• Describe specific aspects of the research problem that are addressed in the study and why the specific focus was chosen.
• Define the boundaries of the study by identifying populations included and excluded and theories/conceptual frameworks most related to the area of study that were not investigated.
• Address potential transferability.
• Describe limitations of the study related to design and / or methodological weaknesses (including issues related to limitations of transferability and dependability).
• Describe any biases that could influence study outcomes and how they are addressed.
• Describe reasonable measures to address limitations.
• Identify potential contributions of the study that advance knowledge in the discipline. This is an elaboration of what the problem addresses.
• Identify potential contributions of the study that advance practice and/or policy (as applicable).
• Describe potential implications for positive social change that are consistent with and bounded by the scope of the study.
• Summarize main points of the chapter.
• Provide transition to chapter 2.
(Approximately 25 pages)
Introduction (No Header)
• Restate the problem and the purpose.
• Provide a concise synopsis of the current literature that establishes the relevance of the problem.
• Preview major sections of the chapter.
Literature Search Strategy
• List accessed library databases and search engines used.
• List key search terms and combinations of search terms (with more detailed search terms located in an appendix if appropriate).
• Describe the iterative search process by explaining what terms were used in what database to identify germane scholarship.
• In cases where there is little current research, and few(if any) dissertations and/or conference proceedings, describe how this was handled.
• Identify and define the concept/phenomenon.
• Synthesize primary writings by key theorists, philosophers, and / or seminal researchers related to the concept or phenomenon.
• Provide key statements and definitions inherent in the framework.
• Describe how the concept or phenomenon has been applied and articulated in previous research and how the current study benefits from this framework.
Literature Review Related to Key Variables and/or Concepts
• Provide an exhaustive review of the current literature that includes the following information:
• Describe studies related to the constructs of interest and chosen methodology and methods that are consistent with the scope of the study.
• Describe ways researchers in the discipline have approached the problem and the strengths and weakness inherent in their approaches.
• Justify from the literature the rationale for selection of the variables or concepts.
• Review and synthesize studies related to the key concepts and/or phenomena under investigation to produce a description of what is known about them, what is controversial, and what remains to be studied.
• Review and synthesize studies related to the research questions and why the approach selected is meaningful.
Summary and Conclusions
• Concisely summarize major themes in the literature.
• Summarize what is known as well as what is not known in the discipline related to the topic of study.
• Describe how the present study fills at least one of the gaps in the literature and will extend knowledge in the discipline.
• Provide transitional material to connect the gap in the literature to the methods described in chapter 3.
(Approximately 10 pages)
Introduction (no header)
• Restate study purpose as described in chapter 1.
• Preview major sections of the chapter.
Research Design and Rationale
• Restate research questions exactly as described in chapter 1.
• State and define central concept(s) / phenomenon (a) of the study.
• Identify the research tradition.
• Provide rationale for the chosen tradition.
Role of the Researcher
• Define and explain your role as observer, participant, or observer-participant.
• Reveal any personal and professional relationships researcher may have with participants, with
• participants, with emphasis on supervisory or instructor relationships involving power over the participants.
(needs to be described in sufficient depth so that other researchers can replicate the study)
• Participant Selection Logic
• Identify the population (if appropriate).
• Identify and justify the sampling strategy.
• State the criterion/a on which participant selection is based.
• Establish how participants are known to meet the criterion/a.
• State number of participants / cases and the rationale for that number.
• Explain specific procedures for how participants will be identified, contacted, and recruited.
• Describe the relationship between saturation and sample size.
• Identify each data collection instrument and source (observation sheet, interview protocol, focus group protocol, video-tape, audio-tape, artifacts, archived data, and other kinds of data collection instruments).
• Identify source for each data collection instrument (published or researcher produced).
• If historical or legal documents are used as a source of data, demonstrate the reputability of the sources and justify why they represent the best source of data. Establish sufficiency of data collection instruments to answer research questions.
For published data collection instruments
• Who developed the instrument and what is the date of publication?
• Where and with which participant group has it been used previously?
• How appropriate is it for current study (that is, context and cultural specificity of protocols/instrumentation) and whether modifications will be or were needed?
• Describe how content validity will be or was established.
• Address any context- and culture-specific issues specific to the population while developing the instrument.
For researcher-developed instruments
• Basis for instrument development (Literature sources, other bases (such as pilot study).
• Describe how content validity will be / was established.
• Establish sufficiency of data collection instruments to answer the research questions
Procedures For Pilot Studies (as appropriate
• Include all procedures for recruitment, participation, and data collection associated with the pilot study and the main study. Describe the relationship of the pilot study to the main study (e.g., what is the purpose of the pilot study?)
• Include the IRB approval number (completed dissertation).
Procedures For Recruitment, Participation, and Data Collection
(for students collecting their own data)
• For each data collection instrument and research question, provide details of data collection
o From where data will be collected?
o Who will collect the data?
o Frequency of data collection events.
o Duration of data collection events.
o How data will be recorded?
• Follow-up plan if recruitment results in too few participants
• Explain how participants exit the study (for example, debriefing procedures
• Describe any follow-up procedures (such as requirements to return for follow-up interviews).
Data Analysis Plan
• For each type of data collected identify
o Connection of data to a specific research question.
o Type of and procedure for coding.
o Any software used for analysis.
• Manner of treatment of discrepant cases
• Credibility (internal validity): Describe appropriate strategies to establish credibility, such as triangulation, prolonged contact, member checks, saturation, reflexivity, and peer review
• Transferability (external validity): Describe appropriate strategies to establish transferability, such as thick description and variation in participant selection
• Dependability (the qualitative counterpart to reliability): Describe appropriate strategies to establish dependability, such as audit trails and triangulation.
• Confirmability (the qualitative counterpart to objectivity): Describe appropriate strategies to establish confirmability, such as reflexivity.
• Agreements to gain access to participants or data (include actual documents in the IRB application).
• Describe the treatment of human participants including the following (include actual documents in the Institutional Review Board (IRB) application):
• Institutional permissions, including IRB approvals that are needed (proposal) or were obtained (for the completed dissertation, include relevant IRB approval numbers).
• Ethical concerns related to recruitment materials and processes and a plan to address them.
• Ethical concerns related to data collection/intervention activities (these could include participants refusing participation or early withdrawal from the study and response to any predicable adverse events) and
• a plan to address them.
• Describe treatment of data (including archival data), including issues of:
• Whether data are anonymous or confidential and any concerns related to each.
• Protections for confidential data (data storage procedures, data dissemination, who will have access to the data, and when data will be destroyed).
• Other ethical issues as applicable (these issues could include doing a study within one’s own work environment; conflict of interest or power differentials; and justification for use of incentives).
• Summary of main points of the chapter.
• Transition to chapter 4.