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SOHP Essentials

Things You Can Do and When You Should Start Doing Them

A successful, timely completion of the doctoral project or dissertation in practice requires you to multitask. Never sit back and wait for your committee’s feedback on a submission. You should always be looking ahead to consider what you might work on next. Be proactive and you will be successful! Whenever possible, we encourage students to work ahead because there is a lot to accomplish in each course sequence. The suggestions listed below are NOT intended to be done in order, but serve as a guide of things you might think about or work on.

DIS 9911 DIS 9912 DIS 9913 DIS 9914
Section 1 is the course goal so should be your main focus. Section 2 and approved doctoral proposal (DP) is the course goal so should be your main focus.  A completed IRB application and a Study Closure Form are the course goals. 

Section 3, approved doctoral manuscript (DM), and Professional Presentation (per school-specific requirements).

Gather more current sources for your literature review and start writing it.

Tip: Review annotated bibliographies that you have completed in your content courses, with a critical eye toward studies that might be relevant to explaining the need to investigate your doctoral project or dissertation in practice.

Check for new sources to strengthen your literature review.

Looking Ahead: Review your draft to ensure that you have synthesized the literature.

Tip: Rather than summarizing one study after the next (like an annotated bibliography), discuss the literature around themes, creating a dialogue about a topic between multiple researchers and their findings. Strive to construct sentences and paragraphs that reflect multiple sources in one reference.

Check for new sources to strengthen your literature review.

Tip: Use the reference sections from articles you have gathered to find more relevant articles.

To develop Section 3, review peer reviewed research articles to locate examples of how to report results generated using the research design used in your project.

Tip: Note the things that others have done which help you see the patterns in the data. Map out how you might present your data.

Remember that tables, figures, and graphs explain the pertinent information you wish to convey.

Check to make sure you can get permissions for your research sites. See if they require their own IRB application.

Tip: Although you cannot collect data until you receive IRB approval, do not wait until you have IRB approval to start making connections.

Get site permissions/IRB approval for your research sites.

Tip: Develop an alternative plan for data collection. You need to expect the unexpected. Create a list of possibilities so that you are ready to roll to the next one if the need arises.

If you have not yet submitted the IRB application, do as soon as possible.

Read through Sections 1-2 and do any additional proofing/revisions.

Plan your Professional Presentation or Defense (per school-specific requirements).

Review the NU IRB process and how to use the IRB Manager.

Tip: Access resources from the IRB resource center to help you understand the process, restrictions, and templates for communicating with potential sites.

Start working on your NU IRB application.

Looking Ahead: If you have not created your IRB Manager account, you should do that now and begin working on your NU IRB application.

Identify the required supplemental materials you will need to submit to the IRB.

Review your data collection plan and collect all data once the IRB application is approved. Explore peer-reviewed journals to which you might want to submit a manuscript based on your research. 

Check that your CITI training will not expire 180 days from the date your IRB application is approved.

Tip: CITI certificates are valid for three years. Not having a valid CITI certificate can hold up your IRB processing.

Develop your data collection materials.

Tip: Start looking for instrumentation. You will need to have some type of tool to help you collect data. For quantitative studies, this could be a survey, questionnaire, or evaluation tool. For a qualitative study, you could have an interview protocol, observation tool, or research journal.

Looking Ahead: Begin outlining the steps you will take to collect data.

Tip: Your process should be explained with such clarity that other researchers could replicate your doctoral project or dissertation in practice.

Looking Ahead: Familiarize yourself with software you might use for the data analysis. 

Read through Sections 1-2 and do any additional proofing/revisions.

Change all tenses to past tense where appropriate in Section 1 and 2 for the DM.

Looking Ahead: Continue exploring the literature to stay current in your areas of interest.
Review the Applied Doctoral Record and how to use it. --- --- ---
Review similar dissertations through ProQuest. Review other dissertations like your planned research. Review other doctoral projects or dissertations-in-practice like your planned research. Continue exploring the literature to stay current in your areas of interest.
Other Considerations
  • Title – Continue to play with your title. It can take some doing to get the right title.
  • Alignment - Alignment is one of the most critical components. The Applied Doctoral Center has tools and resources that can help you identify alignment issues and track the overarching alignment of your research proposal. As you work on all of the sections, use these tools and resources to keep you on track for alignment.
  • APA Tutorials – If you struggle with APA formatting, take some time to find some APA tutorials and get the practice you might need. Not knowing APA and having to always make edits as a result can slow down your process.
  • Reference Check – Periodically, you will want to check that all your references in your paper are in your reference area. You should be using annotation software to help you track and organize your references. You can use free tools like RefWorks found in the NU Library, or the Research tool in APA Central, found in the Academic Success Center.
  • Table of Contents - One area with which people often struggle is preparing the table of contents. Please review information on how to do so in Microsoft Word. You also will want to review the tips in your school specific template regarding setting up your doctoral project or dissertations in practice, and then plug in your own information in the appropriate sections of the template.