Dissertation

The Dissertation Process

After completing the comprehensive examination, you will enroll in IDT 8600 (POT1) and ICL 9000 (POT 2).  In these courses, you will work with an instructor on your dissertation proposal. From this point, you must maintain continuous enrollment (every semester) in a 3 credit hours ICL 9000 course under your dissertation chair until successfully defending your dissertation.

Dissertation Proposal

Step 1: Create a Committee for Supervision of the Dissertation

In the first few weeks of IDT 8600, you will form a Dissertation Advisory Committee of at least four graduate faculty members. The Dissertation Advisory Committee will direct the development of your proposal, dissertation, and defense. The chair must be a full graduate faculty member (click here for list) from your area of concentration within the major. At least one other committee member must be a faculty member in your major. The committees’ membership may be the same as the Program Advisory Committee with the addition of one member. You need to identify a committee and file a Doctoral Committee Appointment Form. The construction of the committee should be made under the guidance of the chair. You should not contact anyone to be part of the committee unless directed to do so by the chair.

Step 2: Develop and Defend a Dissertation Proposal

You  will develop a dissertation proposal (also called Doctoral Prospectus in the Graduate Catalog) outlining a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed method study. This may be an evaluation of an instructional intervention or original research project; it should address a problem of practice within IDT.

The manuscript  should follow the University of Memphis proposal formatting guidelines (see information provided in the Graduate School’s Thesis/Dissertation Preparation Guide) and the IDT DIP template. The proposal typically consists of chapters 1 (problem statement), 2 (review of literature), and 3 (methodology), and it is written following the most current APA style, except where noted by the template and guide.

You  and your instructor will work on the proposal throughout IDT 8600 and ICL 9000. At the specified point in these classes, you will submit their manuscript to your chair.

After submission of the written proposal to the dissertation chair (and perhaps a few revisions and submission to the entire committee), you defend the proposal orally by delivering a 10-15 minute presentation that clearly articulates the planned study.  A PowerPoint or other multimedia presentation should be prepared.

After the oral presentation, the committee asks questions and provides suggestion. The committee discusses the defense and makes one of the following decisions:

  • Approved with no further revisions
  • Approved with no minor revisions
  • Provisionally approved with major revisions
  • Not approved with recommendation to revise proposal and rewrite

The proposal defense is done either in person in the IDT studio (Ball Hall 320) or via Google hangout video conferencing.

Note: A maximum of two proposal manuscripts may be defended. Failure to successfully defend (i.e., Not approved ) could result in dismissal from the program or compliance with remedial procedures before progression in the dissertation process.

Step 3: Submit an Institutional Review Board (IRB) Application

Finally, after a successful proposal defense and upon the chair’s approval, the you complete and submit the IRB application. Visit the University of Memphis Research Compliance site to learn more about the IRB process.

Most IRB applications for educational research fall under the expedited or exempt categories, and thus, usually take approximately two to four weeks for receive approval. However, some IRB processes take longer. Some modifications to the application may be expected. Take care to thoroughly review the IRB website to avoid delays.

Execution of research CANNOT be begun prior to receiving IRB approval.

After IRB approval is obtained, you will work with your chair to complete the following forms and file them with the College of Education: 1) Proposal Approval Form, 2) a copy of the IRB approval letter, and 3) copy of your approved proposal.

**It is also important to note that once a proposal is approved, it is expected that the study will be completed within 1-2 semesters. If the dissertation is not finished within 3 years, the program Advisory committee will reevaluate the your status in the program.

Dissertation

Step 4: Conduct Research and Develop Your Manuscript

Next, you execute your research, including doing your intervention, data collection, and analysis. Under the guidance of the committee chair, you refine chapters 1-3 and write chapters 4 and 5. The chair may advise you seek guidance from committee members on specific aspects.

The manuscript  should follow the University of Memphis proposal formatting guidelines (see information provided in the Graduate School’s Thesis/Dissertation Preparation Guide) and the IDT DIP template. The final dissertation manuscript typically consists of chapters 1 (problem statement), 2 (review of literature),  3 (methodology), 4 (results), and 5 (discussion). It is written following the most current APA style, except where noted by the template and guide.

Please note that depending on your level of comfort, ability, and skill with chosen statistical or qualitative analysis, an outside consultant may be sought. However, it is recommended that you make sure you run your analysis and have the ability to explain it for the defense. A chair may also request that you seek the assistance of the Center for Writing and Communication (CWC), a university service that provides free writing and editing consultation, or a writing coach.

While executing research and developing the dissertation manuscript, you need to maintain continuous enrollment in ICL 9000. Through the execution of research and development of final dissertation manuscript, you are encouraged to have frequent contact (i.e., monthly updates on progress) with your dissertation chair and regular contact with the committee members as directed by your chair.  Having their ongoing feedback and support increases the probability of a successfully completed dissertation. Additionally, you should expect that the manuscript will go through multiple revisions before a defense date is established.

Step 5: Schedule the Defense

When the chair is satisfied with the manuscript, you will provide all of committee members with a copy of manuscript. Once committee members have had the opportunity to review the manuscript, they may provide feedback. Under the guidance of the chair, you work to incorporate and/or address all feedback.

You also begin discussing with the chair your readiness for the oral dissertation defense . You and your chair then work with the committee to schedule a time for the defense (i.e. usually the chair uses Doodle pool to identify potential times and schedule a defense).

Ultimately, the chair with recommendation from the committee members will decide when the manuscript is finished and ready for defense. This decision in based upon the quality and completeness of the manuscript as well as the completion of all content and format edits. No other deadlines or priorities will supersede this decision.

Once the defense date is scheduled (no later than 7 weeks prior to graduation), the following needs to occur:

  • Two week priorto the defense, a written final defense announcement must be completed and sent to your chair. At least one week prior to the defense, the Office of Graduate Programs  will electronically distributed it to the COE faculty.
  • Two weeks prior to the defense, submit your final manuscript to TurnItIn, the University’s plagiarism software, via the ICL 9000 Manuscript Submission Link in eCourseware. The chair may require additional submissions.
  • Two weeks prior to the defense, submit your finalized manuscript to your chair and committee members.
  • Prepares a 10-15-minute presentation of your research; a PowerPoint or other multimedia presentation is required. The PowerPoint presentation should be sent to the chair and the committee member at least one week prior to the defense.

Step 6:  Defend the Dissertation   

You defend the dissertation, similar to the proposal defense, by orally delivering a 10-15 minute presentation that clearly articulates the planned study.  A PowerPoint or other multimedia presentation should be prepared.

After the oral presentation, the committee asks questions and provides suggestion. The committee discusses the defense and makes one of the following decisions:

  • Approved with no further revisions
  • Approved with no minor revisions
  • Provisionally approved with major revisions
  • Not approved with recommendation to revise manuscript and rewrite

The defense is done either in person in the IDT studio (Ball Hall 320) or via Google hangout video conferencing.

Watch Kevin Smith’s defense via YouTube as an example.

After the defense,  the Dissertation Defense form  and rubric (Qualtric survey completed by chair) is completed. Your chair  is responsible for securing the appropriate signatures and delivering the form to the COE Office of Graduate Programs.

Note: A maximum of two dissertation manuscripts may be defended. Failure to successfully defend (i.e., Not approved with the recommendation to revise dissertation/ write a new dissertation) could result in dismissal from the program or compliance with remedial procedures before progression in the dissertation process.

Step 7:  Final Dissertation Editing and Paperwork

Under the guidance of your chair, complete all revisions identified as needed at the defense. Once approval from chair is received, Graduate School guidelines for submission need to be followed. Visit the Graduate School Dissertation site for full and up to date details. Below are the general guidelines For Your Information.

  • No later than four weeks before graduation, the Review Process for Defended
    and Corrected Copy Process for the Graduate School must be completed. This included submission the following items, which  must be emailed using your University of Memphis email account to gsgraduateanalyst@memphis.edu.

    • A Microsoft Word document to allow for track changes. The filename must be, e.g., anthony_green_thesis or annette_baker_dissertation. If your document is more than 150 MB, please submit document on a flash drive and insert in a letterhead-sized envelope with your name written on the outside.
    • A completed Final Committee Approval for Electronic Thesis or Dissertation Submission form signed by ALL committee members and A Thesis/Dissertation Defense form, if one has not been previously submitted by your department.
    • A copy of the IRB or IACUC approval form or waiver, if human or animal subjects were used for your research.
    • A Thesis/Dissertation checklist. This checklist is NOT to be used as the only style guide for formatting purposes. It is to be used to ensure that you have followed specific Graduate School requirements, in addition to what is required in your style manual, refereed journal or any additional departmental requirements. Both the student and major professor must check all applicable items and sign the form.

Again, visit the Graduate School Dissertation site for full and up to date details about paperwork and final submission processes.

Also, visit the Graduate School site for important information about graduation. For example, at the beginning of the semester in which you plan to graduate, you need to  electronically submit the Intent to Graduate form . The deadline is typically during the second week of the semester. Moreover, no later than nine weeks before graduation, you have to pay the graduation fee.

Resources for the Dissertation

Graduate School (GS) Resources. The University of Memphis Graduate School offers a variety of resources related to graduate student research and procedures for the dissertation process.

College of Education (COE) and Instructional Design and Technology (IDT) Resources. The University of Memphis College of Education offers a variety of resources related to procedures for the dissertation process