Writing a Proposal for Your Dissertation

Guidelines and Examples

Steven R. Terrell

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November 11, 2015
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1. Developing the Problem Statement for Your Dissertation Proposal sample

Introduction

The Doctoral Experience

The Problem Is the Problem

Finding a Good Research Problem

Characteristics of a Good Problem

Writing the Problem Statement

The Problem Statement as Part of a Dissertation Proposal

Summary of Chapter One

Do You Understand These Key Words and Phrases?

Let’s Start Writing Our Own Proposal

2. Writing Purpose Statements, Research Questions, and Hypotheses

Introduction

The Quantitative Purpose Statement

Purpose Statements for Qualitative Studies

Defining and Describing a Research Question

The Methodological Point of Departure

Research Questions Will Ultimately Lead to the Study’s Research Method

Getting Back to Stating Our Research Question

A Word of Caution!

Putting It Together: Problem Statements, Purpose Statements, and Research Questions

Problem Statements, Purpose Statements, and Research Questions in the Literature

Stating Hypotheses for Your Research Study

An Example of Stating Our Hypotheses

Understanding the Four Basic Rules for Hypotheses

The Direction of Hypotheses

Hypotheses Must Be Testable via the Collection and Analysis of Data

Research versus Null Hypotheses

All Hypotheses Must Include the Word “Significant”

Other Parts of Chapter 1 of the Dissertation

Summary of Chapter Two

Do You Understand These Key Words and Phrases?

Review Questions

Progress Check for Chapter 1 of the Dissertation Proposal: The Introduction

Let’s Continue Writing Our Own Dissertation Proposal

3. Writing the Review of Literature for Your Study

Introduction

What Is a Review of Literature and What Is Its Purpose?

There Isn’t a Magic Formula for Writing a Review of Literature

Phase 1. Getting Ready to Write a Review of Literature

Phase 2. Writing the Review of Literature

Summary of Chapter Three

Do You Understand These Key Words and Phrases?

Review Questions

Progress Check for Chapter 3 of the Dissertation Proposal: The Review of Literature

Let’s Continue Writing Our Own Dissertation Proposal

4. The First Part of Your Dissertation Research Method

Introduction

Philosophy 101

The Research Paradigm

Nonrandom (Nonprobabalistic) Sampling

Identifying the Population and a Sample for Your Study

Summary of the Sampling Process

Data Collection Instruments

Instruments for Quantitative Research

Instruments for Qualitative Research

Reliability and Validity

Plans for Data Analysis

Ethical Considerations

Plans for Presenting the Results

Summary of Your Proposal

Summary of Chapter Four: The First Part of Your Dissertation Research Method

Do You Understand These Key Words and Phrases?

Review Questions

5. Quantitative Research Methods

Introduction

Different Types of Data

Quantitative Research Designs

Survey Research

Correlational Research

Causal–Comparative Research

Hypothesis Testing

Experimental Research

The Validity of Your Study

Threats to the Internal Validity of Your Study

Threats to the External Validity of Your Study

Experimental Research Designs

Preexperimental Designs

Quasi-Experimental Designs

Experimental Designs

Putting This All Together for the Quantitative Dissertation Proposal

Chapter 3 of a Quantitative Dissertation Proposal

Our First Example of Chapter 3 of a Proposal

Summary of Chapter Five

Do You Understand These Key Words and Phrases?

Review Questions

Progress Check for Chapter 3 of a Quantitative Dissertation Proposal

Let’s Continue Writing Our Own Dissertation Proposal

Appendix 5.1. Example of a Descriptive Research Study

Appendix 5.2. Example of a Correlational Research Study

Appendix 5.3. Example of a Quasi-Experimental Research Study

Appendix 5.4. Example of an Experimental Research Study

Appendix 5.5. Threats to the Validity of an Experimental Study

6. Qualitative Research Methods

Introduction

An Overview of Qualitative Methodologies

The Role of the Researcher

The Format of a Qualitative Dissertation Proposal

Chapter 1 of a Qualitative Dissertation Proposal: The Introduction

Chapter 3 of a Qualitative Dissertation Proposal: Research Methods

Choosing the Right Qualitative Research Method

Participants and Sampling

Instruments

Research Procedures

Plans for Data Analysis

The Validity and Reliability of a Qualitative Study

Ethical Considerations

Plans for Presenting the Results

Summary

Summary of Chapter Six

Do You Understand These Key Words and Phrases?

Review Questions

Progress Check for Chapter 3 of a Qualitative Dissertation Proposal

Let’s Continue Writing Our Own Dissertation Proposal

Appendix 6.1. Narrative Study Procedures: The Case of the Unfortunate Departure

Appendix 6.2. Phenomenological Study Procedures: The Case of Sending Your Child to Safety

Appendix 6.3. Ethnographic Study Procedures: The Case of Climbing the Mountain

Appendix 6.4. Case Study Procedures: The Case of the Standardized Test

Appendix 6.5. Grounded Theory Procedures: The Case of Homelessness

Appendix 6.6. Content Analysis Procedures: The Case of the Eye Witness

7. Mixed Methods Research Designs

Introduction

An Overview of Mixed Methods Research

The Format of a Mixed Methods Proposal

Chapter 1 of a Mixed Methods Study: The Introduction

Background, Statement of the Problem, and Significance of the Study

The Central Purpose of the Study

Research Questions

Hypotheses for Mixed Methods Studies

Chapter 2 of a Mixed Methods Dissertation Proposal: The Review of Literature

Chapter 3 of a Mixed Methods Dissertation Proposal: Research Methods

The Mixed Methods Paradigm

Research Design

The Three Major Mixed Methods Designs

Participants and Sampling

Instruments

Research Procedures

Plans for Data Analysis

Ethical Considerations

Plans for Presenting the Results

Summary of Chapter Seven

Do You Understand These Key Words and Phrases?

Review Questions

Progress Check for Chapter 3 of a Mixed Methods Dissertation Proposal: The Research Methods

Appendix 7.1. Sequential Explanatory Design: The Case of the Tutors

Appendix 7.2. Sequential Exploratory Design: The Case of the Academies

Appendix 7.3. Convergent Design: The Case of Calling It In

Epilogue: Have We Accomplished What We Set Out to Do?

Appendix A. Progress Check for Chapter 1 of a Dissertation Proposal: The Introduction

Appendix B. Progress Check for Chapter 2 of a Dissertation Proposal: The Review of Literature

Appendix C. Progress Check for Chapter 3 of a Quantitative Dissertation Proposal

Appendix D. Progress Check for Chapter 3 of a Qualitative Dissertation Proposal

Appendix E. Progress Check for Chapter 3 of a Mixed Methods Dissertation Proposal

Answers to Review Questions

Glossary

References

Index

About the Author

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