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Writing the Winning Thesis or Dissertation
A Step-by-Step Guide

Third Edition


January 2013 | 328 pages | Corwin
The classic for master's and doctoral students-newly revised and updated!

Completing your master's thesis or doctoral dissertation can be a daunting task. Writing the Winning Thesis or Dissertation, Third Edition, demystifies the process, helping you prepare your scholarly work. This experience-based, practical book takes you through the process one step at a time!

Newly revised and updated, this edition uses a step-by-step approach, providing specific models and examples that will take you through the complex writing process.

Major topics included are:

" Laying the groundwork for the thesis or dissertation

" Organizing and scheduling your work

" Collaborating with peers

" Using technology

" Solving problems throughout the dissertation process

This excellent resource, used in its first two editions by tens of thousands of students, will provide you with clear direction for structuring a winning thesis or dissertation.

 
Preface
 
About the Authors
 
I. Establishing the Foundations
 
1. Laying the Groundwork for the Thesis and Dissertation
Understanding the Special Nature of the Dissertation

 
Purposes in Writing the Dissertation

 
The Audiences for the Dissertation

 
Analyze the Special Characteristics of the Dissertation

 
Making Ethical Choices With Respect to the Dissertation

 
Conduct Ethical Research

 
Secure Informed Consent

 
Acknowledge All Those Who Have Contributed or Collaborated

 
Report the Results Honestly and Objectively

 
Securing the Needed Resources

 
Analyze Your Needs

 
Search for Special Support

 
Understanding the Key Differences Between the Thesis and the Dissertation

 
Roles and Responsibilities of the Committee

 
The Dynamics of the Committee

 
Preventing Problems with the Committee

 
Dealing With Committee Problems

 
Committee Members Do Not Give Feedback Promptly

 
Committee Members Give Conflicting Advice

 
Committee Members Give Unhelpful Advice

 
Relationships Critically Deteriorate

 
Solving Personal Problems With the Dissertation

 
Problems Near the End of the Course Work

 
Problems at the End of Course Work

 
Problems After the Proposal

 
Problems After the Defense

 
A Look Ahead

 
Technology Technique: The Role of the Internet for Research in the Dissertation Process

 
 
2. Dealing With Institutional Requirements
Styles

 
Specific University Guidelines or Requirements

 
Institutional Review Board

 
Knowledge Requirements (Training)

 
Certificate Time Frame

 
Degree Completion Timelines

 
 
3. Finding a Research Problem
Make a Personal Assessment of Topics

 
Professional Significance

 
Continuing Professional Interest

 
Personal Interest

 
Career Advancement

 
Professional Knowledge, Experience, and Skills

 
Likely Support

 
Time Required

 
Accessibility

 
Conduct a Broad Scan of the Literature

 
Organize for the Broad Scan

 
Read to Inquire

 
Concentrate on Research Reviews

 
Reflect and Discuss

 
Fix on the Research Topic and Research Problem

 
Technology Technique: University Research Librarians

 
 
4. Conducting a Focused Review of the Literature
Reorganize Your Files

 
Retrieve All Related Abstracts

 
Evaluate the Results

 
Check for Prior Dissertations

 
Retrieve the Full Texts of the Most Useful Sources

 
Use Primary Sources

 
Develop an Annotated Bibliography

 
A Concluding Note

 
Technology Technique: Software for Maintaining Reference Information

 
 
5. Making a Preliminary Choice of Methodology
Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives

 
Mixed Method Perspective

 
Project-Based Studies

 
Research Types

 
Studies Primarily Quantitative in Nature

 
Experimental Research

 
Quasi-Experimental Research

 
Causal-Comparative Research

 
Correlational Research

 
Descriptive Research

 
Evaluation Research

 
Studies Primarily Qualitative in Nature

 
Case Study Research

 
Ethnographic Research

 
Action Research

 
Research Methods

 
Make Preliminary Choices

 
Technology Technique: Data Analysis Software I

 
 
6. Organizing and Scheduling Your Work
Develop a Planning Chart

 
Make the Tentative Entries

 
Technology Technique: Chart Software

 
 
7. Developing the Prospectus and Organizing the Committee
Prospectus Rationale

 
Prospectus Developing

 
Committee Selection

 
Committee Dynamics

 
Technology Technique: Telecommunication and Software Editing Tools

 
 
II. Developing and Defending the Proposal
 
8. Conducting a Comprehensive Critique of the Literature
Maintain Good Research Practices Throughout the Search

 
Develop a Focused Outline of the Search

 
Establish Parameters for the Search

 
Conduct a Comprehensive Search

 
Critique All Sources Retrieved

 
A Concluding Note

 
Technology Technique: Electronic Note Card

 
 
9. Detailing the Methodology
The Research Design: Its General Nature

 
The Research Design: Type-Specific Issues

 
Quantitative: Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Research

 
Quantitative: Causal-Comparative Research

 
Quantitative: Correlational Research

 
Quantitative: Descriptive Research

 
Evaluation

 
Qualitative: Case Study and Ethnographic Research

 
Mixed Method: Action Research

 
Develop Your Research Design

 
Technology Technique: Data Analysis Software II

 
 
10. Developing and Defending the Proposal
Peer Collaboration

 
Weighing the Advantages and Disadvantages

 
Structuring the Collaborative

 
Prepare for Comprehensive Examinations

 
Provide Editorial Feedback

 
Assist With and Contribute to Literature Review

 
Assist With and Contribute to Data Collection

 
Assist With and Contribute to Data Analysis

 
Prepare for and Contribute to Defenses

 
Develop and Article for Publication

 
Provide Emotional Support

 
Formalize the Structure and Request Advisor Approval

 
Help the Group Remain Productive

 
Readers and Reviewers

 
Mini-Proposal

 
Developing the Proposal

 
Developing the Proposal: The Big Picture

 
Developing the Proposal: Writing Chapter 1

 
Introduction to the Chapter

 
Background of the Study

 
The Problem Statement

 
Professional Significance of the Study

 
Developing the Proposal: Writing Chapter 2

 
Review the Theoretical Literature

 
Review the Empirical Literature

 
Developing the Proposal: Writing Chapter 3

 
Developing the Proposal: The References

 
Developing the Proposal: The Appendices

 
Holding the Proposal Defense

 
Coordinate Committee Schedules: Date and Time

 
Prepare for the Proposal Defense

 
Presentation of the Proposal Defense

 
Facilities

 
Deal With Other Defense Issues

 
Post Proposal Steps

 
Secure IRB Approval

 
IRB Certification

 
IRB Certification/Advisor

 
University Requirements/Protocols

 
Collect Data After Obtaining Appropriate Approvals

 
Committee Requirements

 
Required Edits and/or Revisions

 
Review and Adjust Timeline

 
Technology Technique: Page Numbering Using Word Processing Software and University Guidelines

 
 
III. Researching and Writing the Thesis or Dissertation
 
11. Following the Research Design
Communicate Periodically With the Chair

 
Ensure Access to the Research Site

 
Avoid Premature Data Collection

 
Develop a Detailed Planning Calendar

 
Change the Schedule as Needed

 
Prevent Problems With the Intervention

 
Use Computers Mindfully

 
Ensure a High Rate of Return on Surveys

 
Maintain Careful and Duplicate Records

 
Technology Technique: Electronic Data Collection

 
 
12. Mastering the Academic Style
Follow the Recommended Style Guide

 
Use the Writing Process

 
Develop an Effective Approach to Writing

 
Write With an Efficient Process

 
Mastering the Academic Style

 
Project an Appropriate Persona

 
Document Assertions

 
Vary the Way You Identify Sources

 
Use Appropriate Paragraphing

 
Write Clear, Mature Sentences

 
Some Special Matters of Word Choice and Form

 
Technology Technique: Tools for Writing Software

 
13. Organizing the Dissertation

 
How Are Dissertations Organized?

 
What Principles Govern the Organization of Individual Chapters?

 
How Can the Organization Be Made Clear to the Reader

 
How Is the Dissertation Finally Packaged?

 
Technology Technique: Editors/Style Editors

 
 
14. Writing the Introductory Chapter
Introduction to the Chapter

 
The Background of the Study

 
The Problem Statement

 
The Professional Significance of the Study

 
Overview of Methodology

 
Limitations and Delimitations

 
Definition of Terms

 
Technology Technique: Word Processing and Hanging Indents

 
 
15. Writing the Review of the Literature
Update the Comprehensive Critique of the Literature

 
Reread All Sources

 
Develop the Final Outline

 
Use Levels of Headings That Reflect the Outline

 
Write the Introductory Paragraph

 
Write the First Section of the Review

 
Provide an Overview

 
Generalize

 
Specific Reminders

 
Write the Remaining Sections, Including a Summary

 
Specific Reminders

 
Evaluate and Revise

 
Technology Technique: Formatting Quotes

 
 
16. Explaining the Methodology
Prepare to Write the Chapter

 
Use an Objective Style in Writing the Chapter

 
Determine the Content of the Chapter

 
Outline the Chapter and Use Headings Appropriately

 
Make an Outline

 
Use Appropriate Headings

 
Describe the Context for the Study

 
Identify the Subjects or Participants

 
Identify the Instruments Used to Collect Data

 
Explain the Procedures Used in Completing the Design

 
Explain How the Data Were Analyzed

 
Write a Summary

 
Technology Technique: Formatting

 
 
17. Presenting the Results
Prepare to Present the Results

 
Decide on the Contents and Format of the Chapter

 
Determine the Organization of the Chapter

 
Develop the Tables and Figures

 
Write the Introductory Paragraph

 
Write the First Section

 
Write the Remaining Sections, Using Appropriate Headings

 
Revise the Chapter and Submit It for Review

 
Technology Technique: Using Software to Create Figures and Tables

 
 
18. Summarizing and Discussing the Results
Review the Results Reported

 
Develop an Outline of the Final Chapter

 
Write the Introductory Paragraph

 
Restate the Problem and Review the Methodology

 
Summarize the Results

 
Discuss the Meaning of the Study

 
Reflect on Your Findings

 
Determine the Content of the Discussion Section

 
Write the Discussion Section

 
Technology Technique: Software Capabilities

 
 
IV. Defending and Profiting From the Dissertation
 
19. Preparing and Holding the Dissertation Defense
Planning

 
Secure Needed Resources

 
Edit the Dissertation

 
Check on Content and Order

 
Write the Abstract

 
Write the Title and Approval Pages

 
Write the Acknowledgment Pages

 
Write the Table of Contents and Lists of Tables and Figures

 
Include the Chapters

 
Finalize the References

 
Finalize Any Appendices

 
Submit the Dissertation

 
Holding the Defense

 
Prepare

 
Facilities

 
Presentation

 
After Your Presentation

 
After the Defense

 
University Requirements

 
University Graduate School or University Library

 
Electronic

 
IRB Completion Requirements

 
Study Closure

 
Documentation

 
Technology Technique: Packaging the Final Draft of The Dissertation

 
 
20. Publishing the Thesis or Dissertation
Add to the Research Knowledge Base

 
Present a Scholarly Paper

 
Publish a Journal Article

 
Identify Several Possible Journals

 
Make a Careful Analysis of Each Journal

 
Prepare the Article for Submission

 
Develop a Plan to Publish a Book

 
Complete the Book Plan

 
Submit the Book Plan

 
Technology Technique: Journal Software Requirements

 
 
References
 
Index

"Successfully writing and defending a thesis/dissertation is often the impediment that keeps doctoral students from completing their programs. Writing the Winning Thesis or Dissertation is a great blueprint to avoid this pitfall. Every doctoral student should pick up a copy of this easy to follow guide. It is written in a very user-friendly format, answers numerous questions, and provides clear direction. Joyner, Rouse, and Glatthorn provide the graduate student a key to getting started, working through the process, and completing a winning thesis or dissertation. No graduate student should be without a copy on his or her shelf."

Dr. Henry A. Peel, Special Assistant to the President
Macon State College, Macon, GA

"This book is a valuable tool for students and professors alike. It addresses the concerns students have, and reminds those of us guiding dissertations of the issues surrounding this challenging process.Writing a dissertation is a step-by-step activity. This is a guide that the doctoral candidate can read, and re-read as each step is accomplished, seeing both the details and the 'big picture'."

Theresa Eagle, Dean, Graduate School of Education and Professional Development
Marshall University, South Charleston Campus, South Charleston, WV

"Few tasks are as potentially intimidating to graduate students as the process of constructing and completing a masters' thesis or doctoral dissertation. In this text, the authors have provided many practical tools and ideas for guiding this process to a successful conclusion. This newly updated edition of what has been a highly popular and useful text will be well received by scores of graduate students in the various fields of education and educational leadership."

James R. Machell, Dean, College of Education and Professional Studies
University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, OK

"The authors have provided an excellent start-to-finish how-to guide for completing a dissertation. It is practical, useful, and written in a way that is not threatening to students. This book 'brings it home' for the students. It is an important resource for any doctoral student!"

Sandy Hutchinson, EdD, Professor of Educational Leadership
University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO

"Writing the Winning Thesis or Dissertation, occupies a unique place in academic literature. The book is extremely readable and offers practical and useful advice for graduate students and doctoral candidates while also observing the highest standards of scholarship and the professoriate. I recommend the book to all my doctoral students and the feedback I receive is uniformly excellent. The process for writing a thesis or dissertation is broken down into easily understood components with clear directions for following the process from the beginning (selecting a chair) to the end (the final defense). I am proud to know Dr. Rouse as a colleague, and I am proud of his work on this book."

Dr. James O. McDowelle, Professor, Educational Leadership
East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

"Writing the Winning Thesis or Dissertation represents a collection of years of professional experiences in serving on thesis and dissertation committees. Having successfully served on over sixty dissertation committees as chair, methodologist, and reader in my career, I found this book to be thoroughly covering all aspects of the dissertation process. The student oriented approach the authors take in writing and organization makes it easy for students to accept and follow instructions. What I appreciate most is the last part of the book giving students all the encouragement and support for continuing with the scholarship of their dissertation studies. This is a book I will certainly include as an essential reference for my doctoral classes."

Tak Cheung Chan, Professor of Educational Leadership
Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA

"It is a difficult quest to give students the needed resources to assist in writing a thesis or dissertation. Joyner, Rouse and Glatthorn address completing this journey in an organized and sequential process. I congratulate the authors in their thoughtful portrayal."

Ellen H. Reames, Program Coordinator
Educational Leadership, Auburn University, AL

Excellent book that thoughtfully takes students through the thesis journey.

Dr Katherine Cartmell
Education and Early Childhood Studies, Liverpool John Moores University
March 16, 2015

Recommended for beginner researchers that need level of detail.

Dr Margaret Carter
Business Administration , National Graduate Univ
June 25, 2014

Used as part of independent study briefings as suggested, as useful to students that need this level of structured guidance, in addition to that given by the university.

Mrs Kay Wall
Social Work Department, Kent State University
June 10, 2014

Sample Materials & Chapters

Preface

Chapter 1: Laying the Groundwork for the Thesis and Dissertation


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Randy L. Joyner

Randy L. Joyner is an adjunct professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC. He is retired from the Department of Educational Leadership in the College of Education of East Carolina University, where he directed or served as committee member for 25 dissertations. Furthermore, he has served as a doctoral committee member at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia; and North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina. He has received several awards for his research: the Delta Pi Epsilon doctoral research award, the... More About Author

William Arthur Rouse

William A. Rouse Jr. is the Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Faculty Affairs in the College of Education, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC as well as an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership in the College of Education, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. He was a public school teacher and a secondary school principal prior to joining the faculty at East Carolina University. He has worked with several school districts’ administrators to refocus their efforts on effective school leadership practices that result in a dynamic teaching and learning environment. He has also worked with a school... More About Author

Allan A. Glatthorn

Allan A. Glatthorn (1924–2007) was a major contributor to the third and fourth editions; his research used in the preparation of the first and second editions of Writing the Winning Thesis or Dissertation: A Step-by-Step Guide was the foundation for the third edition. He was the Distinguished Research Professor of Education (Emeritus) in the College of Education of East Carolina University, where he advised doctoral students, chaired dissertations, and taught courses in supervision and curriculum. He was formerly Professor of Education at the Graduate School of Education of the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to his university... More About Author

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