Dissertation FAQ

Doctoral Capstone and Dissertation Planning

What follows the completion of my normal course work?
What is involved in the Doctoral Capstone Seminar?
What is included in Dissertation Planning I?
What is included in Dissertation Planning II?
Will I be able to take these courses simultaneously?

Resources Available

What resources are available to me as I prepare for my Dissertation?
What is the Rockies Research Center?
What is SMARTLab?
Who will have access to the Rockies Research Center (RRC)?
How will I access the Research Center?
What is the SAGE Research Methods online database?
Is use of the Rockies Research Center mandatory?
Who should I contact if I am having technical issues in the Research Center?
Am I able to submit documents for review via the Rockies Research Center?

Dissertation

What is a dissertation? How is it different from a long term paper?
How do I find a topic area?
Who supervises my dissertation? How do I find and engage a chairperson and other committee members?
What if I don't know who I want to serve on my committee?
Can qualified experts from outside the University serve on my committee? What if there is no one on the faculty who knows about my topic area?
Do I get help on research design and statistics? Do I have to pay for it?
How long will it take to complete my dissertation from start to finish?
What are the stages of the dissertation process?
Am I required to travel to Colorado Springs for my final oral defense?
Do I need to be enrolled in a Dissertation course to complete the final oral defense?
What happens if I do not finish my dissertation within the five, 9-week terms, or 45 weeks?
Who can I contact for questions concerning Dissertation?

Doctoral Capstone and Dissertation Planning

What follows the completion of my normal course work?
Immediately following the completion of students' core and specialization courses, students will take a Doctoral Capstone Seminar, as well as, Dissertation Planning I and Dissertation Planning II.

What is involved in the Doctoral Capstone Seminar?
This seminar provides students the opportunity to apply what they have learned in their curriculum to highly realistic case studies related to their fields of specialization for the doctorate. Through an asynchronous discussion among students and the instructor, students will review, analyze, and evaluate case studies emphasizing the practice of the content in their curriculum. The course will involve the analysis and evaluation of at least three case studies. Students will contemplate complex questions posed by their instructor, reply to those questions, respond to other students' analyses and evaluations, and receive faculty feedback. Each student will submit a final assignment on each case, involving his or her critical thinking on the core issues presented in the case and the presentation and defense of an approach to addressing those core issues.

What is included in Dissertation Planning I?
In this course, students develop the advanced skills and competencies they need to draft and refine their Letter of Intent and begin working on their dissertation in Dissertation Planning II. Under the supervision of the instructor, students identify a problem supported by a gap in literature, frame a feasible research purpose, and determine the scope for their dissertation research. Individually, students conduct pertinent scholarly research that addresses the literature gap, frame a researchable problem in their field, and align the research purpose with that problem. Students will also consider ethical issues of conducting research with human subjects, complete initial drafts of their problem and purpose statements, and formulate possible research questions to be refined in Dissertation Planning II.

What is included in Dissertation Planning II?
In this course, students will continue refining their Letter of Intent begun in Dissertation Panning I. Under the supervision of the instructor, students will complete drafts of the entire Letter of Intent (LOI), which includes the refined problem and purpose statements, possible research questions, the importance of the study, and proposed methodology the students are considering to address their research problem. The LOI will also include a brief discussion of how the results will address a knowledge gap and make an original contribution to the literature and professional practice. Students will solicit faculty to serve as chair and committee members, using the draft of their LOI. Students work individually to create an annotated outline of Chapters 1 and 2 of their dissertation proposal. Students will exchange discussions about their research concepts and proposed approaches to their research methodology with other students proposing similar methods (qualitative, quantitative, mixed, etc.). Students will create an outline for Chapter 3. Students will also create a tentative dissertation completion plan for review by their instructor.

Will I be able to take these courses simultaneously?
The Doctoral Capstone Seminar, Dissertation Planning I, and Dissertation Planning II are each designed to build on the work of the previous course. As a result, students are not able to take any combination of these courses simultaneously. For more information regarding concurrent courses, please refer to the University of the Rockies Online Academic Catalog. These courses must be completed prior to a student enrolling in their first dissertation term.

Resources Available

What resources are available to me as I prepare for my Dissertation?
In our continued efforts to be Best in Class, University of the Rockies has a wide array of resources available to students throughout their doctoral journey. Resources include the Rockies Research Center, the Writing Center (for formatting and APA resources), SMARTLab, and Sage Research Methods online database.

What is the Rockies Research Center?
The purpose of the Rockies Research Center (RRC) is to provide a place for students to obtain information that will aid in dissertation research and download additional outside resources. In the future, students will be able to access an open forum for discussions or to ask questions about the dissertation and research processes. The RRC will provide students with information on qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research methodologies and provide resources for an explanation of the different theoretical approaches.

What is SMARTLab?
SMARTLab is a statistics primer that is a compilation of interactive web-based course materials in basic statistics and is designed to prepare you for success in research courses and dissertation; SMARTLab is self-paced. SMARTLab consists of (9) nine lessons covering basic concepts and skills in statistics: Samples and Populations, Variables and Scales of Measurement, Charts and Graphs in Statistics, Measures of Central Tendency, Measures of Variability, Probability, Normal Distributions and Scores, Hypothesis Testing, and Correlation and Regression.

Who will have access to the Rockies Research Center (RRC)?
All University of the Rockies faculty and students, both online and campus, may access to the Rockies Research Center (RRC).

How will I access the Research Center?
Students can access the RRC through the Student Portal and all dissertation courses. Faculty will be able to access via the online classroom login page and all dissertation courses. There is also a link to the RRC through the University of the Rockies online library.

What is the SAGE Research Methods online database?
SAGE Research Methods is an innovative online tool that connects students to over 120,000 pages of SAGE research methods books, journals, and reference material with advanced search features. The tool was created to help students and researchers across the social and behavioral sciences to design research projects, understand methods or identify new methods, conduct research, and write up their findings. The SAGE research database can be accessed through the University of the Rockies Library or through the Rockies Research Center.

Is use of the Rockies Research Center mandatory?
Using the RRC is not a requirement for any University of the Rockies courses or the dissertation process. It is strongly encouraged, however, that faculty and students take full advantage of all of the resources provided.

Who should I contact if I am having technical issues in the Research Center?
Provided in the Research Center is a Contact Us page. Students are encouraged to utilize the contact information there if they encounter any technical issues with the site or if they have any suggestions, compliments, or comments. If students are unable to gain access to the site, they should email rockiesresearchinfo@rockies.edu.

Am I able to submit documents for review via the Rockies Research Center?
No. Documents such as the Dissertation Letter of Intent, Committee Request forms, or the actual dissertation itself will still need to be submitted as outlined in the University of the Rockies Dissertation Handbook.

Dissertation

What is a dissertation? How is it different from a long term paper?
The dissertation is designed to demonstrate pertinent knowledge, skills, research expertise and possible practical application in the student's discipline. A dissertation is intended to enhance learning and to demonstrate students' ability to design and complete an individual, original research project. As a complex and in-depth project, a dissertation is expected to include advanced research design and analysis, provide an extensive review of the professional literature, and make a significant contribution to the professional literature in the field. Students should refer to the most recent iteration of the University of the Rockies Dissertation Handbook for a complete description of acceptable types of research.

How do I find a topic area?
A student should select a topic that he or she is interested in exploring and is willing to commit an extensive amount of time and research to follow the study through to fruition. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss their topic ideas with their instructors and potential Dissertation Committee Chairs to aid in this process of narrowing down their interest areas. The dissertation does not require an original research topic (although this is often preferable) and may include a meta-analysis, qualitative or quantitative research (or a combination of both), or a program evaluation. The nature of the topic investigated will determine the length and amount of work necessary. Please refer to the most recent iteration of the University of the Rockies Dissertation Handbook and the Rockies Research Center for guidelines on Research Topic Selection.

Who supervises my dissertation? How do I find and engage a chairperson and other committee members?
Students will form a Dissertation Committee comprised of University of the Rockies faculty to supervise their dissertation process. It is important that students select committee members with whom they work well collaboratively. In addition, it is important for students to establish relationships with faculty during standard course work, discuss potential topics of study, and discuss the possibility of future committee chair or committee membership. The Dissertation Committee is composed of a Chair and two (2) additional committee members. The Chair must be a University of the Rockies faculty member. Ideally the two (2) committee members should be University of the Rockies faculty members, unless there is a significant reason to have a committee member from outside the University.

What if I don't know who I want to serve on my committee?
If students are unsure of faculty that they want to serve on the committee, please feel free to submit the "Request for Dissertation Candidates" form in order to gain assistance. Students are encouraged to contact potential committee members to discuss their topic ideas.

Can qualified experts from outside the University serve on my committee? What if there is no one on the faculty who knows about my topic area?
Students may request committee members from outside of the University (see the section on Committee Members from Outside the University in the Dissertation Handbook and the Approval for Non-Faculty Dissertation Committee Participation form).

Do I get help on research design and statistics? Do I have to pay for it?
If a student is having problems with research design and statistics and the Chair cannot assist, the Chair can request the assistance and review of a Research Methodologist. If the results of the review require additional support from a third-party research consultant, the student will need to contract and pay for that resource independently.

How long will it take to complete my dissertation from start to finish?
Although the timeline to completion will vary, a general guideline is to plan for at least one year to complete your Dissertation. Please review the current University of the Rockies Dissertation Handbook for a complete breakdown of the dissertation phases.

What are the stages of the dissertation process?
Once a student has completed all prior course work and Doctoral Capstone Seminar, and is ready to enroll in Dissertation Planning I & II, and subsequent dissertation courses, there are six phases described in the University of the Rockies Dissertation Handbook to complete the dissertation process. Students should start to research possible dissertation topics well before completing their coursework in order to be ready to finalize their dissertation topic by the completion of their Dissertation Planning I course.

Am I required to travel to Colorado Springs for my final oral defense?
Online students are not required to complete their final oral defense in person. A variety of virtual options are available (Class Live Pro, Skype, FreeConference.com, etc.), including obtaining a telephone bridgeline number from the Dissertation and Thesis Administrator following submission of the Request for Oral Defense form.

Do I need to be enrolled in a Dissertation course to complete the final oral defense?
Yes, students must be registered for a one credit 8990 Dissertation or 8991 Dissertation Extension course at the time they complete their dissertation, to include the Final Oral Defense, subsequent revisions, and final submission requirements.

What happens if I do not finish my dissertation within the five, 9-week terms, or 45 weeks?
Students who do not complete their dissertation within the 45 weeks will register for an 8991 Dissertation Extension course. This one-credit course may be repeated as many times as required to complete the dissertation process. There is a 7-year limit from the student's first day of enrollment to finish the degree, including dissertation.

Who can I contact for questions concerning Dissertation?
Students should contact their Student Advisor with questions concerning dissertation courses or scheduling. Once students have selected a Dissertation Chair, he or she will serve as the main point of contact. For administrative questions concerning dissertation forms or process, students can email the Dissertation and Thesis Administrator at dissertation.ground@rockies.edu (campus) or dissertation.online@rockies.edu (online).

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