At the Walden residencies one of the themes you hear over and over again is Align, Align, Align. But what does that really mean? Alignment refers to the elements of a research study building on one another in a logical manner.
At residency 3 you work on the historic alignment tool, or the HAT. This tool helps you accomplish the alignment of the main elements of a research study. One element leads to the next, which leads to the next. If you answer “no” to any of the following questions, the study is not aligned.
- Does the background research show evidence of a problem?
- Is there a gap in understanding of the problem?
- Does the problem align to the purpose?
- Does the purpose align to the research question?
- Does the theoretical or conceptual framework logically help answer the research questions?
- Does the research question drive the methodology?
These are the exact questions your mentor, methodologist, and the URR will be asking when reviewing your premise, prospectus, proposal, and final dissertation. So, how do you keep alignment in the forefront of your mind when entertaining potential ideas for a research study? An important step is to realize that the central research question will determine the wording of both the purpose statement and the dissertation title.
The purpose statement, the central research question, and the dissertation title should all be parallel, and quite possibly word for word the same.