Archive for ‘Dissertation’

General Plan Ideas

By js, 2 July, 2008, No Comment

1. General structure is typically followed, but there is flexibility in the details

a. Introduction (Background, Motivations, Literature review)

b. Objective/Purposes/Hypothesis (need not be a separate section, but often is)

c. Methods

d. Preliminary Results

2. Introduction

a. Start broad (e.g. injuries, need for ergonomics, etc.), become increasingly specific

b. End with a review, and broaden out to discuss potential applications (importance) of the proposed work

c. Topics to be addressed: what’s been done; what hasn’t; what is needed and why; indicate your part or contribution (scoping your domain)

d. Intro should contain some statements of objectives, purposes, and hypothesis. Placement is flexible, though, and these could be in a separate sections between

e. Intro and Methods, or even part of the Methods. Depending on the specifics, not all of these (objective, purposes, and hypotheses) will always been relevant. More important that it be clear and readable.

f. How long should it be? Long enough to satisfy the above goals. Typically 10-30 pages for an MS, longer for a PhD proposal.

g. When summarizing existing literature, it is not enough just to describe what authors X, Y, and Z did. Results should be interpreted, in the context of the overall review and study objectives.

h. In particular, discuss contrasting evidence, possible sources for discrepancies (experimental design, lack of controls, sensitivity of measures, etc.), and the importance of resolving the differences.

4. Objectives/Purposes

a. Non-quantitative, but specific and clearly filling some hole/need addressed in the Introduction.

b. The Intro should have motivated and ‘scoped’ the stated objectives and purposes.

5. Hypotheses

a. Non-quantitative, but again specific and clear.

b. There should be obvious connections to the objectives, and clear (though not

c. stated here) indications of how statistical methods would be used to evaluate thehypotheses. In the methods, your statistical tests should make reference to these hypotheses.

d. Not every statistical test should have an associate hypotheses (otherwise it would be unwieldy); instead, the hypotheses can be general (e.g. there will be an association among several variables; factors A and B will have effects on several measures of performance).

e. Don’t use words like ‘significant’, save this for the description of statistical methods.

6. Methods

a. What will be done, how, and why

b. With respect to how and why, there is typically more than one way to do something, and you must explain (and sometimes justify) your choice.

c. The methods should have clear connections to the hypotheses.

d. The Methods tends to be a difficult and sometimes complicated section. In general, proceed from broad to specific, but also ensure that a context is provided before specific details are raised. For example, don’t describe specific experimental treatments before you’ve even explained the overall approach and the different independent and dependent variables.

e. Note that ‘repeated measures’ refers to a study design, while within- and between subjects refers to specific independent measures (or treatments). Crossed and nested factors are synomymous.

f. The reader should be able to understand what you’re talking about, given what was provided before (use of a colleague again helps here).

g. Subsections are often used such as: Overview; Subjects; Procedures; Instrumentation; Experimental Design; Data Reduction; Analysis (stats)

h. The specific ordering of the sections in g., should achieve the goals of d. and f.

i. Somewhere (typically in Experimental Design), there should be an explicit statement of the independent and dependent variables (or factors, or measures)

So how do I get there? Unfortunately, this is as much an art as a science, but here are some things to consider:

1. Some General Tips:

a. Each paragraph proceeds from general to specific.

b. Some have suggested that reading the first sentence of every paragraph in the document should convey the essential meaning of the whole.

c. Vary the structure of your sentences and paragraphs.

d. Use transitions between paragraphs (either the last sentence of the proceeding one or the first sentence of the subsequent one, should tie the two together).

e. Avoid one-sentence paragraphs (generally at least 3 sentences comprise a paragraph)

f. Consider optional presentation methods (always using good HF knowledge and practice). Often the same thing can be conveyed by text, graphs, tables, diagrams, etc. Pick what is the most effective, but avoid duplication.

2. Some common mistakes to avoid:

a. Repetitive sentence structure (The… The… The… or However, … Additionally, … Therefore, …)

b. Avoid complex words and convoluted sentence constructions, where simpler ones will convey the information (like utilize vs. use; cognizant vs. aware; though personal style always has a role). Eschew obfuscation!

c. There is no advantage to be gained by making something obscure. The scientific value is not enhanced by complicated words and prose, and to someone that knows the field, you don’t sound any more knowledgeable. If you look at some of the best journals, they are typically written in a very dry, boring, direct, and terse style. It tends to be the weaker journals where creative writing flourishes!


Dissertation Proposal How To Handout

Diss Prepoposal

By js, 2 July, 2008, No Comment

This is what the website says about the proposal:

  • The proposal will identify the problem requiring research,
  • review some of the basic literature regarding the problem,
  • outline goals and methods of research for adding to the knowledge regarding the problem, and
  • include a tentative outline of chapters.
  • The proposal will also explain how the materials on your reading lists relate to your dissertation research and serve as a rationale for the definition of examination fields.

Dissertation Preproposal Discussion

By js, 2 July, 2008, No Comment

This is what the TCR website says about the Dissertation Reading List/ Proposal:

The Qualifying Exam Process

Within a year of completing your coursework, you must take the doctoral qualifying exams and prepare for the dissertation research. Knowledge of the literature of the field is one of the qualifications for conducting research in the field. Your dissertation will have to engage with this literature. Thus, your “qualifying exam” helps to establish and determine your qualifications to proceed to dissertation research.  These qualifications involve knowledge of the issues that interest the fields of rhetoric, composition, and technical communication, including achievements and gaps in knowledge.  These qualifications also point to a direction for your own research, including mastery of research methods. One of the purposes of preparation for the exams is to launch you into your dissertation research. Thus, you will be examined, in part, over materials related to your dissertation, as well as the materials on your approved reading list.

The typical process follows this timeline:

  • Preliminary dissertation proposal (4 months before exam)
  • Reading list (2 months before exam)
  • Qualifying exam
  • Meeting with your committee (2 weeks after exam)
  • Final dissertation proposal (6 weeks after exam)

Preliminary Dissertation Proposal

Although you will refine your dissertation topic as you read for your exams, you should have an idea of the topic and methods when you prepare your reading lists. Consult with your dissertation committee members to define your areas of interest. Note that if you have a minor in another department, that department may require a qualifying exam in the minor area.  Based on these discussions with your committee, write a preliminary dissertation proposal of approximately 2500 words.  This proposal will identify the problem requiring research, review some of the basic literature regarding the problem, outline goals and methods of research for adding to the knowledge regarding the problem, and include a tentative outline of chapters. The proposal will also explain how the materials on your reading lists relate to your dissertation research and serve as a rationale for the definition of examination fields.

Reading Lists

Develop and submit to the committee a reading list of 100 books or the equivalent in articles (four articles equal one book), including materials for TCR broadly defined and materials for your area of interest within the field. You may group the items by themes or issues, such as composition pedagogy, history of rhetoric, audience, and visual communication. Some of these books and articles you will have read already in your classes, and some–especially those relating to your dissertation–will likely be new. The topics of these books and articles should include technical communication and rhetoric broadly but also items related to your intended dissertation research and research methods. Your list may incorporate material from your minor, if your minor department does not require its own examination. To make studying for the exams easier, begin compiling your reading list during your coursework, and write a summary of each book or article as you read it for class to study for the qualifying exams.

The committee will discuss with you possible additions and deletions. When the proposal and list are finalized, the chair of the committee will report to the Director of Graduate Studies in Technical Communication and Rhetoric (DGS-TCR). Your reading list needs to be approved by your dissertation committee and the DGS-TCR at least two months before the scheduled exam.  You need to register in advance to take the exam with the Director of Graduate Studies in TCR.

Final Dissertation Proposal

Four weeks after your post-exam meeting, your final dissertation proposal will be due to your committee. This proposal, 10,000 words or more, provides a problem statement, literature review, and outline of chapters as well as an overview of research methods. The final proposal serves as the draft for one or more chapters of the dissertation.  It also serves as a roadmap that you and your committee should use to track the direction and progress of your developing dissertation.


By js, 2 July, 2008, No Comment

I have been looking at Remember the Milk and I Want Sandy for project management. Have to create goals and minigoals. Work backward. Perhaps use Google calendar.

Back on Track

By js, 30 June, 2008, No Comment

Time to get back on track with the PHD work.

Posted my reading list in the blog and will start editing.

IRB Proposal Mex-Am Digital Narratives

By js, 24 April, 2008, No Comment

Attached is the IRB proposal for the study.

Blog Research

By js, 24 April, 2008, No Comment

So Becky is asking me to think about my epistemology before I start designing my study.
I would have to say that my belief is that our research should empower our participants. They should also be getting a benefit from the research in which they participate. It is something that I truly believe in.
the complication of this, though, is that if I tell them, then that may affect the way in which they write and the things that they write about. So I am thinking about that too. If they know that they are being studied and they know the questions that I am considering then will those affect the way in which they will be interacting in that space.
It is what I was talking about in my paper on digital research. If I go in and interact with the participants, then I am no longer just observing but changing the space because of my interaction. It won't be exactly the same as when I

blog epistemology/methodology

By js, 24 April, 2008, No Comment

markR says, "it involves group contribution and "beautiful" language to inspire a community benefit"
Emil [to Janie]: I personally thought that some of the new media technology might help lead the way to more Afrocentric rhetoric… wikis for instance seem to allow for a more active audience… and harmony
BeckyJ [to Emil]: that was what I was thinking
Bobbie [to markR:]: How right you are – but isn't that just external? THink of all the internal workings… gambling, etc.
markR [to Emil]: but wikis are also vulnerable to some pretty aceribic exchanges
Janie [to Emil:]: true
Becky says, "I thought about ebay as a community…but then, it's also for individual gain."
Sue says, "And I think popular culture elements such as rap and hip-hop Nation langugae are crossing over and gaining wider audience appeal at many levels"
Emil [to markR]: right. is that part of the process? the good with the bad?
markR [to Bobbie]: why is gambling a bad thing? :)
Bobbie laughs
Janie [to Sue:]: I'm reading a book on hip-hop rhetorics
Emil says, "I know we're late… I'll turn the class back over to Becky. I'll post this link on the WebBoard"
Bobbie says, "It's not unless taken to excess :D "
Bobbie cheers for Emil!!
Sue [to Janie]: really. Whiah one?
You say, "Thanks emil"
markR [to Emil]: nice job! i really like the website
Kerrie says, "hip hip hooray for Emil!"
You say, "Richardson, I think"
BeckyJ says, "Very interesting, lovely site"
You say, "elaine"
Becky says, "Emil, you want to create a webboard area for a continued discussion of what is/isn't afrocentric rhetoric"
Anne says, "great website/review of the readings, Emil. Thanks."
Emil [to Becky]: the chapter about letters also shows that there was an element of individual gain even in ancient Egypt rhetoric
Becky hopes Emil (and others) will post their websites/source materials to webboard!
Bobbie says, "Definitely"
Kerrie says, "I think my website is posted there…"
Bobbie says, "I love to look at other student sites"
Emil [to Becky]: Yes. Can I create one. .. or is that only something you can do?
Sue [to Janie]: look at Marcyleana Morgan's stuff–I'll send you 2 articles
Becky [to Emil]: I'll do it.  I'll call  it Afrocentric rhetoric
Janie [to Sue:]: the book is called "Hiphop literacies" by Elaine Richardson
Janie [to Sue:]: cool; post them for others too
markR [to Janie]: KRS-ONE
Bobbie says, "Well… I'm off to install a pool pump… have a good one all!"
Sue says, "OK"
Emil says, "BTW, there's a link to a fun matching game using egyptian symbols in the sidebar and a link to wikipedia for more info"
Becky loves Geoff Sirc, who was one of the first hip hoppers
Janie [to Mark:]: sorry, I'm illiterate; what does that mean?
Sue [to Emil]: kewl
Bobbie (asleep) has disconnected.
Becky thanks EMil–short, but really thought provoking
Emil says, "Thanks everyone"
markR [to Janie]: he's one of the pioneers of preaching the four elements of hiphop as a positive lifestyle
markR says, "old school rapper"
Emil [to Becky]: And we still ran out of time. sheesh
Becky says, "Folks, I'm going to add afrocentric rhetoric to webboard.  No task for this week, but DO visit last week's task"
Janie [to mark:]: ah, I'm just starting to learn…
markR says, "or rather, MC"
Becky says, "great narratives there"
markR [to Janie]: if you want i'll teach you how to bboy and graffiti
Becky says, "Thanks, both of you. VERY good–excellent thoughts, ideas."
Becky grins and knows Mark can do it!
markR says, "thank you for class all! "
Janie [to Mark:]: great during May seminar
You say, "Becky will have to bail me out"
markR says, "lol"
Anne says, "Sorry, but I have to take off.  Great discussions tonight."
Becky says, "I'm going to be out of sorts while in KY (and it's likely I'll be traveling to FL soon as well–my father's very sick and probably won't make it much longer).  So I apologize about being slow"
Emil says, "Night all."
Janie [to Becky:]: let me know when you're ready to move to the office
Sue (asleep) has disconnected.
Kerrie [to Becky]: Just a quick word…
Becky says, "sure, Kerrie"
>> The red light on class recorder goes out. The recorder in Rickly's Virtual Place has been turned off. <<
Kerrie [to Becky]: I will be posting my last assignment… the mind map, by Friday
markR [to Becky]: i wish you the best and a safe trip. good night all…time to eat!
markR (asleep) has disconnected.
Emil [to Becky]: I've got my final paper done. I'll proofread it once more and load it in the WebBoard as well as mail it to you
Anne (asleep) has disconnected.
Becky [to Emil]: that sounds perfect
Kerrie [to Becky]: And I think that is everything I have left to do for the class… You can decide which assignment was medium & large, because they both were pretty time consuming :)
Becky is sure you'll be fine, Kerrie
BeckyJ (asleep) has disconnected.
Kerrie says, "Ok, I just don't want to leave any unfinished business before heading to VEGAS to get married :) "
Janie [to Kerrie]: congrats
Kerrie says, "Thanks "
Kerrie says, "Ok, then, so it will all be on my website, and I'll e-mail you the links… all will be under 'coursework' but I'll send you the individual links"
Becky says, "WOW!  have a great time in VEGAS!  Say hi to Elvis!"
Becky nods to Kerrie–sounds perfect
Kerrie says, "hehe, yeah it will be great, I will be sure to ;) "
The housekeeper arrives to cart Bobbie off to bed.
Kerrie says, "Ok, goodnight all!!"
Becky waves
You say, "good night"
Kerrie (asleep) has disconnected.
You move to Liminal Space
Liminal Space
You view Liminal Space…
You see Teacher's Desk, Big Table, and Bulletin Board.
You see space recorder.
Obvious exits: [space exit] to Rickly's Virtual Place
Becky arrives.
Becky says, "I'm here."
You say, "sorry I moved to the wroing space"
Becky says, "This should work fine"
You say, "did you see the IRB emails?"
You say, "the project got approved; dr. eaton reviewed it"
You say, "but the timing is bad"
You say, "the students are gone"
Becky says, "I glanced over them–I'm sorry, but I didn't look at them closely.  I thought you were approved?"
You say, "they are finished and graduating on Friday"
You say, "so it will be hard to contact them "
Becky says, "yikes.  Do you have a plan B?  "
You say, "I would like to finish this project but I can also work on something else to finish the course reqs"
You say, "Our semester begins again May 19th"
Becky says, "what would YOU rather do?"
You say, "so I could trya again then"
You say, "but then it would require an incomplete"
You say, "is that a big deal?"
Becky would be happy with that, if that's what would work for you
Becky says, "no, we could arrange for the "deliverable" to be done on X date.  As long as I turn in a grade by then, we're fine"
You say, "I am really thinking about using this as a pilot which can help me articulate questions for diss"
You say, "so I would like to complete it"
Becky says, "You've done most of the work.  I will run it by Locke (some folks have been doing incompletes then NOT finishing), but as long as we have an agreed upon completion date, we'll be fine"
You say, "but I could write a lit review on CRT but that may be "large" enough"
Becky says, "great, then.  I like that you'll have some extra time during which you maybe won't be as busy.  The pilot project will tell you a lot"
You say, "ok, good. I do have one extra class"
Becky says, "I'd rather have you do the pilot.  I htink it will be beneficial on several levels"
You say, "so my coursework requriements are fulfilled"
Becky says, "extra class?"
Becky says, "you mean you have one more class to take?"
You say, "yes, I took two this semster and I only needed one"
Becky says, "wow!"
You say, "will be working on the diss prop and reading list during may seminar"
Becky says, "Ok, then, let's do this:  I'll email Locke (he's still in TX) about the incomplete, letting him know what our agreed upon date is (we need to agree)"
You say, "when should we decide on the date"
Becky says, "Let's do it now."
You say, "Ok"
Becky says, "how long do you think you'll need?"
You say, "how does July 10th sound"
You say, "will give me plenty of time"
You say, "after the semester starts"
Becky says, "that works for me"
You say, "great"
You say, "I appreciate your flexibility"
Becky says, "so I'll let him know that you'll finish your final project July 10th (due to IRB problems, etc.)"
Becky says, "I'll let you know what he says."
You say, "I also would like to do a second IRB"
Becky says, "but I think he'll be great"
Becky thinks that will be a good idea
Becky says, "You want to be covered, esp. if you might report on this."
You say, "right"
You say, "I didn't want to take a chance; I heard what happened to SUsan"
Becky says, "I'll let you know if there's a problem, but I honestly can't imagine one."
Becky says, "I guess I didn't hear!"
You say, "there was alot of data she couldn't use; wans't IRB issue but she had to do it over"
You say, "her participant withdrew some of the data"
Becky says, "How awful!"
You say, "yes"
Becky says, "but I do understand.  Dissertations can be a mess"
You say, "I have another question"
Becky says, "Sure"
You say, "I am starting to investigate the participatns I could use for the second study; the bloggers"
You say, "and I've had one ask me details about the project"
Becky nods
You say, "I'm wondering if the details will affect her work"
Becky says, "it's possible–sort of a Hawthorne effect– but it's better to inform participants I think"
You say, "is there any method that is acceptable about how much to tell?"
You say, "I could also only use data up to when I contacted her and nothing after"
You say, "certainly one choice"
Becky says, "well, depends on your empirical grounding.  If you're coming to it from a feminist perspective, you will virtually tell them everything, involving them almost as co-investigators; if you want more control, you'll have a pat hand out you give to everyone."
You say, "this disclosure stuff is tricky"
Becky says, "oops, I meant epistemological grounding"
Becky nods
You say, "right, I think I'm coming from the PD, PAR"
Becky says, "You will be coming to your research from an epistemological perspective.  You need to identify that (feminist, social constructivist, etc.) and allow it go guide you"
You say, "ok, that makes sense; so use that to make my deciisions; make sure they align"
Becky says, "so you'll probably disclose more than if you were less participatory"
Becky nods
Becky says, "because your design, analysis, choice of methods all will be influenced by this grounding"
You say, "Ok, it was getting kind of muddy and I wanted some perspective before I worked on proposal"
Becky says, "if you can articulate it, you'll be consistent"
You say, "great, thanks."


By js, 18 April, 2008, No Comment

it's *a* theory – but then theories are just explanations, strategies, generalizations from observation and experience to be applied to new situations
Theories are constructed in order to explain, predict and master phenomena (e.g. inanimate things, events, or the behaviour of animals). In many instances we are constructing models of reality. A theory makes generalizations about observations and consists of an interrelated, coherent set of ideas and models.
The first meaning of the term critical theory was that defined by Max Horkheimer of the Frankfurt School of social science in his 1937 essay Traditional and Critical Theory: Critical theory is social theory oriented toward critiquing and changing society as a whole, in contrast to traditional theory oriented only to understanding or explaining it.
Critical pedagogy is a teaching approach which attempts to help students question and challenge domination, and the beliefs and practices that dominate. In other words, it is a theory and practice of helping students achieve critical consciousness. Critical pedagogue Ira Shor defines critical pedagogy as
"Habits of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional clichés, received wisdom, and mere opinions, to understand the deep meaning, root causes, social context, ideology, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse." (Empowering Education, 129)

Discourse Analysis Notes

By js, 19 March, 2008, No Comment

Content Analysis–what elements it contains
Semantic Analysis–the meanings of those elements
1. define the construct (A concept, model, or schematic idea)

  • categories–how can construct be divided

WHAT would MY constructs be? examine questions

  • race
  • digital space
  • digital literacy

After defining the construct of interest

  • specify what features of the discourse you want to count or categorize
    • rhetorical strategies: ethos, pathos, logos
    • specific info: segments discussing violence or segments discussing physical damage