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.


  1. Understand the committee process – Depending upon what school you attend they will have their own policies about the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee is compromised of the dissertation chair and two additional members. These individuals will be the team that review your dissertation and whom you defend it to. Some schools will allow you to pick your committee, while other schools will allow you to pick the dissertation chair and some schools you will have no say. The decision of which school to attend based upon how they do their committees is up to you, but you will want to understand that process. Once you reach the dissertation phase, you want to go to the distance, so understand the process.
  2. APA or MLA or another writing format – Ask to understand what the school’s writing policy is in terms of research papers. The most common form is APA (American Psychology Association), but some schools use MLA while others may use a different format. Know the format and start learning it prior to classes starting.
  3. Check for software that can help with APA or MLA. Personally, I like Perrla (, there are others so check them out. The key to success is to know and plan what the requirements a head of time and line up the equipment first. You would not build a home first without a plan and so learn the requirements early. So start building the foundation by having the right tools from the start.
  4. Prepare to research – spending time researching is really important. I know for myself, I prefer to print out the electronic journals I am going to read and use. So for me, I go through loads of paper and ink, which means we buy in bulk. Save the articles and create a filing system that will allow you to refer back to them. Many school libraries have what is known as Refworks and that creates an electronic file.


Working and obtaining your doctoral program is quite a process, but very rewarding at the same time. The key is just to plan and I am a planner for sure. I am about three classes away from my dissertation phase and I am starting to plan who I might want to be on my committee. No decisions have been finalized, but I am certainly tossing names around for consideration. There are many things to consider when deciding on a doctoral program, once the decision has been made, ensure you have the right tools.

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.

There are many reasons as to why some individuals continuing their education to the doctoral level, one of those reasons might be a necessity for their career. For example if an individual works in higher education, then a doctorate will increase marketability since many colleges look for the doctorate degree prior to hiring the individual versus those with a master’s degree. So this is a consideration for some. Then there are those individuals that just want to achieve a doctorate degree for personal reasons or a personal achievement. Then there are those who the doctorate degree gives them added credibility, like for many independent consultants. So there are many reasons to consider your doctorate degree, what are your thoughts?

There are many that debate the value of a doctorate degree in terms of will their income see an increase to make the long journey worth it. Personally, I find this debate interesting because many times the value of a degree is not monetary. For example, my mom did not understand my desire for obtaining graduate degrees, but she received her answers when my higher education allowed me to teach online giving me the ability to care for her at home versus her going to a nursing home. So there are times when there is no dollar amount that can be placed on obtaining a degree at the graduate level.


So have you been considering a doctorate degree and not sure what the value is to you? My response is the value will be determined by you? As I wrote in a previous blog, the value depends upon your long term goals and why you want to obtain your doctorate degree. Would you like to obtain it for personal achievement or career advancement or to add monies to your overall income, these are things that only you can decide because it is your future.

As we prepare to enter a New Year, 2016, I would encourage you to think about those goals and determine the value of a doctorate degree. Do you want a doctorate degree, but are putting it off until you have the monies or until you reach a certain age or until life is easier or until another achievement has been completed? If you have completed your master’s degree and you want to go for your doctorate degree, then why not make your New Year’s resolution to get started on your doctorate degree?

One time, I was asked by a co-worker about going college to further their education. My advice then is still the today, if it is a goal or a dream of yours to achieve then now is time to get started. One can talk or dream about furthering one’s education, but take action, do not let fear, the unknown or life get in the way of achieving your life goal because life will always be there. As a person that had to take a long break in the middle of working on my doctorate degree, I understand life very well. Today, as I write this blog I am back on track to begin my dissertation in 2016 and that is my New Year’s resolution to make great progress on my dissertation by the end of 2016.

So my encouragement for you is if you want to obtain your doctorate degree, then begin the New Year of 2016 with research on the degree and school of choice along with getting started. Life is a journey and will always be there, but an education is knowledge which is never wasted.

New Years 1

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.

  1. While the degree program is important, make sure it will match your future career goals. Some jobs have specific requirements about the degrees they require from the type of degree to whether the degree is from a regionally credited school and more. So make sure the degree matches you long term career goals.
  2. Money – how much does the school cost and is it within your budget or financial aid limits. There are many types of financial aid, but many programs have limits so check them out. The one thing you do not want to happen is get to the finish line and not have the money to go the distance.
  3. Time – As stated in another blog called “Time Management” know the time that is required by the school each week to complete homework. The amount of time required each week will vary by college and how long the terms. Colleges that have shorter terms are considered accelerated and will require more time each week due to more work being done. Colleges with longer terms will have some intense weeks versus all weeks, but this can affect the time it takes to complete a degree.
  4. Residencies – most doctoral programs require what is called a residency which means the students get together in person. Now depending upon the college, they may offer residencies in a variety of cities while some colleges only have residencies in their home city. Residences require travel expenses and this is not covered in the tuition cost in terms of cost to get to the residency, food and hotel. So these are expenses that should be taken into consideration because residencies have to be attended at various times throughout the coursework and not attending can slow down completion times.
  5. For-profit versus Traditional colleges – there are many options when it comes to going for a doctoral degree, so explore all options. Both of these school options are great, but if you are considering perhaps a hybrid degree you might want to attend a college that has a local campus. Not all traditional colleges offer entire doctorate degrees online and require some classes to be attended on campus.
  6. Tools – Having the right tools and plan. Some individuals think that because one is attending college online that no tools are needed, but the fact is that there are many tools that are needed. Having a computer is great, but what about a backup plan? Having a backup plan is very important for a computer and internet service, most professors are not empathetic to computer challenges or internet being down, and therefore a backup is very critical for success. Next month, the blog will go into more detail about the tools needed for success.

These are just a few things to consider when selecting a doctoral program. These suggestions are based upon my own experiences and my husband whom is currently in the process of selecting where to attend for his doctoral program. So there are many things to consider and lookout for next month when we will get into more detail about the tools for success.

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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Doctoral Database Research

Research Graphic Last month, my blog was about the different types of research. This month it is about how to use the college databases. Every college has a different set of databases, but there are a couple of databases that every college has in their school library. Two of the most popular databases are Ebscohost and ProQuest; these are my two favorite databases for a couple of reasons.

Both Ebscohost and ProQuest cover a wide variety of topics, they can be accessed utilizing one particular focus or by searching all of their different topic databases. I like to search each of these databases for my assignments, typically I will find more than enough research in these two databases to support my research papers.

One of the things that I hear frequently from my students and others is that these databases are different than Google. Change can be difficult and Google has created a search engine that allows you to ask detailed questions. So to help better understand how to use these databases at college libraries, I have created a video for this month.

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Importance of Research

Research 1

When considering a doctoral program one of the things to remember is that regardless of the doctoral designation, the degree is about research. So research is very critical and understanding the different types of research is very important.

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Time Management

Time Management

Now you have decided to pursue your doctorate degree, you have selected your degree program and the college or university you want to attend. Wonderful!!

Congratulations on your decision to take your education to the highest level!

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Selecting a Doctoral Degree

Selecting a Doctoral Degree


Fantastic, you have decided to obtain your Doctorate degree! Now you have to decide on which doctorate degree to obtain.

Deciding to pursue a doctoral degree was the easiest part for me; the difficult decision was which doctoral degree to pursue. Most people automatically think about a doctoral degree as being a PhD (Doctorate of Philosophy). The truth of the situation is there are far more doctorate degrees than most individuals realize. Here is a chart outlining many of the doctorate degrees, but it is not a comprehensive list there are many different medical degrees not included in this list.

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This time last year 3/15/14, I walked across the stage in Nashville, was hooded, and became Dr. Ila R. Allen. It was a long time coming for I thought the end would never be in sight and have my freedom back after six years to make it across that finish line. I look back at all of the classes, papers, money, and time that it took to get to where I am now. I know some of you have been on the journey for a short amount of time and some well…. might be ready to throw in the towel, I knew that feeling too. There are so many reasons that we decide to pursue a doctorate degree from personal to career advancement but we are not prepared as we thought we were, reflections.

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