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Writing the Winning Thesis or Dissertation
A Step-by-Step Guide

Fourth Edition


June 2018 | 344 pages | Corwin

The classic step-by-step guide to thesis and dissertation success, fully updated for 2018.  

From selecting your topic to defending your finished work, a masters thesis or doctoral dissertation is a major undertaking. Since 1998, this book has been the go-to resource for scholars seeking guidance and best practices at every phase of the process. 

This revised and updated fourth edition is the most comprehensive guide yet to researching, writing, and publishing a successful thesis or dissertation. It includes: 

  • Insights on leveraging new technologies to maximize your efficiency. 
  • Current case studies demonstrating the book’s teachings in action. 
  • Tested principles of effective planning, an engaging writing style, defense preparation, and more.  

Written in an easy, digestible style perfect for a thesis or dissertation-writer’s busy schedule, this latest edition of a contemporary classic belongs on every advanced degree candidate’s shelf. 

Dr. Joyner and Dr. Rouse have again put together an in-depth, comprehensive, and practical guide that is a valuable resource for graduate students. This edition includes important information related to current and emerging trends in technology and valuable case studies focusing on the most common problems encountered in writing at the master’s and doctoral levels. 
James R. Machell, Dean
College of Education and Professional Studies, University of Central Oklahoma 


Writing the Winning Dissertation is an essential guidebook for students writing a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. I used the first edition to write an award-winning dissertation and now use the updated edition with the doctoral students I advise. I highly recommend it to both students and advisors.
Susan Colby, Director of Faculty Professional Development, Appalachian State University; Boone, NC
Appalachian State University 




 
List of Exhibits
 
Preface
 
About the Authors
 
Publisher’s Acknowledgments
 
Part I: The Foundations
 
Chapter 1. Groundwork for Theses and Dissertations
Dissertation’s Special Nature

 
Securing the Needed Resources

 
Thesis and Dissertation Key Differences

 
 
Chapter 2. The Thesis or Doctoral Committee
Roles and Responsibilities of the Committee

 
The Dynamics of the Committee

 
Preventing Problems With the Committee

 
Dealing With Committee Problems

 
Solving Personal Problems With the Dissertation

 
 
Chapter 3. The Degree-Granting Institution’s Requirements
Degree Completion Time Lines

 
Styles

 
Specific University Guidelines or Requirements

 
 
Chapter 4. The Institutional Review Board
Knowledge Requirements (Training)

 
IRB Resources

 
Certification Time Frame

 
Case Study I: Selecting Members of the Doctoral Committee

 
Forming the Committee/Selecting Committee Members

 
Points to Ponder

 
 
Part II: Research Problem Development
 
Chapter 5. The Research Problem
Make a Personal Assessment of Topics

 
Reflect and Discuss

 
Fix on the Research Topic and Research Problem

 
 
Chapter 6. The Focused Review of the Literature
Reorganize Your Files

 
Retrieve All Related Abstracts

 
Evaluate the Results

 
Check for Prior Dissertations

 
Retrieve the Full Texts of the Most Useful Sources

 
Use Primary Sources

 
Develop an Annotated Bibliography

 
 
Chapter 7. Comprehensive Critique of the Literature
Maintain Good Research Practices Throughout the Search

 
Develop a Focused Outline of the Search

 
Establish Parameters for the Search

 
Conduct a Comprehensive Search

 
Critique All Sources Retrieved

 
 
Chapter 8. Focused Review of Available Methodologies for Data Collection and Analyses
Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives

 
Research Types

 
Research Methods

 
Make Preliminary Choices

 
 
Chapter 9. Selected Methodology
The Research Design: Its General Nature

 
The Research Design: Type-Specific Issues

 
Develop Your Research Design

 
Case Study II: Selecting/Developing a Research Topic

 
Developing a Research Topic

 
Points to Ponder

 
 
Part III: The Prospectus Preparation
 
Chapter 10. The Work Plan
Develop a Planning Chart

 
Make the Tentative Entries

 
 
Chapter 11. The Prospectus Overview
Peer Collaboration

 
Weighing the Advantages and Disadvantages

 
Structuring the Collaborative

 
Formalize the Structure and Request Adviser Approval

 
Help the Group Remain Productive

 
 
Chapter 12. The Doctoral Committee and the Prospectus
Developing the Prospectus and Organizing the Committee

 
Prospectus Rationale

 
Prospectus Development

 
Committee Selection

 
Committee Dynamics

 
Developing the Proposal: Writing Chapter 1

 
Developing the Proposal: Writing Chapter 2

 
Developing the Proposal: Writing Chapter 3

 
Developing the Proposal: The References

 
Developing the Proposal: The Appendices

 
 
Chapter 13. The Prospectus Defense
Coordinate Committee Schedules: Date and Time

 
Prepare for the Proposal Defense

 
Present the Proposal Defense

 
Facilities

 
Deal With Other Defense Issues

 
Committee Requirements

 
Postproposal Steps

 
Case Study III: Developing the Research Proposal

 
The Research Proposal

 
Points to Ponder

 
 
Part IV: The Dissertation
 
Chapter 14. The Communication Process and the Writing of the Dissertation
Communicate Periodically With the Chair

 
Ensure Access to the Research Site

 
Avoid Premature Data Collection

 
Develop a Detailed Planning Calendar

 
Change the Schedule as Needed

 
Prevent Problems With the Intervention

 
Use Computers Mindfully

 
Ensure a High Rate of Return on Surveys

 
Maintain Careful and Duplicate Records

 
 
Chapter 15. Academic Style
Recommended Style Guide

 
The Writing Process

 
The Academic Style

 
Writing Software

 
 
Chapter 16. The Dissertation Organization
How Are Dissertations Organized?

 
What Principles Govern the Organization of Individual Chapters?

 
How Can the Organization Be Made Clear to the Reader?

 
How Is the Dissertation Finally Packaged?

 
 
Chapter 17. The Introduction
Introduction to the Chapter

 
The Background of the Study

 
The Problem Statement

 
The Professional Significance of the Study

 
Overview of Methodology

 
Limitations and Delimitations

 
Definition of Terms

 
 
Chapter 18. Review of the Literature
Comprehensive Critique of the Literature

 
Reread All Sources

 
Develop the Final Outline

 
Levels of Headings

 
Write the Introductory Paragraph

 
First Section of the Review

 
The Remaining Sections, Including a Summary

 
 
Chapter 19. Methodology
Prepare to Write

 
Use an Objective Writing Style

 
Determine the Chapter Content

 
Outline the Chapter and Use Headings Appropriately

 
Describe the Study’s Context

 
Identify the Subjects or Participants

 
Identify the Data Collection Instruments

 
Explain the Research Design Procedures

 
Explain the Data Analysis/Analyses Procedure(s)

 
Write a Summary

 
 
Chapter 20. Data Analysis/Analyses
Prepare to Present the Results

 
Decide on the Contents and Format of the Chapter

 
Determine the Organization of the Chapter

 
Develop the Tables and Figures

 
Write the Introductory Paragraph

 
Write the First Section

 
Write the Remaining Sections, Using Appropriate Headings

 
Revise the Chapter and Submit for Review

 
 
Chapter 21. The Results Discussion
Review the Results Reported

 
Develop an Outline of the Final Chapter

 
Write the Introductory Paragraph

 
Restate the Problem and Review the Methodology

 
Summarize the Results

 
Discuss the Meaning of the Study

 
Case Study IV: Writing the Dissertation

 
The Dissertation

 
Points to Ponder

 
 
Part V: The Dissertation Defense
 
Chapter 22. Defense Committee Meeting
Planning

 
Secure Needed Resources

 
Edit the Dissertation

 
Check on Content and Order

 
Write the Abstract

 
Write the Title and Approval Pages

 
Write the Acknowledgments Page

 
Write the Table of Contents and Lists of Tables and Figures

 
Include the Chapters

 
Finalize the References

 
Finalize Any Appendices

 
Submit the Dissertation

 
Holding the Defense

 
After Your Presentation

 
After the Defense

 
Institutional Review Board Completion Requirements

 
 
Chapter 23. The Degree-Granting Institution’s Graduation Requirements
Handbooks: A Source of Information

 
Graduation Requirements

 
 
Chapter 24. The Publication of the Dissertation
Add to the Research Knowledge Base

 
Present a Scholarly Paper

 
Publish a Journal Article

 
Develop a Plan to Publish a Book

 
Case Study V: Defending the Dissertation

 
The Dissertation Defense Hearing

 
Points to Ponder

 
 
Part VI: Technology
 
Chapter 25. Technology and the Dissertation
University Research Librarians

 
Software

 
Software Capabilities

 
Creating Charts

 
Creating Figures and Tables

 
Collecting and Analyzing Data

 
Numbering Pages

 
Editing the Style

 
Editing the Content

 
Telecommunicating

 
Software Compatibility

 
Formatting

 
Packaging the Final Dissertation

 
 
References
 
Index

Dr. Joyner and Dr. Rouse have again put together an in-depth, comprehensive, and practical guide that is a valuable resource for graduate students. In addition to the excellent information provided in earlier editions, this edition also includes important information related to current and emerging trends in technology and valuable case studies focusing on the most common problems encountered in writing at the master’s and doctoral levels. If you are embarking on a thesis or dissertation, use this most valuable of resources to avoid the pitfalls inherent in the process.

James R. Machell, Dean
College of Education and Professional Studies, University of Central Oklahoma

Writing the Winning Dissertation is an essential guidebook for students writing a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation. I used the first edition to write an award-winning dissertation and now use the updated edition with the doctoral students I advise. Each chapter of this cogent and comprehensive book addresses crucial elements that lead to success. I highly recommend it to both students and advisors.

Susan Colby, Director of Faculty Professional Development, Appalachian State University; Boone, NC
Appalachian State University

In this book, Joyner, Rouse, and Glatthorn thoroughly introduce and explore writing a thesis or a dissertation – walking the reader through every path and pitfall imaginable.  It is a must-read for anyone starting one of these writing processes and a good read for the faculty working with them.

Sara Olin Zimmerman, Curriculum Specialist Program Director, Reich College of Education; Boone, NC
Reich College of Education

Excellent book and insightful for my students.

Mr Rohit Sagoo
Health & Social Care (Cambridge), Anglia Ruskin University
September 6, 2018

This book offers a thorough and detailed look at how to develop a research project. It is suited to those studying in US universities, as terminology and some of the focal points relate to this.

Dr Louise Campbell
School of Education & Social Work, Dundee University
August 30, 2018

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