A dissertation is an academic document that demands sufficient organisational and time management abilities to maintain a high standard overset by your respective universities. Owing to the multiple engagements that students have to juggle throughout the academic session, many of them often remain conflicted regarding how to proceed with the whole process of dissertation writing. This, in turn, affects the quality of your dissertation. To present your dissertation appropriately, you’ll be required to select a topic, and then plan and execute the whole paper on that topic, and perform adequate research and collect relevant sources and then focus on what your findings are. Now let’s delve into the process of planning and performing thorough research for your papers.
Selecting the right topic:
While some students proceed with the dissertation with a precise research question, many others dive into the process with multiple ideas but without a proper research question. If you start your dissertation writing in haste without having an appropriate research question, this will lead to much anxiety and panic in the course of preparing the paper. You can take the following measures to avert a crisis like this.
- Seek others advice: Take the suggestions from other people on how to come up with a good topic. Don’t wait until you have developed a proper research question before talking to other people, as their inputs and perspectives may support you to take on a more focused approach.
- Go through other write-ups: Spend some time in the local libraries, reading through the titles of other dissertations in your specific field of study over the past couple of years.
- Refer to the works of previous students in your department: The topics presented by your predecessors may offer you some insights, and they may contain useful information for further research.
- Consider what interests you: Think about the topic that intrigues you, and try to decipher whether there are any elements that could be incorporated into the research.
- Be critical: Think about a topic in your course so far that you have been curious or sceptical about, or something you think could be studied further.
- Read about an engaging topic and keep questioning it: This may help you to develop a research question you could focus on efficiently.
Putting together the research question
Once you receive the approval for your dissertation, you need to start the process of narrowing the topic down and transform it into something that is specific enough for you to carry out the dissertation editing. Try approaching it as a research problem that addresses the following-
- The issue that you will be evaluating
- Your thesis or argument (what you want to prove, dispel, or delve into)
- The extent of your research (how specific your topic is going to be).
It’s significant that you form a research problem at the beginning of your assignment. It is one of the major factors to ensure that your dissertation moves forward on the right track. Every assignment you take up should begin with you pondering over your research problem.
Also, you must revise your research problem as you gather more information regarding your topic. For instance, you may find that the details you were hoping to assess isn’t available, or you may come across a fresh and relevant piece of information or a new theory while carrying forward the literature search, which prompts you to reconsider the foundation of your research problem. You should always have a word with your supervisor before you alter your plans, and explain why you think that alteration is necessary.
Efficient planning to carry on with the research
Preparing the dissertation proposal
A dissertation proposal is an elaborate description of the assignment that you will be focusing on. Some departments require you to present a proposal as part of the evaluation of your dissertation, but it’s still useful to prepare one even if it’s not a compulsion of your course. It should be based on the ideas that you had in mind for elucidating your research problem, or the discussions that you had with your professor or mentor, and on the materials, you've read on the topic. A coherent and concise dissertation proposal will help you decipher exactly how you’re going to proceed with the main assignment and will be useful when you begin writing the dissertation.
You may notice that some of the sections are hard to fill in right at the initial stages of writing the paper. However, you can utilize these gaps to understand where you need to begin your work. If, for instance, you are uncertain about the limitations of your research methodology you should converse with your professor and read further about that methodology before you begin.
Follow a realistic plan:
To make sure that you finish your dissertation project on time without letting procrastination get in the way, you need to-
- Be realistic about when you will start with the paper
- Spare considerable amount of time to plan the structure of your paper and review it when necessary.
- Set aside some time for any travelling you need to do for research purposes
- Carry on with other (not connected to the dissertation) things that you have to do.
- Maintain clear and achievable objectives every week
- Concentrate on one aspect at a time
- Spare some time for reviewing and editing.
- Reward yourself when you finish the goals that you have to achieve.
- If you lag behind, then ensure you spend time revising your plan.
Your research plan should also contain details about what instruments you will need to finish your assignment and any travel expenses that you can incur in the course of your research. You should also consider whether you can rely on anyone else to accomplish your assignment, and also consider what you can do if they can’t assist you with the dissertation.
Once you’ve developed a plan for your dissertation, it's always advised to show it to someone who has a fair understanding of your field of study. Typically, you will be able to show it to your professor, but discussing it with a friend may also support you to spot something you may have missed while writing or identify whether you have taken an unrealistic stance in your planning.
The role of your mentor
Even though a dissertation provides the scope to work independently, you will ideally be working under the supervision of a mentor assigned by your university department. The mentors are there to assist you in shaping your ideas and offer you their insights on how to perform the research for your academic paper. They are not there to educate you on the topic you have decided to focus on. However, they act as one of the resources that you can always depend on while doing your research.
To get the most out of your mentor, you will have to be well organised and responsible about what you want from him/her. You have to understand that it’s not your mentor’s job to push you to present the dissertation on time or to inform you how to proceed with the different stages of the assignment.
Preparing a literature review
Irrespective of whether you have been assigned the topic by your professors, or you’ve come up with it all by yourself; you will have to highlight the justification for your research, and also elucidate on how it comes under the wider research context of your specific area. To support your research, you will need to put together a literature review, which focuses on the materials that have already been published that may prove to be useful for your dissertation.
Gathering sufficient details
In case of preparing a dissertation, collecting appropriate details has to be the most elaborate aspect. However, you must not proceed with this step hastily until you have properly defined your research problem and the limitations of your research. If you proceed with this step without thinking through, you are likely to gather the details that may turn out to be irrelevant.
Consider how you are going to store and retrieve your information. You should follow a system that enables you to-
- Preserve the information as you gather them.
- Retrieve the information easily.
- Examine the information that you gather.
There are many systems that support the process of appropriate data collection and retrieval. Additionally, you should have discussions with your mentor on how you decide to preserve the information you’ve gathered. As you move ahead in the research process, you will develop many ideas. So it’s valuable to keep track of these ideas on index cards, or in a notebook, or in your computer. You can go through these ideas when you begin writing.
Last but not the least, understand that you cannot accomplish everything in your dissertation. A segment where you elaborate on “further works” at the end of your paper will indicate that you have thought about the significance of your work for the academic community, and for your specific area of study.
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