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Guidelines For Conducting Dissertation Research
Dissertation research is exhaustive. Most graduate students would correct that sentence to say that dissertation research is exhausting! Truly, it is. So what is it about the research phase that makes it such a daunting task to be feared and avoided?
What is involved in conducting research for a dissertation?
Thorough academic research is critical to the success of the dissertation. Once you have identified and narrowed your research question, you must find any and all literature that relates to your question. You will then enter a data collection phase.
Depending on the field in which your dissertation is being written, there will be some original research that you must conduct which will be incorporated into the writing of the dissertation.
Be prepared to do the following as you progress with the research:
- Alter your research question; you may see an avenue which sparks more interest or run into a roadblock with your current research focus.
- Conduct most of your literature search before embarking on the data collection.
- Investigate secondary sources after exhausting the primary sources.
- Ask for assistance from your professor or advisor when you run into hurdles that you can’t see your way around.
General guidelines to follow while in the research phase
Specific guidelines for conducting research for your dissertation may vary from one faculty of learning to another, but there are some basic guidelines for all students to follow:
- Follow any guidelines given to you by your advisor.
- Keep studious and very detailed notes of where you got passages from in the literature so that you don’t have to search for the source later.
- Keep a running bibliography that you can add to each time you use evidence or data from a published source.
- Use all search options at your disposal to conduct your search: libraries, University libraries, current journal articles, past periodicals, internet, former dissertations, etc.
- Let the research guide you. Some students go into the research phase trying to make the research fit into their specific question. But sometimes the research goes off in a different direction that’s worth pursuing. Don’t change direction or focus too many times, but definitely be open to a better option that may arise.
Ask your instructor or advisor for feedback as often as possible, so that you don’t waste valuable time and resources following the wrong path or the wrong strategy.
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