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Dissertations and Theses from Start to Finish: a Guide for Beginners

  • The first step is to get your project approved. You need to ensure your advisor and review committee has signed off on your topic. You will most likely be asked to submit a proposal. This will require rudimentary research on your behalf and approval on theirs.
  • Once that is done you have the keys to the ignition and can start on the research. Make sure that your research is comprehensive and that you utilize all of the resources you have at your disposal. When you are conducting research it is best to have multiple colored note cards with you so that you can keep active notes. One color should be reserved for key ideas and another should be for evidence or supporting information for the key ideas.

It is important that as you research you have milestones set up and you work regularly. The workload will be heavy but having mini milestones will ensure that you stay on top of things. This is a process you will need to use throughout the writing process.

  • Set up research milestones for yourself and when you meet the milestones give yourself a small reward.
  • Set a date for writing. Mark down a start date in your calendar. This will help pressure you gently to finish your research before the writing date. When the writing date approaches you should set up miniature deadlines for each of your chapters/sections.
  • Try and set up regular meetings with your advisor and have them expecting the chapters at certain times so that you can arrange meetings to discuss each of those chapters at other times. For example: if you send in a chapter on Thursday schedule a meeting the following Monday or Tuesday to talk it over with your advisor.
  • When you are writing a dissertation or a master’s thesis you need to aim to have some sort of progress made each day. See about writing a bit each day. Set a goal of five hundred words per day or perhaps even one thousand words per day.

It is of course of vital importance to create a comfortable work space that is free from distractions. With so many things pulling your schedule in so many directions it can prove quite productive to have a special study space reserved just for writing and research on your dissertation or thesis.

 

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