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Advance Application of Practice-Based Research in Health

Advance Application of Practice-Based Research in Health

Advance Application of Practice-Based Research in Health

Week 6

Theories and Conceptual Frameworks

Now that you have developed your Doctoral Study Prospectus, the next step is to begin expanding it into the Prospectus, which, in turn, will serve as the plan for developing the Proposal. The theoretical base or conceptual framework, which is the focus of this week, is an important section of the Prospectus, grounding the study by informing research questions and helping to identify research design decisions.

This week, you will determine the theoretical and/or conceptual framework that you intend to use in your study. You will also resubmit your updated Doctoral Study Prospectus document.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

· Evaluate theoretical and conceptual frameworks related to Doctoral Study topics

· Evaluate Doctoral Study Prospectus for clarity.

Week 6 Announcements:


Writing Center Help Reminder

Posted on: Monday, July 6, 2020 10:39:56 AM EDT

You can find Cheryl’s academic writing discussion thread here. This link will take you to a thread in the Contact the Instructor area within our classroom, so you must be logged into Blackboard for the link to work. If you are logged in and the link does not work for you, try clearing your cookies and cache (see these online instructions for Firefox and Chrome browsers), or simply navigate manually to the Contact the Instructor area, where you will see the thread.

Make sure to participate so you can get answers to your questions about APA formatting, organization, scholarly voice, the writing process, plagiarism prevention, paraphrasing, and one-on-one paper reviews with writing instructors. Cheryl’s last day with us will be Saturday, July 11, so make sure to join the discussion soon!

Posted by: Heather Alonge

Posted to: DDHA-8246-1, Practice-Based Research.2020 Summer Qtr. 06/01-08/23-PT27

Week 6

Posted on: Monday, July 6, 2020 8:30:24 AM EDT

Dear Students,

Welcome to Week 6. We are more than halfway done with the quarter. As we move forward, I want you to know that it is important that you finish this course with a viable capstone topic and premise. I will be very detailed in my feedback to you and how I grade to ensure we meet this standard.

I hope that everyone is staying safe during this time. I understand many of you are working strenuous hours while finding a new normal with work, families and school. Please reach out to me at any time if you need anything.

I wanted to share this Walden Blog post with you about staying on track during COVID-19. There are some useful tips and resources. Stay safe. Stay well. Stay hopeful.

Staying on Track During COVID-19: We're Here to Help

Posted by: Dr. Heather Alonge

Posted to: DDHA-8246-1, Practice-Based Research.2020 Summer Qtr 06/01-08/23-PT27

Writing Center Help

Posted on: Thursday, July 2, 2020 2:02:39 PM EDT

Greetings All!

This week, Cheryl Read, a Writing Center Instructor, will be joining us via the Contact the Instructor area. She is here to discuss writing, answer your questions, and introduce you to Writing Center resources. Using the thread in the Contact the Instructor area, feel free to ask about any writing topics or resources, including questions about APA formatting, organization, scholarly voice, outlining and drafting, plagiarism and paraphrasing, and one-on-one paper reviews with Writing Instructors. Cheryl will only be with us this week, so be sure to participate in the discussion while you can.

Posted by: Heather Alonge

Posted to: DDHA-8246-1,Practice-Based Research.2020 Summer Qtr 06/01-08/23-PT27

Secondary Datasets

Posted on: Thursday, July 2, 2020 10:13:34 AM EDT

Dear All,

As you begin to work on your research prospectus, you should be identifying which datasets would be most appropriate for answering your research problem. The attached document includes a list of healthcare administration datasets. Thank you.

Dr. A

9.2 Datasets 6.18.20.docx

Posted by: Heather Alonge

Posted to: DDHA-8246-1, Practice-Based Research.2020 Summer Qtr 06/01-08/23-PT27

Plagiarism Prevention Resources

Posted on: Monday, June 29, 2020 9:40:34 AM EDT

Dear Students,

As you begin to work on your assignments, your similarity index for plagiarism detection is a vital component to your overall score and success in this course. I noted some higher similarity index scores on the Week 4 assignments due to not properly paraphrasing citations. Please review the following resources from the Writing Center and utilize a writing center staff is you need assistance. Thank you.

Learning Resources

Required Readings

Creswell, J. W., Creswell, J. D. (2018). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Chapter 3, “The Use of Theory” (pp.49-73).

Casanave, C. P., & Li, Y. (2015). Novices’ struggles with conceptual and theoretical framing in writing dissertations and papers for publication dagger. Publications, 3(2), 104–119.

Walden University. (n.d.j). Office of Student Research Administration: DHA Doctoral Study. Retrieved from Note: At this website, locate and review the Doctoral study Prospectus Rubric and Doctoral Study Prospectus Guide.

The Prospectus

The Doctor of Healthcare Administration (DHA) / Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) Doctoral

Study Prospectus Guide is a brief document that provides preliminary information about your

doctoral study research and is used in two ways:

• It serves as an agreed-upon plan for developing the proposal and is evaluated to ensure

doctoral-level work.

• Although your premise document will be used to assign your supervisory committee, the

prospectus may serve as a step to finalize the structure of your doctoral study

supervisory committee, who will work with you on completing the doctoral study.

Completing the Prospectus

The Doctoral Study Prospectus consists of several small sections, which are detailed in the

annotated outline. Your goal for the prospectus is to create a plan for developing your doctoral

study proposal. Therefore, you need to have more information for the prospectus than you did for

the Doctoral Study Premise, but you do not need to know all the specific details of the study that

you will ultimately conduct. For example, you may identify low birth weight as a covariate in a

quantitative study, but at this point you do not yet need to identify the instrument that you plan to

use to measure the covariate.

Also, because every doctoral study is unique and because this outline is general, you may be

asked to include additional information in your prospectus to help assure your supervisory

committee that you are headed in the right direction. For example, feasibility will be one

criterion for evaluating your prospectus, and if you are considering a unique sample group, your

committee may ask that you explore that aspect in more detail before moving forward.

The Doctoral Study Prospectus should follow Publication Manual of the American

Psychological Association (sixth edition) guidelines and be formatted as either a .doc, .docx, or

.rtf file. As you work on the document, you may also want to review the Litmus Test for a

Doctoral-Level Research Problem from the Doctoral Study Premise guide and materials

provided from your academic residency experience, as well as the quality indicators found in the

Doctoral Study Prospectus Rubric, which is included in this guide (see “Quality Indicators”).

One prospectus quality indicator that is not included as a separate section in the prospectus

document, but rather is holistically assessed throughout the prospectus, is research design

alignment. The rubric item reads: “Aligned? Do the various components of the research plan

align overall?” Alignment is critically important to the quality of research. Research design

alignment means that all pieces of the study design match and/or complement one another. For

example, the identified doctoral-level problem must drive the purpose of the study and the

research questions. The framework must support the research approach overall. There should be

common language throughout, with concepts and theories corresponding with the problem and

purpose—meaning that language should be repeated from earlier sections into later sections. As you write, be sure to connect the dots among each section of the prospectus, ensuring alignment throughout. The visual below represents this idea in a drawn V shape:

Social Problem Related to Your Discipline/Program/Specialization

Gaps in Practice Lead to Identification of Research Problem

Supporting Theory or Concepts

Research Questions



Research Study

Conceptualizing the research plan and various components of the design is

sometimes challenging. One way to assist with this, and to ensure research design alignment, is

to use a visual to help you see how the various parts of a research design should fit together and

therefore must align with one another. For example, as presented in the graphic below, the

Problem Statement, Purpose, and Framework in the prospectus must align with all other pieces

of the research design. This example has three research questions. If one research question does

not appear to fit with the study purpose, it does not belong in the study design. The method and

design make up the section in the prospectus called “Nature of the Study.” Each section must

coordinate with the others.

Problem _______RQI: Instrument, Source, Data Points

: Data Analysis

Purpose ———— RQI 2-: Instrument, Source, Data Points

: Data Analysis

Framework ————-RQI3: Instrument, Source, Data Points

: Data Analysis

As a self-check, you should ask yourself these questions about your research design:

1. Is there a logical progression from the research problem to the purpose of the study?

2. Does the identified framework ground the investigation in the stated problem?

3. Do the problem, purpose, and framework align with the RQ(s) and nature of the study?

4. Does each RQ address the problem and align with the purpose of the study?

5. Will the instrument, data source, and analysis address the RQ?

Submitting the Prospectus

Students work with their chair in a companion research forum course (PUBH/HLTH 8900 –

Research Forum) that supports prospectus development. Students work with their chair in the

PUBH/HLTH 8900 course to complete the prospectus before moving into the PUBH/HLTH 9100

Research Forum course.

Prospectus development is an iterative process, as you will receive feedback on working drafts

from your supervisory committee. When the prospectus is completed, please follow the submission

guidelines for your program. Generally, you should submit a final prospectus to your doctoral

study supervisory committee for review in PUBH/HLTH 8900 after completion of your research

sequence but before enrolling in the PUBH/HLTH 9100, and

• as required in your doctoral study course, if you are currently enrolled in this course;

• toward the end of your time in a companion course, following the guidance of your chair;


• prior to beginning your doctoral study proposal in PUBH/HLTH 9100, following the

guidance of your chair.

My Doctoral Research (MyDR)

If you have not done so already, you should familiarize yourself with the My Doctoral Research

(MyDR) system and other resources on the Center for Research Quality website. The MyDR

system was designed to assist you and your committee in navigating your doctoral research

journey, from the very beginning through the final approval. The various landing pages in MyDR

will track your progress and will serve as a central location for resources to support that progress.

The Task stream element of the MyDR system is used to establish a process flow tool in which you

exchange and store faculty evaluations of and feedback on your work as you progress along that


Students are entered into the MyDR system when both the chair and second member nominee are

approved by the academic program. At that point, you will be able to access MyDR from the home

page of your doctoral study completion course in Blackboard. When your supervisory committee

believes your Doctoral Study Prospectus is ready to finalize, it will be the first document that you

submit to MyDR. Your supervisory committee will evaluate your document (using the rubric that is

discussed herein), and, assuming they agree that it meets the quality indicators, your academic

program director or designee will give final approval of the prospectus. This may be an iterative

process, and more details of this process are located in the MyDR Student Process form. You will

begin working on your proposal upon approval from the program director or designee.

An Annotated Outline

The Prospectus document includes a title page (page 1) followed by pages containing the

required elements in the prospectus. Follow the format in the appropriate Prospectus template

(DHA or DrPH) on the Writing Center website.

Title Page

The recommended title length is 12 words, to include the topic, the variables and relationship

between them, and the critical keywords. Double-space the title if it’s over one line of type and

center it under the word “Prospectus.” Please note that your doctoral study title will likely

change as the project evolves.

Include your name, your program of study (and specialization if applicable), and Student ID

number—double-spaced and centered under the title.


Start with “Prospectus” and a colon, and then include the title as it appears on the title page.

Double-space if over one line of type and center it at the top of the page.

Problem Statement

Note: A social problem involves an issue that affects a specific population/discipline. It is the issue that students see “on the ground” so to speak. The social problem is often when prompts students to think about a topic of interest that derives dissertation topic.

Usually such a topic is one that students identify with, sometimes having personally experienced some aspect of the problem as it exists in the world. All too often, students want to solve a specific social, organizational, clinical, or practical problem rather than explore a research problem.

A research problem is a focused topic of concern, a condition to be improved upon, or troubling question that is supported in scholarly literature or theory that you study to understand in more detail, and that can lead to recommendations for resolutions. It is the research problem that derives the rest of the dissertation: the purpose, the research questions, and the methodology. It is the research problem that is identified in the problem statement of the prospectus.

Provide a one- to two-paragraph statement that is the result of a review of research findings and

current practice and that contains the following information:

1. A logical argument for the need to address an identified gap in practice as supported in

the research literature that has relevance to the discipline and area of practice. Keep in

mind that a gap in the research is not, in and of itself, a reason to conduct research. Make

sure to clarify the problem that caused you to look at that research area in the first place.

2. Preliminary evidence that provides justification that this problem is meaningful to the

discipline or professional field. Provide three to five key citations that highlight the

relevance and currency of the problem. These references need not all be from peer-reviewed journals but should be from reputable sources, such as national agency

databases or scholarly books and should ideally be from the past 5 years.

3. Assure that the problem is framed within and primarily focused on the discipline

(program of study).

Purpose of the Study

Provide a one- to two-paragraph statement that discusses the overall purpose or intention of the

study. In quantitative studies, state what needs be studied by describing two or more factors

(variables) and a conjectured relationship among them related to the identified gap or problem.

Note: All DHA and DrPH capstones must be quantitative and use secondary data.


Provide one or two paragraphs, informed by the topic in the problem statement, that describe the


1. How this study will contribute to filling the gap identified in the problem statement: What

contribution to the discipline or practice will this study make? This is an elaboration of

what the problem addresses.

2. How this research will support professional practice or allow practical application: Answer

the So what? question.

3. How the claim aligns with the problem statement to reflect the potential relevance of this

study to society: How might the potential findings lead to positive social change?


Provide (a) the keywords or phrases that you searched and the databases used; and (b) a

representative list of scholarship (or an annotated bibliography) and findings that support and

clarify the main assertions in the problem statement, highlighting their relationship to the topic

(e.g., “This variable was studied with a similar sample by Smith [2013] and Johnson [2014]” or

“Jones’s [2012] examination of industry leaders showed similar trends in the same key

segments”). Some of these resources may have already been mentioned above in the first two

sections of the prospectus. Provide 5 to 10 peer-reviewed articles, most of which should have

been published within the last 5 years and/or represent current information on the topic.


In one paragraph, describe the theoretical framework that demonstrates an understanding of the

theories and concepts relevant to your topic. Align the framework with the problem, purpose,

research questions, and background of your study. This framework is the basis for understanding,

designing, and analyzing ways to investigate your research problem (data collection and

analysis). Provide the original scholarly literature on the theory or concepts, even if it is more

than 5 years old. Please do not cite secondary sources.

Research Questions & Hypotheses

Research Question(s) and Hypotheses

List the question or a series of related questions that are informed by the study purpose, which

will lead to the development of what needs to be done in this study and how it will be


A research question informs the research design by providing a foundation for the generation of

hypotheses in quantitative studies. Include the null and research hypotheses for each research


Nature of the Study

Provide a concise paragraph that discusses the quantitative approach that will be used to address

the research question(s) and how this approach aligns with the problem statement and purpose.

Secondary Data Types and Sources of Information

Secondary data include public or existing data that are collected by others. Identify the data

source, how the data will be accessed, and the data points that will be used to address the

research questions. Provide a list of possible types and sources of information or data for this

study, such as employee surveys, historical documents from state records, de-identified medical

records, or statistics from a federal database. Possible secondary data sources, by program, are

available on the Center for Research Quality website.

Limitations, Challenges, and/or Barriers

Provide information on limitations, challenges, and/or barriers that may need to be addressed

when conducting this study. These may include access to data, data storage requirements, data

access fees, etc.


Include references formatted in the correct style (Publication Manual of the American

Psychological Association, sixth edition, modeled at the end of this guide) for all citations within

the Doctoral Study Prospectus.

Quality Indicators

Quality Indicators

Nine key indicators have been identified to assure the overall quality of the doctoral study

project at this point in its development. Supervisory committee members will use these indicators

to give ongoing feedback and to document their final approval of the Doctoral Study Prospectus.

Students should use these indicators to guide development of their prospectus.

A Doctoral Study Prospectus shows the potential of leading to a high-quality doctoral study only

if the answer to all of the following standards is “Met.”

1. Complete?

Does the prospectus contain all the required elements? Refer to the annotated outline to see

the required parts of the Doctoral Study Prospectus document.

2. Meaningful?

Has a meaningful problem or gap in practice as supported in the research literature been

identified? In other words, is addressing this problem the logical next step, given the previous

exploratory and confirmatory research (or lack thereof) on this topic? It is not acceptable to

simply replicate previous research for a doctoral degree.

3. Justified?

Is evidence presented that this problem is significant to the discipline and/or professional

field? The prospectus should provide relevant statistics and evidence, documentable

discrepancies, and other scholarly facts that point to the significance and urgency of the


4. Grounded?

Is the problem framed to enable the researcher to either build upon or counter the previously

published findings on the topic? For most fields, grounding involves articulating the problem

within the context of a theoretical base or conceptual framework. Although many

approaches can ground a study in the scientific literature, the essential requirement is that the

problem is framed such that the new findings will have implications for the previous


5. Original/Relevance to Area of Practice?

Does this project have potential to make an original contribution that has relevance to the

discipline and/or area of practice? The problem must be an authentic “puzzle” that needs

solving, not merely a topic that the researcher finds interesting. Addressing the problem

should result in an original contribution to the field or discipline.

6. Impact?

Does this project have the potential to affect positive social change? As described in the

Significance section (see annotated outline), the anticipated findings should have the

potential to support Walden University’s mission to promote positive social change.

7. Feasible?

Can a systematic method of inquiry be used to address the problem, and does the approach

have the potential to address the problem while considering potential risks and burdens

placed on research participants? The tentative methodology demonstrates that the researcher

has considered the options for inquiry and has selected an approach that has the potential to

address the problem while considering participant risks.

8. Aligned?

Do the various aspects of the prospectus align overall? The nature of the study should align

with the problem, research questions, and tentative approaches to inquiry.

9. Objective?

Is the topic approached in an objective manner? The framing of the problem should not

reveal bias or present a foregone conclusion. Even if the researcher has a strong opinion on

the expected findings, the researcher must maximize scholarly objectivity by framing the

problem in the context of a systematic inquiry that permits multiple possible conclusions.

Self-Check Item on Partner Site Masking

Walden capstones typically mask the identity of the partner organization. The methodological

and ethical reasons for this practice, as well as criteria for exceptions, are outlined in Guidance

on Masking Partner Organizations in Walden Capstones.

If you perceive that your partner organization’s identity would be impossible to mask or if there

is a strong rationale for naming the organization in your capstone, the program director must

review your request for an exception. If granted, that exception will need to be confirmed by the

Institutional Review Board (IRB) during the ethics review process. The IRB will also ensure that

your consent form(s) and/or site agreement(s) permit naming the organization.

Sample Prospectus

[Per Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association 1

formatting, include page numbers at the top right corner of each page.]


Differences in the Quality of Problem Statements Written Throughout the Capstone Process

Alpha B. Gamma

Doctor of Public Health


Doctor of Healthcare Administration

Walden University


Prospectus: Differences in the Quality of Problem Statements Written Throughout the Capstone


Problem Statement

Conducting a supervised, independent research project is a unique feature of completing

a doctoral degree (Lovitts, 2008; Luse, Mennecke, & Townsend, 2012). Contrary to the common

wisdom of a 50% all-but-doctoral study rate, only approximately 20% of doctoral students are

unable to complete the study after finishing their coursework (Lovitts, 2008; Wendler et al.,

2010). The challenge of the doctoral study is not a new phenomenon in higher education, but

what is new is the growing number of students who complete their academic programs online

(Allen & Seaman, 2007; Kumar, Johnson, & Hardemon, 2013). Although many students are

ultimately successful in defining the central argument for a doctoral capstone, less research has

been conducted on that process in a distributed environment.

In their book on doctoral education, Walker, Golde, Jones, Conklin Bueschel, and

Hutchings (2008) highlight the need to develop more “pedagogies of research” (p. 151) for

teaching graduate students to be scholars. Although a modest body of scholarship exists on

research training in traditional programs, emerging research suggests that the online environment

offers some unique challenges and opportunities for doctoral students (Baltes, Hoffman-Kipp,

Lynn, & Weltzer-Ward, 2010; Kumar et al., 2013; Lim, Dannels, & Watkins, 2008). Of the

many aspects of a research project, development of the problem statement is arguably a key step

because it provides the rationale for the entire doctoral study (Alvesson & Sandberg, 2013; Luse

et al., 2012). Hence, this study will fill a gap in the research by focusing specifically on the

development of problem statements by students in online doctoral programs.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to examine differences in the quality of problem statements

written by doctoral students in online programs during the various stages of their doctoral

studies. Secondary data that include objective ratings of problem statements by doctoral faculty

over the course of the capstone process will be examined for differences. This project is unique

because it addresses an underresearched area of higher education (Gardner & Barnes, 2014) with

a group of learners that has expanded over the past decade (Bell, 2011).


The results of this study will provide much-needed insights into the processes by which

increasing numbers of new scholars work through the beginning phase of their research. Insights

from this study should aid doctoral committees in helping students to succeed in their final

projects, thus supporting eventual degree attainment. Education has long been a force for social

change by addressing inequities in society. Because a broad range of students attends online

institutions, supporting their successful attainment of a terminal degree allows for increased

diversity among individuals in key academic and scholarly leadership positions.


Selected articles relating to doctoral education and the process of learning to be a

researcher are described here. The keywords searched were ABD, online doctoral program

completion, doctoral capstone completion, online research training, and online learning in the

databases Education Source, ERIC, and SAGE Journals, as well as in a Thoreau multidata base


1. Baltes et al. (2010) and Bieschke (2006) provided information on research self-efficacy,

which has been shown as a key predictor of the future research of doctoral students.

2. Gelso (2006); Holmes, Seay, and Wilson (2009); Hilliard (2013); and Kim and Karau

(2009) provided different views of strategies to support the development of scholarpractitioners during the capstone experience.

3. Ivankova and Stick (2007) and Kumar et al. (2013) offered models that align well with

the possible methodologies used in this study and that involve online students.

4. Lim et al. (2008) addressed the role of research courses in an online environment.

5. Lovitts (2008), Gardner and Barnes (2014), and Werner and Rogers (2013) gave different

views of the transition from student to researcher.

6. Ismail, Majid, and Ismail (2013); Spaulding and Rockinson-Szapkiw (2012); and Stubb,

Pyhältö, and Lonka (2014) focused on the student experience of learning to conduct



The theoretical framework for this study will be Perry’s (1970) theory of epistemological

development. Because this theory addresses ways of knowing in adults, Perry’s theoretical work

has been used extensively in all aspects of higher education, albeit more frequently with

undergraduates than doctoral students. The approach provides details on cognitive-structural

changes that emerge as a result of development and learning. Further, subsequent research and

application of Perry’s theory offer guidance on ways to facilitate academic development, thus

allowing for insight into the pedagogical challenge of the doctoral study (Gardner, 2009).

Research Question(s) and Hypotheses

RQ–Quantitative: Based on objective ratings by doctoral faculty, what are the

differences in the overall quality of problem statements as students progress through the

doctoral study process?

H01—Based on objective ratings by doctoral faculty, there are no statistically

significant differences in the overall quality of problem statements as students progress

through the doctoral study process.

H1—Based on objective ratings by doctoral faculty, there are statistically significant

differences in the overall quality of problem statements as students progress through the

doctoral study process.

Nature of the Study

The nature of this study will be quantitative research with a repeated-measure design

consistent with understanding how students approach the work of creating a successful doctoral

study problem statement, which is the primary focus of this doctoral study. To elucidate how a

viable research problem emerges, objective ratings of student work products will be examined

across time. This quantitative analysis should help pinpoint the amount of growth from the

beginning to the end of the project.

Secondary Data Types and Sources of Information

Secondary data will be accessed from an online doctoral program. The program collects

and rates doctoral problem statements written at four key points in a doctoral student’s career:

the premise, the prospectus, the proposal, and the doctoral study writing stage. The data will be

de-identified and contain the scores by stage of program for 300 online doctoral students.

Limitations, Challenges, and/or Barriers

Potential barriers to data access include the partner site agreement and possible fees for

data access.


Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2007). Online nation: Five years of growth in online learning.

Needham, MA: Sloan-C.

Alvesson, M., & Sandberg, J. (2013). Constructing research questions: Doing interesting

research. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.

Baltes, B., Hoffman-Kipp, P., Lynn, L., & Weltzer-Ward, L. (2010). Students’ research selfefficacy during online doctoral research courses. Contemporary Issues in Education

Research, 3(3), 51–57.

Bell, N. (2011). Graduate enrollment and degrees: 2000 to 2010. Washington, DC: Council of

Graduate Schools.

Bieschke, K. J. (2006). Research self-efficacy beliefs and research outcome expectations:

Implications for developing scientifically minded psychologists. Journal of Career

Assessment, 14(1), 77–91.

Gardner, S. K. (2009). The development of doctoral students: Phases of challenge and support:

ASHE Higher Education Report (Vol. 34, No. 6). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Gardner, S. K., & Barnes, B. J. (2014). Advising and mentoring doctoral students: A handbook.

San Bernardino, CA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing.

Gelso, C. J. (2006). On the making of a scientist–practitioner: A theory of research training in

professional psychology. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, S(1), 3–16.

Hilliard, A. T. (2013). Advising doctorate candidates and candidates’ views during the

dissertation process. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 10(1), 7–12.

Holmes, B. D., Seay, A. D., & Wilson, K. N. (2009). Re-envisioning the dissertation stage of

doctoral study: Traditional mistakes with non-traditional learners. Journal of College

Teaching & Learning, 6(8), 9–14.

Ismail, H. M., Majid, F. A., & Ismail, I. S. (2013). “It’s complicated” relationship: Research

students’ perspective on doctoral supervision. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences,

90, 165–170.

Ivankova, N. V., & Stick, S. L. (2007). Students’ persistence in a distributed doctoral program in

educational leadership in higher education: A mixed methods study. Research in Higher

Education, 48(1), 93–135.

Kim, K., & Karau, S. J. (2009). Working environment and the research productivity of doctoral

students in management. Journal of Education for Business, 85(2), 101–106.

Kumar, S., Johnson, M., & Hardemon, T. (2013). Dissertations at a distance: Students’

perceptions of online mentoring in a doctoral program. The Journal of Distance

Education, 27(1), 1–12.

Lim, J. H., Dannels, S. A., & Watkins, R. (2008). Qualitative investigation of doctoral students’

learning experiences in online research methods courses. Quarterly Review of Distance

Education, 9(3), 223–236.

Lovitts, B. (2008). The transition to independent research: Who makes it, who doesn’t, and why.

Journal of Higher Education, 79(3), 296–325.

Luse, A., Mennecke, B., & Townsend, A. (2012). Selecting a research topic: A framework for

doctoral students. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 7, 143–152.

Perry, W. G., Jr. (1970). Forms of intellectual and ethical development in the college years: A

scheme. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

Spaulding, L. S., & Rockinson-Szapkiw, A. J. (2012). Hearing their voices: Factors doctoral

candidates attribute to their persistence. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 7,


Stubb, J., Pyhältö, K., & Lonka, K. (2014). Conceptions of research: The doctoral student

experience in three domains. Studies in Higher Education, 39(2), 251–264.

Walker, G. E., Golde, C. M., Jones, L., Conklin Bueschel, A., & Hutchings, P. (2008). The

formation of scholars: Rethinking doctoral education for the twenty-first century. San

Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Wendler, C., Bridgeman, B., Cline, F., Millett, C., Rock, J., Bell, N., & McAllister, P. (2010).

The path forward: The future of graduate education in the United States. Princeton, NJ:

Educational Testing Service.

Werner, T. P., & Rogers, K. S. (2013). Scholar-craftsmanship question-type, epistemology,

culture of inquiry, and personality-type in dissertation research design. Adult Learning,

24(4), 159–166.

Ten Tips of Writing a Quality Prospectus

Ten Tips for Writing a Quality


Prospectuses tend to be as unique as the students writing them, so specific strategies are hard to

offer. Based on a recent institutional analysis of prospectuses, the following general tips are

provided to support successful approval. Students should ask themselves the following questions:

1. Is it complete?

One of the most common reasons that a prospectus is sent back is one of the simplest to

fix: Some pieces are missing. You should ask yourself, “Did I effectively respond to every

item on the annotated outline?”

2. Is it well written?

Your prospectus is the first time that your scholarly writing style is on full display for

your committee. The prospectus needs to be a preview of what they can expect when they

agree to work with you. Certainly, if your writing is unclear, your supervisory committee

will have a difficult time ascertaining whether you have met the quality indicators. If you

need added support with your writing, now is the time to find it. The Walden Writing

Center offers webinars and multimedia resources to help students improve their academic

writing, and the Academic Skills Center offers courses to help students improve their

writing skills. If you need refreshers and support with key research concepts, the Center

for Research Quality site has additional resources.

3. Are the parts and sections aligned?

Of all the quality indicators, alignment tends to be one of the more challenging because it

transcends the content in the prospectus. Some examples of misalignment include

reviewing research on children when the study is concerned with adults, the intended

sample group does not seem appropriate to provide information to answer the research

question, and the study is labeled as qualitative even though the intention is to draw

inferences from a statistical test of group differences. Importantly, all the parts—not just

some—need to align.

4. Is the topic relevant to my discipline and program of study?

Doctoral students are encouraged to explore scholarship from a variety of disciplines as

they formulate their questions. When choosing their actual research topic, however, they

need to be especially careful to not go beyond their own disciplinary program of study


5. Did I answer the “So what?” question?

Too often what is obvious to the student is not always captured in what is written in the

prospectus. Ironically, one area that seems to get neglected is the social change statement

because the writer assumes that the reader understands the full impact of the situation and

how this research will have potential for a positive impact. Make sure you are clear on why so many people, including your committee and your participants, need to invest their

time in this project.

6. Is the prospectus presented in an objective manner?

Students are encouraged to develop a deep understanding of the problem and the people

affected by it. When coupled with experiences gained through one’s work as a

practitioner, however, it is tempting to lose sight of researcher objectivity. You should

not offer solutions before the study has been completed (“I know what needs to happen

here”) or suggest an answer before you have started the study (“I want to prove this

point”). Research has a way of humbling us and showing us the error in jumping to


7. Did I do my “homework”?

Although the prospectus sets the stage for a more in-depth examination of a research

topic, students are still expected to conduct a preliminary literature review. Be careful not

to equate “Here’s a gap in the research” with “I haven’t looked at the research.” Students

are sometimes shocked at how much research has already been done on a topic after they

start digging into it, even if more research is eventually needed.

8. Have I identified a research question?

A common mistake that new researchers make is to confuse the broader social problem

with the research question that will be the focus of the doctoral study, because the two are

related. Although much is often known about the scope and nature of the social problem

(e.g., incident rates, outcomes), less information is available on how to address the social

problem; otherwise, it would not be a problem. What is often lacking in the situation is

some piece of information or understanding that can be used to address the social

problem. That question or gap is what your research will answer.

9. Is my topic too broad?

Most doctoral students have overly ambitious research goals at the beginning, and we

rarely have to ask someone to “do more.” Usually, the struggle is to identify a focused,

doable question that fits within the expectations of a doctoral study. Exploring the

research literature is one way to see how other researchers have shaped their questions.

Keep in mind that a tightly conceived, well-executed study of one robust research

question is better than a doctoral study that tries to answer a bunch of tangentially related

questions with a variety of methods.

10. Have you considered the feasibility of the study?

The prospectus is a plan to develop the proposal, and the proposal is where many key

research decisions are finalized. Still, it is never too early to start thinking about

feasibility, which is why it is one of the quality indicators. Like all the indicators,

feasibility is a quality that you will revisit as the project evolves. At the prospectus stage,

you need to show your supervisory committee that you are considering your choices in

light of previous scholarship and what you have learned about the research process in

your courses.

Sample Prospectus in the HAT

Sample Prospectus in the HAT

The Historical Alignment Tool (HAT) is a tool that is introduced in Residency 2 to help students

see the alignment in their prospectus and to track the changes they have made along the way. What

follows is a HAT that might have been developed for the Sample Prospectus that appears in this


Problem Statement

There is a lack of information on how online doctoral students develop their research problem

and whether the quality of the problem statement varies over time.


The purpose of this study is to examine differences in the quality of problem statements written

by doctoral students in online programs during the various stages of their doctoral studies.

Potential Significance

Results may help ensure the success of online doctoral students.

Research Questions

RQ–Quantitative: Based on objective ratings by doctoral faculty, what are the differences in the

overall quality of problem statements as students’ progress through the doctoral study process?

H01—Based on objective ratings by doctoral faculty, there are no statistically significant

differences in the overall quality of problem statements as students’ progress through the

doctoral study process.

H1—Based on objective ratings by doctoral faculty, there are statistically significant

differences in the overall quality of problem statements as students’ progress through the

doctoral study process.

Theories or Conceptual Frameworks

Perry’s theory of epistemological development

Method on Inquiry


Data Collection

Ratings by faculty members

Data Analysis Method

To be determined

Implications for Positive Social Change

Online education has expanded the reach of higher education to a more diverse group of

learners, many of whom serve in key leadership roles. These results may support their success

and eventual advancement.

Walden University. (n.d.m). Welcome to the center for Research Quality. Retrieved from

Discussion Part (2 ½ pages)

Theoretical and Conceptual Frameworks

1. Last week, you spent time searching for and reviewing research articles related to your topic. Now, you are asked to spend time thinking about the theoretical or conceptual framework for your study. You may already have an idea of specific theories or concepts that relate to your topic. If so, you should begin thinking about what pieces, or aspects of the theories or concepts, relate the most to your topic and provide the basis for your study. If not, you should spend some time reviewing research articles that include one or more of the same variables you are using and identify the theoretical or conceptual frameworks those authors used. Doing so will give you an idea of how specific theories or concepts may be used as the basis for your study.

2. Review the Doctoral Study Prospectus Guide and pay particular attention to Quality Indicator 4: Is the problem framed to enable the researcher to either build on or counter the previously published findings on the topic? Also, revisit the Doctoral Study Minimum Standards Rubric available at the “Office of Student Research Administration: DHA Doctoral Study Program” webpage, provided in this week’s resources. With this information in mind, as well as any additional research that will help inform your selection, determine the theoretical and/or conceptual framework that you intend to use. You are advised to give serious thought to this task. This theory or framework will be the lens through which you view the entire research project.

By Day 4

Post a brief description of your Doctoral Study topic. Explain at least one theory or conceptual framework and its relationship to your topic, including why you believe it would be the most appropriate framework to use. Support your response with citations from the research literature.

Support your Discussion with citations and specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list for all resources, including those in the resources for this course.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

By Day 6

Respond to at least one of your colleagues’ postings offering suggestions of other theoretical or conceptual frameworks that may be appropriate for his or her Doctoral Study topic.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

Submission and Grading Information

Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:

Week 6 Discussion Rubric

Post by Day 4 and Respond by Day 6

To participate in this Discussion: Week 6 Discussion

Assignment Part (3 pages)

Revised Doctoral Study Prospectus

Now that you have received feedback on your initial submission of your Doctoral Study Prospectus from your Instructor, it is time to refine your document to ensure it clearly communicates a general sense of the direction of your research. To complete this Assignment, ensure you have addressed and incorporated any feedback from your Instructor on your initial Doctoral Study Prospectus.

The Assignment (3 pages):

Incorporate any Instructor feedback you have received and, following the guidance found in the Doctoral Study Prospectus document, create a revised version of your Prospectus. Please pay attention to her feedback and comments. She is so far the good professor.

“Professor’s Feedback: Raw Total: 181 out of 200”

Feedback to Learner

Patricia, Thank you for your submission. You did not use the template provided to you for this week, thus making it hard to determine if you followed the required elements. I think your study topic is far better, but you did not build a problem statement using 3-5 current references, and your dependent variable, mental health, is not operational in nature. Please reference the course materials and announcements for your next submission of the prospectus.

By Day 7

Submit your Assignment.

Submission and Grading Information

To submit your completed Assignment for review and grading, do the following:

Please save your Assignment using the naming convention “WK6Assgn+last name+first initial.(extension)” as the name.

Click the Week 6 Assignment Rubric to review the Grading Criteria for the Assignment.

Click the Week 6 Assignment link. You will also be able to “View Rubric” for grading criteria from this area.

Next, from the Attach File area, click on the Browse My Computer button. Find the document you saved as “WK6Assgn+last name+first initial.(extension)” and click Open.

If applicable: From the Plagiarism Tools area, click the checkbox for I agree to submit my paper(s) to the Global Reference Database.

Click on the Submit button to complete your submission.

Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:

Week 6 Assignment Rubric

Check Your Assignment Draft for Authenticity

To check your Assignment draft for authenticity:

Submit your Week 6 Assignment draft and review the originality report.

Submit Your Assignment by Day 7

To submit your Assignment: Week 6 Assignment

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