How to Plan Your Dissertation Project

A dissertation is done before the completion of a degree. When the time comes for writing the dissertation, you may begin to panic. The panic is due to the massive task you have to undertake that needs considerable organization. The project requires extensive writing, plenty of research, data analysis, and compilation of comprehensive sources. This is why it is essential to plan your dissertation project well before you embark on it. You need to start planning the initial stages of the dissertation and work through to the final part of editing ad proofreading the document. AHow to Plan Your Dissertation Project dissertation is supposed to convince your tutor that you are a competent researcher and have in-depth knowledge of the selected subject. Since this is likely to be your first experience with actual research, it may be challenging. To become a credible researcher, you should show proficiency in every section of your dissertation. The article looks at the task of planning your dissertation project. We aim to help you have a clear direction from the start of your research project and assist you in monitoring, organizing, and planning your research.

What Is a Dissertation?

A dissertation is an academic assignment that comes at the end of the final year. In this assignment, you need to choose a topic, plan and conduct a project to investigate the topic and develop a write-up to show what you did and your results. A dissertation has several chapters that should be written clearly and concisely. The chapters include:

  • Title page: Contains the dissertation’s title, degree program, student’s name, department, submission date, and school’s logo.
  • Preliminary pages: Has acknowledgements, abstract, table of contents, and list of figures and tables.
  • Introduction: The introduction sets up the dissertation’s topic and purpose and tells the examiner what to expect in the document.
  • Literature review: It summarizes existing studies and develops an argument that justifies the research. In addition to this, it should also analyze the key concepts and theories that frame your study.
  • Methodology: Describes what you did in the research and how you did it.
  • Results: The section reports the research findings that are relevant to your research questions and objectives.
  • Discussion: In this chapter, you should explain the meaning of your results and their implications for your questions.
  • Conclusion: Your dissertation conclusion should answer the primary research question and give recommendations for future research.
  • Reference: Includes full details of the sources you have cited in the dissertation.

Choosing Your Dissertation Project Topic

While some learners may have straightforward research questions for their projects, many others may not have. With the pressure to get started quickly, it may cause them to panic. When planning your dissertation project topic, consider the following:

  • Talk to other students to know the topics they are considering. Fellow student’s questions and comments may help you arrive at a refined topic.
  • Take your time and find past research papers in your field, and read abstracts of the dissertations that you found interesting.
  • Go through dissertations of students in your department and identify topics that give you inspiration
  • Think of your interests; look at topics that excite you and see if you could develop a research project from one of them.
  • You should be critical. Consider aspects in your course that you think need to be studied further.

Your research project can:

  • Replicate a study but use a different setting
  • Explore an under-researched area
  • Extend a previous research

What’s more, you should find a supervisor from your department and discuss your proposed topic with them. It is crucial to think about the practical implications of your preferred research in terms of:

  • Time
  • Access to equipment and group of interest
  • Possible cost

Developing your Dissertation Research Question

Once you have selected your topic and the department has accepted it, you should start refining it. To ensure your topic is sufficiently focused to guide your project, describe it as:

  • A problem that you want to investigate
  • An argument that you want to explore, prove or disapprove
  • Give your research’s limits

You need to identify the research problem at the start of the project since it will point your research in the right direction.  You should keep asking yourself if the task you want to undertake will help you address the problem at hand. When you find out new information on your topic, you should keep on revising your research problem. For instance, the data you wanted to analyze may be unavailable, or you come across new concepts when conducting a literature search. Before you make any substantial changes, always consult your supervisor and explain the need for making the changes. 

Writing Dissertation Research Proposal

A research proposal gives a detailed description of the research project you are going to do. You need to submit a research proposal as part of the dissertation assessment. Although the proposal may not be a formal requirement in your department, it would help if you prepared it. The proposal builds on your thoughts when formulating your research question, the discussions with your instructor, and your topic’s readings. The dissertation research proposal should be comprehensive to know what you will do to achieve your objectives precisely.  What’s more, it will help you when you begin writing your dissertation.  If you are unsure about anything, it is good to talk to your supervisor and read more about the research area before starting the project.

Creating a Research Plan

A dissertation is a document that requires you to manage your time well and undertake multiple tasks simultaneously. The dissertation may come at the end of the course or run concurrently with other coursework, depending on your course. Whichever the case, it is necessary to an effective plan and allocate sufficient tie to each task. Work out the number of weeks you have to submit the dissertation and form a chart showing the timelines.  Leave out the weeks at which you are sure you will be unable to work on your project. You can then allocate your research to the remaining weeks. It is crucial to have a realistic plan for each task. In addition to this, put down the resources you will need for each research task, whether they are in the library, your working hours, and equipment and room that need to be booked in advance.

Procrastination and Reasons for It

Some students procrastinate the start of the dissertation project more than they should. This is a common problem and among students that may cost them. If you feel you have an issue, you need to be well-prepared to deal with it. Some reasons why individuals procrastinate include:

  • Negative beliefs
  • Need for perfectionism
  • Poor time management
  • Personal issues
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Loss of motivation
  • Need to be pressured

You should identify early signs of procrastination to have a better chance of minimizing its consequences. When you want to procrastinate, you should review your expectations and check to see if they make sense.

Realistic Planning

Realistic planning is something you should adopt before beginning your dissertation planning. To increase the chances of completing the project on time, you should:

  • Be realistic about when you will start the research
  • Devote sufficient time to planning and making changes to your plan
  • Try to see the specific amount of time each task will take
  • Allocate proper time for travel needs
  • Include other non-dissertation tasks you have to do
  • Set clear and achievable goals for each week
  • Focus on one task at a time
  • Set aside time for correcting and proofreading your dissertation document
  • Spend time reworking on your schedule if you fall behind

Ensure your research plan includes information about the equipment you will use in your project, travel costs, and other expenses you might incur during the investigation. In addition to this, you should think if your research is dependent on people and what you will do if they cannot help. It will be a good idea to share your plan with somebody else. You can show it to a staff member, study skills group, or talk it over with friends. They may identify crucial things that you may have forgotten or unrealistic plans.

Role of Your Instructor

Although you should work independently in your dissertation, you will still be assigned a supervisor from your department. Supervisors help students shape their ideas and advise them on how to do the dissertation research. However, they are not supposed to teach you the subject you have chosen since the project is yours.  Academicians are busy people; therefore, you need proper organization to get the most out of your instructor. Your supervisor’s role is not to chase you to finish your research project or tell you how to tackle each stage of your research. The following will enable you to make good use of your supervisor:

  • Agree on the meeting schedule at the start of the research and stick to it.
  • Have a focus for each meeting.
  • Before the meetings, always send your supervisor information that will form the basis of discussion of your project. It may include a research plan, early results of draft sections, or data collection.
  • Make sure you turn up for the meeting as scheduled since your supervisor will not be available throughout to meet you.
  • Agree on the point of action after each meeting.
  • Record everything you discuss in your meetings and email a summary of the same to your supervisor.

Communicate with your professor if you feel you are not supervised correctly and tell them why you are not happy.

What to Avoid When Meeting With Your Supervisor

There are some things that you should avoid during the supervisions. The first thing is missing the scheduled meeting. If you are unable to make it to the meeting, ensure you email them sooner. The email should include reasons why you could not attend the meeting and request to schedule it for another date. Do not say you are far behind in your project as a reason for cancelling the meeting. You should not put off the inevitable, and it is better to face the challenges. Lastly, you should not say you did not find information on your topic. Your professor is likely to search the topic on Google and find thousands of documents. They probably hear about this every year from students and equate it to laziness and lack of seriousness and commitment on the student’s part. When meeting your supervisor, be focused and run the meeting. The topic you are working on will be your interest; therefore, you will do more reading than your instructor. As a result, you will be the content expert and your supervisor. Being in the driver seat may  be a new feeling for you, but it will  prepare you for future research work.

Conducting a Literature Survey

It is necessary to show the rationale for your research regardless of whether you came up with your ideas or were given a topic. Besides that, you should also explain how your project fits within the broader research in your field. Undertaking a literature review will help you do this. It is a review of existing materials relevant to your research area. Primary tools to help you conduct a literature review are:

  • Advanced internet search engines
  • Electronic journals I the library
  • Bibliographies in your subject area

Schedule a meeting with a librarian specializing in your topic. They will advise on how to conduct the literature search and manage the information you generate.  You will likely get numerous references that you cannot read. Your title and abstract will help you determine sources that are worth reading. The references you select should:

  • Be recommended by your instructor
  • Have several keywords relevant to your topic
  • Be cited in many types of research
  • Be published in not more than five years.

Think about what you want to get from each source once you start reading and put down important notes. These notes will enable you to write your literature review without referring to the articles you read.

  • Be recommended by your instructor
  • Have several keywords relevant to your topic
  • Be cited in many types of research
  • Be published in not more than five years

Think about what you want to get from each source once you start reading and put down important notes. These notes will enable you to write your literature review without referring to the articles you read.

Organizing Your Research Notes

The way you organize your notes will be up to you. It will depend on the type of person you are. Some individuals like to arrange the notes linearly, while others by color. Others are used to writing detailed notes, and others will have scarce notes and keep referring to the original source. Regardless of the type of person you are, it is essential to have proper organization skills. Try several strategies and see what works well for you. Since you will need to cite the sources in your dissertation, you should organize them properly. Learn the referencing styles required for the dissertation and apply them in your assignment. Make sure you are aware of your university’s guidelines and stick to them.

Data Collection

The data collection phase is the most crucial part of your research project. However, you should avoid tackling this part until you have sufficiently defined your research problem and your research extent and limitations. Being too hasty will make you collect unreliable data. You should consider your data storage and retrieval methods. Look for a system that will allow you to:

  • Record data accurately
  • Promptly and efficiently retrieve data
  • Analyze and compare the data
  • Create sound outputs for your document, for example, graphs.

There are a variety of systems that support efficient data collection and retrieval. These systems include card indexes, electronic tools like bibliographic software, spreadsheets and databases, and discipline-specific tools.  You should talk to your supervisor or librarian about how you plan to store data. While doing your research, you are likely to develop several ideas. These should be kept on index cards, in a notebook, or in an electronic file for reference. You should label, date, and record all the data you get during the research.

Pilot Studies

A pilot study includes the collection of preliminary data using the planned methods but with a small sample. Pilot studies test a researcher’s approach and identify issues that need to be addressed before the actual data collection. After completing the pilot study, you should be careful about reading too much into the findings you have gotten. The results of your pilot study will tell about your method.  Ask yourself if the technique was easy or hard, if it took longer than expected ad f the participants behaved as expected. Take your time to reflect on your pilot study’s implications for your project and adjust where necessary. Even if you lack time to run a pilot study, try and reflect on the chosen methods after generating some data.

Dealing with Issues

Once you start generating data, you may realize that the research is not going as planned. This should not upset you since research is unpredictable. It would be best to analyze the siltation and think about where the problem lies and how it came to be. Check to see if the problem can be resolved by taking a few steps back or changing some concepts. You should consider how significant the problem is to answer your questions and see what will resolve the issue. Even though changing the title is not the best option, you should consider modifying it.

Arrange to meet your supervisor if the issue is intractable and give him a detailed analysis of the issue. Chances are they have experienced similar problems; therefore, they can give you valuable recommendations. Do not ignore a problem with the hope that it will vanish, and do not think you will fail if you seek help. Finally, remember that your write-up should include every problem you faced during the research and successfully solve. Do not skirt around the issues; instead, flag them up and demonstrate how you solved them to your examiners.

Reporting Your Dissertation Research

Along with your research, you may realize that the topic you selected is more complex than you had seen when defining your research question. Your research will still be valid even though you know the problem is of greater complexity. You need to have a clear definition of your research boundaries and strive to maintain them. Avoid spending too much time investigating distinctly separate subject areas from your topic.

Beginning the dissertation write-up can be intimidating; however, you should set adequate time for writing the paper, reviewing it critically, and editing it. To transition from research to writing, consider the following tips:

  • Specify the period when you will stop researching and start writing in your plan. Aim to stick to the plan unless you give an apparent reason for continuing further with the research.
  • Give yourself a break from the project and ask yourself if you need more research.
  • Talk to your supervisor about your progress and ask them if the collected data is adequate.

Keep in mind that your dissertation cannot achieve everything you wanted. You will include a section at the end of your dissertation to discuss further work to be done on the topic.

Dissertations play a very important part in your master’s degree. A huge percentage of your grades depend on the marks you score in your dissertation. But to do proper research for your dissertation, writing it, analysis of the results, and its inference requires a lot of time and dedication. This is because you have so much to do like study for exams, finish assignments, and be a part of extracurricular activities, job placements, and many other similar activities that cannot be avoided either. Thus, many a time it becomes a little difficult to dedicate the amount of time and resources that should be invested in a dissertation. This is exactly where “Help in Project” comes to your rescue and provides dissertation writing services to students in writing their dissertation. We provide best-in-class dissertation writing services and we make sure you get the best out of best.

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