Dissertation Writing WorkshopChapters 4 and 5 Gary J Burkholder, PhD Center for Research Support Annie Pezalla, MS Writing Center
Objectives • Use the dissertation rubric to guide development of Chapters 4 and 5. • Become familiar with and use effective writing tips specific to Chapters 4 and 5.
Schedule • 8:30 – 11:30 • Presentation: Rubric (Chapter 4). • Presentation: Writing Tips for Chapters 4 and 5. • Open time for meeting with Faculty and/or Writing Center staff member. • 1:30 – 4:30 • Presentation: Rubric (Chapter 5). • Open time for meeting with Faculty and/or Writing Center staff member.
Optimizing your Experience • Attend to key points of the presentations. • Ask questions! • Maximize meeting times with faculty and writing center staff member to get questions answered related to writing your dissertation. • Write as much as possible while you are onsite. • Utilize faculty and writing center advising during the remainder of your stay to continue writing. Try to finish a draft of one or both chapters while you are onsite.
Overall Goal for Chapter 4 • Presentation of the results. • Description of demographics. • Results of inferential analyses (Quantitative). • Results of text analyses (Qualitative).
Organization • Chapter 4 is structured around the research questions and/or hypotheses addressed in the study, reporting the findings related to each.
Research Tools • Data collection instruments have been used correctly. • Measures obtained are reported clearly, following standard procedures. • Adjustments or revisions to the use of standardized instruments have been justified, and any effects on interpretation of findings are clearly described.
Consistency of Analyses • Overall, data analysis (presentation, interpretation, explanation) is consistent with research questions or hypotheses and underlying theoretical conceptual framework for the study. • Check: Consistency of hypothesis/research questions between Chapters 1, 3, and 4. • Check: Are the analyses consistent with what was proposed in Chapter 3?
Data Analyses • Logically and sequentially address all research questions or hypotheses. • Where appropriate, outcomes of hypothesis testing procedures are clearly reported (e.g., findings support or fail to support). • Does not contain any evident statistical errors.
Tables and Figures • As self-descriptive as possible, informative, and conform to standard dissertation format. • Are directly related to and referred to within the narrative text included in the chapter. • Have immediate adjacent comments. • For example, any table notes are at the bottom. • Are properly titled and captioned. • Show copyright permission if not in the public domain.
Consistency of Findings • The comments on the findings address observed consistencies and inconsistencies and discuss possible alternate interpretations.
Conclusion • In a concluding section of Chapter 4, outcomes are logically and systematically summarized and interpreted in relation to their importance to the research questions and hypotheses.
Data • The process by which data were generated, gathered, and recorded is identified. • The systems for keeping track of data and emerging understandings (research logs, reflective journals, cataloging systems) are clearly described.
Findings • Build logically from the problem and the research design. • Are presented in a manner that addresses the research questions. • Discrepant cases and non-confirming data are included in the findings. • Patterns, relationships, and themes described as findings are supported by the data. All salient data are accounted for in the findings.
Evidence of Quality • A discussion on evidence of quality shows how this study followed procedures to assure accuracy of the data (e.g., trustworthiness, member checks, triangulation, etc.). Appropriate evidence occurs in the appendixes (sample transcripts, researcher logs, field notes, etc.). (May appear in chapter 5.)
Tip # 1: Select the right tool for the right job • You have 3 main tools for presenting your results: prose, tables, and figures. Your choice of tools depends on several things. • How many numbers you need to report. • How much time (or patience) your audience will have to grasp your data. • Whether your readers need exact values.
Tables vs. Text • Only use tables to simplify text that otherwise would be dense with numbers. • From your APA manual: (Dense) • The mean final errors (with standard deviations in parentheses) for the Age x Level of Difficulty interaction were .05, (.08), .05 (.07), and .11 (.10) for the younger participants and .14 (.15), .17 (.15), and .26 (.21) for the older participants at low, moderate, and high levels of difficulty, respectively.
Tables vs. Text • Only use tables to simplify text that otherwise would be dense with numbers. • From your APA manual: (Better)
Tip #2: Summarize patterns Find a generalization that fits most of the data. Report a few illustrative numbers from the associated table or figure. Describe exceptions to the general pattern. DO NOT repeat all the numbers in a table.
An example report… Of the total superintendents surveyed, 61 (39.1%) had obtained a doctorate degree. Within this category, 34 (55.7%) were servant leaders, and 27 (44.3%) were nonservant leaders. A total of 15 superintendents were education specialists, an official title defined in this state as having all of their doctoral credits for formal coursework; however, deficient the credits and final product of a doctoral study. Within this cohort of 15, 7 (46.7%) were servant leaders, and 8 (53.3%) were nonservant leaders. In the most widespread category of this demographic, 80 (51.3%) superintendents had obtained a master’s degree as their highest level of formal education. Of these superintendents, 38 (47.5%) were designated servant leaders, and 42 (52.5%) as nonservant leaders. Table 10 presents a visual summary of the data from SASL response data.
The corresponding table… Table 10 Self-Assessment of Servant Leadership Information for Highest Academic Degree Obtained Results
A better report Of the total superintendents surveyed (N = 156), 61 had obtained a doctorate degree, and about half of this group were servant leaders (n = 34). Eighty superintendents had obtained a master’s degree as their highest level of formal education; about half of this group, too, were servant leaders (n = 38). Table 10 presents a visual summary of the data from SASL response data.
Tip # 3: Define your terms Reporting results often requires technical language. To make sure that your readers comprehend your information, define your terms, acronyms, and symbols. Unfamiliar terms (“opportunity cost,” standardized mortality ratio,” SES, LBW, PSA, etc.) Terms that have more than one meaning (significant, considerable, appreciable, big, etc.) How do you know what to define? Carpenter analogy
Tip # 4: Avoid regressive material Your readers don’t need a detailed description of how you approached writing up p = .08, the steps to calculate a mean, why you right-justified the numbers in your table, or why you chose a stacked bar chart rather than a pie chart. Make those decisions, do those calculations, and create your charts and tables, but don’t write about how or why you did so. Instead, present the fruits of those labors, following the examples from your favorite article or published Walden dissertation. 29
Tip # 5: Accept the need for revision Embrace the fact that writing your results will be an iterative process. Draft tables and charts with a pencil and paper before creating a computerized version. Outline key findings before you describe a complex pattern.
Overall Goal for Chapter 5 • Analysis of results in the context of the literature described in Chapter 2. • Implications for further research, practice, and social change.
Introduction • The chapter begins with a brief overview of why and how the study was done, reviewing the questions or issues being addressed and a brief summary of the findings.
Interpretations of the Findings • Includes conclusions that address all of the research questions. • Contains references to outcomes in Ch. 4. • Covers all the data. • Is bounded by the evidence collected. • Relates the findings to a larger body of literature on the topic, including the conceptual/theoretical framework.
Implications for Social Change • The Implications for Social Change are clearly grounded in the significance section of Chapter 1 and outcomes presented in Chapter 4. The implications are expressed in terms of tangible improvements to individuals, communities, organizations, institutions, cultures, or societies.
Recommendations • Action • Should flow logically from the conclusions and contain steps to useful action. • State who needs to pay attention to the results. • Indicate how the results might be disseminated. • Further Study • Point to topics that need closer examination and may generate a new round of questions.
Qualitative Studies • Includes a reflection on the researcher's experience with the research process in which the researcher discusses possible personal biases or preconceived ideas and values, the possible effects of the researcher on the participants or the situation, and her/his changes in thinking as a result of the study.
Conclusion • The work closes with a strong concluding statement making the “take-home message” clear to the reader.
Tip # 6: Avoid generalizations Generalizations encourage blanket or sweeping statements. Ex: “All” “Every” “None” “Never” 40
Tip # 7: Address counterargument Pretending there are not two sides does not make one side true. “After I interviewed the teachers at Alpha School, I discovered that all teachers hate the No Child Left Behind Act” (Pezalla, 2010, p. 9). Tackle the best points of the other side. Look for intersections. This is not a cage match; it is research. 41
Tip # 8: Avoid Logical Fallacies Slippery slope fallacy: If we commit to Action A, it will invariably lead to dramatic and negative Outcome Z (A>Z). If we do not work with at-risk middle school boys in reading, they will inevitably end up in jail. Correlation vs. causation confusion: “After the remedy, test scores improved” (Pezalla, 2010, p. 20). The rooster crowing before dawn does not mean that his noise made the sun rise. 42
Tip # 9: Be humble Avoid praising yourself too much. Ex: The methods outlined in chapter 3 represent a major breakthrough in the design of distributed systems…” 43
Tip # 10: Acknowledge your good work Avoid criticizing yourself too much. Ex: “Although the technique employed in the current study was not earthshaking…” 44
Rubric Writing Quality Indicator Writing Style and Composition: Written in scholarly language (accurate, balanced, objective, tentative). The writing is clear, precise, and avoids redundancy. Statements are specific and topical sentences are established for paragraphs. The flow of words is smooth and comprehensible. Bridges are established between ideas. Scored on a Likert scale, ranging from 1 (must be revised and resubmitted) to 5 (approved with commendation) 45
Rubric Writing Quality Indicator Organization and Form: Is logically and comprehensive organized, using subheadings where appropriate Has a professional, scholarly appearance Is written with correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling Includes citations for the following: Direct quotes, paraphrasing, facts, and references to research studies Includes in-text citations in the reference list. Scored on a Likert scale, ranging from 1 (must be revised and resubmitted) to 5 (approved with commendation) 46