[Recommended]Doctoral Program and Dissertation Process 3

Doctoral Program and Dissertation Process 3 UC Graduate School Dissertation Handbook 2019-2020 DISSERTATION HANDBOOK 2 Table of Contents Introduction 3 Doctoral Program and Dissertation Process…

Doctoral Program and Dissertation Process 3
UC Graduate School
Dissertation Handbook
Table of Contents
Introduction 3
Doctoral Program and Dissertation Process 3
Purpose of Handbook 3
Dissertation Committee 3
Committee Members 3
Choosing committee members 3
Committee chair responsibilities 4
Responsibilities of other committee members 5
Candidate responsibilities 5
Dissertation Guidelines 6
Choosing a Research Topic 6
Dissertation Timeline 6
Dissertation Style 7
Quantitative Dissertations 7
Qualitative Dissertations 8
Final Document 9
Dissertation Research Approval Process 9
Oral Defense 10
Graduation 11
Appendix A: Quantitative Dissertation Information 12
Appendix B: Qualitative Dissertation Information 14
Appendix C: Dissertation Defense Rubric 19
Appendix D: Reporting Statistical Tests 20
Doctoral Program and Dissertation Process
The Graduate School at the University of the Cumberlands offers Doctor of Business
Administration, Doctor of Education, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The doctoral
dissertation, designed to evaluate the candidate’s capabilities as a scholar, is the final academic
requirement of the DBA, EdD, and PhD programs. Candidates complete the dissertation during
professional research courses (LEAR 736, 839, 930, 931), which are the last four courses taken
during the program. This handbook sets forth the guidelines for completing the dissertation
Purpose of Handbook
The purpose of this handbook is to guide candidates through the dissertation process
including writing, defense, and final document submission. Candidate and committee member
responsibilities are outlined, writing guidelines are detailed and examples provided, required
sections for each chapter, and printing guidelines for the final dissertation document are
included. The handbook is to be used by instructors, dissertation chairs, and committee members
to ensure maintenance of high standards related to the form and appearance of dissertations.
Dissertation Committee
Dissertation committees are made up of three members; the dissertation chair and two
committee members. Each member has specific responsibilities as outlined below.
Committee Members
Choosing committee members. While enrolled in LEAR 930, the candidate and dissertation
chair will identify instructors to serve on his/her dissertation committee. The dissertation course
instructor will serve as the dissertation chair. Other members are to be instructors teaching at the
graduate level at University of the Cumberlands. These members should be chosen based on
dissertation topic expertise and candidate needs. Dissertation chairs will provide candidates with
a list of instructors available to serve on committees.
Committee chair responsibilities. Responsibilities of the committee chair include:
 Advising the candidate through the dissertation process.
 Guiding the candidate in the selection of two additional committee members.
 Assisting the candidate in meeting deadlines for completion of the dissertation.
 Assisting the candidate in navigating the IRB approval process.
 Guiding the candidate in achieving a high level of technical and ethical quality in the
dissertation research.
 Advising the candidate in the selection of methods/procedures for data collection and
 Advising the candidate in proper APA style.
 Determining when a document is ready for review by the committee and communicate
such with committee members. The candidate should avoid consulting the full committee
for feedback without prior approval of the chair.
 Advising the candidate in preparation for the dissertation defense.
 Notifying the department chair of the date, time, and location of all dissertation defense
 Submitting the defense scoring rubric from committee members to the department chair
in a timely manner after the defense.
 Submitting a print-ready copy of the dissertation to the department chair prior to the
anticipated graduation date of the candidate.
Responsibilities of other committee members. Responsibilities of other committee members
 Providing subject matter expertise as requested by the chair or candidate.
 Reading drafts and providing meaningful feedback.
 Corresponding with the chair and candidate as needed for clarification and resolution of
methodological issues during the dissertation process.
 Immediately notifying candidate and dissertation chair when major flaws that are likely
to result in a candidate’s unsuccessful defense are identified.
 Signing the signature page of the dissertation in a timely manner.
Candidate Responsibilities
Responsibilities of the dissertation candidate include:
 Coordinating with the dissertation chair to select committee members based on expertise
in the dissertation topic area. The candidate is encouraged to select at least one member
with expertise in data collection and analysis.
 Completing the IRB process to obtain approval for research before collecting data.
 Choosing a topic, submitting proofread drafts of materials to the chair, preparing
adequately for consultations, and communicating on a regular basis with the chair.
 Contacting the chair in the event of any significant change in personal or professional
situation which may interfere with program completion.
 Successfully defending research.
 Submitting an error-free, print-ready copy of dissertation as a pdf document to the
dissertation chair and the Graduate School office in a timely manner after a successful
 Printing a minimum of two one-sided copies using white, 24 lb. résumé paper.
 Submitting a minimum of two printed copies of dissertation to program office prior to the
end of the semester.
Dissertation Guidelines
Choosing a Research Topic
Candidates begin thinking about dissertation topics when applying for admission to the program.
The dissertation topics must be grounded in theory, related to program goals, and have specific
implications for practitioners. Candidates are encouraged to choose research topics of personal
relevance and significance. When opportunities arise in coursework, candidates should begin
researching these topics in the form of literature reviews and other assignments that allow for
research. The research topic will be narrowed to a research study and approved by the
department chair/director when candidates enroll in the first dissertation course, LEAR 736. The
link for topic approval is provided through the Graduate School.
Dissertation Timeline
The dissertation topic is approved by the Graduate School and department when candidates are
enrolled in LEAR 736. The review of literature is completed while enrolled in LEAR 736, and
Chapter Two of the dissertation is written. This is a requirement for enrolling in LEAR 839.
While enrolled in LEAR 839, candidates complete Chapter One, the introduction to the study,
and Chapter Three, the methodology section. Candidates must get approval for their research
from the Institutional Review Board while enrolled in LEAR 839, before collecting any data. A
completed Chapter One and Chapter Three and IRB approval are required before candidates
enroll in LEAR 930. Candidates complete Chapter Four, which presents their research findings,
while enrolled in LEAR 930. Once enrolled in LEAR 931, candidates complete Chapter Five.
In Chapter Five, candidates interpret their findings, discuss implications of those findings,
present recommendations for further study and action, and discuss how their study fills a gap in
the literature and contributes to leadership. The final step in the dissertation process is the oral
defense, which is completed in LEAR 931-935. Once the study is successfully defended,
candidates submit printed copies of the dissertation to the department chair. At that time, the
department chair recommends the candidate for graduation.
The DBA, EdD, and PhD programs are designed for dissertations to be completed in four
courses. Candidates needing additional time may enroll in additional courses providing the total
time in the program does not exceed five years. Enrollment in courses beyond LEAR 931 must
be approved by the department chair.
Dissertation Style
The dissertation, a scholarly document, is written for professionals in the field. The
dissertation may include a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods study.
Quantitative Dissertations
While there is no set number of pages, a dissertation typically includes approximately
100 pages for quantitative studies. The quantitative dissertation follows a five chapter format
and deductive approach (see Appendix A). The sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the
American Psychological Association (APA) is the style manual to be used in writing the
dissertation. All APA guidelines should be followed.
Qualitative Dissertations
Unlike the EdD and Quantitative PhD dissertations, which follow a five-chapter format,
the qualitative dissertation is not bound by those requirements. Rather, the qualitative
dissertation should be approximately 45,000 words. This word requirement applies to the text of
the dissertation only; it does not cover the title page, acknowledgements, table of contents, or
other non-content related pages. Thus, with a small indulgence in tautology, the dissertation,
should be as long as it needs to be, as long it meets the minimum word requirement.
The Graduate School requires the use of footnotes (when necessary), citations, and references for
all qualitative dissertations. All qualitative dissertations should be double-spaced, typed in 12pt,
Times New Roman with 1” margins. Footnotes must be in 10pt Times New Roman with a
double space between notes, but a single space inside the note itself. The acknowledgements and
other non-textual pages at the beginning of the dissertation should be in roman numerals at the
bottom-center of the page, and they should be continuous. The title page does not have a page
number. When quoting, place punctuation marks inside the quotation marks. For visual examples
of the title page, bibliography, and general formatting, please refer to the Chicago Manual of
Style, 17th Edition and Kate L. Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and
Dissertations (8th ed.).
Final Document
The final dissertation document must be submitted while enrolled in the last research
course, typically LEAR 931. The final document is submitted after the successful oral defense is
presented and all committee member recommended edits have been made. An error-free, print-
ready copy of dissertation is submitted as a pdf document after a successful defense. The copy is
to be submitted electronically to the dissertation chair and the Graduate School. Candidates print
a minimum of two one-sided copies using white, 24 lb. resume paper. Candidates then submit a
minimum of two printed copies of the dissertation to the program office prior to the designated
semester deadline. After having those copies bound, the UC Binding Department will return the
two copies to the candidate. If the candidate wishes to keep more than two bound copies,
he/should submit the number desired. The Binding Department will bill the student for the
additional copies at a minimal cost per copy.
Dissertation Research Approval Process
Approval for conducting the dissertation research must be obtained while enrolled in
LEAR 839 and is a pre-requisite to enrolling in LEAR 930. The Institutional Review Board
application to conduct research and all supporting documents must be submitted in LEAR 839.
The dissertation chair will review the document, and then the student should submit the
documents to the Department of study (Leadership Studies, Counseling, Business, or IT).
Candidates will receive an IRB Approval Letter once the research has been approved. No
research is to be executed until IRB approval is granted and all necessary consents (adults) and
assents (minors) are secured from participants. The IRB Approval Letter is to be placed in the
dissertation as Appendix A.
Oral Defense
While enrolled in the final dissertation course, the candidate must present an oral defense
of her/his research. This oral defense is presented after the committee chair and all committee
members have given feedback and all edits have been made to the dissertation document. The
Department of Leadership Studies will schedule the defense session. All three committee
members must be present for the oral defense. The oral defense session normally takes 45-60
minutes. The committee members and chair will ask questions and offer comments. The
candidate will then be dismissed for committee deliberation. Once the committee and chair have
deliberated and reached a decision, the candidate will be invited to re-join the group for the
committee decision. The committee will make one of the following decisions:
 approved with no revisions,
 approved with minor revisions,
 provisionally approved with major revisions, or
 not approved with recommendation to write a new dissertation.
If one of the first two decisions is made, the committee chair will work with the candidate to get
the final document ready to send to the department chair for review. If the committee decision
requires major revisions or a new dissertation, the candidate will enroll in another research
course to complete the revisions or rewrite.
The defense must be successfully completed by the department defense deadline for the
semester. The dissertation chair and committee will evaluate the candidate using the department
rubric (see Appendix C).
Candidates should apply for graduation at the beginning of the semester in which they
plan to graduate. The application for graduation is located at
https://inside.ucumberlands.edu/academics/registrar/graduation_application.php. Once the
research has been successfully defended and copies of the dissertation are received by the
department chair, the department chair will notify the registrar that the candidate has completed
all program requirements and is eligible to graduate. Graduation exercises are held in May.
Candidates are hooded during the graduation exercise.
Appendix A
Quantitative Dissertation Format
Title Page
Signature Page
Abstract (150 words maximum)
Table of Contents
List of Tables
Chapter One (Introduction)
Background and Problem Statement
Purpose of the Study
Research Questions
Theoretical Framework
Limitations of the Study
Chapter Two (Review of Literature)
Subsections based on a deductive approach
Chapter Three (Procedures and Methodology)
Research Paradigm (qualitative or quantitative)
Research Design
Sampling Procedures and or/
Data Collection Sources (reference Informed Consent and IRB approval placed in Appendices)
Statistical Tests
Chapter Four (Research Findings)
Participants and Research Setting
Analyses of Research Questions (one at a time)
Supplementary Findings (if any)
Chapter Five (Summary, Discussion, and Implications)
Practical Assessment of Research Question(s)
Limitations of the Study
Implications for Future Study
Appendices (This section contains any tables, figures and possible data sources that could not
be placed in the text of the paper due to its size, as well as copies of consent forms and IRB
Appendix B
Qualitative Dissertation Information
Title Page
Signature Page
Abstract (150 words maximum)
Table of Contents
Introduction (Example):
Title of Your Project
The introduction is where you will establish for your readers the overall scope of your project. You will
establish the topic, the thesis, and general thesis map. It is in the Introduction where you “hook” your readers into
wanting to know more about your topic and argument. In many ways, this your chance to show off your writing,
thinking, and expertise on the subject as the Introduction serves as your place to show the readers why your project
is important and worthwhile.
Please note several things regarding the format. First, at the top-center, you note the Introduction, Chapter,
Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, or Dedication, placing a colon at the end. Second, for the Introduction and
Chapters, you will then space one line down, and place the title of each chapter. The exceptions are Introduction
where you will place the dissertation’s title and Chapter 1, which you will title “Literature Review.” From there,
double-space between the chapter title and the start of the text. Please note: unlike this example, the page number at
the start of the Introduction and each chapter must be bottom-center.
Despite the open-ended nature of the qualitative dissertation, each dissertation must start with an
Introduction. In the “Introduction,” the author must present his or her research project, the overall scope of the work,
and produce the general thesis of the work as well a thesis map elaborating the sub-topics/extent of each chapter.
The thesis map should logically support the thesis statement. The introduction of each chapter should be the only
place where an outright thesis statement and map are used. The thesis can (and probably should) be referred to
throughout the work, but it should be done in a more subtle, literary style. Allow the introduction to be the place
where you state the thesis in a bold, upfront, and “in your face” manner.
Chapter One
After the Introductory chapter, Chapter One of the dissertation should be your Literature Review. Here, you
will elaborate and engage what the secondary literature says about the general topic you are writing about. You are
expected to discuss and analyze both the seminal works – those writings which have had an important and lasting
impact on how a topic is understood – on the topic as well lesser-known contributions. You should make special
note of potential trends, how understanding of the topic has changed over time, and any potential paradigms that
might have emerged and been influential on the writings on your topic. This does not mean, however, you must
cover everything ever written on the topic or even talk about them in glowing terms. Remember, be critical and set
your perspective and work apart from the other pieces on the subject. For many topics, it would take a lifetime or
more to master that literature. Rather, a good-faith effort to master the literature is what is expected.
After the Introduction and Chapter One, the rest is up to you. You will spend the next chapters (however
many) elaborating your contribution and understanding of the topic. These chapters need to be primary source-
driven. The last element of the textual part of the dissertation must be a Conclusion. In it, you must provide a
general overview of the literature, what your work just argued, and offer suggestive questions for future researchers
on the topic.
Appendix C
Dissertation Evaluation Rubric
Standard Score 4 3 2 1 Score
I. Demonstrates
critical and
reflective thinking capable of
institutional, informational
technology, or
business related problem-solving or
school/ college
Accurately assesses two issues affecting
an institution’s
effectiveness as well as offers a
argument for improvement.
Accurately assesses two issues affecting
an institution’s
Accurately assesses one issue affecting
an institution’s
No evidence is presented.
consideration for the impact of
information technology, or
business on
institutional constituents.
Shows balance
between the needs
of two or more constituent groups
while maintaining
organizational goals.
Shows realistic
consideration for the
needs of two or more constituent
Shows realistic
consideration for the
needs of one constituent group.
No evidence is
III. Demonstrates effective analytical
and communication
Demonstrates a professional level of
skills associated
with formatting, grammar, spelling,
syntax, and use of
Demonstrates acceptable skills
associated with
formatting, grammar, spelling,
syntax, and use of
Needs minor improvement in
skills associated
with formatting, grammar, spelling,
syntax, and use of
Needs significant improvement in
skills associated
formatting, grammar, spelling,
syntax, and use of
Demonstrates knowledge of
genres, paradigms,
theories or trends in business, criminal
justice, education,
English, health sciences, history,
technology, math, nursing, psychology,
religion, or student personnel services.
Subject is identified,
realistic, and grounded in a
recognized genre,
paradigm, theory, or trend.
Subject is identified
and is realistic, but it lacks grounding in a
recognized genre,
paradigm, theory, or trend.
Subject is identified
but is not realistic or grounded in a
recognized genre,
paradigm, theory, or trend.
Subject area is not
Appendix D
Reporting Statistical Tests
For quantitative dissertations, the statistical tests are reported in the abstract and Chapter
Four. The alpha should be set at .05. Some common examples of tests used in quantitative
analysis are listed below as examples. All statistical symbols are italicized. For all tests listed
below, report the degrees of freedom (except the Spearman’s rs, where you report the number of
Symbol Report findings Null hypothesis
Chi-Square Test X2 (X2 [df, N = ] = result, p < or >
The variables are independent.
Spearman’s rs rs (rs [number of pairs] = result, p
< or > .05)
There is no relationship between the
ranked data.
(Independent and
paired samples)
t (t [df] = result, p < or > .05) There is no difference in the means.
ANOVA F F [df] = result, p < or > .05) There is no difference in the means.
(If the null hypothesis is rejected,
then run post-hoc testing).
Regression or
Pearson Product
coefficient r
r r [df] = result, p < or > .05) There is no relationship between the
*For additional tests, please follow current APA guidelines.

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