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Saturday, January 26, 2008

SPAN 232: How to do a diario digital

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  1. A FEW WORDS ABOUT DISSERTATIONS AND DISTANCE LEARNING



    The most rigorous part of the dissertation includes the

    Methods Section
    Study Design
    Research questions and hypothesis formulation
    Development of instrumentation
    Describing the independent and dependent variables
    Writing the data analysis plan
    Performing a Power Analysis to justify the sample size and writing about it

    Results Section
    Performing the Data Analysis
    Understanding the analysis results
    Reporting the results.
    When you enter this phase of the program, you are nearing the end of the journey. Given the difficulty of this phase, one often wishes they had previewed what was to come.
    Many Ph.D candidates seem to hit a brick wall and feel disarmed when called upon to work on the methods and results section of their dissertation.
    This is the point where many students diligently search for help calling on their advisor, peers, university assistance and even Google.
    This is also the time when the student asks themselves the question" HOW MUCH HELP IS TOO MUCH".
    Surely no one will deny that having your dissertation written for you is very wrong.

    On the other hand, it is not unusual for doctoral students to get help on specific aspects of their dissertation.(e.g. APA formating and editing) It also is not unusual for advisors to encourage students to seek outside help.

    If you are a distance learning student it is almost essential you seek outside assistance for the methods and results section of your dissertation. The very nature of distance learning suggest the need for not only outside help but help from someone gifted in explaining highly technical concepts in understandible language by telephone and e-mail.

    Distance learning, and the avaiability of programs, has increased exponetially over the last few years with some of the most respected institutions (Columbia University, Engineering; Boston University and others) offering a Ph.D in a variety of fields. If you are enrolled in a distance learning program, or considering one, you will be interested in reviewing the reference sites listed at the bottom of this page.

    As stated above, many students hit their dissertation "brick wall" when they encounter the statistics section. Frequently, a student will struggle for months with that section before they seek a consultant to help them. This often leads to additional tuition costs and missed graduation dates.

    If I were to name a single reason why a PhD candidate gets off track in their program it is the statistics and their fear of statistics.

    So, the question is whether or not it is ethical to get help at all. If so, how much help is too much.

    I don't know if there has ever been a survey of dissertation committee members who were asked this question, however, I know many advisors take the following position when they suggest or approve outside help:

    To a large extent the process is self controlling. If the student relies too much on a consultant, the product may look good, however, the student will be unable to defend his/her dissertation.

    It takes a committed effort on the part of the student and the consultant (resulting in a collaborative/teaching exchange) to have the student responsible for the data and thoroughly understand the statistics. The day the student walks in front of the committee to defend, there should be no question as to his/her understanding of statistics.

    When their defense is successful, the question of "was the help too much" is answered.

    If you are a Ph.D candidate and would like additional information, you may email me at:

    Boyd
    boyd67@comcast.net

    Reference sites:
    http://www.usdla.org/
    http://www.cgsnet.org/
    http://www.statisticallysignificantconsulting.com/

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