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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