School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy


Kristy Motte


Institutional Review Board, IRB, online doctoral candidates, dissertation, research




The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to explore the dissertation research preparation and IRB-review experience of online doctoral candidates attending a medium-sized university in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The theory that guided this research was Knowles’ theory of adult learning, which addresses how and why adults learn and why they choose to do so. The chosen design was transcendental phenomenology, which is used when the purpose of a study is to describe a phenomenon, and this is accomplished by collecting information about the phenomenon from a group of individuals who experienced it. The sample pool consisted of online doctor of education and doctor of philosophy program graduates at the study site between September 2021 and September 2022, with a sample size of 10. Data were collected through individual interviews, document analysis, and focus groups. Data analysis involved an extensive examination of the interview transcripts, participants’ IRB applications and email communication, and focus group transcripts to identify common, significant themes and used those themes to describe the phenomenon's essence. The identified themes were I Felt Prepared, Coursework Alone was Inadequate, and Alternative Sources of Information and Guidance Were Needed. Implications for practice that may improve candidates’ preparation for their dissertation research are provided.

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