What motivates the completion of a doctoral dissertation?

Posted by Ronald | April 9, 2012  |  No Comment

The television game show, “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” aired in 100 countries, enabled contestants to respond to a variety of multiple-choice questions with the hope of winning one million dollars. Contestants applied all of their educational training, work experience, expertise and contacts to answer the questions correctly. Those who were ill-prepared for the competitive event did not go far in the round of questions. Those who were prepared advanced further in the competition with a small percentage of contestants winning the ultimate prize of a million dollars.

Just as a game show can influence people to compete for a million dollar prize, the questions to be asked are: What is the motivation for completing a doctoral dissertation? What does it take to complete a doctoral dissertation? What is the process of a doctoral dissertation? How can people learn more about the dissertation process?

According to Wikipedia, the doctoral dissertation is a lengthy document submitted in support of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification presenting the author’s research and findings.  While the dissertation encompasses numerous areas of study such as education, sciences and humanities, it reports on a research project or the continued analysis of a research topic that add to the existing body of knowledge in an area of study.

Before advancing to the doctoral level, students typically complete a bachelor and master’s degree. Once accepted into a doctoral program, students are required to complete all the course work and pass a comprehensive exam.  Writing and defending the dissertation are the final steps in completing a Ph.D. or other doctoral degree.

Depending on the university, the structure of the dissertation may include an introduction, literature review, methodology, results and discussion. The introduction presents the research topic, methodology, scope and significance of the study. The literature review is designed to review relevant literature to show how this information is significant to the research issue. The methodology explains how the research study is designed as well as how the research methods, population, data collection and analysis being used have been selected. The results section summarizes the data collected along with the statistical treatment of the data.  It is in this section that the data is reported to justify the conclusion.  In the discussion section, the results are summarized, evaluated and interpreted in regard to the research questions and hypotheses.

Completing the doctoral dissertation is considered one of the toughest academic regiments an individual will face in graduate school and, perhaps, in a lifetime.  It is a process that requires academic readiness, innovative thinking, collaborative brainstorming, extraordinary motivation, mental toughness and spiritual preparedness.  It is a routine that requires a continual “burning of the midnight oil,” so to speak.  As a result, many doctoral students end the experience as ABD (All But Dissertation) rather than with a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) or Ed.D. (Doctor of Education).  According to the New York Times, 50 percent of students who enter a doctoral program become ABD.  In the U.S. population, there are only three percent of people who hold a Ph.D., according to U.S. Census. In fact, it takes the average student eight years to earn a Ph.D. and an average of 13 years for education majors. Fulfilling all the requirements for a doctoral degree is a monumental task.

While the American education system is confronted with an alarming number of students dropping out of school and, quite frequently, criticized for not preparing students for college and careers, the product of a quality education related doctoral dissertation approved by an accredited university, provides solutions to the many problems plaguing public K-20 education. To learn about the process of the doctoral dissertation from a variety of educators and how they were motivated to successfully fulfill all the requirements of a doctoral degree, The Holmes Education Post will provide a Dissertation Talk Show. This show will begin airing on Friday, April 27 from 3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. on WTAL 1450AM in Tallahassee, Fla. Afterwards, a news article featuring the guests’ responses will appear in the Capital Outlook Newspaper and The Holmes Education Post (THEP) as an avenue to improve public education. Also, a copy of the interviewee’s dissertation will be posted on THEP for review.  If you would like to be considered a guest on the talk show, please submit your name, email address, telephone number and a copy of your doctoral dissertation approved by an accredited university to [email protected].

Dr. Ronald Holmes is the author of the book, Education Questions to be Answered.  He is the President of The Holmes Education Post, an education focused internet newspaper. Holmes is the National Superintendent of Education for the National Save the Family Now Movement, Inc., a former teacher, school administrator, and district superintendent and can be reached at the following web address: [email protected]




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