You are here

The Dissertation Journey

The Dissertation Journey
A Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Planning, Writing, and Defending Your Dissertation

Second Edition

248 pages | Corwin
The dissertation is a tough mountain to climb; half of all doctoral students never make it to the top. To overcome the practical, emotional, and psychological obstacles along the way, you'll need the right tools and a knowledgeable guide. This informative and inspirational book readies you for each step of the dissertation process, including choosing a topic, selecting the committee, getting acclimated to academic writing, preparing for your oral defense, and publishing your research.

This second edition of The Dissertation Journey offers new and updated features, including:

- A chapter on ethical considerations

- Expanded coverage of digital data collection and using the Internet for research

- More detailed information on conducting the literature review

- A discussion of how to develop a theoretical or conceptual framework

With graphics, checklists, inspirational quotes, illustrations, and sample forms, this valuable resource is your essential guidebook to preparing, writing, and defending your dissertation.

Foreword by Kenneth R. Stevenson
Preface to the Second Edition
A Note to Doctoral Candidates
About the Author
Part I: Quests and Questions
1. Do You Have What It Takes?
Why Take This Journey?

Do You Have What It Takes to Journey to the Peak?

Avoiding the Hazards of High Altitude Climbing


Emotional Barriers

Writer's Block

What are the Inner Essentials?


2. What Exactly Is a Dissertation?
What Is a Doctoral Dissertation?

Typical Dissertation Structure

Studies Using Quantitative Methodology Sample Format

Studies Using Qualitative Methodology Sample Format

Alternative Formats

Components of a Typical Dissertation

Major Steps in the Dissertation Process

Roles and Responsibilities


3. What are Ethical Considerations in Research?
Rights of Human Subjects

Ethical Considerations in Data Collection

Ethical Issues in Data Analysis and Interpretation

Ethical Issues in Reporting Research Findings

Ethics of Writing Up Research

Other Ethical Considerations


Part II: Preparing for the Climb
4. Choosing a Dissertation Topic
Approaches to Choosing a Topic

Where to Look for Potential Topics

Some Criteria for Topic Selection

Replication Studies

Replication Studies Do’s and Don’ts


5. Creating Your Dissertation Team
Peak Principle: Always Climb Fully Equipped

Selecting a Dissertation Advisor

Selecting the Committee

The Care and Nurture of Advisors and Committee Members

How to Approach a Potential Advisor

What If No One Agrees to Be Your Advisor?

Choosing Outfitters and Bearers (Other Specialized Consultants)

Where to Locate Specialists


6. Dissertation Support Groups
Critical Decisions

Strategies and Structures of Successful Support Groups

Other Considerations


7. Organizing Yourself
Organize Your Workspace

Organize Your Time

Working Smart

Maintain Balance

Strategies for Getting a Life While Dissertating


8. Using the Internet and Technology to Conduct Research
Conducting Literature Searches

Online Help

Helpful Technology

Collecting and Analyzing Data

Communicating Via the Internet

Using Your Library’s Electronic Search Capability

Using Your Instructional Technology Center

Additional Online Resources

Tips to Keep You Sane and Productive


9. Reviewing the Literature
Purpose and Scope


Steps in Conducting a Literature Review

Techniques for Writing the Literature Review

Advice on Writing a Literature Review

Literature Review Checklist


10. Mastering the Academic Style
Qualities of Scholarly Writing

Common Writing Problems

Tips for Good Writing

Further Reading

Helpful Web Sites


PART IV: Climbing to Base Camp
11. Writing the Introduction Chapter

Problem Statement

Theoretical or Conceptual Framework

Purpose Statement

Research Questions/Hypotheses

Significance of the Study



Definition of Terms

Organization of the Study


12. Selecting and Describing the Methodology
Selecting the Methodology

Describing the Methodology


13. Holding the Proposal Meeting
Before the Meeting

During the Meeting

After the Meeting


14. Analyzing and Presenting the Results
Understanding the Data

Writing the Introductory Paragraph

Tables and the Narrative Description

Presenting the Findings

Further Reading


15. Summarizing and Discussing the Results
Reflect on Findings

Chapter Organization

Questions to Ask About Summarizing and Discussing the Findings


16. The Oral Defense: D-Day
A Defense Scenario

Helpful Hints: Prior to the Oral Defense

During the Oral Defense

After the Oral Defense


17. The Next Peak
The Descent

Letting Down

Mount Analogue

Helping Others


Disseminating Your Study's Findings


Parting Thoughts

"Few books provide such a concise overview of the dissertation process. From understanding your relationship with faculty to collating materials for each chapter, Roberts provides a clear, step-by-step guide on how to plan, write, and defend your doctoral research. Do not procrastinate; read this book and proceed on the road to successful completion of your dissertation!"

Deborah A. Schreiber, Assistant Professor of Education
TUI University

"The Dissertation Journey is a must-have resource for any doctoral student venturing out on his or her own. Dr. Roberts presents a systematic approach that transforms what at first seems insurmountable into achievable. Trust the process, it works!"

Bruce R. Schultz, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
University of Alaska, Anchorage

Good reference book which will help my students in all their dissetations

Mr Mick Raine
Education , Directorate of Army Training
May 9, 2016

This publication provides a methodical approach to the dissertation process which allows students to develop their own styles for their projects. Explanations of specific topics (in particular sample questionnaires and the content checklist) and methods used are clear with examples given to support students on their dissertation journey.

Miss Tracey Canham
Health Care And Early Years, Swindon College
September 7, 2015

Text seems like it will cover the topics we need in an orderly fashion, with the bonus of including writing tips and special attention to the writing style required for a dissertation.

Professor Iris Johnson
Education, Louisiana State University Shreveport
May 21, 2015

Great resource. Will also begin using this text as a supplementary, but required text, in our first introductory doctoral leadership course.

Professor Iris Johnson
Education, Louisiana State University Shreveport
March 13, 2016

Communicates well to the reader and supports some level of independent work as students read the text and implement the proposed strategies.

Professor Iris Johnson
Education, Louisiana State University Shreveport
October 28, 2015

Basic but simple guide for anyone starting a dissertation. A really helpful start.

Ms Catherine Croughan
School of Nursing, Salford University
March 27, 2015

Perfect for use in doctoral program

Mr Vicky Krug
Health Prof Social Science Div, Westmoreland Co Cmty College
October 16, 2014

A very useful text to support planning and writing a dissertation

Sue Horder
Education, Glyndwr University
May 21, 2014
Key features
  • Features checklists, organizing graphics, in-depth list of resources for further inquiry, quotations, illustrations, and other user-friendly elements.
  • Full of easily accessible, practical advice that is administered in small bites.
  • Conversational, warm, and personal writing style unique to this genre.

This updated and expanded edition includes new information vital to navigating the dissertation process as well as an expansion of current topics for greater clarity and utility. New features include a discussion of the central ethical issues involved in conducting research relative to human rights, data collection, data analysis and interpretation, respect for the research site, writing, and disseminating the research. The book also contains new information about the process, importance, and purpose of developing a theoretical or conceptual framework. It includes responses to questions such as, "What is a conceptual or theoretical framework?", "How does a conceptual framework differ from a theoretical framework?", "Why do you need a conceptual/theoretical framework? ", and "How do you find a conceptual or theoretical framework?" Also provided are examples from dissertations for greater understanding.

Completely revised and updated chapters on using technology and reviewing the literature have been added. Because more and more researchers use the Internet and technology for all phases of dissertation writing, the author has incorporated new Web-based technologies, including new information about search engines, evaluating web sites, and social networking on the Web. A completely revised and expanded chapter on reviewing the literature has been added in which the author expanded the steps in conducting a literature review from four to eight and added considerably more detail to the process. An updated listing of secondary sources and style manuals widely used in the social sciences has been incorporated, and a thorough update of all web sites and references, including new editions of works, has been made as well.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Foreword by Kenneth R. Stevenson


Carol M. Roberts

Carol Roberts is a professor emerita from the University of La Verne, where she taught Leadership in the Doctoral Program. She advised doctoral students, chaired dissertations, and taught a variety of leadership courses, primarily in personal leadership, communication, conflict, and coaching. She has served as a consultant and seminar leader specializing in organizational and team development, strategic planning, conflict resolution, coaching, and personal mastery. Dr. Roberts has been a consultant and trainer for the Administrator Trainer Center and Effective Schools Program, the California School Leadership Academy, and the California... More About Author

SAGE Knowledge is the ultimate social sciences digital library for students, researchers, and faculty. Hosting more than 4,400 titles, it includes an expansive range of SAGE eBook and eReference content, including scholarly monographs, reference works, handbooks, series, professional development titles, and more.

The platform allows researchers to cross-search and seamlessly access a wide breadth of must-have SAGE book and reference content from one source.