Archive for November, 2007

Newman Workshop at Andrews Fall 2007: Fishbowl, then publishing

The following are notes and scribbles from my attendance at the Nov. 8-11 Doctoral Dissertation Workshop with Dr. Isadore Newman.

This workshop is mainly for the faculty to learn the process of working with doctoral students and for doctoral students to learn the process of writing a dissertation. Three students were selected for the “fish bowl” section of the workshop and I was one of them.

These notes are from the activities of Sunday morning, the last session.

We started the morning with the fishbowl again. Here are some tips & points from that section.

How to find your committee. If you have a one-page ish document that has your title, your “why”, your “what”, and your research question(s) with some consistency, then you can use that document to recruit your committee. Find out if they are comfortable with the topic. You want to have a good sales pitch for getting your committee. It will take some work and dialogue to get to this point.

The difference between dissertation and regular writing is: every time you say anything that sounds like a statement of fact, you reference it. It’s the references that make it scholarly writing.

It’s really neat to see the change in the fishbowl guinea pigs. Each one has a much clearer more consistent fit between the title, the “why” and the “what”.

Keep in mind: continually work on it and get feedback. Don’t think that you wrote it and therefore it’s going to be. Write a little, get some feedback, write again. Keep track of the process and you’ll be able to see where you’ve been before. This way you won’t take that detour again. After a phone or face-to-face conversation, write down what you discussed and send. Remember that the faculty are on the journey too. So you may start somewhere, have a 5 month journey, and come back to where you started.

Also deciding on research method, etc. should be a committee discussion. The methodologist shouldn’t work with just the student if the whole committee hasn’t decided on the method/procedure.

The method doesn’t need to be in the title necessarily, but if you are doing an experimental study, you should put that in the title (pat yourself on the back). It gives more credence to the study. Experimental studies have a higher status in the literature.

Don’t quote anyone in your writing. Instead paraphrase and give the reference.

Newman thinks that replication is more important than statistical significance.

After you hear something a few more times, it starts to make sense. This is partly the saturation he was talking about. Virtually no one ever understands it the first time. You have to hear it a few times for it to make sense.

Try to aim for your title to be 15 words.

You can lose total credibility with someone reading your work if you don’t reference studies already out there. If you have a reason for not using it, you need to say so.

If you know up front that you’re going to change, the dissertation journey will be a lot easier. If you don’t anticipate change, it will be a very frustrating experience. The change is part of the process. Prepare yourself psychologically for the change.

No instrument has reliability and validity. It has good estimates of reliability and validity.

After the break, Dr. Newman gave several examples.

Write a description of your subjects. Write how you are going to select these people. Are you going to use a sampling technique? Check out his book on Survey Research and review the sampling techniques. You need to identify the sampling technique and reference it. Expand also and tell about the strengths and weaknesses of the technique. Every time you add something you’re going to reference it.

Chapter 3 will have the method. Reference the method. Indicate why you chose it, how you are going to use it, and why it’s appropriate.

Another section is the statistical data analysis. Another section is the research design. Newman has samples for all of these.

Most of this writing is descriptive and mechanical. It’s not creative writing. However qualitative research requires much more writing skills. How well you write is much more important for qualitative research.

The last section of the workshop was on publishing. This was a conversation between Dr. Covrig and Dr. Newman. Most of these notes are Newman’s presentation/comments; so I’ve noted the comments from Dr. Covrig.

Dr. Covrig: Can you imagine spending thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours of labor, and giving birth to a dissertation and then leaving it in the crib and not taking care of it? So the question is, how do we move from getting the dissertation finished and on a shelf to getting published?

First, different committee members bring different strengths. You need the concepts and a good research design; you also need someone to help you get the writing and mechanics correct.

Newman said he’d never hire someone who was a single author, because they can’t work well with others. He wouldn’t hire someone who was always the last author either. Teams create better work. Show that you can work collaboratively. Teams work really well when everyone contributes responsibly. It falls apart if there are those who don’t contribute.

After or before you defend the dissertation, submit it for publication or presentation.

You need to learn to receive critical comments. You need to be able to learn from it and grow from it. When you submit an article for publication, it’s going to get rejected. They will tell you the bad stuff. Then you can take those comments and learn from it and improve it. Take all the comments as a checklist of what to change in the article. Learn to take that criticism and learn from it. That’s the beginning of a scholarly community. Your best friends are the ones who will be the most critical.

Don’t be afraid to submit for publication. Even if it’s rejected, it will give you feedback.

Covrig: During the lit review, write a book review and submitted for publication. It shows you that it can go from your computer to some publication somewhere. Then it’s not such a big jump to submit the dissertation for publication.

You could be such a perfectionist and not able to handle criticism and never get published.

If you’re too strongly related to your topic, then you won’t ever finish. Your topic should be something you’re interested in, but not too emotionally attached to it. It’s a curvilinear relationship. If you’re attached too much to it, it’s too hard to receive criticism.
Set a goal to at least submit for publication.  At least something has been submitted before the defense.

Newman is on six editorial boards. He has never accepted an article as it is. They are always accept contingent on these changes. Even if he liked the paper a lot, 25 out of 30 comments are negative. They are the things to fix.

Chapter 5 is what you publish. It’s 90% of an article. Lit reviews are also publishable (chapter 2).  There’s a lot that you’ve written that you can share.

It’s hard working with your committee. You have to take contradictory comments and resolve it. The dissertation is a learning experience. A very important learning process.

APA – the first author is the supervisor; the person who collects and analyzes the data is the second author. Newman prefers it the other way. The supervisor brings skills and expertise to it and increases the likelihood of it being published. Newman’s request of a gift from the student is a published article.

Dr. Burton offers a research class that is a tour and trip to AERA. The tuition covers some of the cost of the trip. So check out the list of future AERA meetings and put them on your calendar!

It’s been a great workshop & now there is a lot to consider and mull over. Hopefully these notes are useful for you as well.


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Newman Workshop at Andrews Fall 2007: Friday Afternoon Fish Bowl

The following are notes and scribbles from my attendance at the Nov. 8-11 Doctoral Dissertation Workshop with Dr. Isadore Newman.

This workshop is mainly for the faculty to learn the process of working with doctoral students and for doctoral students to learn the process of writing a dissertation. Three students were selected for the “fish bowl” section of the workshop and I was one of them.

These notes are from the activities of Friday Afternoon.

Article Tips
Dr. Covrig walked us through receiving an email alert from Sage, clicking on the link to read about it, clicking on Full Text, saving it in a folder. Covrig saves the file with Author (year) keywords in various folders for his students, Leadership comptencies etc.

Another tip with EndNotes. Don’t assume that because you downloaded it, the format is correct for APA. You probably have to clean it up.

More title/purpose/problem work
Next we spent some time with a third student’s title. Here are some notes & tips from that role play.

Don’t get too stressed about your title. It’s going to change 10 times at least.

Sometimes questions may come across as critical. But the intent of the advisor is to understand the study/research better. And in the meantime as a student you might be understanding your research better because of the questions your advisor asks you.

Assuming something is true doesn’t make it right.

You need to understand a variable to measure it. If you can define a variable, then you can find a way to measure it.

There was a lot more discussion specifically about this student’s title and I’m not able to pull any principles or application from it at this time.

People summarized points of learning from the weekend so far:

  • The dissertation is more mechanical writing than creative writing.
  • Don’t try to hand in stuff that’s perfect. It’s in draft and we need to accept the criticism and changes.
  • Learn to narrow down your work into manageable pieces.
  • Structure your time in manageable pieces too.
  • Always be open to criticism in a scholarly way.
  • If we don’t have clearly defined variables and a valid instrument to measure the variables, you don’t have a dissertation topic yet (for quantitative research).
  • Bloom’s taxonomy will help you with both the dissertation and the articles that professors are trying to get published.
  • The purpose: Why it’s needed and why it’s worth the expense and effort to do it
  • The problem: What you’re going to do in the research
  • (Newman is using the words differently than most of the Andrews’ faculty are used to.)

After that big discussion of semantics, the workshop ended. We’ll start up again on Sunday morning.

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Newman Workshop at Andrews Fall 2007: Chapter 1 & 2 of the Dissertation

The following are notes and scribbles from my attendance at the Nov. 8-11 Doctoral Dissertation Workshop with Dr. Isadore Newman.

This workshop is mainly for the faculty to learn the process of working with doctoral students and for doctoral students to learn the process of writing a dissertation. Three students were selected for the “fish bowl” section of the workshop and I was one of them.

These notes are from Dr. Newman’s instruction on Friday morning on chapter 1 and 2 of the dissertation.

If you’re reading a book about dissertations, etc. for example Newman’s Theses and Dissertations, and it conflicts with what your committee is saying, your committee is right. There are institutional documents that you have to follow.

APA Research Style Crib Sheet” it’s all the things you need to know in 10 or 12 pages. By Russ Dewey

You have to follow APA style with AU formatting. Bonnie Proctor likes to receive your document two times. She gives you feedback on one chapter early on; and she expects you to generalize that learning to the rest of your chapters. Then she gets the document at the very end of the dissertation process too.

Chapter 1: Title, Purpose, Problem
Quotes: Chapter 1: “You need to have a lot of ideas, and then you have to throw away the bad ones.” Linus Pauling

The problem section presents a formal and succinct statement of the problem to be investigated. It answers the question of WHAT is being done in the study.

In chapter one you’ll also describe the underlying assumptions.

Chapter 2: Literature Review
Chapter 2: “Believe nothing and be on guard against everything.” Latin Proverb
“These are not my figures I’m quoting. They’re from someone who knows what he’s talking about.” US Congressperson in a debate

Start chapter 2 with your research question. Indicate how each set of reviews is related to your research question. End the literature review with, the literature didn’t answer this question; therefore my study fills this hole in the literature.

A chapter 2 should be able to be picked up and published as a review of the literature.

The dissertation format is very redundant. Chapter 1 should stand alone. Chapter 2 should stand alone.

They want all of our literature reviews to be at the evaluation level of Bloom’s Taxomony. The lowest level, knowledge, looks like a bunch of abstracts. At the evaluation level, the lit review estimates the quality of articles and validity of the findings. The lit review should critique the articles’ strengths, weaknesses, and limitations. It is a thematic organization of the literature; not by article. Logical synthesized conclusions are based on the literature. The synthesis includes connecting themes, integrating, comparing and contrasting.

If there’s “nothing good out there”, it justifies my study. Point it out in your literature review. But make sure you do a good search. Search the citation index as well. Search using the following keywords: meta-analysis or meta-synthesis. When you evaluate one, look at how they searched the literature.  The literature is biased towards significance. The non-significance studies don’t get into the literature. Dissertations and federal and technical reports don’t have to be significant. Indicate the sources – are they just refereed journals? If so then it’s statistically biased towards significance. The other sources – dissertations and technical reports may have useful information too.

ERIC is another important place to search for technical and federal reports. There are 3 or 4 ERIC searches, so be sure to check them all.

Chapter 2 includes what databases you used for your searches. There are lots of sources, but be sure you tell which ones you referenced.

If you can’t find a meta-analysis, you look at literature reviews in dissertations on your topic.

A meta-analysis – the “n” is the number of studies. Is there a difference among the treatment groups over the n number of studies.

Don’t forget to use Boolean searches: “and”, “or”, “not” “near” parenthesis, asterisk.
The asterisk is the most interesting – put motiv* – motivation, motivating, etc.

You might even use popular magazines or advertisements, but you would do it to tell what the popular belief system is to make a point. But you wouldn’t treat it the same as a research article.

Ed Researcher: Boote & Beile: Scholars Before Researchers: On the Centrality of the Dissertation Literature Review in Research Preparation. Maxwell responded to this and these two have debated back and forth about the research.

The Boote & Beile article has the literature review scoring rubric in it that they handed out.

Keep your references in EndNotes and it will save you hundreds of hours finding the references. In the latest version, you can link the Word, HTML or PDF file of the full text article in Endnotes.

Chapter 1 Reviewed
Then come back to chapter 1. Does anything in the review of the literature change what you wrote in chapter 1? Then you’ll adapt.

p. 175 – chapter 6 – A Handbook for mixed methodology. This was copied as a handout. A typology of research purposes and its relationship to mixed methods. Page 175 has a list of research purposes. To Predict. To add to the knowledge base. To have a personal, social, institutional or organization impact. To measure change. To understand complex phenomena. To test new ideas. To generate new ideas. To inform constituencies. To examine the past.

Another handout has a list of things that should be in the dissertation – but also in research projects. So this would be very helpful on what should be included in the final project for EDRM 611 that I’m in right now. Here it is in summary:

Chapter/Heading 1: Introduction
•    Contains a good summary of the background
•    Contains a clear statement of the problem
•    Theoretical frame of the research
•    General hypthoses or research questions clearly stated
•    Appropriate assumptions stated
•    Delimitations of the study stated
•    Presented a good and clear set of operational definitions
•    Presenter a clear summary of this section

He skips the lit review because this is from a methods class and he leaves the lit review to the content people.

Chapter/Heading 3: Method
•    Start with a paragraph telling how the chapter is organized.
•    Presented a comprehensive description of participants (who they were, where they came from, age, racial-ethnic identity, gender, SES, etc.)
•    Presented a clear and detailed procedure of how the data were collected
•    Presented a good description of the instruments (why chosen, reliability, validity, usability)
•    Hypotheses are clearly stated
•    Presented the statistical methods needed to test the hypotheses
•    Presented a clear explanation of the research design
•    Presented a clear summary of this section

Chapter/Heading 4: Results
•    Presented the results objectively
•    The results summarized in tables that are clear and easy to read
•    Presented a clear summary of this section

Chapter/Heading 5: Discussion, Conclusion, and Implications
•    Presented a concise restatement of the problem
•    Contains a concise restatement of the method, focusing on the major points.
•    Presented a restatement of the hypotheses and the results for each hypothesis.
•    Presented conclusions and discussion of the findings in great detail.
•    The conclusions were based in the findings and avoided assumptions and inferences.
•    Provided appropriate implications and inferences.
•    Presented suggested applications of the findings that are reasonable.
•    Presented suggestions for further research.
•    Presented a clear summary of this section.

Some other notes on research design:
How large should your sample be? From Conducting Survey Research.
If your population is, your sample should be: – from his book.
15 – 15
300 – 170
500 – 218
1000  – 275
50000  – 381
1 million  – 385

You don’t want a significant difference in age, ethnicity, or gender between your sample and the population.

No instrument is ever reliable or valid. We have an estimate of the reliability. Some instruments have been used on so many populations that they have a really high reliability. It’s sample specific. Instead you have “this instrument has good estimates of reliability on a number of studies.” You should always run a reliability

Put your data in and SPSS can give you reliability results. Look in SPSS for: Internal Consistency. Cronbach’s alpha test. Percentage of agreement.

Newman’s bias: State the hypothesis you’re interested in interpreting, which is the research hypothesis. The null hypothesis is what you test; the research hypothesis is what you are interpreting. The research hypothesis has the directionality in it. If he sees the research hypothesis, he can state the null. But if he sees the null, he can’t always state the research hypothesis. So Newman prefers to see the research hypothesis. But he also says that whatever your committee says is right. If you keep it consistent throughout the writing, all null or all research, it will be easier to read/understand the study.

Start with a dissertation that’s really close to what you’re doing. Then find another meta-analysis. Then find the other little ones that fill in the gaps.

Time for lunch. Stay tuned for this afternoon.

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Today I learned from a fellow participant in the workshop about a cool tool called RevViz. It gives you a graphical representation of the words used in articles. Definitely something to look into for analyzing the literature.

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Newman Workshop at Andrews Fall 2007: Trust, Feedback, and Dissertation Titles

The following are notes and scribbles from my attendance at the Nov. 8-11 Doctoral Dissertation Workshop with Dr. Isadore Newman.

This workshop is mainly for the faculty to learn the process of working with doctoral students and for doctoral students to learn the process of writing a dissertation. Three students were selected for the “fish bowl” section of the workshop and I was one of them.

These notes are from Dr. Newman’s introductory remarks about the process of writing a dissertation.

If you trust your chair and your committee, they can be critical and give you feedback and you can learn. If you don’t trust your chair, you’ll feel like “why is everyone out to get me”?

In your purpose statement/paragraph you need to ask and answer the question – so what? Why are you studying this question?

Research Design – is in chapter three.
Make sure you’re clear on the difference between a procedure or a design.
Designs are: case study, quasi experimental, etc.

Don’t get tied up in the method. You have to let your title, purpose, and problem dictate your method. “Try to control your emotionality about that.”

The Process
He knows someone who did a dissertation in five weekends (wrote a chapter a weekend) (himself). He knows another person who was much brighter and took 10 years to do it (his wife).

PDS is pre-dissertation syndrome.

Dr. Newman told about a student that found that people who finished their dissertations were more neurotic than those who didn’t finish – they were more normal people.

Neurotic behaviors are what get you finished: structure in your life.

There’s a price to pay for not finishing. There’s a price to pay for finishing. Hopefully when you finish, you can switch back and be normal again.

One thing that helps is doing things in small pieces. Set small goals. Do little pieces. Don’t say I’m going to write chapter 1. Write the purpose. Get feedback. It’s easier to do 2-3 pages a day vs. 30 pages by the end of the month.

The Role of Feedback & Relating to Feedback/Criticism
Realize that no matter what you say, it’s going to be changed. The person giving you the feedback is giving you their time and their intent is to help you become successful.

When you send the document to the committee, ASK for criticism. What can I do to make this better? It frees your committee to be very candid with their feedback. Build an expectation for criticism and feedback. You want to help your committee to know that you won’t get mad or cry and walk away.

It is not intelligence that finishes the dissertation. It’s a style. It’s a support system. The workshop is to help give you a style.

It’s not going to be perfect. Is it “good enough”? Be willing to share it and get feedback. That’s a style.

The dissertation is the beginning of developing a scholarly community. You write, get feedback from your committee, and rewrite based on that. Same as writing articles. You get peer reviews and revise based on that. You are learning from a scholarly community. The dissertation is the beginning of learning to function in a scholarly community. The intent of the PhD is the way to develop people to contribute to the scholarly community.

The time to be the most critical is at the proposal stage. Proposals are a contract.

Who cares? That’s the importance of your study. Why is it important to do? That’s the purpose of your study.

Someone asked: how do you choose a chair?
Choose a chair who has a common interest in your topic. Choose a chair who is willing to take the time. That’s what most people say. Newman says it’s a two way street. You have to feel that the chair has the ability, skill, and knowledge to support you through the learning process. It’s one-to-one learning. You should have enough respect for them, to understand why they don’t like something. There’s probably a good reason. “I’m arguing with you because I respect you. If I’m arguing with you I can learn something from you.”

A dissertation to read: Jill from Akron. Who completes and who hasn’t completed dissertation. University of Akron. It’s online. 1500 subjects. Look it up & read it.

Someone asked: how do you deal with time constraints?
Time constraints. Do your reading in the bathroom. No one will bother you. Take an hour a day to do the reading. Don’t look for large blocks of time. Instead take short periods of time and work on it consistently. You should write at least an hour a day. You’ll continuity vs. if you do it for 10-12 hours on the weekend. Don’t stop at a place where you’re stopping. Go past that to a place where you have a place to start next.

“I’d rather read short pieces several times vs. a whole dissertation.”

You’ll have at least three first drafts. Dissertation writing is a different type of writing.

More on feedback & change.
Newman is a “statistical therapist.” People come with statistical problems and he helps solve them.

Every time you give something to someone to read, it’s going to change. So you should expect that.

The importance of the title
If you don’t have a title, then you don’t know what you want to do. The title is the summary of your summary. The title is an advance organizer (link). It gives you an expectation of what to look for. Does the title reflect the purpose? Are they consistent? Is the problem consistent with the purpose and the title? If not then we change it.

Take notes when you meet with your committee members and then read it back afterwards.

A few other scribbles
Purpose statement – a few paragraphs
Importance answers “who cares?”
The lit review has a section on each of the main key words in the title
Delimitations are the scope of the study
Limitations are the things that you couldn’t control in the study
Operational definitions of the terms are explained in chapter 3

After this, Dr. Newman worked with three of us just by asking us questions about our title, our purpose, and our problem. It was a lively discussion as it flip flopped between role playing (actual learning for us guinea pigs) and the audience commenting and asking questions on the process and on our titles/purposes/problems. My brain is spinning from the discussion on mine and I need to write and think more to be able to share. But this was the gist of the 1st section of this weekend workshop.

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