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Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation
Tips and Strategies for Students in the Social and Behavioral Sciences



December 2007 | 352 pages | Corwin

"Accurate, clearly written, and easy to understand even for the beginning researcher, with equal coverage of both qualitative and quantitative research. This is the only book to combine a textbook approach with a how-to approach."
—Carol Roberts, Professor, University of La Verne
Author, The Dissertation Journey

"This is a very practical book and will be immediately usable for graduate students at any stage in their research. The multitude of examples is wonderful, and the content is very current."
—Mary Betsy Brenner, Professor of Education
University of California, Santa Barbara

The advice and resources you need to complete your thesis or dissertation!

No matter what state or stage your project is in, this how-to manual provides comprehensive guidance to help you tackle your master's thesis or doctoral dissertation.

Covering both quantitative and qualitative research methods, this essential resource offers direction for every step of the process. Drawing on 40 years of experience supervising dissertations, the authors provide examples from 100 completed projects to guide readers through:

  • Choosing a topic and writing research hypotheses
  • Selecting a chair or committee
  • Ensuring a successful proposal and oral defense
  • Adapting the finished product for publication
  • Using the Internet and desktop publishing effectively

With a conversational style suitable for both faculty and students, Writing a Successful Thesis or Dissertation demystifies the writing experience and presents step-by-step directions for successfully completing your project.

 
Preface
 
About the Authors
 
Part I. Getting Started
 
1. Selecting a Suitable Topic
Sources of Topics  
Criteria for Topic Selection  
Summary  
 
2. Selecting a Chair and Committee
Criteria to Consider in Selecting a Chair  
Composition and Role of the Committee  
Research Prospective Committee Members  
The Desirable Student  
Summary  
 
Part II. What You Need to Know
 
3. Quantitative Research Designs
Descriptive Research  
Correlational Research  
Causal-Comparative Research  
Quasi-Experimental Research  
Experimental Research  
Theory Development  
Summary  
 
4. Basic Statistics
Descriptive Statistics  
Inferential Statistics  
Summary  
 
5. Qualitative Research Designs
Phenomenological Research  
Case Study Research  
Ethnographic Research  
Grounded Theory Research  
Mixed Method Research  
Summary  
 
Part III. The Dissertation Chapters
 
6. Writing the Introduction Chapter
Background of the Study  
Statement of the Problem  
Purpose of the Study  
Significance of the Study  
Definition of Terms  
Theoretical Framework  
Models  
Research Questions (or Hypotheses)  
Limitations  
Delimitations  
Assumptions  
Organization of the Study  
Summary  
 
7. Writing the Literature Review Chapter
Searching the Literature  
Writing the Literature Review  
Synthesizing the Literature  
Summary  
 
8. Writing the Methodology Chapter
Introduction  
Selection of Participants  
Instrumentation  
Data Collection  
Data Analysis  
Summary  
Conclusion  
 
9. Writing the Results Chapter
Introduction  
Descriptive Statistics  
Testing the Research Questions (Hypotheses)  
Additional Analyses  
Summary  
Conclusion  
 
10. Writing the Discussion Chapter
Summary  
Discussion  
Implications for Practice  
Recommendations for Further Research  
Conclusions  
Summary  
 
Part IV. The Defense and Afterward
 
11. The Proposal and Final Defense
Prepare a Well-Written Document  
Know the Format  
Prepare Your Presentation  
Practice Your Presentation  
Anticipate Questions  
Final Oral Defense  
Tips on How to Avoid Common Mistakes  
Summary  
 
12. Publishing Your Dissertation
Presentations  
Job Interview  
Academic Journals  
Books  
Chapters in Books  
Popular Press  
Internet Publishing  
Desktop Publishing  
Planning the Writing Process  
Summary  
 
Appendix A: Initial Letter to Participants
 
Appendix B: First Follow-up Letter to Participants
 
Appendix C: Second Follow-up Letter to Participants
 
Appendix D: Dissertation Proposal Outline (Correlational)
 
Appendix E: Dissertation Proposal Outline (Analysis of Variance)
 
Appendix F: Dissertation Proposal Outline (Multivariate Analysis of Variance)
 
Appendix G: Dissertation Proposal Outline (Qualitative)
 
Appendix H: The Qualitative Research Critique
 
Appendix I: Agreement: Guidelines for Chairing a Dissertation
 
Appendix J: Checklist for Dissertation Quality
 
References
 
Index

"Accurate, clearly written, and easy to understand even for the beginning researcher, with equal coverage of both qualitative and quantitative research. This is the only book where the authors combine a textbook approach to teaching research with a how-to approach."

Carol Roberts, Professor, University of La Verne
Author, The Dissertation Journey

"During 40-plus years of working with doctoral students, this reviewer has encountered a large number of manuscripts written by various professors who give advice to doctoral students in writing their research in dissertation styles. None comes close to comparing to this work done by Lunenburg and Irby, who have developed their book with a plethora of examples of every sort in order to demonstrate to the student many ways of dealing with a host of issues that are encountered in writing a dissertation."

Education Review, November 2010

“The best book of its kind I have ever seen. It is succinct yet thorough and includes lots of appropriate examples. It takes the reader from the process of developing a topic through all the stages of writing and defending the dissertation, up to and including presentation and publication. It is academic, pragmatic, and politically astute.”

Sharon Toomey Clark, Educational Consultant
Clark & Associates

"This is a very practical book and will be immediately usable for graduate students at any stage during their research. The multitude of examples is wonderful, and the content is very current."

Mary Betsy Brenner, Professor of Education
University of California, Santa Barbara

"This book may soon become as dog-eared in my reference library as my APA manual. Some may see a dissertation journey as a thousand miles, but these authors help the writer see the process one step at a time."

Monica Kempland, Academic Advisor, St. Louis University
NACADA Journal, Vol. 28, No. 2
Key features
  • Comprehensive guide aimed at faculty and students on the process for completing the master's thesis or doctoral dissertation
  • User-friendly book to help ABD students over the hump
  • Includes both quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • Covers how to use technology effectively
  • Offers guidance on each stage of writing
  • Provides overview and tips on the oral defense and presentation of analysis and data
  • Includes tips on adapting the thesis or dissertation for publication

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