You cannot understand what you cannot measure.
Measurement matters. At some point in the dissertation development process, everyone needs to confront the issue of measurement. We’ve found that many if not most students have a fuzzy sense at best of how to define and measure important characteristics of the concepts or phenomena they propose to study. While measurement may be less of an issue in qualitative studies, careful definition and operational measurement of variables and indicators is essential in all quantitative work.
Likert-type scales are commonly used in surveys and other quantitative work, but it is essential to understand how the underlying constructs are measured with Likert scales, and the assumptions and limitations that accompany use of such a measure.
See our updated discussion of this measurement approach here:
Measurement and Using Likert-type Scales
By Marilyn Simon and Jacquelyn White
Data collection using surveys and/or interviews is ubiquitous in doctoral research, but often these instruments are weakly validated, if at all. Pretests of instruments are helpful, but usually consist of informal review by one or two supposed “experts”, and lack rigor and credibility. Data is often reported in generalities and, and thematic analysis is frequently vague and insubstantial. Rarely are such instruments subjected to structured analysis and evaluation criteria.
Use of a validation rubric for surveys and interviews is an excellent strategy to overcome common weaknesses in surveys and interviews. This Survey/Interview Validation Rubric developed by Marilyn Simon and Jacquelyn White is a useful tool in assessing the validity and credibility of an instrument and the data that results.
Rubric for Expert Validation of Survey or Interview
by Jacquelyn White and Marilyn K. Simon, Ph.D
By Marilyn Simon and Jim Goes
Tense is an important element of dissertation writing. Some of the most common writing problems we see as dissertation mentors relate to tense. Early proposal drafts are frequently riddled with tense errors. Confusion over the proper tense to use in particular situations, and the differences in tense usage between a dissertation proposal and the final dissertation, are both prone to confusion and with good reason–because the rules change depending on the context.
Our updated recipe, below, addresses this problem and provides guidance on how to use tense correctly.
Using Tense Correctly in a Dissertation Study