What Does a Dissertation Include: A Review of Two Examples

I found it a meaningful experience when we visited the CIIS campus as a part of the intensive to be able to explore the library. When we first arrived, I went directly back to the back wall area where all of the thesis and dissertations are kept. At the time, I snapped a picture with the phrase in a few years I’ll have a book here labeled on it. Being able to explore some fo the dissertations is an extremely helpful activity as we are starting this program.

I found Donnelly (2016) dissertation to be very engaging. I found myself really enjoying the creativity in the illustrations and then dialogue through an exchange of letters that Donnelly included through the dissertation. These letters were primarily through her taking on the person and perspective of a practitioner and then as a scholar and how they might explain topics to each other. The committee chair, Montuori even makes a few appearances to add to the dialogs. The concept of how practitioners take on the mantel of both practitioner and scholar is a very fascinating take on the topic and I would argue is a way that we should all be striving to be in our various fields of practice.

In Murua (2018) dissertation, I found a very concisely written study using more traditional qualitative methods. While Donnelly’s thesis is very well laid out it took me a while of going through it to understand that a thesis could be what in my mind is a scholarly argument towards a particular point of view that is adding to our fields knowledge base.

Working in higher education myself, I found Murua’s look into the Puente Program engaging and interesting. Last summer I got the opportunity to participate in a week-long training by ESCALA to get a Certificate of College Teaching and Learning for Hispanic Serving Institutions. Many of the themes that Murua presented in relationship to cultural capital, strategies, and pedagogical elements used in the program (ESCALA Educational Services, n.d.).

Both of the dissertations were great resources to help understand what goes into a dissertation. One thing that is intimidating about the dissertation, other than just the sheer length and amount of research and writing, is the potential time to completion. For Murua’s dissertation, she has so much information laid out clearly and in an easy to read format of tables and charts. But one of the charts, table five the timeline line for the collaborative inquiry describes her starting her HRRC review initially in October of 2015 and not defending her dissertation until December of 2017 (I also noted that it was not fully published until 2018)


Donnelly, G. (2016). Navigating spindrifts of change: A transdisciplinary inquiry into the experiences of a scholar-practitioner (Order No. 10245952). ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1868840077)

ESCALA Educational Services (n.d.) About ESCALA. Retrieved from http://www.escalaeducation.com/about-escala.html

Murua, V. (2018). Examining the Puente program through group dialogue and shared space: Engaging stakeholders using a collaborative inquiry approach (Order No. 10816328). ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (2050074435)

Author Note

This essay was originally posted as a discussion forum for TSD 8005: Introduction to Transformative Studies.