The First Three Dissertation Chapters: Impress Your Chair

The more you know about what to expect with each draft, the more time you will ultimately save as you go through the drafts of your proposal.  You want to be sure to cover all the bases and then some to keep up your progress.  Check out the “then some” to stand out as you move through your chapters.Dissertation_Bumper_Sticker


Chapter One:  Introduction

  • A statement of the problem with evidence — that moves from broad to narrow
  • Deficiencies in the evidence
  • The audience and stakeholders that could benefit
  • Clear purpose “The purpose of this study is…”

Chapter Two:  Literature Review

  • Theoretical frameworks for the study, broad to narrow
  • Strengths and weaknesses of earlier studies
  • Specific, measurable, and theory based research questions
  • Few direct quotations
  • Original citations

Chapter Three:  Methodology

  • Defined target population with demographics included
  • Valid, reliable instrument used with permission
  • Procedures based on research questions
  • Clear methods for coding or statistical analysis
  • Procedures for qualitative research analysis
  • Well-considered limitations


After you get approval for your proposal from your chair and committee, it is time to move forward in getting the green light from the Institutional Review Board (IRB).  The IRB is in place to ensure your study is legal and avoids breaking any restrictions placed on research.  (When you find yourself feeling frustrated by the IRB process, remember the Tuskegee Syphilis Study!) For the time being, focus on the first three chapters and stay tuned for more information on how to break through IRB.

Leave a comment if you are in the IRB process now or have a tip to share with others!

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