Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Summary of Dissertation Chapters

Writing a dissertation requires immense work, meticulous preparation, hard work and dedication to assigned tasks, and careful consideration of what is to be penned down to achieve success in the future. A dissertation is a scholarly document written by doctoral students engaged in its preparation and expecting to be conferred on with the Doctor of Philosophy or PhD in a select field of specialization after its completion. There are five chapters to a dissertation. Each chapter plays a particular role while relaying messages distinct to it. According to Rudestam and Newton (2007), some dissertations require the collective efforts of agencies and institutions.

Chapter I
Chapter one illustrates the significance of a research study. It explains why the study has to be conducted and also the possible and social implications of the study.  Chapter one is the prologue or introduction to the dissertation. It establishes through narrative form the relevant materials to be covered. It pinpoints what the dissertation is all about. It debriefs the reader regarding the dissertation set up and the circumstances of the research. It is of paramount importance that a preview of the chapter be conducted. The introduction contains the background information and the problem statement; it exposes the purpose of the study, the research questions, and the theoretical and/or conceptual framework for the study. The conceptual framework is applied to qualitative studies and to some epidemiological studies that are relevant to other quantitative studies.

In the purpose of study, it is best to provide a short statement that serves as a bond between the problem being addressed and the content of the study under focus. The theoretical foundation will have to be identified while providing its derivation or starting point. An account of how the theory relates to the theoretical propositions and/or major hypotheses will have to be revealed. It is necessary to explain how the theory relates to the study approach and research questions.

There is a need for identifying the conceptual framework and the concept or phenomenon that grounds the study. In qualitative studies, contextual lens is used while in quantitative studies a description of the body of research that supports the need for the study as derived from the literature review is rehearsed. Other features to be incorporated in the chapter include a section and rationale of the tradition or design, a description of the key concept or phenomenon being investigated, a summary of the methodology, and how data was collected and analyzed.

Chapter II
Chapter II deals with the literature review and it is best written when it is used as a launch pad since it is the longest chapter. Students are encouraged to write their dissertations beginning with chapter two as it helps filter important topics in the course of the review process. Chapter two begins with a restatement of the problem and the purpose. It is significant to provide an abstract of existing literature to pinpoint the relevance of the problem. The literature search approach used will have to be documented and a list of accessed library databases and search engines used documented. Where appropriate the student scholar has to indicate the theory or theories used. Also, the student will have to provide the theoretical origin and sources.

Chapter III
In chapter three, it is best to restate the purpose of the study previously described in chapter one. Also, it is a requirement to make a preview of major sections of the chapter. The research design and rationale identifies the research tradition. A statement and definition of the central concepts or phenomenon of the study will have to be fully exposed. It is significant that the role of the researcher be defined and explained. The relationships that exist between the researcher and the participants must also be explained. The management of power relationships and biases will have to be addressed. Every likely ethical issue must be noted for clarity. The methodology will have to be described adequately so that other researchers can replicate it in their studies. It will be significant to mention the selection criteria used in participant identification and how they will be recruited and contacted if need be. Instrumentation is an important component of the data collection process. The various data collection methods and the types of instruments used in the research will have to be documented. To answer the research question, there has to be enough instruments to make the process a reality. The developers of the instruments used in the research must be given credit and mention must be made whether participants have been involved in previous studies.

Chapter IV
This chapter deals with the results of the findings. The purpose of the research questions will have to be reviewed briefly. Changes in instrumentation, in personnel and budgetary interpretation deserve to be defined. The demographics of participants and the characteristics relevant to the study will have to be presented. Data analysis evidence of trustworthiness and results that include tables and figures that illustrate appropriate findings will have to be included in this chapter. According to McNabb (2008), it is a moral obligation for researchers to shield the confidentiality of the participants partaking in the research. According to Kraemer and Jason (1996), research conducted by public administrators has been significantly proliferating in recent years mainly due to the increased use of computing in the workplace. Existing discrepancies or cases that do not conform to data will have to be noted. Patterns or themes must be organized in an orderly manner. A summary of the research questions should pave the way for transition to chapter five.

Chapter V
This chapter exclusively deals with summary, conclusions, and recommendations of the study. A thorough reiteration of why the research is significant will have to be included in chapter five. How the research will be of importance to others will have to be noted. Any limitations that evolved in the course of the study must be elaborated in the final findings. Any necessary recommendations, implications, and how the research will impact society must be noted.

A dissertation is a unique, scholarly and scientific document that contains the professional findings of a doctoral student. What distinguishes a dissertation from other types of research is that it requires extensive investigation and experimentation before concluding findings. While each and every chapter in a dissertation deals with a particular issue, what arouses the prospective doctoral student and other scientists interested in its perusal are the final results and recommendations that can be used to shape humanity.   

Kraemer, K.L. & Dedrick, J. (1996). Computing and public organizations. Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations. University of Irvine, CA. Retrieved from http://escholarship.org/uc/item/1ck3h5bf

McNabb, D.E. (2008). Research methods in public administration and nonprofit management: Quantitative and qualitative approaches (2nd ed.). Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe.

Rudestam, K.E. & Newton, R.R. (2007). Surviving your dissertation: A comprehensive guide to content and process (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

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