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Victor A. Montemurro
Comprehensive Digital Portfolio
St. John's University School of Education

EDU 5990: Doctoral Research Seminar
Faculty, Spring 2004 to Spring 2005

SJU Graduate Bulletin 2000-2002

Original research leading to the doctoral degree. Students who have passed the doctoral comprehensive examination and completed all course work requirements register for Research Seminar.





A number of practical suggestions and specific directions towards progress of the dissertation were offered by Professor Dunlop during this course. Notably, the dissertation is not a philosophical piece. The writer should focus strongly on the problem statement; the problem statement drives the methodology and the research. Some general remarks and suggestions offered by Professor Dunlop about dissertation writing are as follows:

  • Establish a rhythm for writing your dissertation.

  • Be current with references and appendices

  • Pin point your statement problem.

  • Change happens on the fringe, not in the middle

  • Hire an editor that is familiar with doctoral level work to proofread.

  • The word "however" nullifies everything you said in your dissertation.

  • A mixed qualitative and quantitative research will give you much more data.

  • Simplicity is elegance and clarity is an imperative..

  • Be crisp; be focused; be sharp; be there.

  • Give one chapter at a time when working with your chairperson.

  • Your words need to flow from page to page, and chapter to chapter.

  • Pilot test your survey questions before you set out to do your first survey.

  • Your problem statement defines what method of research you will use.

  • Research your topic and look at the references used for the research. Make note of the references that keep coming up. Check out these references and the people who are most current in the field.

  • Make a journal as you are reading. Read the entire book that you are quoting.

  • Read Salent and Dillman's book- How to Conduct Your Own Survey.

  • Use relevant quotes for lead-ins to your chapters.

Dissertation research and writing takes time, commitment, and and constant evaluation and adjustment. Dissertations are not Pulitzer prize winning documents, but the writing of a dissertation is an all consuming experience for which the student must be prepared to continuously engage in the project.

The first stage is the proposal development. The problem is presented as a possible study, a conceptual framework and literature review relative to the problem and proposed methodology are included in the proposal. The proposal is developed by drafting repeated until a satisfactory draft can be presented to the student's committee. At this point the student comes to the table with his or her committee to participate in a defense of the proposal. Primarily the student will listen to the advice and suggestions of the committee; the student will offer explanation as required by the committee for the purpose of clarifying and improving the proposal.

Notes from observation of Cohort One dissertation seminar, September 21, 2003.

Dissertation Basic Format:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction (7-10 pages).

  • Chapter 2: Review of Literature (15-25 pages).

  • Chapter 3: Methodology (7-10 pages).

  • Chapter 4: Findings: (10-25 pages) Your findings are reported in terms of methodology and answers your research question. Report what answers your question and include tables.

  • Chapter 5: Conclusion and Recommendations in terms of your research question. Dr. Dunlop suggests that this is one's chance to fly! (10-15 pages).

  • References: (5-7 pages) List your references in APA style. 

Seminar Notes based on Professor Dunlop's Lecture: May 14-16, 2004.

Seminar Notes based on Professor Dunlop's Lecture: October 17-19, 2004.

(Notes above provided by cohort member Brenda Jackson)

Outline of dissertation as per Professor Dunlop.

Part I:

Internal Review Board Application

During this course Dr. Taylor-Dunlop reviewed the requirements of this Internal Review Board application, deadlines, and all necessary information for successful completion of this process. For better accuracy and efficiency, the IRB should be written simultaneously with the proposal. Click here for a copy of the IRB document as a PDF.

Part II:

Dissertation Proposal

The first three chapters of the dissertation proposal was discussed and formatted as a beginning to the writing of the dissertation writing. Some of the areas discussed were:

A. Chapter I: (7-10 pages)

B. Chapter II: (15-20 pages)

C. Chapter III:(10-15 pages)

The proposal should be approximately 45 pages without references and appendices.

Primary Text:

Leedy, P. &  Ormrod, J. (2001). Practical Research. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall.

Supplemental Texts:

Bogdan, R. & Biklen, S. (2003). Qualitative research in education: An introduction to theory and methods. Needam, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Creswell, J. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Creswell, J. (2003). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. (2nd. ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Salent, P. & Dillman, D.A. (1994). How to conduct your own survey. New York; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Miles, M.B., & Huberman, A.M. (1994). An expanded sourcebook: Qualitative data analysis (2nd. ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Below is a graphic of a folder view from the hard drive of my computer. The intent is to show a working process of writing and the development of ideas. Scrolling over the files will reveal "hotspots" which are hyperlinks to various PDF files regarding the potential dissertation proposal writing which is occurring in stages. No one file represents a draft per se, but rather various attempts to frame the problem, state research questions, indicate significance or background, or list ideas that support the development of a proposal for research. The most cogent statement of a possible proposal is on the scholar page.

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