can be described clearly enough to allow the reader to judge if bias has inappropriately influenced the research. It is likely that intentional researcher bias is relatively uncommon, i.e. the researcher consciously and intentionally manipulates the research to achieve an ulterior motive. Unintentional bias on the part of the researcher is more likely than intentional bias. Bias can occur when the researcher: • Believes in the need to address a specific social issue in the hope of being an advocate for change by demonstrating the need for change, or demonstrating the need for maintaining the status quo, based on their findings. • Believes in the inherent relationship among variables or the efficacy of a theory or intervention, irrespective of the findings obtained in the dissertation. Researcher bias can be introduced into dissertation research by: • Selecting a research question to satisfy an ulterior motive. • Selectively including or excluding portions of the professional literature. • Wording operational definitions of terms to reflect a particular point of view. • Selecting specific variables, measures, treatments, participants, and data analyses that increase the chances of obtaining specific predetermined findings. • Selectively emphasizing specific sources from the literature review in the discussion of the findings. • Selectively emphasizing specific discussion points in the implications section. There are a variety of sources of potential bias in dissertation research, including the following: • Experience bias with a variable being examined in the research, either positive or negative, e.g. an outstanding achievement or a serious problem. • Population bias related to the perceived needs or characteristics of one or more groups of persons who are included as participants in the study. Group characteristics include age, disability, ethnicity, gender, immigration status, nationality, occupation, physical characteristics, poverty level, race, religion, sexual orientation, and social class. 8 Dissertation Research Guide • Theory bias resulting from the perceived efficacy of specific constructs used to conceptualize human development, personality, and service delivery interventions. • Intervention bias stemming from personal experience using interventions in practice, leading to perceptions of the perceived effectiveness or ineffectiveness of a specific strategy of service delivery intervention. • Funding bias resulting from the need to justify obtaining or maintaining funding for a product, service, or other research project. • Policy bias stemming from the need to justify establishing, maintaining, changing, or eliminating one or more public policies. 9 Dissertation Research Guide Chapter 2: Successful Dissertation Research Successful completion of the dissertation allows the doctoral student to make a contribution to the literature while completing the research requirements of the doctoral degree. The chances for success in dissertation research are considerably improved by taking advantage of opportunities for synergy. Synergy involves the interaction among ideas and individuals that often results in better outcomes than would occur from the work of a single individual pursuing a single line of inquiry. Synergy in dissertation research is possible as a result of input from other researchers in the field and the integration of a series of doctoral student research projects. For students choosing to pursue a career as a researcher, the potential synergy in dissertation research provides the foundation for a programmatic approach to research. Programmatic research systematically examines several different aspects of one or two topic areas over a period of time. Research that is programmatic in nature is more likely to make a substantive contribution to the literature and is more likely to be sustainable in terms of attracting external funding. This chapter begins with a discussion of how collaboration contributes to the quality of dissertation research and continues with a discussion of the opportunities for integrating students’ prior coursework, preliminary examination, and prior thesis/supervised research in executing the dissertation. The chapter ends with recommendations for maximizing six additional factors that contribute to completing a successful dissertation. Collaboration Among Researchers Effective doctoral research potentially builds upon the prior research of other doctoral students, as well as potentially building on the prior research of major professors, supervisory committee members, other faculty, fellow students, and researchers in other organizations. • Major professors often pursue a program of research that creates a body of knowledge on one or more topics. This prior research, and the external funding that it sometimes provides, can create dissertation research opportunities for several students. • Supervisory committee members and other faculty members might also be working in students’ area of research and may provide literature reviews, experience with various research methods and measures, as well as recommendations for dissertation research. • Current and former doctoral students who are working, or have worked, in the same topic area may provide similar assistance to that of supervisory committee members. Having the opportunity to discuss their research with other doctoral students allows students to clarify their thinking before and after discussing their ideas with their major professors and committee members. • Researchers in other organizations may be creating measures and conducting research that directly relates to students’ dissertation topics and may provide access to measures and literature that are difficult to locate. Working as part of a larger research team may help to avoid duplication of effort, allowing students to benefit from the research results and the literature collected by other students, faculty, and researchers in other organizations. 10 Dissertation Research Guide Integration of Doctoral Student Research The doctoral dissertation is optimally the culmination of several years of research by the 6 student. By taking advantage of the synergy available from coursework, the Master’s thesis , and any literature review or research proposal that is completed as a part of the doctoral preliminary examination, students can systematically examine various aspects of their topic before beginning 7 the dissertation concept paper. Integrating literature analyses from multiple sources provides students with a more advanced starting point for the literature review used in the dissertation concept paper and the dissertation prospectus. Also, feedback from faculty members who have evaluated the previous work of the doctoral student helps the student to think more critically about the body of knowledge for his or her dissertation. Finally, integrating multiple sources of previously analyzed literature by the student avoids the necessity of starting over with an entirely new topic for the dissertation prospectus. However, starting over with a new topic for the dissertation concept paper is not necessarily a problem, as the interests of students and major professors evolve over time. Also, new opportunities can emerge, such as external funding, that can make a change in topic desirable. Figure 1 presents a potential integration of doctoral research that takes advantage of students’ prior coursework, the preliminary examination, and prior thesis/supervised research in planning the dissertation research. • Some students commit to an area of research early in their doctoral studies. In this case, students can systematically select topics for class papers and projects that explore various aspects of their area of research. Other students wait to make a commitment to an area of research. In this case, students can use their courses to explore various topics prior to selecting an area of research. In both cases, students can apply what they learn from class papers and projects to their dissertation research. • The knowledge that students gain from class papers and projects can serve as a foundation for any literature review or research proposal that is completed as a part of the doctoral preliminary examination. The knowledge base from class papers and projects can also serve as a starting point for the literature review for any supervised research that is required when students have not completed a Master’s thesis. Since the preparation of any preliminary examination literature review or preliminary examination research proposal and a supervised research project can overlap, the critical review for one paper can inform the critical review for the other paper, assuming that the topics are similar. Boxes are shaded in Figure 1 that primarily involve a critical review of research. Dotted lines indicate potential contributions to dissertation research when a literature review or thesis/supervised research project are required as part of the doctoral degree. Dotted lines also indicate potential contributions to dissertation research from other non-required student research that is completed collaboratively with faculty, students, and other researchers or student research that is completed independently. 6 Some Master’s degrees do not require a thesis. In this case an equivalent supervised research project may be required. Even when a thesis has been completed, a student may still elect to complete a supervised research project with his or her major professor in order to conduct a pilot study for the dissertation. 7 A dissertation concept paper may not be necessary when a dissertation research proposal is required as part of the written and oral portions of the doctoral preliminary examination. 11 Dissertation Research Guide • Any literature review or research proposal that is completed as a part of the doctoral preliminary examination can serve as the foundation for the elements of the literature review included in the brief introduction section of the dissertation concept paper. A preliminary examination literature review can be used more fully in the literature review chapter of the dissertation prospectus. • Doctoral students who have the goal of becoming a faculty member as an occupational choice often voluntarily participate in additional collaborative research led by faculty or other advanced doctoral students in their institution. Students with academic career goals may also voluntarily participate in additional collaborative research led by researchers at other institutions, or less commonly, conduct their own independent research. In completing these research projects, these students may learn about literature, research designs, variables, measures, data analysis techniques, or research procedures that can be subsequently used in their own dissertation research. • The introduction and method sections of the dissertation concept paper can be expanded to become the introduction and method chapters of the dissertation prospectus. • The introduction, literature review, and method chapters of the dissertation prospectus become the corresponding chapters in the dissertation after the tense is changed from future to past tense in the introduction and method chapters. • The five chapters of the dissertation are then synthesized into the appropriate sections of a dissertation manuscript that is submitted for publication. 12 Dissertation Research Guide Dissertation Dissertation Dissertation Dissertation Concept Prospectus Manuscript Paper Introduction Introduction Introduction Introduction Selected Method Lit Review Class Literature Review Literature Review Papers and Method with Updated with Updated Projects Preliminary Sources Sources Exam Lit Findings Review or Research Method Method Proposal Discussion Findings Master’s Thesis or Other Required Discussion Supervised Research Other Voluntary Student Research (collaborative or independent) Figure 1: Potential Integration of Doctoral Student Research Factors Contributing to Successful Dissertation Research Successful dissertation research is a function of good communication, good planning, using an effective process for writing, attention to detail, openness to serendipity, and visualizing success. Recommendations related to these factors are as follows: Good Communication • Communicate effectively and regularly with your major professor, especially when difficulties arise. Be especially clear about how and when communication will occur. • Communicate effectively and regularly with members of your doctoral supervisory committee, but check with your major professor before asking supervisory committee members to complete various tasks. 13

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