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How to Write a Phenomenological Dissertation

How to Write a Phenomenological Dissertation
A Step-by-Step Guide

First Edition

February 2020 | 192 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Conducting phenomenological research for dissertations can be an involved and challenging process, and writing it up is often the most challenging part. How to Write a Phenomenological Dissertation gives students practical, applied advice on how to structure and develop each chapter of the dissertation specifically for phenomenological research. 

Phenomenology is about personal experience and personal experience varies from researcher to researcher. However, this variation is a big source of confusion for new researchers in the social, behavioral, or health sciences. This brief text is written in a simple, step-by-step fashion to account for this flexibility and variation while also providing structure necessary for a successful dissertation. Broken up into chapters that follow each chapter of the dissertation, this text logically addresses the various parts of phenomenological research, starting with ensuring phenomenology is the right method for your research, writing the literature review, going through methods and results sections to analysis and discussion. The author, using experience gleaned from supervising phenomenological dissertations for many years, gives time-tested advice on how structure the dissertation to fit into more common frameworks, using checklists and tables throughout. Each chapter includes a list of helpful resources for students to use alongside this book with specific information on methods and research. Unique to this text is a chapter on creating your own phenomenological method which allows students to expand their viewpoints and experiment in future studies after the dissertation. 

About the Author
Part I: Before the Dissertation
Chapter 1: How to Begin
What Is Phenomenological Research?

Purpose of This Book

Organization of This Book

Literature Review

Theoretical Framework


Part II: Writing the Dissertation
Chapter 2: Introduction and Literature Review
Beginning the Literature Review: What’s Your Topic?

Literature Search Strategy

Create an Outline

Writing the First Dissertation Chapter: The Introduction

Problem Statement

Purpose Statement

Research Questions

Theoretical Framework



Delimitations and Limitations

Summary Sections

Completing the Literature Review

References and Suggested Reading

Chapter 3: Methodology

Design and Rationale

Researcher Role




Data Collection

Data Analysis

Using Software

Validity and Reliability



Write the Abstract

References and Resources

Chapter 4: Results


Participant Demographics

Data Collection


Connecting to the Theoretical Framework

Validity and Reliability

Going Back to Chapter 3



References and Resources

Chapter 5: Discussion

Interpretation of Findings: A Dialogue with the Literature

Including Theory Throughout


Recommendations for Future Research



Update the Abstract

Example of Abstract

References and Resources

Part III: After your Dissertation
Chapter 6: Other Phenomenological Methods
Existential Phenomenology

Critical Narrative Analysis (Langdridge)

Dialogal Approach (Halling, Leifer, & Rowe)

Dallas Approach (Garza)

Embodied Life-World Approach (Todres)

Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin)

Life-World Approach (Ashworth)

Lived Experience Human Science Inquiry (van Manen)

Reflective Life-World Approach (Dahlberg)


Chapter 7: Creating Your Own Phenomenological Method
Giorgi’s Five Basic Steps

van Manen’s Four Reflections


Participant Demographics

General Description


References and Resources

Appendix A: Recruitment Flyer
Appendix B: Screening
Appendix C: Semi-Structured Interview Guide
Appendix D: Consent to Participate
Appendix E: Sample Dissertation Literature Review

Overall, I feel this is possibly the best work I have seen on this type of a dissertation. It is clear and concise as well as complete in mechanics.

Michael E. Cox
Ohio Christian University

It seems to make writing a phenomenological study more accessible by offering pathways to students.

Dr. Akin Taiwo
King's University College at Western University

It is well-informed, driven by experience and authoritatively written and yet leaves room for others to write their own. It is quite a feat.

Maurice Apprey
University of Virginia

While this book conforms with others in the domain of phenomenological research is it superior in many respects; chiefly the author's sound knowledge transfer of philosophy to methods; the fit between conceptual basic assumptions and object of research study; and clarity without sacrificing complexity.

Maurice Apprey
University of Virginia

The key strengths are the attempt to provide a systematic understanding of the process from A to Z with a specific focus on phenomenology. This text will be useful and versatile for student locked in to phenomenology.

Raymond Blanton
University of the Incarnate Word

Absolutely excellent text for introducing Phenomenology to students.
There are some editorial issues in sections on intentionality (information in one chapter does not match another). And a spacing issue on one page making it difficult to follow the logic. If you contact me I would be happy to provide details but don't have the book in front of me at the moment.
It would also be helpful to know if the book is aimed at PhD or Masters level dissertations as this is not clear.
This is added to our reading list - we do not provide a recommended list as students in Education draw from such a wide range of texts. I have recommended it to colleagues supervising Phenomenological dissertations.

Ms Ann Kendrick
Faculty of Education (Carlisle), University of Cumbria
April 9, 2024

A book on research methods on phenomenology is scarce, and this book has successfully demonstrated what phenomenological research should do and how to connect to other disciplines for a deeper understanding of causal relationships in cities and human activities.

Dr Quazi Zaman
Scott Sutherland School of Architecture & Built Environment , Robert Gordon University
March 16, 2024

The research methodology reflects my academic training and interests.

Dr Mike Guerra
Business Admin Economics Prog, Lincoln University
April 20, 2020

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