Dissertation Chair Selection
The student selects a Dissertation Chair. The Chair must be a member of the HSR Ph.D. Program Faculty, or a member of the HSR Ph.D. Participating Faculty with a co-Chair who is a member of the Program Faculty. Students should consult with their faculty advisor and the Program Director as they develop their plans for selecting the dissertation committee chair, and for forming the dissertation committee. The student should work closely with the Chair on identifying other committee members, and typically should approach other faculty about serving on the committee only after consulting with the Chair.
Dissertation Committee Selection
The student selects the Dissertation Committee, which must be at least 4 members. Three must be from the HSR Ph.D. Program Faculty or Participating Faculty (one of whom is the Chair). The student submits the “Appointment of Doctoral Dissertation Committee” form. The Graduate School appoints the 4th member. The four members of the dissertation committee will serve as the student’s committee for the refinement of the dissertation topic, the development and defense of the dissertation proposal, the development of the dissertation, and dissertation defense.
Dissertation Topic Selection
The Chair of the dissertation committee and the student together select the dissertation topic. The Chair is responsible to ensure that all members of the committee are actively involved and agree to the direction and the specifics of the proposal (e.g., data, methods). Ensuring this involvement and agreement is a major goal of the Topic Approval Meeting. When the Chair approves the topic and approach to the dissertation, the student schedules the Topic Approval Meeting with the Dissertation Committee. The student submits a 2-3 page description of the dissertation plan to the Dissertation Committee at least 2 weeks prior to the Topic Approval Meeting. This single-spaced description of the topic includes the following sections: (1) Background and Significance, (2) Hypotheses and Specific Aim, and (3) Methods. The Topic Approval Meeting is not typically open to visitors. Students will present a brief oral summary of: the dissertation topic, the context of related research literature, data and methods, and implications for policy and practice, followed by questions.
Following the topic approval, the student writes the dissertation proposal and prepares for the Oral Proposal Defense. Students should consult with their Dissertation Chair and Committee early in the process to determine whether the “traditional” or “three manuscript” approach is most applicable to their proposed dissertation research. Regardless of the approach selected, the dissertation proposal should contain the following elements:
- Introduction - This chapter should highlight the importance of the problem to health services research and the significance of the proposed research.
- Literature Review - This chapter should critically review and synthesize literature relevant to the proposed topic. It may be appropriate to include a conceptual or biological model to further position the research questions to be explored.
- Hypotheses and Specific Aims
- Methods - This chapter should include information on the study design, study population, measurement of variables, and statistical analysis plan. For the proposal, this chapter should also contain information on study strengths, limitations, and potential implications. Please note that this information will be incorporated into a different chapter for the final dissertation.
- References - Students should consult with their Dissertation Chair regarding what citation style to use.
- Appendix - This chapter is optional but may include dummy tables, questionnaires, informed consent forms, data request forms, or other relevant information that is referenced in an earlier chapter.
If students plan on using the “three manuscript” approach they should also include a brief description of the three manuscripts they will produce and relate them to their hypotheses and specific aims. Students should also list target journals for these manuscripts. For the proposal, this information can be included within Chapter 3. For additional information on the “three manuscript” approach, please consult the Graduate School website.
Students are expected to meet with their Dissertation Chairs on a regular basis to discuss their dissertation research. Students and Dissertation Chairs should consult with the Dissertation Research Credit Application that they completed together to ensure that appropriate progress is being made during the semester. All members of the committee must receive the full proposal at least 2 weeks before the Proposal Defense.
Oral Defense of the Dissertation Proposal
The submission of the proposal is followed by the Oral Proposal Defense. In the HSR Ph.D. program, the Oral Proposal Defense is open to faculty and students.The student must provide the title of the proposed dissertation, and the date, time, and location of the Oral Proposal Defense to the Program Director no later than two weeks prior to the Oral Proposal Defense.
The student should prepare a PowerPoint presentation approximately 25 minutes in length summarizing the research proposal. Following the student’s presentation, the committee will ask questions about the research plan.The student will be excused from the meeting to permit the committee to discuss the merits of the proposal, after which the student will return to the meeting to receive the committee’s comments and required modifications to the research plan.After successful completion of the Oral Proposal Defense, the student submits two forms:(1) “Proposal Defense Report for Doctoral Dissertation and/or Master’s Thesis/Project ” and (2) “Exam Report of Comprehensive/Qualifying Examination, Portfolio Presentation, and Study Report for Master’s and Doctoral Students.”
Advancement to Candidacy
A doctoral student advances to candidacy after the dissertation proposal has been approved by the student’s Dissertation Committee and the Graduate School. Candidacy must be achieved at least one term prior to the term of graduation.
Completion of the dissertation is the final component of the doctoral degree. A doctoral dissertation must demonstrate the candidate’s ability to conceive, design, conduct, and interpret independent, original, and creative research, and must make a unique contribution to knowledge in the field of health services research. Under the direct supervision of the Dissertation Committee Chairs, students are encouraged to consult regularly with their Dissertation Committee members during the planning, conducting, and writing of the dissertation. The dissertation defense is a public defense. Notice of the location and time will go to the campus community.
Following the approval of the dissertation topic and advancement to doctoral candidacy, students are required to maintain continuous enrollment in HSRD 8901 for dissertation study until work is completed. Continuous enrollment begins in the semester after the dissertation topic is approved.