Ruling out all the Alternatives
- See also: Why PhD is Difficult to Complete and Why there are so many ABDs (All But Dissertation) and PhD dropouts.
- Why you have selected certain theories and not others. Why you ruled out others. How the theories make an ontological or epistemological contribution.
- Why you have selected a certain definition for a term and not others. Why you ruled out others. You need to do this for each LOADED term in your problem statement/thesis statement. Using terms loosely or interchangeably indicate that you are not sure about what you are saying. You can not understand the depth of the above statements if you have not read my posts: (i) What is a Problem Statement and its role in MS-PhD Research, (ii) What is a Thesis Statement and its Role in PhD-MS Research. Your ease of going through your PhD is determined by how well you have internalized the above two posts.
- Why you have selected certain relationships and not others. Why you ruled out others. Typically some relationships are considered, included in the model and others are ignored. Simply ignoring is not enough. The relationships that were considered but left out need to have a proper justification.
- Why you have selected certain variables/factors and not others. Why you ruled out others. Typically I have seen researchers just cherry picking certain variables. Adding another variable or variables or other relationships for the sake of showing originality. Originality does not come by simply adding a few variables or relationships to a conceptual framework or model. Originality comes through a new way of looking at the relationships. This new way of looking should have a justification in reality or results and should also make a theoretical contribution.
- How well your model represents the reality. Have you identified all the relevant variables. Have you controlled for any extraneous effects.
- Why you have selected a certain methodology and not others. Why you ruled out others. A methodology that you use should be contrasted to the state of art in that methodology. At times your contribution could also be methodological. Just using an existing methodology is not enough. How that methodology supports a better understanding or resolution of the problem is important.
- Why you have selected a certain population and not others. Why you ruled out others. Here I say people saying that we doing this work for Pakistan or some specific country. This needs to be defended on the ontological basis. What is the necessity of looking at the problem from the perspective of a particular country, community or a population. The selection of your population should be determined by the problem and not convenience.
- Why you have selected a certain sampling strategy and not others. Why you ruled out others.
- Why you have selected a certain method and not others. Why you ruled out others.
- Why you have applied certain tests and not others. Why you ruled out others.
- Why you have used a particular software and not others.
- How do you validate your claims? To what extent? Are you just providing usage examples that make your claims plausible or did you perform a thorough experiment where you were able to control for most variables and assess how the issue of interest really behaved?
- etc. etc. etc.
Every Strong Statement is Defended
Rigor is indicated when every strong statement in the dissertation is corroborated by some existing research or is the outcome of this PhD research. A good thesis does not mince words or avoid taking stands. A good research also does not involve itself in irrelevant debates. Relevance is held together by the thesis statement and problem statement. A good dissertation avoids using words such as “may”, “typically”, “usually”, or other such non-committal words.
Rigor of research methodology is a subjective assessment of whether the students is eligible for a PhD or not. A supervisor typically comes to the realization that the student has now sufficiently completed the work and has become eligible for PhD when (i) he sees that the student is now critically analyzing his work the way the supervisor analyzes the work, and (ii) when he sees that the student can critique the work the way the community of researchers working in the selected area of research would analyze the work. The latter gets determined by the publication of paper in the journal of the chosen area of research.
- Motivation: Why PhD?
What is PhD?
- What does it Mean to Have a PhD: Myths of Specialization and Departmental Expertise
- What is the Difference between MS/MPhil Research and PhD Research
- Why PhD is Difficult to Complete and Why there are so many ABDs and PhD Dropouts
- How Progress of Research is related to the Mood and Psychology of a PhD Student
Starting with your PhD
- What is a Problem Statement and its role in MS-PhD Research
- What is a Thesis Statement and its Role in PhD-MS Research
- How Literature Review of a PhD Dissertation Presents the State of the Art: Synthesis vs Listing
- How to Read a Research Paper and Extract Problem Statement and Thesis Statement
- What is meant by Rigor of PhD Research
- Dynamic Role of Abstract in Guiding the Flow of Writing of a PhD Dissertation
- Conclusion vs Assumption in Research Writing- Flipping the Thread of Argument in your PhD Thesis
- PhD is about Pursuit of Excellence. Pursuit of Excellence vs Guzara: How to teach excellence through everyday examples
- Myth: Impact Factor Measures Real Impact
- Pursuit of Excellence vs Guzara: How to teach excellence through everyday examples
- Discerning the Forest from the Trees – The Insights from my PhD Supervisor JC Browne
- A Formula is Worth a Thousand Pictures: Dijkstra vs Buzan’s Mind-Maps
- Fairness in Grading: A Lesson by the Great Dijkstra
- Lesser known dimensions of US Universities – Archives of history and literature
- Myth: Impact Factor Measures Real Impact
- Myth: We are Backward because we Lag Behind in Science and Technology
- Beauty is Our Business – Mathematics, Excellence and the Great Dijkstra
- 5 Myths of Higher Education in Pakistan