Planning your dissertation is the most important piece of research you will undertake during your doctoral career, however, it seems a daunting task for the majority of scholars.
While writing you can sidestep of your focal point and add incongruous elements to your research work, but with a robust outline you will be able to focus on your research and keep your task manageable. Dissertation planning may seem to be a list of things you should do and you should not, but it involves more.
- Choose the subject or area of your interest
Investigating a topic that you genuinely enjoys will make your research less overwhelming and demanding. Read as much as you can to ensure that there is plenty of literature to back up your ideas and arguments and to find the gap that you can address in your research.
- Choose a research-worthy topic
You are not alone who is going to research on the same subject you chose for your doctoral research. So you have to decide a unique approach to give a new angle to the study. Sometimes you may wish to extend a study that has been carried out, but you need to develop an approach and analyse the idea and find out how successful it is.
- Prepare a dissertation outline
Make a proper outline of your dissertation. Divide it into three main components – introduction, main body and conclusion. You can further break down each section into subsections. In the introduction, you will introduce your topic, current situation/problem and topics you are going to further touch upon in the forthcoming dissertation chapters. The main body will include literature sources, arguments and themes. The conclusion section will include a summary of your findings, solutions and unresolved issues.
- Make a list of sources required
At the time of making a dissertation outline, note down the full names of books (and even page numbers) that can help you retrieve relevant information while drafting your dissertation document. It will also help you write your bibliography towards the end. Decide upon a set of resources; online, e journals, newspapers, white papers, journal articles, chapters of books, encyclopedias, government reports, etc.
- Critically analyze whether the research is doable
Planning to do a particular research in a chosen subject field with the targeted aim is one part of the story, but actually sitting down and analyzing one’s own capabilities to complete what is required is another. Carefully check whether you have all sources handy to collect required data, knowledge and availability of data analysis tools and techniques and whether the research is actually contributing to the overall pool of knowledge of given subject.
Your dissertation outline is just for having a clear idea about what you have to do. However, you can alter the process a bit as and when you come across a particular step of research.