The Institute for Clinical Social Work

Syllabi Archive

RM 742: Dissertation Seminar

Ph.D. Program: spring 2012-13

Joan W. DiLeonardi, Ph.D.

  • 1144 Margret Street
    Des Plaines, Il 60016-6321
  • Telephone: 847/824-0892
  • E-mail:
  • Fridays 2 to 4 pm.– January 25;  February 1, 22;  March 1, 22; April 5, 19;  May 3

Course Objective

This is the second semester of a two semester course designed to prepare students to complete their dissertation proposal and, ultimately their dissertation. In order to complete this task, in the second semester the students will finalize a research design suitable to the topic chosen last semester, write a justification for this choice with supporting literature, articulate sample selection criteria, continue serious work on a literature review which integrates appropriate developmental theory, prior theory and research related to the topic and why their chosen research method is appropriate. They will also learn methods of data analysis suitable to the design they have chosen.

Students in this class are at different points in the process of developing a dissertation proposal. The class attempts to move each forward at a pace that will continue the process for them. To this end, the assignments are short and specific and must be handed in on time to enable the student to gain the most benefit from this seminar.

There is no assigned text, since the appropriate design and data analysis method for each student will be found in one or more of the references listed in the bibliography or other appropriate methodology texts. Appropriate literature for the substantive content area is derived from prior classes, independent studies and further independent research. Students will be responsible for finding and reading the appropriate materials after class discussions. Class members are often good resources for each other in finding material as are bibliographies of dissertations and scholarly articles in related areas.

The appropriate research design is determined by the nature of the research question or hypothesis. The appropriate data analysis method is determined by the design. The classes will follow the same format as the first semester. The first two classes will be spent discussing issues raised by the first semester’s papers.

All papers submitted must follow APA style. Please use the grammar and spell check features on your software to decrease the number of typos, incomplete sentences and grammatical errors. The second and third papers must include appropriate citations and a bibliography using ICSW/APA style.

The first assignment will be to read the section showing the findings of the analysis of a dissertation from the Institute library or a similar institution in Social Work and do a brief critical analysis paper, discussing whether the findings are well supported by the methodology and data. This will be due on February 22.

On March 22 a paper outlining the student's specific current plans on data analysis based on the selected research question or hypothesis, research design, and expected data sources will be due. These papers will form the basis for class discussions the following week(s).

The final paper will be due on the last day of class and will build on the first semester paper and the two earlier assignments from this semester. For this paper the literature review, even if not complete, should contain some part of each of the elements mentioned above: a clinical theory, prior substantive theory or research on the specific topic and citations for research design and data analysis. It must be formatted according to the dissertation proposal outline in the student handbook and include all sections. Ifno work has been done on any section, it must still be in the outline with, if possible, notations on which authors, theories, or ideas it will probably contain. It is due on the final class day of the semester.

It is essential that the assignments be completed on time in order for students to take full advantage of the opportunity to have feedback from the class and the instructor. Grades are based on class participation as well as written work. Obviously missed classes reduce the opportunity for class participation and may be reflected in the final grade. Students are graded based more their own progressthan in comparison to other's work.


  • Babbie, E. (1992). The practice of social research. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth.
  • Bolker, Joan (1998). Writing your dissertation in fifteen minutes a day. New York. Henry Holt and Company.
  • Charmaz, Kathy (2006). Constructing grounded theory. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Cook, T. D & Campbell, D. T (1979) Quasi-experimentation: design and analysis issues for field settings. Boston. Houghton-Mifflin.
  • Creswell, John W. (2003) Research design: qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches. Second Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Denzin, N. K. (2001) Interpretive Interactionism. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005) Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage.
  • DiLeonardi, J.W. & Curtis, P.A. (1988) What to do when the numbers are in: A users guide to statistical data analysis in the human services. Chicago. Nelson-Hall.
  • Glaser, B. G. & Strauss, A. (1967) The discovery of grounded theory. Chicago. Aldine.
  • Glaser, B. G. (1978) Theoretical sensitivity: Further advances in the methodology of grounded theory. San Francisco. Sociology Press.
  • Greene, J. C., Caracelli, V. J., & Graham, W. F. (1989) Toward a conceptual framework for mixed-method evaluation designs. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. 11, 255-274.
  • Guba, E. G., ed. (1990). The paradigm dialog. Newbury Park, CA., Sage Publications.
  • Johnson, J. C. (1990) Selecting ethnographic informants. Newbury Park, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Lee, R. M. (1993) Doing research on sensitive topics. London. Sage Publications.
  • Lincoln, Y. S. & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Newbury Park, CA. Sage Publications
  • Locke, L. F., Spirduso, W. W., & Silverman, S. J. (1987) Proposals that work: a guide for planning dissertation and grant proposals. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Marshall, C. & Rossman, F. B. (1989) Designing qualitative research. Newbury Park, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Maxwell, J. A. (2004) Qualitative Research Design: an Interactive Approach. Newbury Park, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Miles, M. & Huberman, M. (1994) Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Source Book (2nd edition) Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Morse, J. M. ed. ((1994) Critical issues in qualitative research methods. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Moustakas, Clark. (1994) Phenomenological research methods. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Reissman, Catherine Kohler (1993) Narrative Analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Reissman, C. ed (1994) Qualitative studies in social work research. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Reissman, Catherine Kohler (2008) Narrative Methods for the Human Sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Rubin, H.J. & Rubin, I. S. (1995). Qualitative Interviewing: The Art of Hearing Data. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Saldana, Johnny. (2009). The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Silverman, D. (2001) Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for analysing talk, text, and interaction. 2nd edition; Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M. (2010) Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. Los Angeles, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research. Newbury Park, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Tashakkori, A. & Teddlie, C. (1998). Mixed Methodology: Combining qualtitative and quantitative approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Taylor, S. J. & Bogdan, R. (1984) Introduction to qualitative research methods: The search for meanings. (2nd edition). New York. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Van Maanen, J., Dabbs, J. M., & Faulkner, R.R. (1982) Varieties of Qualitative Research. Beverley Hills, CA. Sage Publications.
  • Webb, E. J., Campbell, D. T., Schwartz, R.D., & Sechrest, L. (1966) Unobtrusive Measures: Nonreactive research in the social sciences. Chicago. Rand McNally College Publishing.


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