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3 ways to jump-start your doctoral experience

A student works on earning a doctoral degree

By Elizabeth Exline

At a glance

  • At University of Phoenix, doctoral students and graduates can explore several opportunities for enhancing their researching and publishing experience.
  • The Dissertation to Publication workshop focuses on turning an academic dissertation into a publishable manuscript. The Research to Publication workshop takes a similar approach for research projects.
  • The Fellows in Residence program offers doctoral graduates the chance to research, publish, apply for grants and more.
  • Explore doctoral programs in business, nursing, healthcare and education at University of Phoenix.

Beyond the dissertation

If anything could embody the concept of a love-hate relationship, it would be the dissertation process of a doctoral program. At once central to the experience and immensely challenging, writing a dissertation requires a host of skills (research, organization, critical thinking, writing) while also depending on the absence of a select few (hello, procrastination!).

The kicker? Writing a dissertation is only one part of the doctoral challenge. Publishing a dissertation, or any research project for that matter, is a whole other beast.

Enter University of Phoenix (UOPX), which offers three distinct opportunities to doctoral students and graduates inside and outside the University. Known as the Dissertation to Publication workshop, Research to Publication workshop and Fellows in Residence program, each offering seeks to establish what Rodney Luster, PhD, describes as “connectiveness” between students and their doctoral degrees.

“These programs are driven by the potential to help students craft their academic identities even further as scholar practitioners,” Luster says.

Luster serves as the chair for the Center for Leadership Studies and Organizational Research at UOPX. He works closely with doctoral students in multiple capacities and points out that getting published, applying for research grants or simply learning how to turn data into shareable content all circles back to the point of a practitioner doctorate: doing work that positively impacts the community.

Here’s how doctoral students and graduates can get started. 

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Dissertation to Publication workshop

Designed to help people turn their dissertations into publishable manuscripts — and then find homes for those manuscripts — the Dissertation to Publication (DTP) workshop occurs virtually each fall and spring. It’s open to students across academic disciplines, and attendees don’t have to be enrolled at UOPX to participate. (UOPX students do, however, enjoy the workshop on a complimentary basis while non-UOPX students pay a nominal fee.)

The reason for the workshop? That all-encompassing goal of publication.

“Publishing research in peer-reviewed journals is the best [for] sharing the research with readers across the world and advancing the professional lives of the authors,” explains Mansureh Kebritchi, PhD.

Kebritchi is the chair for the Center for Educational and Instructional Technology Research (CEITR), and she developed the workshop with the express goal of publication. Today, she continues to manage the workshop with the help of a committee of CEITR faculty and fellows.

“Doctoral graduates spend great effort and time developing and completing their dissertations but may not publish their studies in journals because of the difficulties and challenges facing the task,” Kebritchi explains. “The Dissertation to Publication workshop was established to support our doctoral students in learning the process of developing a publishable manuscript and developing their manuscript based on the essence of their dissertations.”

Photo of Dr. Kebritchi

Mansureh Kebritchi, PhD, chair for the Center for Educational and Instructional Technology Research

Participants include both doctoral graduates and doctoral students close to graduation. During the workshop, participants identify which peer-reviewed journals might be a good fit for their dissertations, and they receive guidance on the process of turning an academic paper into a manuscript worth publishing (and reading).

The workshop also includes committee review by experienced faculty members and synchronous virtual monthly meetings. More than 500 dissertations have been successfully placed since the workshop’s inception in 2016.

Research to Publication workshop

Similar to the DTP workshop, the Research to Publication (RTP) workshop focuses on how doctoral students and graduates can create a publishable manuscript out of a completed research project.

Each six-week RTP workshop follows the same format as the DTP workshops: Participants identify potential peer-reviewed journals to pitch; then they work on drafting the three primary sections of the article (introduction, methods and results).

The only major difference between the DTP and RTP workshops is that RTP workshops focus on general research rather than dissertations. But, as Kebritchi notes, not just any research project will do. Eligible projects should be completed and be “significant enough for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.”

Fellows in Residence program

Available to qualified doctoral graduates, the Fellows in Residence program is a little bit like an unpaid internship at a big corporation: In return for research and assistance, participating fellows gain valuable experience and CV-boosting credentials.

“The Fellows in Residence is a volunteer-promoted role that provides opportunities to grow researchers, establish and generate research, promote opportunities for collaboration and explore the possibilities in growing acumen,” Luster explains.

Practically speaking, those opportunities include:

  • Contributing to the University’s research periodical, Phoenix Scholar
  • Participating in the planning committee for UOPX’s annual Research Summit
  • Applying for research grants under the leadership of University faculty
  • Producing academic blogs

There are more tacit advantages too, such as the fact that participants can add the program to their resumé.

“The Fellows in Residence was established to bridge the gap between the graduate and the emerging identity of the doctor. Often when students graduate, we may hear that the journey was epic, but then when it is completed, many may feel it is at least the end of the story for them. But it’s not and doesn’t have to be. In fact, the program helps them add to their CV!” Luster explains.

The Fellows in Residence program kicked off in 2020 with a handful of participants. Today, each of the University’s three research centers oversees its own cadre of fellows — and the success has been impressive.

Photo of Dr. Luster

Rodney Luster, PhD, chair for the Center for Leadership Studies and Organizational Research at University of Phoenix

“Last year, several of the fellows were selected to present at the International Leadership Association’s [ILA] annual conference from Geneva, were published in the Journal of Leadership Studies and applied for research grants. [Some] presented at the [University of Phoenix] Annual Research Summit. And this year, they’re working on chapter contributions to an IGI Global leadership book as well as ILA’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.,” Luster says.

While each of these programs offers distinct advantages to doctoral students and graduates, another opportunity nearly everyone can take advantage of is the University’s Annual Research Summit. This three-day, virtual conference features University and guest presenters as well as Dissertation of the Year winners for a conference experience that underscores the value of how research can remediate or impact a current issue.

From workshops to programs to conferences, the opportunities to enhance the doctoral experience at UOPX are both dynamic and diverse. You just have to know where to look. 

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