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.
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.
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.
Here are the tips I have obtained from my friends going through the dissertation process or have been through it recently:
- 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.
- 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.
- Touch the dissertation every day – Whether you work on your dissertation for five minutes or several hours, touch and review it every day.
- 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.
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?
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.
When 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.
“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.
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.
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.