General Dissertation Expectations

General Dissertation Expectations

The doctoral dissertation is a scholarly, original contribution of knowledge resulting from independent research. It is the culminating experience of the doctoral program and as such should be a highly personal and unique experience, which will demonstrate the candidate’s ability to carry out scholarly research in the field. All dissertations must be grounded in appropriate theory.

The dissertation includes a critical, exhaustive, and purposeful review of the related literature. It will describe one or more research studies that address an incisive and educationally significant problem statement, a carefully delineated research methodology, as well as a systematic and accurate organization and reporting of findings, well argued conclusions and recommendations for future research and applications for practice, if appropriate. Furthermore, all dissertation research must conform to the ethical standards of the field of education, related social science and humanities fields of study, and the University of Hawai’i ethical standards for research.

The student’s choice and construction of a research methodology should be appropriate to the nature and complexity of the problem, and congruent with the problem statement of the dissertation. All coursework taken towards completion of the doctorate is potentially related and relevant to the student’s growing expertise, practical working knowledge, and judgment as an educational researcher and dissertation author. 

At present, students may select either a traditional research dissertation based on a study and analysis of their choosing related to a problem area within the field, a “design-based research study” based on development and evaluation of a complex product, usually over multiple iterations examined with theory and research goals in mind, or a scholarly-paper option, detailed below. 

UHM Graduate Division sets the broad requirements and processes for the dissertation. This includes constructing, obtaining approval for, and using appropriate consent forms, if needed, for the dissertation research project including obtaining approval for human subjects research. Regarding completion of the dissertation, it is strongly recommended that students obtain the Style & Policy Manual For Theses and Dissertations, UHM Graduate Division. General issues of style are posted on the Graduate Division website. COE dissertations follow APA Manual of Style formatting. Students should carefully review the dissertation policies on the Graduate Division website.