Preparing for Your Dissertation: What You Should Do
During your doctorate studies, you will probably be reminded by professors or even your peers that you need to be ready for your dissertation. Even if you have successfully completed a Master’s thesis or some other related research, you will discover that expectations for the dissertation are much higher.
So read further for some helpful pointers on things you should do when preparing for your dissertation.
1. Strictly manage your time
Your dissertation will require a lot of reading (nearly 100 resources or more), analyzing, note-taking, experimentation, interviewing, data collection, writing, editing, and writing some more. If you want to finish this within a reasonable amount of time (2 or 3 years), then you need to stick to a rigid timeframe. If not, you’ll be extending further than expected.
2. Remind yourself of the end goal
Because of the length and strictness of schedule, you will be tempted to take days or even weeks off, especially if you feel life is passing you by. You need to remember your end goal which is to get your degree and contribute to your field. You can also motivate yourself by thinking of the higher salary at the end and the future opportunities that await you once your dissertation is done.
3. Search everywhere
The dissertation requires a wide array of resources such as books, journals, other dissertations, and even audio-visuals. Exhaust your search by visiting different libraries, bookstores, and checking online. If not, your committee may reject your initial proposal simply because it didn’t look like you did a thorough enough job searching.
4. Organize your notes right away
Since much reading is required, a smart step is to create an annotated bibliography as soon as you begin, which can be done on a computer spreadsheet or on index cards. Writing the sources’ details (author, date, publisher, etc.) and the important content will save you time and effort in the long run as you can easily refer to them when you start writing.
5. Do your homework before meeting your advisor
While your advisor is there to guide you, he or she is not going to write your paper or come up with a topic for you. So before you set a meeting, make sure you truly have researched on your own, and you have very concrete questions to ask. If not, each meeting just becomes a waste of time.
6. Update your advisor
As you start each key step of your dissertation process, update your advisor. Since your advisor has more research experience, it helps to get his or her thoughts so you don’t end up heading in the wrong direction.
7. Always validate your instruments
Before you begin using your surveys and questionnaires in earnest, validate them. This means you may have to field test them and even have them checked by an expert in the field.
8. Proofread everything
Whether it is just your preliminary dissertation proposal or a script for your focus group discussion, proofread everything. At this stage of your educational journey, everything you do reflects on your professionalism. Errors, however minor, will paint a different picture of you.
The dissertation is tough, but very rewarding in the end. If you want to do a good job and finish it within a reasonable amount of time, consider the tips above as you prepare for it.