Daniel Marston Margaret Gopaul Jamie Kenney


Dissertations present significant challenges to all doctoral students but these challenges are often greater for online students. Research shows that as many as 50% of all doctoral students do not complete their degrees, and this number is likely even higher for online students. One reason for this may be that online doctoral students do not have access to the same type of mentorship and support that students in traditional educational settings have for completing dissertation research. This lack of tangible resources often relates to the practical limitations of online students being physically farther away from faculty and not having as much access to faculty and university resources as students in traditional settings. What is needed for online doctoral candidates is an approach to dissertations that do not require some of the resources (e.g., subjects, laboratory space) that are often needed for research. Straightforwardness is also important because it lessens the need for students to have frequent contact with faculty mentors. Meta-analysis is a promising research approach that offers these benefits and allows for students to address important research questions while accommodating the challenges and limitations of completing degrees online. This article will review the major steps needed for meta-analysis as well as limitations and risks that need to be considered.