Doctoral Students’ Perceived Barriers that Slow the Progress toward Completing a Doctoral Dissertation: A Mixed Analysis

Eunjin Hwang, Rachel N. Smith, Valerie Tharp Byers, Shirley Dickerson, Leah McAlister-Shields, Anthony J. Onwuegbuzie, Cindy Benge


The non-completion of doctoral degrees has been a concern due to its economic, social, and personal consequences. In the current study, the researchers investigated perceived barriers of select doctoral students in completing their doctoral degrees by utilizing a fully mixed sequential mixed research design. The quantitative and qualitative data were concurrently collected using identical samples (n = 205) via a Reading Interest Survey questionnaire. A sequential mixed analysis revealed 6 emergent themes: external obligations (36%), challenges to doctoral-level researchers (34%), practical/logistical constraints (23%), emotional concerns (15%), program structure (9%), and support for completion (8%). Also, 3 meta-themes were identified (i.e., dissociation, external/internal barriers, and institutional/personal barriers), which aided in explaining the relationships among the 6 primary themes. Implications of the findings are discussed.

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Journal of Educational Issues  ISSN 2377-2263

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