The first edition of this book grew out of the dearth of written information on the subject for either students or faculty. They told us they needed to know much more about doing or directing theses and dissertations than they found in college catalogues, graduate office instructions, or discussions with those who had experienced the process.
We decided to write about the “how to” aspects of thesis and dissertation study and to emphasize the intellectual effort required of both students and professors.This book is designed to inform and advise about the thesis and dissertation process, how to get through it and get the most out of it. The fact that half of the students who complete course requirements do not go on to complete the dissertation (in some schools as high as 70%) makes our objective more urgent.This fifth edition was prompted by suggestions from students, colleagues, and other users of earlier editions. In response to those helpful recommendations and our own observations, we believe that the book is substantially improved in the following ways:Attention is given to the honors thesis as an important and rapidly growing category of student research. • More attention is given to the use of up-to-date technology, (e.
g., computers and software) in the thesis and dissertation (T/D) process, from initial research to writing the final results. • New suggestions designed to help foreign students are made, with special emphasis on critical points, such as helpful advice for advisors of foreign students. • A new section on qualitative research has been added to the first chapter. • The intellectual property aspects of the thesis and dissertation are given major attention. • Socially sensitive research is explained and discussed. • Confidentiality and privacy of Internet communication are presented as critical issues. • Cautions about the accuracy and trustworthiness of research reported on the Internet are offered.
• A new section has been added concerning the appropriate use of animal subjects. • The historical background of advanced degrees is summarized in the new Introduction. • Reorganization, consolidation, and altered sequencing of topics, with an enlarged index enhances use of the book as a reference. • There are additional suggestions for students and faculty in the academic disciplines, as well as readers in the professional disciplines.
• The forms of dissertation now current in higher education are recognized and acknowledged to be different but equally appropriate ways to assemble data and focus on a problem, depending on the nature of the problem to be addressed. • A table of contents is offered for both the thesis and the dissertation, as models for student researchers. • A checklist for theses and dissertations is included to help student researchers in critiquing and revising their own first drafts, as well as the work of others. • More than twenty operational models have been presented for dealing with specific problems in the thesis and dissertation process, from topic selection through evaluating the finished product. • To the best of our knowledge, the bibliography is the most comprehensive one in print on the thesis and the dissertation.Perhaps the most unusual quality of this book is that it addresses both students and faculty members.
Certainly it is aimed primarily at students. Yet we found it necessary to write both to the student and to the thesis or dissertation committee members in order to convey certain concepts like colleagueship and consultation. So one should not be surprised that the student is advised about interactions with committee members at the same time that suggestions are given that committee members might apply in their dealings with students. We hope that our treatment of the subject encourages discussion among those involved in the enterprise.One of the surprising weaknesses in the thesis or dissertation process is that there is relatively little scholarly literature and a remarkably small number of empirical investigations about it. This is true not only for the professions but also for the arts and sciences and all aspects of the honors thesis.Comparative and descriptive studies of thesis and dissertation topics do exist. However, the theoretical articles and the data-based studies one might expect to find about the principles and processes of such an important part of academia are few.
That is why we report little hard evidence on most of the issues in thesis and dissertation preparation. In fact, we found it necessary to conduct our own investigations to help us arrive at the viewpoints we present in the various chapters.To broaden the database more than 100 faculty members were interviewed, each of whom had directed more than five dissertations. The insights they shared during structured and informal interviews averaging considerably more than one hour each afforded us an unparalleled opportunity for learning.
The findings from those interviews, supplemented by publications, constituted the raw material from which the various chapters were constructed.We are grateful to C. Baker, R. M. Bean, D.
B. Cameron, R. Dekker, J. T. Gibson, A. K. Golin, T.
Hsu, R. D. Hummel, A. Kovacs, L. Pingle, M. C. Reynolds, M. Spring, G.
A. Stewart, M. Wang, and T. Zullo for reading and critiquing the book, for using early drafts of the book in seminars, and for employing it with individual students in graduate research direction and guidance. We appreciate their wise and acute observations on how to improve it.
For assistance in building a relevant bibliography we owe thanks to many professors, graduate students, and bibliographers from the University of Pittsburgh and other centers of higher education in the United States and abroad.Special appreciation is acknowledged to Russell Dekker and Allen Kent for helpful counsel and support throughout.Whatever merit the book has is owed in good part to the thoughtful help we have had from all who aided and advised us along the way.We are naturally pleased that the response to our work has been both substantial and warm.
We hope that the fifth edition will prove even more useful than the previous editions to students and faculty.