Is My Doctoral Dissertation a Best Seller?

I’ve previously mentioned that my doctoral dissertation appeared as #12 on ProQuest’s for the month of July 2014. Well, it’s happened again! This time, it appears as the 24th most downloaded dissertation for the month of October 2014 (the latest month available)! I’m extremely flattered and honored that so many people are actually interested in it.

Wow! A LOT of People are Actually Reading My Dissertation!

It’s not uncommon to hear academics (and others) whine that no one reads dissertations. Indeed, many complain that one spends years preparing for the dissertation conducting lit reviews, writing the dissertation prospectus, preparing for oral exams, conducting research on an obscure topic, and ultimately spending extraordinary amounts of time writing a book that only a few (primarily the members on the dissertation defense committee) will ever read. While I’m certain that this is the case for many dissertations, I’m thrilled to discover that a LOT of people are reading mine! Indeed, while my dissertation was published in two places (ProQuest and just five months ago, I accidentally discovered earlier today that it appears on ProQuest’s “list of the top 25 Most-Accessed Dissertations and Theses across all subjects, based upon total PDF downloads” for the month of July 2014! I’m stunned, flabbergasted, and very honored! Currently, Proquest has approximately 3 million dissertations and theses in their online archives and yet mine was one of the most downloaded last month. How or why my dissertation made it to their list is simply a thrill! Furthermore, it’s the only dissertation published this year on ProQuest’s list for July. Hopefully, this is also a sign of good things to come – I just submitted the first article (of potentially several) based on my research to a peer-reviewed journal. Whether or not that will get published remains to be seen.

My dissertation has been published!

My dissertation, Neurofeedback as an Intervention to Improve Reading Achievement in Students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Inattentive Subtype has just been published on eScholarship is operated by the University of California and “provides Open-Access scholarly publishing services . . . and delivers a dynamic research platform to scholars worldwide.” Unlike many diploma mills, which do not provide open access to their school’s dissertations, the University of California now publishes essentially all dissertations and provides free access to the public. This is as it should be. It’s rather interesting, to say the least, that the lower the status of the school, the more restrictive they are to providing access – in fact, many charge exorbitant fees for them. I am very proud to be a graduate of a world-class research institution such as the University of California, Riverside.

The race to the finish has begun!

I just returned from the 2013 Conference of the International Society for Neurofeedback & Research (Dallas, TX) where I presented a poster session, as well as an hour-long oral presentation on my dissertation research. What a fabulous experience! There must have been one hundred people at my oral presentation, including some of the top researchers on neurofeedback; at least two of the most renowned researchers who helped launched the field back in the late 1950s and 1960s where there. Not only was it an incredible honor but, of course, it was also a bit intimidating but that’s a good thing.

The exciting thing is that the university sent out the announcement for my dissertation defense today! Wow! I can’t believe I’m nearing the end of a very long and challenging (for lack of a better word) experience. Sleep may be in my near future again and, perhaps, I may even be able to break away from my computer for a few days (but not for too long as I’ve got at least one more presentation to do in a few weeks and several articles I should write). I’ve got some exciting things going on and it feels great.

Finis! (Well, if not that, then it’s close to finis!)

It’s hard to believe but the first final draft of my dissertation is DONE! I finished it on September 4th at 6:58 P.M. after spending countless months glued to my computer, not to mention everything that preceded writing it up. I’m too tired to think straight so for now, I’m just going to leave it at that! I’ve proofread it twice so far and may write up the abstract before calling it quits for tonight. Just the same, it’s DONE!

Does the work ever end?

Wow, I’m tired! I’ve had an extremely busy summer. After completing data collection for my dissertation, I immediately launched into teaching a course at UCR – EDUC 280L: Foundations of Education. The topic (advanced theories of learning) is fascinating and I had a great group of students. Of course, I also spent every moment not preparing for that, working on my dissertation.

I ran into a few snags with the dissertation, particularly a problem where I did something previously unthinkable – I bought a Mac. Really. Although I’ve been a longtime computer geek and have a ton of experience with PCs, I never thought I’d end up needing a Mac. The problem I ran into is that Microsoft Excel literally cannot generate the graphs I need for my dissertation! After spending many weeks trying to figure out what to do, I finally had several “clues” that made me realize that the only way to get on with life was to get a Mac. Specifically, I first wrote to my advisor and told her of my problems. She, in turn, referred met to a recent Ph.D. graduate from UCR who she believes is a computer whiz (I’m not bad, myself). That individual knew I’m a PC guy and suggested I try out a Mac. I immediately went to an Apple store and within five minutes, generated a graph similar to what I needed – even though I haven’t a clue as to what I’m doing on a Mac!

At the same time, I had spent weeks searching for a solution and only hit countless dead ends. In one case, I found a retired chemistry professor on a Microsoft forum who has written several books on Excel. It took him several days but he finally figured out how to do a partial workaround but that simply wasn’t sufficient, not to mention that the process was extremely complicated and time consuming.

After trying the above, I also waltzed into a Microsoft Store and told them I had to buy a Mac. They laughed at me (never a wise thing to do) and told me that they could solve the problem. Of course, I told them it was impossible and challenged them to show me, especially since I have long been able to get around on PCs and am quite proficient with Excel. Needless to say, an hour later their “Excel Expert” gave up and told me that I had to buy the Mac (really). Unbelievable but absolutely true!

I’ve since generated a bazzillion or more graphs and have been writing endlessly for weeks. I’m just about done with the results section on my dissertation and after that, all I have left is the discussion and conclusion. I don’t anticipate that will take me nearly as long as what I’ve been doing. At this time, I just want to be done with the dissertation! I’m tired!

Data Collection is Almost Done & the Score is Now: Jeff = 1, Microsoft Excel = 0

Data collection for my dissertation is nearly done – I’ve been at it, nearly full-time, since mid-January. Although the participants are great, I’m simply exhausted. Fortunately, essentially all of my data collection will be done this week. As a result, I will now be entering the final stage of the program – writing up the “Results” and “Discussion” sections of my dissertation (the lit review and methods sections were completed and approved last Fall). Although this final stage should be the most “fun,” I’m engaged in yet another battle with Microsoft Excel. It always amazes me as to how clueless programmers are to the needs of real users. I’ve now spent days/weeks fighting with Excel in order to create graphs for my multiple-baseline across-participants single-case research and finally conquered the last hurdle, thanks to a response to a question I asked on an Excel Forum. Here’s a sample:

Sample Graph from Actual Data
This is a sample graph that is very close to what I’m going to be creating from the mountains of data I’ve collected.

I’ve also created an “instruction guide” (for me) so I won’t forget how to create the graph. Here’s the link to: Jeff’s Single Case Design Graph Instructions. Please note that I did not proofread it – it was created only for my use but I’m posting it here, just in case someone else is interested in “how I done did it.” Enjoy!



Dissertate, dissertate, dissertate . . .

Although “dissertate” and “dissertating” are not real words (even though “Merriam-Webster” claims they are), I’m in the midst of being a dissertator (another Merriam-Webster term) so I can be forgiven. I’ve been putting in 18-hour days for weeks now and I’m fully immersed in the data collection process. As of today, nearly all of my “participants” (according to the APA, this is the new politically correct word for “subjects”) have completed more than 50 percent of the intervention process and I’m thrilled! I’ve been truly blessed to make it this far. The school I’m dissertating at is exceptional and my participants are a joy to work with!

Although I was originally supposed to defend my completed dissertation about this time (and I should have been able to “walk” in June), my research was delayed by nearly three months due to a bureaucratic problem. As a result, I will have gathered nearly all of my data by very early June, will write up my results and discussion sections over the summer, and should defend by late September or early October. Currently, I have just 21 days of data collection remaining (excluding post-intervention and follow-up assessments) but who’s counting?!

Additionally, I presented a paper on my early findings at the American Educational Research Association Meeting in San Francisco, earlier this week. At the moment, I’m very, very tired and am looking forward to crunching more numbers over the weekend.