Setting Realistic Goals

As I explore my doctoral goals, one of the things I see among my classmates is unrealistic goals in terms of completing the dissertation process. One thing to keep in mind, a doctorate degree is the highest level in the education journey, so it is not a sprint.

“Life is a marathon, not a sprint……..So don’t rush things! Because anything worth having is worth waiting for” Author Unknown

Just as life is a marathon, so is completing a doctorate degree. Going for a doctorate degree takes time, hard work and determination. When I began my doctoral journey, I was told that only 1% – 2% complete their dissertation to become a doctor. This did not sound promising, but what happens with many that begin the doctoral journey, they stop after all the course work has been completed. A doctorate degree is made up of additional course work that introduces you to peer-reviewed, empirical research and the dissertation process. When an individual completes their course work and does not take the journey through the dissertation process, this is called “All But Dissertation (ABD)”. No one wants to not reach the finish line, but the dissertation is another part of the journey that can take as long as the coursework and sometimes longer.

“If the road to success were easy, no one would stand out for its success.” Marko Zupanic


 The length of time for the course work will depend upon the school, how long the courses last in terms of weeks, how many courses you take at the same and how many life adventures you have. Life will always be there, so know that there will be bumps in the road. Typical course work is on average about two years and then the dissertation process. At the University, where I attend, the dissertation is allowed about 63 weeks without extensions. To date, I have not heard of anyone completing the dissertation phase in a year or less even when not working most dissertations will take on average of a year and half to two years.

Setting realistic goals is really important so that one does not get discouraged in the doctoral journey. Recently, when talking with some classmates, they did not appreciate my comment about how long the dissertation process can and probably will take. I have had several friends go through the doctoral journey and some going through the journey now; I have seen their struggles, challenges and the bumps in the dissertation process. There are approvals that have to be obtained and many changes. One of my friends told me, he had to make 30 revisions to his dissertation before he was able to defend it and obtain his PhD. The dissertation is a journey not a sprint, but in the end it be that much more special to be among the 1% – 2% of the population that have obtained their doctorate degree.

So go for your doctorate, the time to start is now and just remember to be realistic in terms of the length of time it will take to go the journey. A doctorate degree is a marathon and not a sprint, remember to be patient, not to get discouraged and focus on the finish line.


What is the dissertation and selecting a topic

dtopicsWhat is the dissertation?

A doctorate degree is the highest level one can earn. What makes the doctorate different than other degrees is the dissertation process. The dissertation is typically doing original empirical research that answers a research question within five chapters. There are a few colleges that utilize a three chapter dissertation, but most have a five chapter dissertation. So for this month’s blog the goal is to explore the dissertation, what it is and selecting a topic.

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The Dissertation


The biggest part of a doctoral program is the dissertation which is what separates it from the bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Prior to reaching the dissertation phase, there is the course work that has to be completed and until today most of my blogs have been about doing the course work. For this month, I have decided to begin discussing the dissertation process and what a dissertation is all about.

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Understanding the Dissertation Process


Going for a doctoral degree means hard work and going after the highest degree that can be obtained, so it is something one does not enter into lightly. Things to consider is your time, dedication, stamina, willingness to work, being a survivor and much more. Keep in mind; they say about 1% – 2% that start a doctoral program actually graduate and finish, so that is why this blog attempts to share information that will assist you in making the decision that is right for you and your life.

As a doctoral student approaching the dissertation phase, I have spent some time talking with my friends who have gone through the dissertation phase or are currently going through the dissertation phase. The reason for me to do this is because I wanted to get a feel of what to expect, which is probably something I should have done prior to starting a doctoral program, but I am this close so I decided to educate myself more on the process.

Currently, I have one class of coursework left. Most doctoral programs begin with course work that works you through your field of study, teaching you about peer-reviewed works, empirical work, statistics, research and more so that you are prepared to enter the dissertation process. Now some doctoral programs will have what they call a Capstone while others do what is called Comprehensive Exams, regardless of whichever one it is please be aware these are not about taking quizzes, but writing intense and in-depth research papers that utilize peer-reviewed and empirical research only. So for me, I have one more course to complete before entering my Capstone, which is a nine-week course. The goal is to reach the dissertation phase by the end of July. So I am certainly getting nervous since as of right now I have no idea for a research topic or who I want for my dissertation chair, so I have some thinking to do over the next couple of months.

Dissertation Process

Here are the tips I have obtained from my friends going through the dissertation process or have been through it recently:

  1. Keep the dissertation simple – One friend do not make it complex, just keep it simple. He said people try to make their dissertation topic far more complex than it should be.
  2. Consider the sample population and your access to them – Dissertations require original research, so you want to make sure you have access to enough people for the area of your study. The reason is otherwise, you will spend a lot of time seeking out and obtaining permission to have surveys and studies completed. While some professors like to use social media others do not, so that is another element to consider.
  3. Touch the dissertation every day – Whether you work on your dissertation for five minutes or several hours, touch and review it every day.
  4. Prepare to make changes – Many individuals are offended when their instructors, editors or dissertation chairs require changes to the topic, sample populations or just make overall revisions. Remember a dissertation is about stamina and my understanding is there are many required changes. One of my friends said he made over 30 revisions and changes before presenting his dissertation for presentation. Several of my friends have reminded me that bracing for the changes are a part of the process, so be prepared. Remember this is a doctoral degree and the goal is not to be simple, it is meant to challenge our thought process and create original research that will add value to your field of study.

As I get closer to the process, I will be sharing my experiences, along with suggestions that I hope will better serve you as you decide what doctoral program to go after and hope they prepare you for the process.  the-dissertation-process-and-critical-thinking-2-638

Decisions?? Decisions?? Decisions??

Arrow For this month’s blog, I was trying to determine what the best topic was to write about. Based upon my husband’s recommendation and the process he is currently going through, and that is selecting the right school along with the right doctoral degree program. My husband is in the process of completing his MS in Information Systems and wants to continue into a doctoral program. The challenge is does one do a DBA, PhD or what type of program? Does he stick to a program that offers an emphasis on technology or perhaps just do one that is more about business?

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Tools & Tips for Doctoral Work

tools So you have decided on a doctoral program but what kinds of tools will you need or are there tips to help you succeed. In this month’s blog, I would like to discuss tools and tips for success.


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Doctorate Degree – New Years Resolution?


It is that time of year when everyone determines if they are setting a New Year’s resolution or not and what their resolutions will be. While many focus on weight loss, exercise and eating healthy, there are those that consider furthering their education for a variety of reasons. Some individuals avoid setting New Year’s resolutions, which is what I have gone to for several years, but there are those that do make and stick to their New Year’s resolutions.

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Things to consider when selecting a Doctoral Program

Decision 1When selecting a doctoral program, there are a few things to consider and that is what this month’s blog is about. Selecting a doctoral program is more than just about having the right program, but several other things to consider.

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Getting Down with Statistics


“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

By Norman Vincent Peale

For the past several months, this doctoral blog has been about how to perform research and locate the peer-reviewed and scholarly articles required for a doctoral program. For this month, I would like to talk about statistics, the tools and resources to assist you in being successful in statistics class.

There are those individuals that love math and statistics, where it just seems to make sense and then there are those like me where statistics if far from a natural thought process. So whether you enjoy statistics or fear statistics, this month’s blog will provide some tools and tips that I have personally have been using for my advanced statistics course.

Depending upon the college you attend and their requirements, typically at a minimum you will take two or more statistic courses. In my degree program, the requirement was a statistics course that involved using SPSS software from IBM and then an advanced statistics course that was more about writing a research proposal for a dissertation. The number of courses and types of courses will vary by school along with what tools are available to assist you being successful.

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Using Reference Pages for Research

For the past couple of months, my blogs have been about research, because doctoral programs are all about research. While it is easy for us to research via Google on a daily basis, this type of research is not acceptable for doctoral work. So the college or university library has to become our friend.

Last month, I created a video utilizing my school’s database to show you how to research in terms of narrowing the research or using broad research techniques. This month, I want to show you how to utilize reference pages to save time. Some professors will require you to read specific articles and then write about the topic, this is great because the article probably has a reference page which can quickly lead us to more articles on the same or similar topics.

So this week, my work is about ethics and so I did some research via the college library to find a couple of articles to use for this months blog.

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