Planning and starting your dissertation or thesisThe importance of good planning in dissertation or thesis writing cannot be over emphasized. Research has shown that in many cases dissertation writer, especially those whose first language is not English, invest too much time initially in the mechanics of writing (grammar, sentence structure, word selection, etc.) instead of focusing on the meaning of what they want to express, and then refining this through the organization of paragraphs and sentences until the ideal structure and words are determined.
The result: the bigger picture or ideas is often lost or lacks support and certain sections of text may even seem to be irrelevant or disconnected even though their technical structure may be well formed. One way to solve this problem is through a continuous process of writing, revising and editing of the text as it develops so as to avoid the production of blocks of unconnected text.
Writing prompts for dissertation or thesisAnother strategy often recommended for students writing their dissertation or thesis, especially in the initial stage of writing, is to follow a set of prompts which will help focus the student on the context of their research topic. The process can be repeated as the text develops and as the focus or understanding of the student develops or changes.
- What can I write about? The background/context of the current research ....(50 words)
- The primary research question is .... (50 words)
- Other researchers who have examined this topic include .... (50 words)
- Principal arguments of other researchers are .... (25 words)
- Research A states/suggests/argues that .... (25 words)
- Researcher B states/suggest/argues that .... (25 words)
- Focus of the research debate is the issue of .... (25 words)
- Further study is still needed regarding .... (25 words)
- My research project is most similar to the research done by (name of other researcher) because .... (50 words)
- The contribution of my research project is .... (50 words)
In many cases, writing a dissertation or thesis is the first occasion that a student is required to organize, manage and produce such a large volume of written work. It can be a daunting task for many students who may not have had such an experience previously. It is not only the sheer size of the work, but the high standard of written work which is expected with regard to dissertations and theses.
The student must clearly show their knowledge and mastery of their particular research topic, and, importantly use this knowledge to present their argument in a logical and coherent manner based in their interpretation of the research results or findings.