Perhaps the most critical element of your entire dissertation will be your research and research analysis. Without these components, your dissertation is nothing but a literature review with many more pages.
When you begin your research for your dissertation, make sure you know exactly where you are coming from. You want to have a clear central question in mind so that you can approach it with as much clarity as possible. Conducting research without your central question in mind can lead to too broad an investigation, without the depth necessary for your dissertation.
- Your Central Question
As discussed above, your central question is positively integral to creating a successful dissertation. When you are making a dissertation outline, you will want to keep this question in mind.
How do you choose such a query to guide your research for dissertation writing? Here are some hints.
Aim for “encompassing,” not broad. There’s a distinction an encompassing question allows for multiple hypotheses and analysis, a broad question leaves a dissertation open to unhelpful diversions, which distract from your main thesis.
Compare these central questions: “What causes addictive behavior?” and “what social/economic pressures contribute to addictive behavior in group x?”
If you can answer this question with yes or no, it’s not your central question.
What other questions does your central question raise? Make use of bullet-points. You’ll probably want a master outline, annotated and printed on a large piece of paper, so you can make notes on this as you go. Research for dissertations is as much about thought as it is about writing.
Try to choose a central question that will allow you to pilfer ideas and content from papers you have already written.
Utilize everything at your disposal libraries, peers, professors, experts in your chosen field. This is also part of researching your dissertation, even though it’s not as interesting as conducting your own research.
- Conducting Your Own Research
You may have to conduct field experiments in order to get the information you need. This is especially true with psychology dissertations and the like, as they may require more original material.
- Never fear!
Plan ahead. If you will need to use space, get in contact with an organization, or utilize a resource, make sure to clear it months in advance.
Have something to show for your work. Don’t show up empty-handed to any interview. Even an abstract is preferable to nothing. You might want a letter from your advisor, too (see point above!)
- Begin early.
Keep careful notes in multiple locations. If Little Women taught us anything, it’s that you want more than one copy of everything.
Examine your own bias regularly how involved have you become? Are you still objective? Do you even need to be objective?
Research for dissertations can be extremely taxing, but it is also integral to the success of your dissertation. With this in mind, soldier on with only minor trepidation. Everything will be fine.