Selecting Members of your Dissertation Committee

Application: Selecting Members of your Dissertation Committee

Your Dissertation committee has two primary responsibilities: One is to ensure that your Dissertation meets academic and scholarly standards as defined by Walden University and the academic field. The other is to mentor you throughout the Dissertation process. Your committee will probably offer you words of encouragement throughout the process. At the same time, they will challenge your ideas and assumptions and critique your work. Negative feedback can be discouraging. Remember, however, that your committee’s role is to be your partner in completing a quality and rigorous Dissertation—not to create roadblocks or make things difficult for you.

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A key to working effectively with your Dissertation committee is to communicate with your chair directly, openly, professionally, and in a timely manner. Your chair will serve as the coordinator of your committee, and it is only after your chair and second committee member have approved your Proposal, that your University Research Reviewer (URR) will review your work. The Dissertation Process Worksheet in MyDR outlines the steps in working with each member of your committee.

Selecting a Dissertation committee should result from depth of thought and consideration. It is important to choose individuals you respect, those with experience who can help you with your Dissertation topic, and those committed to getting you through the process. To ensure that you make the appropriate decisions, consider your personal experience in your courses and at residencies with professors or Instructors. Think about who responded in a reasonable time period to your questions or concerns, who gave you the most helpful feedback, and who was committed to your success. In addition, take the time to look at the Faculty Expertise Directory (FED). This database provides useful information about faculty, their subject matter and methodology expertise, and their research interests. Once you identify faculty members you would like to ask to be on your committee, it is important to prepare an e-mail inviting them to be on your committee. The tone and professionalism of this e-mail sets the stage for the beginning of your Dissertation process. In this Assignment, you will learn the roles and responsibilities of your committee, and select and invite faculty members to serve.

To prepare for this Application Assignment, be sure to review the role of the Dissertation committee chair and second committee member, as outlined in the Dissertation Guidebook and other resources this week.

In 2–3 pages, provide a list of 3–4 faculty members you would ask to be on your Dissertation committee. List them according to your preference. Explain why you selected each and what role (i.e., Dissertation chair or Dissertation committee member) you think each would play on your committee. Students do not select their University Research Reviewers (URRs), who are assigned for them after the committee is in place.

In the same document, compose a draft e-mail that you would send to potential committee members. It should include an introduction of yourself, a description of your topic, and a summary (4–5 sentences) of what you have found thus far from the literature. You must attach your Premise to your e-mail invitations to faculty members to serve on your committee. The Committee Nomination Form can be found at the Center for Research Quality website.

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