Friday, October 26, 2012

Designing Your Dissertation Downtime (Part 2 of 3)

~by Amina Abdullah-Winstead, PhD
   Author/Founder (IPSA)

Before starting the next phase of your doctoral journey, make sure you share your good news with your friends, family, and of course your  PhD Sisters, celebrate passing the comprehensive exam, and reflect on your accomplishments thus far. Reflection is a useful skill that aids learners as they continue to move forward in their program. Depending on your school, your next steps may include writing a prospectus, completing a scientific merit review (SMR) form, an institutional review board (IRB) application, or a combination of all of the above. Most schools require completion and school approval of the prospectus or SMR prior to submitting the proposal, chapters one through three of the dissertation, for IRB.

Prospectus. A dissertation prospectus describes your area of research and provides an overview of the study. As always, you should follow your schools guidelines for specific items to cover in your prospectus but here are a few suggestions:

  • Introduction
  • Thesis statement
  • Literature review
  • Statement of primary sources
  • Methodology
  • Research plan
  • Chapter outline
  • Bibliography
 A prospectus can range from 7-10 pages or as vast as 25-30 pages not including the bibliography. The length will depend on the amount of information covered in the literature review and the methodology. While waiting on feedback on your prospectus you can gather articles that will assist with developing the literature review and recently published dissertations from your school with a similar topic. 

Scientific Merit Review (SMR). The SMR form assists in making sure your proposal meets specific criteria and has merit for the IRB evaluation. The reviewers examine the following elements for demonstration of scientific merit, the research problem, purpose, significance, research questions, research design, approach, methodology, and rational for the design. As scientific merit centers on the proposal for the SMR process, you should factor in this element throughout the entire study. If you are a member of the Sisterhood (, review the qualitative and quantitative samples of the SMR form. 

While waiting on SMR approval you can work on creating correspondence forms necessary for the study such as the consent form, opt in/opt out, permission slips, structured interview guide, flyer to recruit participants, email notification, consent form, participant checklist, or demographics form. You will also want to arrange the forms as appendices and save the appendices as PDF files into a folder labeled “IRB materials” for later inclusion with your IRB packet. Take a deep breath and Celebrate!


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Unlocking the Chains to Publishing

 Lock and chain Lock and chainLock and chain

~by Amina Abdullah-Winstead, PhD
   Author/Founder (IPSA)  

Traditional methods of publishing can take years to achieve especially when submitting information for peer review. Self-publishing is an up and coming alternative to traditional methods. This service allows your information to be available in many forums for immediate discussion and debate. Below is a guide to help you in your search for publishing your writing.

Review Your Writing
Assemble a team to review your work for feedback. Try gathering individuals with professional experience to review the material for clarity, poor phrasing, redundancies, and vocabulary choice.  Create codes that correspond with the item in question when marking needed corrections. For instance, NC can represent not clear and PP for poor phrasing, while RD could stand for redundant. For academic articles, ask members of the academic community who have expertise through either research or experience working in the area of your topic to review your writing. You can never have too many eyes checking your work and a fresh set of eyes may discover minor mistakes previously overlooked.  

Edit Your Writing
When submitting the final version for publication you want to make sure that your writing is free of errors. If you type your work in Microsoft Word, use the spelling and grammar checker tool. This function captures common mistakes made with spelling, punctuation and grammar, but not all of them. Proofread your work to capture additional grammatical and spelling errors, as well as punctuation, sentence structure, and colloquialisms. Similar to the review process, assemble two or three individuals to read your writing and highlight mistakes as a final step before submitting your work.

Make Final Corrections
You may question why this is necessary. Believe it or not, you may miss a correction after having several people review and edit your document. The best way to make sure this does not happen is to make a matrix listing the suggested corrections from each person and then check each one off as you make changes to your writing. Taking the time to perform this process ensures that you put forth clear and consistent work.

Publish Your Writing
If you are writing an e-book, think about allowing an independent publisher, such as Hawthorne Press, to assist you with publishing your work. An independent publisher can assist you with creating a book cover, establishing a price point, obtaining the required identification codes, registering your copyrights, and organizing your manuscript for the proper e-book or print format. Compared to traditional publishing, you can receive higher royalties for your work with independent publishing and self-publishing. Take not that independent publishers can place your e-book for sale with major distributors like Amazon or Barnes and Noble just as easily as major book publishers.

Promote Your Work
There are many ways to display and promote your work. You can create a website or blog, post messages on Facebook and Twitter, or use social media widgets and gadgets to drive people to your work. Whichever method you choose remember always to brand your work as a link for future endeavors.

These are suggestions that serve as a guide for getting your ideas from your mind to production. Whether you take this approach or use another way to publish your material, get started on preparing your first work. You can always decide on publishing later. However, if you start with an independent publisher from the beginning, they can steer you through the process to ensure that you have a publishable product.


Monday, June 4, 2012

If You Are Rich, Does Your Child Deserve A College $cholarship?


~by Carmen Jones, Ed.D. c.
 IPSA Contributor
As I was doing my usual homework routine and checking twitter, I came across a message stating that Sean “Puffy” Combs’ son Justin does not deserve a $54,000 scholarship to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) because of his father’s worth of over $450 million. The author indicated that he could easily afford to send his son to college with no problem. Immediately, I began to think that this does make absolute sense based on my understanding of scholarships that the requirements are usually for those in financial need. Looking back on my younger years, I also received full-ride scholarships because of the financial distress my parents faced. They were unable to afford two daughters going to college at the same time. However, I also realize that the reason why I was awarded the scholarship was that I earned it. 

According to National Public Radio (NPR), Justin Combs defended his self by taking his frustrations to twitter. He stated, “I put that work in!!!!...PERIOD." This is when I began to feel empathy for the junior Combs and realized that he put in the work just like I did when I was doing all that I could to attend the best college. UCLA awarding Justin a $54,000 scholarship is similar to the situation that happened with Master P’s son Romeo when he attended Southern California University (SCU) in 2008. I guess the question we need to ask ourselves is, “What are we learning from this?” 

Scholarships from colleges are to not only award those who are in financial need, but also those who exemplify the importance of working hard and deserving of a rewarded for their hard work. If scholarships were awarded to only those in financial need, we would have a problem, because now universities would have to seek out those in financial need. Those who work hard would not receive any kind of financial reward. 
The UCLA representative, Ricardo Vazquez advised the Los Angeles Times that the scholarship awarded to Justin Combs would not affect the scholarships awarded by the university in anyway. Students from UCLA also feel that the scholarship was well deserved to Justin Combs and “…If his athletic ability deserves it, then more power him”. This statement comes from the Undergraduate Students Association President, Emily Resnick. Like Resnick, students understand the politics of how universities work, and what better way to get the best and brightest for the athletic department then to seek out superstars.  
We live in a world where people want to be rewarded for their good deeds, hard work, and valuable insight to making the world a better place. Awards are around us everyday. They can be found in places such as American Idol, NBA Championships, Spelling Bees, and toddlers going through graduation ceremonies to Kindergarten. We cannot ridicule something that we put there in the first place.  But, oh wait, we do live in a country that loves to ridicule anyway! No matter how rich or poor you are, there should never be anything wrong with receiving a pat on the back for your efforts.


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