Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study
This section describes what the researcher will investigate, including the research questions, hypotheses, and basic research design. The introduction develops the significance of the study by describing how the study is new or different from other studies, how it addresses something that is not already known or has not been studied before, or how it extends prior research on the topic in some way. This section should also briefly describe the basic nature of the study and provide an overview of the contents of Chapter 1. Learners and committee members should also note the following important information about dissertation topics:
1. The College of Doctoral Studies recognizes the diversity of learners in our programs and the varied interests in research topics for their dissertations in the Social Sciences.
2. Dissertation topics must, at a minimum, be aligned to General Psychology in the Ph.D. program, Leadership in the Ed.D. Organizational Leadership program, Adult Instruction in the Ed.D. Teaching and Learning program, Management in the DBA program, and Counseling Practice, Counselor Education, Clinical Supervision or Advocacy/Leadership within the Counseling field in the Counselor Education Ph.D. program.
3. If there are questions regarding appropriate alignment of a dissertation topic to the program, the respective program chair will be the final authority for approval decisions.
4. Specifically, although the College prefers a learner’s topic align with the program emphasis, this alignment is not “required.” The College will remain flexible on the learner’s dissertation topic if it aligns with the degree program in which the learner is enrolled. The Ph.D. program in General Psychology does not support clinically based research.
The Dissertation Template provides the structure for the dissertation. The template provides important narrative, instructions, and requirements in each chapter and section. Learners must read the narrative in each section to fully understand what is required and also review the section criteria table which provides exact details on how the section will be scored. As the learner writes each section, s/he should delete the narrative and “Help” comments, but leave the criterion table, after each section, as this is how the committee members will evaluate the learners work. Additionally, when inserting their own narrative into the template, leaners should never remove the headings, as these are already formatted, or “styled.” Removing the headings will cause the text to have to be reformatted, that is, you will need to reapply the style. “Styles” are a feature in Word that defines what the text looks like on the page. For example, the style “Heading 1, used for Chapter headings and the List of Tables title, the List of Figures title, the References title, and the Appendices title, has set up to conform to APA: bold, double spaced, “keep with next,” Times New Roman 12. In addition, the automatic TOC “reads” these styles so that the headings show up in the TOC and exactly match those in the text.
The navigation pane in Word shows the first and second level headings that will appear in the Table of Contents. To access the navigation pane, click on Home in a Word document>View Pane. Learners should consult their course e-books for additional guidance on constructing the various sections of the template (e.g., University, 2015, 2016, 2017a, 2017b).
Learners should keep in mind that they will write Chapters 1 through 3 as the dissertation proposal . However, there are changes that typically need to be made in these chapters to enrich the content or to improve the readability as the final dissertation manuscript is written. Often, after data analysis is complete, the first three chapters will need revisions to reflect a more in-depth understanding of the topic and to ensure consistency. Engaging in scholarly writing, understanding the criterion rubrics, and focusing on continuous improvement will help facilitate timely progression.
To ensure the quality of both the proposal and final dissertation and reduce the time for AQR reviews, writing needs to reflect doctoral level, scholarly-writing standards from the very first draft. Each section within the proposal or dissertation should be well organized and easy for the reader to follow. Each paragraph should be short, clear, and focused. A paragraph should (1) be three to eight sentences in length, (2) focus on one point, topic, or argument, (3) include a topic sentence the defines the focus for the paragraph, and (4) include a transition sentence to the next paragraph. Include one space after each period. There should be no grammatical, punctuation, sentence structure, or APA formatting errors. Verb tense is an important consideration for Chapters 1 through 3. For the proposal, the researcher uses future tense (e.g., “The purpose of this proposed study is to…”), whereas in the dissertation, the chapters are revised to reflect past tense (e.g., “The purpose of this study was to…”). Taking the time to ensure high-quality, scholarly writing for each draft will save learners time in all the steps of the development and review phases of the dissertation process.
As a doctoral researcher, it is the learner’s responsibility to ensure the clarity, quality, and correctness of their writing and APA formatting.
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