Writing Guides & Tips

5 Keys to Getting Your Doctoral Dissertation Approved

If you are just starting the dissertation writing process, it can feel overwhelming; maybe even like trying to learn a foreign language. Templates, requirements, methodologies, and research… not to mention your chair’s feedback. You may be thinking, what does it all mean? Or, where in the world do I even start?!

Before you throw up your hands and opt out of a doctoral degree, rest assured—it really isn’t as scary as it seems! Grab some coffee and settle into a comfortable spot. We are about to cover all the basics. Once broken down, the dissertation writing process is all about remembering three simple things:

  • Approach it like a scientific formula, which basically follows step-by-step logic.
  • Think critically: Your university wants to see that you are able to back up your argument with more logic and research.
  • Research, research, and more research: Your dissertation should contribute to existing research in some way and it should be justified by what existing research still does not explain.

With these core concepts in mind, this post is meant to help you learn exactly what your chair is looking for and how to get your dissertation approved—starting with five simple core questions your chair wants to see addressed in your dissertation. Next, we will cover five key tips for making sure your dissertation checks all the boxes. We will also briefly talk about when to find dissertation writing help and when to consider getting dissertation writing help.

5 core questions your chair will ask you about your doctoral dissertation

Few things are worse than never-ending comments on your doctoral dissertation that push graduation further down the road. The dissertation writing process is, no doubt, not for the faint of heart, which is why many students invest in dissertation writing help and tutoring.

However, even though each school’s requirements are slightly different and each chair’s preferences may vary, there are certain core aspects of the dissertation writing process that almost all universities and chairs look for. Understanding these key concepts—and how to ensure your dissertation addresses them—can help dramatically when it comes to getting approval.

Here are five key questions your chair is looking to be answered throughout your dissertation. If you keep these aspects in mind as you begin your dissertation writing and research process, they will help you:

  • Narrow your research purpose and questions.
  • Identify relevant research.
  • Create an outline and write more easily.

1) What are your problem and purpose statements?

Your problem and purpose statements are the core foundation of the rest of your study. They inform everything else you will write, including your methodology and research questions. The good news is that once you write a clear, research-supported problem statement, your purpose statement is easy to write. It is derived from your problem statement.

Writing Your Problem Statement

Here are two keys to writing your problem statement:

    • Your problem statement should be derived from a gap in literature. In other words, it should clearly indicate what existing empirical research still does not know. Because of this, your problem statement should be followed by a citation. Generally, problem statements start with: “It is not yet known…” Here is an example:

It is not yet known how classroom size influences elementary school teachers’ job satisfaction in Montana (in-text citation).

  • Your problem statement should be specific. Below are two examples: One of each is vague and should be avoided, the other specific:

Qualitative research

  • Vague problem statement (avoid)
  • ”We do not yet know why teachers are satisfied with their jobs.”
  • Specific problem statement
  • ”It is not yet known how classroom size influences elementary school teachers’ job satisfaction in Montana.”

Quantitative research

  • Vague problem statement (avoid)
  • ”We do not yet know what is associated with teacher satisfaction.”
  • Specific problem statement
  • ”It is not yet known whether a statistically significant correlation exists between classroom size and elementary school teacher job satisfaction in Montana.”

Writing your purpose statement

Next, you will want to write your purpose statement based on your problem statement. In most cases, this is simply a matter of wording. Purpose statements should also be specific and based on an intent to contribute to existing research. They should begin with “The purpose of this study is…” Continuing with the example above, check out the following purpose statement, taken from the problem statement:

  • Qualitative problem statement
  • ”It is not yet known how classroom size influences elementary school teachers’ job satisfaction in Montana.”
  • Purpose statement
  • ”The purpose of this study is to explore how classroom size influences elementary teachers’ job satisfaction in Montana.”
  • Quantitative problem statement
  • ”It is not yet known whether a statistically significant correlation exists between classroom size and elementary school teacher job satisfaction in Montana.”
  • Purpose statement
  • ”The purpose of this study is to examine whether or not a statistically significant correlation exists between classroom size and elementary school teacher job satisfaction in Montana.”

2) How does your dissertation proposal contribute to existing research?

After writing your problem and purpose statement, you will likely have a clear idea of how your proposed study will be contributing to existing research (hint: it contributes to research by filling the “gap” in research your problem statement was derived from). Now, the key is to clearly explain how your study intends to fill this gap and make a scholarly contribution.

Some university templates will require this to be discussed in a “significance” section. Others will simply require it as part of the introduction or within another subheading. Either way, when your chair reads your dissertation, it should be clear how your study will be useful to researchers or professionals in your industry of focus.

If you are not sure of how best to write this part, check out published examples of doctoral dissertations online or consider working with a high quality, professional essay writing service that offers dissertation writing help and can provide examples.

3) Is your methodology justified?

Your chair will want you to justify (explain why) why you chose the methodology and research design you are proposing. The two primary types of methodologies are:

There are also mixed methods studies, but those are less common if it is your first research project.

Your research design includes the tools you will use to collect your information (data) and analyze or interpret that information (come up with results).

Whatever method and design you choose, your chair will want you to explain why it is the best way of carrying out your study. Top tier writing services offering dissertation writing help, such as Ultius, can offer examples of what this explanation looks like.

4) Are your research questions justified?

Your research questions determine your methodology, and should align with it. In the same way, the type of methodology you use (how you conduct your study ), will directly impact how you word your research questions. When you write your research questions, make sure they check these two boxes:

  • Do they make sense in answering your overall research problem?
  • Are they worded in a way that relates to your methodology?

Remember, quantitative research questions will use phrases like how many, to what degree or is there a statistically significant relationship. Quantitative research questions gather information that can be interpreted with numeric values.

On the other hand, qualitative research questions use words like, how, why, and what. Qualitative results usually require narrative explanation rather than just numeric expression.

Here is a simplified illustration of the difference between qualitative and quantitative research questions:

  • Qualitative research question:
  • “How does classroom size influence elementary school teachers’ job satisfaction in Montana?”
  • Quantitative research question:
  • “Is there a statistically significant correlation between classroom size and elementary school teacher job satisfaction in Montana?”

Even in more complex cases involving multiple research questions, each research question should be related to the purpose. If you are not sure how to do this, it is usually worth hiring professional dissertation writing help from a qualified service that can offer guidance and feedback.

5)Are you using the correct terminology?

Finally, your chair will be checking to make sure all the language and phrasing you use in your dissertation is specific, logical, graduate-level, and consistent. Here are a few examples of what that means:

  • Avoid contractions, first person, and pronouns.
  • Support every claim you make with a credible citation (research).
  • Use language that is relevant to your method: this can be tricky—if you are not sure what this looks like, consider hiring dissertation writing help from a professional writing service that can provide custom advice according to your topic.
  • Be specific: Avoid using words like “it,” if it is not clear what you are referring to.
  • Say it the same way: Refer to things like participants and your topic the same way throughout your dissertation to avoid confusion. For instance, if you call African Americans by the term “African Americans” in your introduction, do not switch to “black people” half way through your paper.

Understanding how to use correct, doctoral level language can be one of the most challenging parts of dissertation writing. If you are struggling with language, high level writing services such as Ultius that offer advanced dissertation writing help can help the process feel less overwhelming.

5 tips for writing doctoral dissertations that will get approved

In addition to being clear on what your chair will be looking for, here are some simple tips for ensuring your proposal gets approved so you can be one step closer to graduation!

1) Be crystal clear on your topic

Your topic and your purpose statement drive everything else about your dissertation proposal.

A great way to clarify your topic is by writing your topic as your purpose statement. For example, a purpose-driven topic or title may be written as: Predictors of job satisfaction among elementary school teachers in Montana.

Notice a few key things about this topic statement:

  • It describes the variables being studied (predictors of job satisfaction)
  • It tells the reader who is being studied (elementary school teachers)
  • And it specifies where participants are from (Montana)

2) Find a gap in research and explain how your study helps to fill it

As you research your topic, look for a gap in existing literature. A gap is simply something that has not yet been explained. Use this as inspiration to guide your own study’s purpose. If you find yourself stuck or unclear about what a gap may be, consider hiring professional dissertation writing help from a high-quality writing service.

3) Understand your methodology’s language

Chairs are notorious for being incredibly picky about making sure all the wording you use is consistent with your methodology. For instance, if your methodology is qualitative, do not use words like, to what degree, or how many, which are quantitative terms. Again, working with a professional writing service that provides dissertation writing help and can proofread your entire document to make sure your language is consistent is a great way to avoid chair comments on this issue.

4)Follow your template

Most universities will provide you with a template to follow. Be sure to follow it to a T. Chairs are sticklers about this. Though specific headings vary from university to university, generally a proposal, or introduction chapter, will include the following headings:

  • Introduction
  • Background
  • Problem Statement
  • Purpose Statement
  • Significance
  • Methodology
  • Limitations
  • Summary

5)Ask a trusted colleague or professional service to proofread your dissertation

When it comes to the most important—and probably longest—”paper” that you will ever write during your career in higher education, investing time or funds into professional editing is insignificant compared to how it can help you move forward more quickly with your degree. Top tier writing and editing services such as Ultius provide high quality dissertation writing help through the entire process, from organizing research to editing and proofreading.

When to hire professional dissertation writing help

If you have reviewed examples of doctoral dissertations online and still are stumped about where to begin, dissertation writing help from a highly qualified writer can help you set the stage for success by clarifying all of the most important components (like an outline, clear purpose statement, and research questions).

If you do choose to work with a writing service that can provide dissertation writing help, be sure they provide a full scope of services, like:

  • Help researching
  • Help with chair feedback
  • Revisions
  • Editing
  • Writing
  • Outlining and organizing

Still, even considering the advantages of hiring dissertation writing help (like fewer chair comments, less stress, and tons of time savings), it can sometimes be tricky to know whether or not working with a professional is right for you. Here are some instances in which hiring professional dissertation writing help is most likely a smart investment:

  • Your native language is not English, but your dissertation needs to be written in English.
  • Your chair and peers are not providing the level of dissertation writing help you need (your questions are not clearly answered).
  • You feel completely overwhelmed and everything turns into a blur when you sit down to research or write.
  • You are juggling work, school, family, and more; time is tight.

The dissertation writing process is just that—a process. So, do not be discouraged if you receive your proposal back with a handful of chair comments. This is not uncommon. Simply take things step by step, and remember, professional dissertation writing help can be a lifesaver when it comes to getting your proposal approved.

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