Without seeing your whole proposal for your dissertation, I can only offer general suggestions.
1 It is possible that the Dean has a point. The difference between a questionaire and a survey, is really being able to draw valid and valuable conclusions from the data. It might well be that you need to add more components to obtain info that is not just numbers, but can help you make important connections using the data.
Do not allow your preference for your committee chairperson to blind you to this possibility.
2 It is equally possible that the Dean is the type of person that needs to feel that she must have input into everything that goes on in the department and she is making suggestions just to see that her recommendations are implemented. (a personality/ego thing) If this is the case, you are in a no-win situation if you oppose these changes. You must have a dissertation that pleases all members of the committee, and making an enemy of the Dean will not be useful to you in your future career.
3 It may also be the case that the issue has nothing to do with you, and is rather a conflict between these two academics. I think your committee chairperson's reactions to these suggestions might indicate this to be so. He could also have been geninely concerned about the impact on you if he were to continue to act as committee chair, and was trying to spare you more problems.
I think that it might have been wise for you to accept his resignation; since you did not, you need to try to somehow accomodate (and get your committee chair to agree to this) the dean. You may be in an untenable position. Your dissertation may not end up being what you envisioned. However, in the long run, its the Phd after your name that will be important. There will be plenty of time for you to make original contributions in your field once you are established in it. I'm afraid you just have to hold your nose and go along with the Dean's suggestions, if it is at all possible.
Yes, I see that you do need to get numbers, but can you also incorporate other variables as your Dean suggests? If the Dean ran off your first chairperson and now is trying to do the same with your second one, the only solution may be to ask your Dean to be your chairperson and then follow her suggestions to the letter. It could be that it is you she has a problem with, and you really need to resolve that conflict for your own good.
As far as your university goes, I do understand your position. Perhaps you chose it, because some of the faculty had highly respected names in your field, and now you are concerned because it is either follow them, or follow the Dean. (who may have no name to speak of) I was in a similar position; my university was able to lure some good people by dangling lots of money in front of them- then they lost their phd accreditation for a few years. For whatever reason got you to go there, this is the school you chose and you have to accept the standards set by their officials to get through it.
If you can, meet with the Dean and at least discuss your dissertation calmly and try to ascertain what you need to do to satisfy her.
Another expert on site wishes to address your question, but cannot because of site restrictions. Here is her response verbatim:
It is understandable that you are quite frustrated. I have been a university professor and also done a dissertation, so I can give you some perspective on these things.
Of course it causes anxiety that you lost one chairman, and have been fearful of losing another one.
Choosing a topic is one of the bigger challenges in doing a dissertation, and getting your research methodology right is a huge one as well. It is not unusual to have several go rounds and round to get that the way it needs to be.
Let me see if I understand your situation. You are working on designing your research methodology in an on-line program, the Dean has asked you to amplify the questions and the chairman is frustrated by this. You are wanting to resolve the situation and get on to the next step.
I do not think that the Dean's request is unreasonable at all. Her suggestions are sound, and it sounds like she is trying to help you do a quality job. I agree with viki that you must respect her and the process even if it seems picky and unreasonable. Indeed, not everyone understands research and learning good research methods is a part of the game here.
Doing this online, words on a screen can seem harsher and more pointed than they really are if you had a voice tone. How often do you do this on the phone or in person?
Anxiety is normal in such a stressful situation. Be sure and take a deep breath, and practice good stress management skills. The fact that you are in Iraq and doing other things besides a dissertation, it's normal to feel that it's just one more demand and to be upset from time to time.
That committee members want different things is quite normal. Getting through this, and their politics, is a long-time problem and better seen as an initiation rite of passage.
Here's what I suggest you do to resolve this and get past it.
1. Write a group email to the committee asking them each to email you what they think is needed to get to the next step and to get finished.
2. Take all their responses seriously.
3. Come up with a viable strategy to meet each person's needs, and run it by your chairman for his feedback and counsel.
4. Either yourself or your chairman, after you've settled on a strategy, propose a conference telephone call with all the parties involved.
5. The chairman can say during the conference call that he's behind your proposed strategy, and ask the others to agree to it.
This - agreeing to a research methodology -- will involve several go rounds to get it right. Please be assured that this is normal, and the frustrations are a part of the process.
Doing it online while you are doing other things and in Iraq add other stress factors. You are to be commended for your commitment both to your education and to your country.
I hope that my Assist to Viki will help you resolve this situation and get a better perspective on what is going on. There may also be interpersonal things going on between the faculty members, but that's their problem and not yours.
Come up with a strategy to resolve this situation such as I've suggested. It should be your chairman's responsibility to do this for you, but you may have to take the bull by the horns and do it yourself, in some fashion such as I've described.
Good luck and good wishes to you. Take care.
Sherrie aka StrategyGuide
I'm sorry that we were unable to help you with your problem. Here is a list of dissertation consultants:
http://www.asgs.org/Consults.html -a list of individual consultants, rather than companies
Let me know if this works for you!