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The 10 Strategic Points for the Prospectus, Proposal, and Dissertation

Introduction

In the Prospectus, Proposal and Dissertation there are ten key or strategic points that need to be clear, simple, correct, and aligned to ensure the research is doable, valuable, and credible. These points, which provide a guide or vision for the research, are present in almost any research. They are defined within this 10 Strategic Points document.

The 10 Strategic Points

The 10 strategy points emerge from researching literature on a topic, which is based on, or aligned with, the defined need in the literature as well as the learner’s personal passion, future career purpose, and degree area. The 10 Strategic Points document includes the following ten key or strategic points that define the research focus and approach:

  1. Topic – Provides a broad research topic area/title.
  2. Literature review – Lists primary points for four sections in the Literature Review: (a) Background of the problem/gap and the need for the study based on citations from the literature; (b) Theoretical foundations (models and theories to be foundation for study); (c) Review of literature topics with key theme for each one; (d) Summary.
  3. Problem statement – Describes the problem to address through the study based on defined needs or gaps from the literature.
  4. Sample and location – Identifies sample, needed sample size, and location (study phenomena with small numbers and variables/groups with large numbers).
  5. Research questions – Provides research questions to collect data to address the problem statement.
  6. Hypothesis/variables or Phenomena – Provides hypotheses with variables for each research question (quantitative) or describes the phenomena to be better understood (qualitative).
  7. Methodology and design – Describes the selected methodology and specific research design to address problem statement and research questions.
  8. Purpose statement – Provides one sentence statement of purpose including the problem statement, methodology, design, population sample, and location.
  9. Data collection – Describes primary instruments and sources of data to answer research questions.
  10. Data analysis – Describes the specific data analysis approaches to be used to address research questions.

The Process for Defining the Ten Strategic Points

The order of the ten strategic points listed above reflects the order in which the learner does the work. The first five strategic points focus primarily on defining the focus for the research based on a clearly defined need or gap from the literature as well as the learner’s passion, purpose and specialty area focus. First, a learner identifies a broad topic area to research for their dissertation based on a clearly defined need or gap from the literature — that they are interested in because based on their personal passion, future career purpose, and degree. Second, the learner completes a review of the literature to define the need or gap they will address, the theories and models that will provide a foundation for their research, related topics to demonstrate their expertise in their field, and the key strategic points behind their proposed research. Third, the learner develops a clear, simple, one sentence problem statement that defines the problem, or gap, their research will address. Fourth, the learner identifies some potential target populations they would have access to in order to collect the data for the study, considering the fact the quantitative study sample sizes need to be much larger than those for qualitative studies. Fifth, the learner develops a set of research questions, which define the data needed to address the problem statement.

Based on the above five strategic points, the learner next defines the key aspects of the research methodology in the following five strategic points. Sixth, the learner either describes the phenomena to be studied (if it is a qualitative study), or develops a set of hypotheses (matching the research questions) that defines the variables that will be the focus for the research (if it is a quantitative study). Seventh, the learner determines if the study will be qualitative, quantitative or mixed research based on (a) the best approach for the research, (b) the size of the sample they can get permission to access, (c) availability of data collection tools and sources, and (d) time and resources to conduct the study. In addition, the learner selects the best design approach considering these same four factors. Eight, the learner develops a purpose statement by integrating the problem statement, methodology, design, sample, and location. Ninth, the learner identifies the data they will need to collect to address the research questions or hypotheses and how they will collect the data (e.g., interviews, focus groups, observations, tested and validated instruments or surveys, data bases, public media, etc.) Tenth, the learner identifies the appropriate data analysis steps, based on their design, to be used to answer their research questions and address their problem statement.

Criteria for Evaluating the Ten Strategic Points: Clear, Simple, Correct and Aligned

When developing research, it is important to define the ten strategic points so they aresimple, clear and correct in order to ensure anyone who reviews them will easily understand them. It is important to align all of the ten strategic points to ensure it will be possible to conduct and complete the research. The problem statement must come out of the literature. The research questions must collect the data needed to answer the problem statement. The methodology and design must be appropriate for the problem statement and research questions. The data collection and data analysis must provide the information to answer the research questions (qualitative) or test the hypotheses (quantitative). Developing the 10 Strategic Points as a two to three-page document can help ensure clarity, simplicity, correctness, and alignment of each of these ten key or strategic points in the prospectus, proposal, and dissertation. Developing these ten strategic points on a two to three pages also provides an easy-to-use use template to ensure the ten strategic points are always worded the same throughout the prospectus, proposal, and dissertation.

Value of the 10 Strategic PointsDocument

The learner can use the 10 Strategic Points document for communicating and aligning key stakeholders for the dissertation. The learner can also use the document to get agreement between the learner and the chair on the initial focus and approach for their research. The10 Strategic Points document is useful when reviewing the proposed research with the people or organizations where the learner needs to get permission to conduct their research. The learner needs to obtain this permission to conduct research, or site permission, before developing their Proposal. The document is useful for communicating the dissertation focus when attracting a Content Expert as well as for reviewing the proposal with the dissertation committee and the AQR reviewers. Further, submitting this document with the prospectus to the methodologist will assist in demonstrating to the methodologist the methodology, design, data collection, and data analysis align with the problem statement, research questions, and hypotheses or phenomena.

Examples of the 10 Strategic Points Document

It is important that the ten strategic points are clear, concise, doable, and aligned throughout the prospectus, proposal, and dissertation. Following are samples for a quantitative study and a qualitative study. This does not recommend using a mixed method study, which requires the completion of a 10 Strategic Points for both the quantitative and qualitative method. A mixed-methods study should not be proposed unless the learner has lots of extra time and resources to complete it. Additionally the learner must be able to do both qualitative and quantitative data analysis. A qualitative study with numbers or descriptive statistics does not mean it is mixed method study. Qualitative data can be displayed using tables, charts, graphs and descriptive statistic

 
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