DESSERTATION CHAPTERS One, Chapter Two and Chapter Three.
I will provide my DRP from where Chapters will be generated:
Here are the Directive and Guidance, and right after that I will upload my DRP:
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
All research reports (including dissertations) begin with an introduction describing the problem under investigation and its background, its relevance to the field, and the assumptions and the limitations of the study. This section of the Guide outlines the main sections required in Chapter One. This Chapter One Guide is organized according to the sections found in most dissertations. Each section explains the terminology and identifies the issues that need consideration in that section. As a general guideline, Chapter One is typically 15-20 pages long.
Chapter One should discuss seven specific points: 1) an introduction describing the background of the problem; 2) the statement of the problem; 3) the purpose and significance of the study; 4) the research design; 5) the research questions; (6) the assumptions and limitations of the study; and 7) definitions of terms used in the study. There is also a final section where you will summarize Chapter One and describe the organization and general content of the rest of the dissertation.
Use this Guide to help you write Chapter One. It describes each section to help you ensure that you have covered the necessary material. You are encouraged to refer to your approved Dissertation Research Plan to guide your content for Chapter One.
Before beginning the first section, ?Background of the Problem? write an introduction to the chapter that begins directly after the CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION heading. The introduction should identify the research topic and the main points of Chapter One. The Dissertation Template provides all of the necessary headings and sections required for your dissertation. It is recommended that you use it for all work.
Background of the Problem
As the first section of your dissertation, you want to begin by providing your reader with a broad base of understanding of the research topic. In ?Background of the Problem? the goal is to give the reader an overview of the topic, and its context within the real world, research literature, and theory.
This section articulates the following four main points:
1. What is the general issue of interest to the researcher? In what setting(s) does it occur, and whom does it affect? What are positive and negative aspects of the issue?
2. What did the researcher find in the literature about the issue? What is already known? What are the current best explanations of the problem and its solutions? How strong is the underlying evidence supporting the current explanations and are there problems with those studies? What issues remain to be understood? These questions would be answered only briefly, in summary, form, in this section. They will form the backbone of the discussion in the next section (?Statement of the Problem?). The complete literature review will be presented in Chapter Two.
3. What interests the researcher in choosing this problem on phenomenon for investigation?
4. What general theory is the study going to conduct the research to understand the problem or understand the issue?
This section also should identify the theoretical framework of the study (which will be fully discussed in Chapter Two). This is the basic explanation of the problem currently accepted by the researchers who have been working on the problem. This simply means that one uses an already-accepted account of the wider problem as the framework for considering
new information about the problem. Naturally, like everything in a research design, the theoretical framework needs to be justified. Showing the following will justify the choice of a theoretical framework:
1. Show that all the other design elements are consistent with the theory.
2. Show that the theory is used by other researchers investigating the same or similar kinds of problems.
3. Show that the theory supports the investigation of the problem.
Statement of the Problem
This section focuses on the research problem. The research problem is often referred to as the ?gap in the research literature? that your study addresses. It is often stated as something that is unknown or has not been previously researched.
This section should clearly articulate how the study will relate to the current literature. This is done by describing findings from the research literature that define the gap. Typically, researchers will approach this by indicating that previous studies have found ?A,? ?B,? and ?C;? but ?D? had not been investigated.
This section need not be lengthy, but should be very clear what the research problem is and why it should be solved.
Researchers needing more information on the general problem and the research problem, see Appendix A.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of any quantitative research study is to solve the research problem, to fill the gap in the research literature. In this section, you will discuss in more detail how your study will add to the knowledge base.
Focus on solving the general problem and the research problem. To do this, you will need to address both senses of the word \”problem.? Essentially, the broad purpose of your study is to help the wider community of interest to investigate an issue it considers important, by means of solving the more narrowly focused research problem. Here, you will lay out your argument that your research problem must be solved (i.e., the gap in the research literature needs to be filled) in order to contribute to the broader knowledge about the problem. To make that argument, you will refer to the current literature and research evidence, showing how your study takes the next step, fills in an important gap, or corrects a previous mistake or flaw. It is the general purpose of your study to contribute to knowledge about the wider issue, and the specific purpose to solve the research problem. A strong purpose section shows how the transition from the general issue to the research problem is logical.
Significance of the Study
In this section, once again you should keep in mind the problem. Here you also will focus on any other intended audiences or the stakeholders in your study. What will your study offer them?
You will show how your study will be meaningful or valuable to:
? The wider community who have a vested interest in the problem or issue. In the first part of the significance section, you will discuss how important the problem is to
groups in the wider communities. Avoid sentimental statements in favor of using evidence that makes your case. By filling the gap in the research literature, the study created knowledge that can be used by others. When the relevant community is wider, the significance of the study is greater. One should never make claims of wider significance that the study will not deliver.
? The professionals in your discipline who are interested in your problem (as shown by the existence of a body of research relevant to it). Here you focus on the research problem, and the community within your discipline or specialization interested in that. You can also include professionals in another field who may be impacted by your findings. Do not simply assert that your findings will potentially be valuable to professionals in your field–explain why you think so. The surest way to do this is to cite research that calls for the type of study you plan to do.
? The knowledge base and theories of your discipline. Next, you will turn to how important the knowledge generated by solving the research problem is, and explain how the study was an advancement in terms of rigor and how it contributed new information to the knowledge base and theory. Present a justification that the findings make a meaningful contribution to the knowledge base and to the advancement of the theory (or theories) that provide the framework for your research. Make a clear case, supported by relevant sources, that your research increased understanding the research population and relationship among the variables and research population.
In this section, list each research question from your approved Research Plan. Wherever the research questions appear in the dissertation, they must be exactly the same as they appear here.
Researchers needing more information about research questions should see Appendix B.
Definitions of Terms
Identify each variable included in your research questions, and provide a construct, variable, and operational definition of each. For each variable that is connected to a construct, provide a construct definition that is connected to the theoretical framework for the study. Also provide the variable definition, which aligns with the construct definition, as well as the operational definition. Lastly, include the operational definition for each variable. Also, define all of the participant characteristics that characterize your research population (inclusion and exclusion criteria) along with demographic variables you collected in order to describe your sample. This should be written in a glossary format, where the terms are listed in alphabetical order.
In this section, identify and describe the methodology, approach, and design that you used to solve the research problem. Include support for why the chosen methodology, approach, and design were appropriate for solving the research problem or addressing the need for the study, and answering the research questions. Provide support that these are appropriate and acceptable for research in your discipline and your research topic. Limit this section to no more than one page.
If you need more information on research design, consult Appendix C.
Assumptions and Limitations
Your study, like all research, necessarily takes many things for granted. In legal terminology, it \”stipulates\” them. This means that everyone agrees without more ado to accept them as true without going through the tedious business of proving them to be true. But this acceptance does not mean that assumptions must not be defended; like every other element of your dissertation, they must have some support.
Two issues must be addressed about your assumptions: (a) Where do they come from? (b) How far down the \”chain of assumptions\” must you go in identifying them and supporting them?
Where do assumptions come from? There are a number of sources of your assumptions. We can list them as general methodological assumptions, theoretical assumptions, topic-specific assumptions, and assumptions about measures.
General methodological assumptions
First, in any methodology, generations of methodologists before you have done the tedious work of identifying some important and basic assumptions one must make to do the kind of research you are setting out to do. For instance, you must assume participants will answer questions truthfully. This and many similar assumptions are \”universal research assumptions\” and you will find them in the advanced methodology articles devoted to your particular study\’s methodology. Your particular design and sample may imply certain assumptions as well. For instance, you might have to assume that they can read at a certain specified level in order to answer your questionnaire. Think carefully about all elements of your design to make sure you understand what you are assuming or taking for granted by using them.
In general, all methodologies make a number of critically important assumptions about the nature of reality (ontology) and the nature of knowledge (epistemology) which you need to be familiar with and to identify in your prospectus. These fall into the following categories:
? Ontology: Is reality a single phenomenon, or are there multiple realities? (Most quantitative studies assume that reality, measured in units, is the same for everyone; qualitative studies assume that one person?s reality may be independent, socially constructed, or different from another person?s reality).
? Epistemology: Are the knower (researcher) and the known (participants and data) dependent or independent? (Most quantitative researchers assume them to be entirely or nearly entirely independent; how the researcher feels or believes is irrelevant to the outcome of a measurement.)
? Axiology: Should research and researchers be value-laden or value-free? (Quantitative work assumes a degree of ?value-freedom.? But this is an important assumption to critique as you prepare this section.)
? Generalizations: Is it possible to infer things about one group from knowledge about another? (Quantitative procedures set stringent rules for generalization.)
? Causality: Do causes exist separately from their effects, preceding them temporally, or are causes and effects circular and mutually influential? (Quantitative research focuses on the degree to which causal inferences can be made in a study.)
? Logic: Is it better to search for principles from which to deduce predictions (theory), or to gather numerous facts and infer meanings from observations? (Many texts
make the broad claim that quantitative analysis is deductive. This is not so clear in practice, where some of the best quantitative analysis is a mix of inductive and deductive (sometimes called the ?hypothetico-deductive method.?)
When you select a quantitative methodological stance, your assumptions tend to be positivist. Become familiar with the assumptive sets underlying this intellectual position, so that you can defend it as appropriate to your research question and articulate, at least, its overall description.
Next, your theoretical framework (see the Chapter Two for a full discussion of the ?theoretical framework?) carries with it many particular assumptions. Some of them will bear on your study, and you will need to identify them.
Additionally, the previous research and literature on your topic may reveal other topic-specific assumptions made by researchers in your field.
Assumptions about measures
Finally, there may be important assumptions built into the measures you are going to use; if so, they should be discussed. When using standardized tests, for instance, it is assumed that standard administration protocols will be followed by all testers, that the participants will appropriately resemble the norm groups for the measures, and so on. If there is any deviation from those assumptions, they profoundly threaten the validity of the study. As such, these assumptions should always be clarified, and reference to the methods section (Chapter Two) of the dissertation should be made, where the conformity of the sample with the assumptions can be discussed in detail.
When specifying your assumptions, particularly the major ones, you should refer to literature where those assumptions are established or where they are simply \”stipulated\” by earlier researchers. Any assumptions (indeed, any design element) that have been accepted in a peer reviewed journal article can fairly safely be made in a dissertation. By convention, the stopping point is usually described when you have named the main assumptions you are making about these elements:
? Your methodological stance?
? Your theoretical framework\’s main assumptions about the subject matter.
? The main assumptions about your subject matter shared by the previous researchers whose work you are relying on.
? Assumptions germane to the proper use of your measures or methods of data collection.
In addition to the study\’s assumptions, Chapter One also discusses its limitations. There are basically two forms of limitations you must discuss. The first group comprises any important issues regarding your research problem which for one reason or another you are not going to investigate. The second group contains elements of the study that limit its power, validity, or credibility, its capacity for generalization, and so on. In other words, limitations in the design.
Limitations that arise from flaws the nature of the design need to be considered carefully. In this section, address the limitations of the methodology, approach, and design you used for your research. (Note that in Chapter Five, you will more thoroughly discuss these and more specific limitations that may have happened during the process of actually performing the research, such as not getting a large enough sample. Here in Chapter One, focus more on the design of the research and its limitations.)
The two main criteria for allowing a limitation to stand are these: (a) The design does not prevent you from doing a study that validly answers the research question and solves your research problem appropriately and relevantly; (b) the design neither impairs your ability to draw necessary conclusions nor renders those conclusions suspect.
Delimitations (intentional areas not investigated).
There is a second class of limitations: things that an educated or expert reader might expect your study to investigate that you are not going to investigate. Put generally, these limitations are \”things the study did not investigate.\” (\”Things the study did not investigate\” are often called delimitations, because they create artificial boundaries, they delimit, your study\’s focus.) To identify such delimitations, you will usually rely on two main sources: your literature review of the general problem and your theoretical orientation.
Organization of the Remainder of the Study
In this section, briefly, summarize the contents of Chapter One, and then give the reader an overview of the content of the remaining four chapters.
CHAPTER 2. LITERATURE REVIEW
All research reports, including dissertations, contain reviews of the research and scholarly literature about their topics. The main purpose of the literature review is to inform the reader what is known about your research topic, both in terms of research findings and theory.
This section of the Guide describes the main sections required in Chapter Two. Chapter Two should discuss five specific points: 1) the methods or procedures you used to search for sources; 2) the theoretical framework(s) or orientations you used for the study; 3) the actual review of the research literature; 4) a synthesis of the findings presented in the review; and 5) a critique of the research methods and procedures used in the sources in the literature review.
As a general rule, literature reviews for dissertations should be comprehensive and rigorous meaning that you have included all of the relevant published research and scholarly sources in your literature review. It is expected that your literature review is comprised of a majority of primary sources from your discipline. Depending on your research topic you should expect to have 75-200 sources included in your literature review. This chapter of the dissertation should be at least 25 pages in length.
Before beginning with the first section, ?Methods of Searching,? write an introduction to Chapter Two that identifies the main content you will cover in the chapter.
Methods of Searching
This section describes the process of how you found the sources that you used for your literature review. Make sure to identify all of the databases you used, as well as search terms. Explain how you might have combined search terms, or used other search procedures, such as limiting searches to certain types of publications. If you used databases to find instruments for data collection, make sure to include that.
Theoretical Orientation for the Study
In this section of the literature review, cite the major references to support your theoretical orientation and briefly describe the orientation. Essentially, the \”theoretical orientation\” or framework is the scientific perspective from which one conducts the research. Do not blur or blend theoretical frameworks unless they can be authentically integrated and are needed to support the study. In that case, a careful description of all the relevant theories in terms of their major references will be written.
*Note: The following paragraph does not apply to the School of Education, which does not allow use of more than one theoretical framework.
When you intend to use more than one theoretical framework, you need to synthesize and integrate the different theories carefully. You must show how the concepts work together and can be validly considered together. In this sense, your ?theoretical framework? can comprise a number of different theories, but be sure that they?or the constructs you borrow from them?are compatible (deal with the same material).
You may wish to use relevant APA style sub-headings in this section to organize your material.
As a general guideline, this section is typically 2-4 pages long.
Review of the Literature
Begin this section with an introduction which states the overall topic of the dissertation and provides an orienting paragraph or two, so the reader knows what the literature review is going to do. Describe how the section will be organized (what are the main points and in what order do they appear?).
The manner in which the ?Review of the Literature? is organized is important. It can be organized by variables, by factors, by themes, historically or constructs to be addressed, by elements of the theoretical framework, by elements of the research design, or by another principle. Use APA style sub-headings to organize the main topics covered in this section. The flow of this section should be apparent to your readers. All literature review sections follow some \”logic,\” namely a method of organizing the main points so that they flow logically and support one another. To that end, you must show that your research is a logical development out of the previous research.
When actually writing the literature review, do not simply string one study after another, even if they are well summarized and evaluated: Follow your organizing principle. For instance, in a quantitative dissertation, a common organizing principle is to address each of the main variables in the study in order (independent variable, dependent variable, other relevant variables, and so on). There will also be literature reviewed to support the methodological choices made in designing the study – quantitative vs. qualitative, types of measures, the appropriateness of tests and measures to the subject, and so on. In essence, this section of the literature review – in course papers as well as in dissertations – shows the research from which the key elements of the study or paper have been drawn. Even though your dissertation is quantitative, the review of literature should review and present all of the relevant qualitative and quantitative studies found the topic in the literature. By following your chosen organizing principle or logic, you will help your reader to follow the flow of your own thinking about how you approach the study and its elements.
Whatever organizing principle you choose, follow it strictly, and use section sub-headings to keep the reader oriented. Each section or sub-section should support a conclusion or theme bearing on your overall answer, solution, or argument.
This section should be at least 25 pages in length.
Synthesis of the Research Findings
This is where you pull together the findings and discuss the larger themes, inconsistencies, or relevant patterns based on the research studies you evaluated, within the context of the theoretical framework. Note that this is not merely a summary of the literature. You should present something new here that describes the bigger picture of the literature. In general, here is where your reader will see what the literature leads you to conclude about your own study; it also sets the stage for a discussion of the research methods in detail (Chapter Three).
This section will summarize the main points of Chapter Two, showing both the strengths and the weaknesses in your theoretical orientation and your project\’s relationship with the previous research on the topic, both in content (research findings) and methods (methodology).
This section is typically 3-4 pages long.
Critique of the Previous Research Methods
In this section, you examine the quality of the research you have reviewed. What are the methodological strengths and limitations of the works you reviewed? How do those weaknesses, in particular, support your theoretical framework? You will be considering things such a rigor of designs, sampling errors, size of samples, quality of research instruments, appropriateness of statistical procedures, and any other issues related to the quality of research.
Here too is where you may bring up the opposing viewpoints, disconfirming evidence, or counterarguments to your main points. These can be discussed in conjunction with earlier sections if you prefer; it is recommended that you clearly identify sub-sections dealing with contrary opinions, evidence, or views, so that your readers will be fully informed both (a) that you did your literature review well and (b) understand all sides of the issue. It will be very important, when you describe your final theoretical framework, to explain why you abandoned any contrary evidence or adopted one viewpoint on a debate rather than another.
What if there is no controversy about your subject? (Be certain that is the case before asserting it.) In that case, show the methods you used to comb the literature (including related literature in closely-related fields) so that the readers can judge whether your claim (that there is no controversy) is well founded.
At the end of this section, you should have constructed a strong case for why your study will be a step forward in terms of research rigor.
This section is typically 2-4 pages long.
This should not be more than a page, and in general, will summarize the conclusions you have drawn from the previous literature on your topic or methodology which support your own project. This is of great importance in the dissertation, where this section sums up Chapter Two and provides a transition into Chapter Three.
CHAPTER 3. METHODOLOGY
Every research paper, including the dissertation, has a section describing how the researcher actually carried out the study itself. In Chapter Three, you will describe step-by-step the methods and procedures used in your study in a way that will enable future researchers to replicate your study. In fact, make this a working principle to follow in writing Chapter Three: Describe your steps clearly enough that a reader could follow them like a recipe and reasonably repeat what you did. A key skill that will help you is to read your work with the mind of a stranger; this will highlight details that you may have forgotten to describe.
Some of the sections in Chapter Three mirror sections in Chapter One. Do not simply copy and paste your text from Chapter One here. Instead, rewrite them with a new emphasis. Chapter One is a conceptual and introductory presentation where you focused on the nature of your study. For instance, your focus in Chapter One on the research question was how it fit with the research problem. Here in Chapter Three, your emphasis is on methods and procedures, so when you discuss the research question, you will focus on the kinds of data the question requires for its answer, among other things, and how your instruments and procedures are designed to collect and analyze those kinds of data. While the actual wording of the research question(s) should be the same, the surrounding discussion will vary in emphasis.
In short, Chapter One describes why the research question is being asked, and Chapter Three describes how the research question was answered.
Chapter Three has at least the following elements, which will form the structure of this Guide as well: 1) the purpose of the study; 2) the research question(s) and hypotheses; 2) the research design; 3) the target population and participant selection; 4) the procedures you used to conduct the study; 5) the instruments used to collect the data; and 8) ethical considerations. The final section of Chapter Three is the chapter summary.
Before beginning with the first section. ?Purpose of the Study,? write an introduction to Chapter Three that identifies the main content you will be covering.
Purpose of the Study
This section re-presents in a more abbreviated fashion the information given in the opening sections of Chapter One: the research problem, any background relevant to the methods, the research questions, and what the study is meant to accomplish–that is, its purpose. The objective is to reorient the readers so that the methods to be described here will make sense.
Pay attention to two things:
? First, remember to make the distinction between the general problem and research problem. Some studies explicitly propose to contribute to solving the general problem or wider need for the study by generating new knowledge. It is important to be clear about what your data and findings are capable of, and what you designed your study actually to do.
? The second thing to pay attention to in writing this section is scholarly modesty. As in everything, claim for your results only what they actually can support, and be satisfied with a well-stated purpose even if it is not grand. Not many dissertations provide the final solution to a vexing issue. Most, indeed, are modest achievements, advancing the knowledge in the learner?s chosen area one useful and important step
along what usually is a very long road. In writing your study?s purpose, focus on solving at least the research problem by generating new knowledge and (if the study can do it) helping to address the general issue, but don?t claim more than it actually can do.
Keep in mind that in Chapter One the issues are discussed conceptually, in terms of the theoretical framework for the study. Here, they are discussed in terms of methods and procedures for answering the research question.
In this section, although you do want to cover what you have earlier said in Chapter One, you should not merely copy-and-paste relevant passages. Rewrite them, usually in greater detail. The key principle is to write such that readers will be prepared both to critique the methods and if desired, to be able to repeat them.
However, without contradicting the above principle, repeat verbatim important and recurring technical terms (such as your variables and constructs), relevant formulations (such as key descriptors or the names of your main theoretical framework concepts and the statement of the purpose of the study), or frequently-used ?code phrases? which quickly tell your readers what you are referring to (such as referring to your study as a ?two-group pretest-posttest quasi-experimental design?). Keep all key terms consistent so your readers always know exactly what you are referring to.
It is perfectly legitimate to paraphrase a previous passage very closely. As always in scholarly writing, guide your readers to the original material in case they want to review it. Whenever borrowing from an earlier passage, refer back to the place from which you are borrowing. Conventional APA in-text citation (author, year and a later reference) is not used for this because the earlier passage (your earlier chapter) is not yet published material. For example, you could write ?As described previously (see pp. 9-11), the design of this study will be . . .?; or you might write something like, ?Pages 9-11 in Chapter One described the design of the study. Here, that material will be repeated but with significantly more detail.? How you actually reference the earlier material is up to you, as always, but help your readers by reminding them where the original material comes from.
Research Questions and Hypotheses
Present your research questions again. These must be exactly the same as what you presented in Chapter One. Beneath each research question, present the alternative (or research) hypothesis and corresponding null hypothesis for that question.
Like the previous section, you already outlined this in Chapter One from a conceptual standpoint. Here you can repeat (rewritten, as above) much of that material for the readers? convenience, adding in greater clarity and detail, but your focus must be concrete description of your design. In this section, you want your reader to have a clear idea of how your design was used to answer the research question(s). Again, the aim is to create a step-by-step recipe to support possible replication in the future.
*Note: School of Education learners should include the guide (e.g., text book, monograph, peer-reviewed journal article) that they are following.
In preparing Chapter One, you will have given much thought to the strengths and weaknesses of your design, and by now you should have revised and enhanced the design wherever feasible and realistic to eliminate as many weaknesses as possible. Now, the research design section in Chapter Three will both describe your design in detail, and
discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the design, incorporating all the most recent design changes that improved it and reduced the threats to internal and external validity.
It is a very good idea to include your design diagram in this section and to use it to guide your readers to a full understanding of your design. (Creating the design diagram is discussed in Appendix C.) Also, explicitly name your variables, and whether they are independent, dependent, predictor, or outcome variables, as relevant to your study.
Target Population and Sample
In this section, again, you will expand on information presented more cursorily in Chapter One. Before getting into details, please refresh your memory about the differences between the population and the sample. For this discussion, we?re going to use the terms to refer to people. Statisticians use the terms to refer to groups of data, not people because we work with and analyze data, not actual persons. But because the data refer back to people, more loosely the terms often refer to the people from whom the data (numbers in the statistical world) come from. In that sense, the population is the larger group of people who experience the general problem or issue that generates the need for the study.
This section should have the following sub-headings: ?Population,? ?Sample,? and ?Power Analysis.? Remember to include a paragraph between the ?Target Population and Participant Selection? and ?Population? headings that introduce the reader to the larger section and its contents.
In this section, you will describe the characteristics of the population. In statistical work, these characteristics include both the actual features that define the population and the (assumed but unknown) statistical parameters of the population, which are assumed for the study to be similar to the actual parameters you discover in the sample. (Remember that we are speaking loosely here??parameters of the population? strictly speaking means statistics describing data, not people.) Describe the characteristics of the population as well as relevant population statistics (parameters). Report the most current known demographics describing the population. At a minimum, you need to describe the gender, age, and race/ethnicity breakdown of the population. Depending on your topic, you may need other demographics such as level of education, socioeconomic status, and so on.
Next, describe the sample, consistently with the description of the population. This means simply that the researcher specifies the features of the sample that reflect the larger population. Representativeness is a key issue.
If you utilized a sampling frame for your research, you must describe it in this section, along with known demographic information.
Carefully describe the inclusion and exclusion criteria for your sample. Note that exclusion criteria are not merely the ?opposite? of inclusion criteria. Exclusion criteria are those characteristics that would disqualify and otherwise qualified person from participating.
Do not describe the actual obtained sample in this section. For example, you do not want to report your obtained sample size, how many males and females you had, and so on. The actual description of your obtained sample is presented in Chapter Four.
For researchers needing more information on describing the population and sample in this chapter, see Appendix D.
Describe the estimated size of your sample next. This subject requires careful thought and study of relevant statistical texts. Statistical calculations have various requirements for the sample size, and you need to be familiar with them. In your dissertation, you should stay within conventional practices (using sample sizes adequate to the kind of analysis you plan to do), unless you have a very strong rationale to depart from the conventional practice supported either by relevant methodological literature or by empirical studies. Here, you should discuss how you arrived at the estimated sample size. For example, if you performed one or more power analyses, describe their results. If you consulted a statistics text, describe how the recommendations there match the characteristics of your data and statistics.
Support your arguments with references to methodological articles relevant to the issue and your topic and to empirical studies which have paved the way for you to follow. Note that ?methodological articles relevant to the issue? are not general textbooks.
The terms methods and procedures mean different things. Methods mean the general term describing what you will do to accomplish the task at hand. Procedures, on the other hand, are step-by-step descriptions of how the methods will be carried out.
The procedures section describes the procedures that will be used to carry out all the major methods of the study. Usually, the methods are clustered in these main groups: methods of sampling; methods of ensuring protection of the participants and their rights; methods of data collection; and methods of data analysis. Each of these groups of methods has procedures for implementation and should be presented under separate headings in this section. Make sure to provide an introductory paragraph to the Procedures section before presenting the first heading, ?Participant Selection.? Subsequent headings are ?Protection of Participants,? ?Data Collection,? and ?Data Analysis.?
Before moving ahead, let?s be clear about the distinction between ?methods? and ?procedures.? Purposive (purposeful) sampling (or random sampling, etc.) would be a method. In describing how you plan to carry out that method, you describe your procedures. So simply saying that you will obtain a sample by doing ?snowball sampling? still requires you to describe what steps you will take to accomplish that.
In this section, identify the sampling method and describe the procedure of how you selected the sample. Include your steps taken for recruitment of participants. Any text on research methods and design will list the various kinds of sampling procedures to use (e.g., random, stratified, cluster, purposive, snowball, etc.). Please use standard terminology throughout the dissertation, and be consistent. Be sure your terminology is congruent with your methodology and approach. For instance, in quantitative analysis, one does not typically use purposive sampling techniques, which are associated with qualitative analysis. However, if you used a non-conventional technique or procedure, in this section you should detail it and discuss the rationale and how the procedure or technique is consistent with your research question and design (with references to support the technique).
After describing your method of sampling, you describe your procedures for carrying that method out. Describe carefully all the steps you took to create your sample. Each procedure?identifying potential participants, contacting that pool, recruiting or inviting their participation, and organizing your sample?requires its own procedural description (a recipe clear enough that others can reasonably repeat your work). In this section, ?organizing the sample? includes a variety of steps, including how the inclusion and exclusion variables or criteria were measured or identified and how the participants were assigned to groups (if that happened in your study) after they were accepted into the sample.
Some of the details that must be included in this section are the recruitment site (de-identified to protect participant confidentiality), how potential participants contacted you to indicate their willingness to participate, how the participants were screened to make sure they met the inclusion criteria, but not exclusion criteria, and how you proceeded once eligibility was determined. The sampling procedure ends once the participant provides informed consent.
All this must be described in this section.
Protection of Participants
In this section, describe the procedures used to protect the participants, such as how informed consent was obtained, whether there might have been safeguards in place in case of re-traumatization or to protect vulnerable populations and so on. You should not include your informed consent document or other similar documents as Appendices in your dissertation.
Data collection typically begins once informed consent has been given. Describe in detail what participants did in order to participate in the study. Where were they? In what order did things happen? About how long did it take for a participant to complete the study? You might try putting yourself in a participant?s place and ask yourself what you would do as a participant in your study. If you did a study where you manipulated an independent variable (either an experiment or quasi-experiment), make sure to describe how the procedure was different for the different groups in your study. The detail in this section should be such that another researcher could reasonably replicate your study.
This section should also include descriptions of how you stored and protected the data, as well as your plans for destroying the data in the future.
This section describes the procedures you used to analyze your data. Do not report your data in this section. You will do this in Chapter Four. This section describes how you analyzed the data, and Chapter Four describes the findings as a result of the data analysis.
Recall ?methods and procedures.? Finding correlations is a ?method.? What procedures will be used to carry out that method? Before you work out the correlation coefficient itself, you must do the descriptive statistics. Which ones will you analyze? After you decide that, you?ll need to decide which correlation method you will use (Pearson?s r, Spearman?s rho, the phi coefficient, point-biserial correlations, others?). Then, if you intend to further test your correlation for statistical significance (and why would you not?), you must decide which method for doing so you must use. And if you are performing a series of comparisons of two groups (for example), you may go on to do further analyses of the comparisons of those two outcomes. As you know, the answers to all these questions depend on the types of data
your instruments generate for you, and different instruments will generate different kinds of data.
There is a logic to the ?procedures? you?ll follow in doing your data analysis. That might look like this:
? First, determine the types of data involved in each separate statistic and correlation (etc.) you will do.
? Next, determine the descriptive statistics required or desired, including both descriptive statistics and graphical summaries (diagrams, histograms, scattergrams, etc.)
? Next, determine the sequence of methods for the desired analysis. Remember, there usually are separate analyses carried out sequentially to answer your research question.
Then describe how you will carry out each step. For example, it is inadequate to write, ?The data were examined for correlations using Pearson?s r.? Instead, identify the sequence of analyses or calculations you will perform. ?After the data were entered in a data table based on an Excel spreadsheet, identifying the variables as follows . . . , then the scores were transformed to standard scores. Following this . . .?
Read your description with a skeptical eye: does it tell enough detail that your reader could follow it like a recipe? For example, if you plan to use a MS Excel spreadsheet or a statistical software program such as IBM SPSS or Minitab, what version? What features or special elements will you make use of, if any? Try to leave nothing for your readers to guess at.
In order to organize your material within the Data Analysis section, you need three subheadings: ?Descriptive Statistics,? ?Hypothesis Testing,? and ?Post-hoc Analysis (-es).?
The Descriptive Statistics section indicates which descriptive statistics you used for your variables in your research questions, as well as the descriptive statistics used to describe your sample. If you needed to transform any variables, describe the data transformation; for example, if you converted raw scores to z scores.
The Hypothesis Testing section explains the inferential statistics you used to test each hypothesis accompanying each research question. Include how you tested for the assumptions of each statistical test. Make sure that you provide a rationale for the tests you chose, supported by the methodological literature. Identify the statistical software program you used to analyze your data.
Post Hoc Analysis
In the Post-hoc Analysis (or Analyses, if you had more than one), describe the conditions under which you used post-hoc analyses, which post-hoc tests you used and why. If you did not perform any post hoc analyses, omit this section.
In the Data Analysis section, include a table similar to that in Section 5.9 (Data Analysis) of your Dissertation Research Plan. Omit the ?Post hoc Analysis? column if your study did not require the use of post hoc tests to test the hypothesis.
(Note: Post hoc test and post hoc analysis may refer to different things depending on the source. In this Guide, a post hoc test is used to refer to a test that is done after an omnibus test. For example, if an analysis of variance (ANOVA) to test for significance among 3 or more groups was significant, you would need to use a post hoc test (e.g., a Tukey?s HSD) to determine which pairwise comparison of group means were significantly different. A post hoc analysis, in this Guide, refers to any analyses you might have done that did not address a research question?something extra that you did because you might have noted something interesting in the data you obtained, or because the answers to research questions led you to ask something additional about the data. Post hoc analyses are not required.)
This section features any instruments you will use to collect data of any kind. For its purposes, consider the term instrument broadly. A questionnaire is an instrument, as is a standardized psychological test. In some studies, there might be actual instruments (cameras, tape recording devices, biofeedback equipment, and the like) collecting data. Make a list of each and every instrument that you will use in the collection of data.
In writing this section and its subsections, discuss the instruments in the order in which they will be used in the study itself. The first subsections of the section will describe each instrument in detail (one subsection per instrument). If the IRB directed you to perform a field test, make sure to describe the field testing in this section.
There are two major goals for this section. The first is to make it possible for your readers to find these instruments and to use them again in a replication or other type of study. To that end, provide complete references to their original publication (using standard APA citation [author, year] in the text and references in the Reference List), brand or product specifications (including where the instruments were purchased or rented), or other identifying information. The second goal is to indicate clearly how valid and reliable the instrument is for your purposes. Here, be sure you show how the instrument is appropriate both for getting the kind of data you need to answer your research question and for the population you are investigating. For example, many tests have published validity and reliability data and information about the population for which it was normed, which you should report in this subsection. Some instruments do not have published validity or norming data or are not in that kind of category at all.
But even when there are no published data about the instrument or it is of a kind (e.g., biofeedback or fMRI machinery) which does not admit of standard validity and reliability coefficients, keep the major goals in mind. Describe each instrument?s fitness to obtain the kind of data you need to answer your research question and its appropriateness for your population of interest.
Within the Instruments section, you need a heading using the full name of each instrument, as well as sub-headings for ?Validity? and ?Reliability.?
Heading Title (Name of your instrument is the actual heading)
Describe the instrument fully, including the types of questions, scoring, range of score, sub-scales, type of data generated by the scores, and a justification as to why you chose the instrument to measure a particular variable. Indicate how you obtained permission to use the instrument (such as obtaining it directly from the instrument?s author), whether it is considered public domain, or if permission was granted upon purchase of the instrument. If certain qualifications are required to administer the instrument, address those and indicate how you were qualified to administer the instruments.
In the validity section, describe the manner in which the instrument was validated, and include all validity coefficients.
Likewise for the reliability section, describe the manner in which reliability was established and include validity coefficients. Evaluate whether the instrument has sufficient validity and reliability. Make sure to include proper citations. Repeat this format and these three headings for each instrument you used.
To summarize your variables, provide a table similar to the one in Section 5.6 (Types of Data) in the Dissertation Research Plan. Add a column with the heading ?Instrument? and indicate the name of the instrument (and scale if applicable) used to collect the data for each variable.
Do not include copies of published assessments or permissions to use them in your dissertation?s appendices.
In this section, discuss the ethical considerations you addressed in your study. You can mention the procedures you covered in the Protection of Participants section earlier in the chapter, but here explain fully why you might have taken certain steps. For example, if your sample was considered to be vulnerable, explain why you chose certain safeguards to protect your sample. If you had any conflicts of interest, disclose those in this section and explain what you did to mitigate those. In this section, indicate that your dissertation research received review and approval from the Capella University IRB, as well as any other IRBs or agencies that might have approved your study.
Summarize the main points of Chapter Three and provide a transition to Chap4