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Viki, Internet Researcher
Category: General
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Experience:  I have eleven years experience writing statewide educational tests for all levels.
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I would like to know how to resolve an academic issue. My ...

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I would like to know how to resolve an academic issue. My dissertation chairperson wants to quit because of a committee members lack of knowledge of research methods. I had to beg him to reconsider. In the mean time this committee member whom also happen to be the dean is being quite unreasonable. Here is an example of her responses to me and my chairperson (Whom happen to published in a promient Educational Journal) "
Review by Dr. Edith Neumann
Posted by: Dr. Edith Neumann [[email protected]] on 02/28/2007 14:49:00
Dear XXXXXia:

I have reviewed your questionnaire and it is really only a survey. You must add some components that will serve as a Dependent variable. For example the administrators perception may lead to development of new programs or if the administrator was trained in certain training more focus will be in those area in the school". What can I do? [email protected]


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.

Good Luck!

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
The point is that I do need to get numbers. Also the level at which this particular university is not at the level of more highly recognized Universities. It is not My chairperson's fault. The dean ran off my first chairperson.

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.

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
I made a mistake choosing this university. I figured because the Military endroses this University that it was okay. Also I have attended
so really great universities such as Tulane, FIU,
UM and Barry University and I logged a lot of classroom hours so I thought I would give ON- Line program a try. Aslo I am presently on active duty in Iraq. I have invested a lot of time and money in this program. Whatever problem she has with me she really needs to get over it. If this is the game she is going to play then I need all of the thousands of dollars I have invested in tution with this program to be refunded. All of the literature I have researched all refer to their research tool as a questionnaire or survey within their study interchangeably. I need to know how to get this matter resolved so that I may complete this process.
I am sorry I was unable to help you. I will opt out and let other experts assist you.

Dear mgreen678,

Another expert on site wishes to address your question, but cannot because of site restrictions. Here is her response verbatim:

Dear XXXXXia,

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


Customer: replied 10 years ago.
I have followed her suggestions. My survey is quite sound. I have put a lot of work into. As a matter of fact the original survey was redesigned per her request and my chairperson's request and after I tested the first instrument. I also worked with an expert consultant( whom is well known in the in the educational circle) on my survey. My chairperson is a published researcher. I have been working on this project since 2005 and I have followed her every suggestion.Your suggestions are good but I need to know how to get this resolved I know the dean's comments are unfounded at this point. Phone call from Iraq lets be real.My chairperson has stated that he is behind my stragety during a conference call last year before I left for Iraq.
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to Viki's Post: Since my question was never answered may I ask another question. Can you provide me with a list of Dissertation consultants.

Hi Marcia,

I'm sorry that we were unable to help you with your problem. Here is a list of dissertation consultants: -a list of individual consultants, rather than companies

Let me know if this works for you!

Viki and 31 other General Specialists are ready to help you