Creating Your Dissertation: Planning and Research

When it's time to get started on your dissertation, it's not like you can just sit down at your computer and start writing. A dissertation requires extensive planning and research before you take to the actual paper.

Pick a Topic

You need to decide what you want to write your dissertation on before you do anything else. This can be one of the most difficult parts of the process. There are a number of options, and you probably find several of them appealing.

You do not need to pick a definite thesis at this point. You just need to decide what you're writing about . Do you really want to dive into James Joyce and Irish nationalism? When you finally do pick a topic, it's on to the next step.

Revisit Your Topic Thoroughly

When you decide you want to write on James Joyce and nationalism, it's important to revisit every book by James Joyce and pay extra special attention to the parts involving Irish nationalism. Rereading every book can take some time, but it's an important step in the process. You need to have the information fresh in your brain. You'll probably be reading the books a couple more times throughout the process, too.

Start the Research

At this point in your academic career, you should be familiar with how to find scholarly sources on your topic. Your school should give you access to online sources like JSTOR to get the information you'll need. Read as many articles as you can and annotate them thoroughly. You should take notes, highlight, and revisit the examples they give. Make it easy for yourself to use the article when you need it. Stay organized and remember what each article had to say.

Do not alter your paper to fit your research. Always do the opposite: alter your research to suit your paper. If this requires that you find more articles, you may have to do that. The time will be well worth it when your research supports your claims perfectly.

Develop a Thesis

It's important to remember that you can always alter the thesis throughout the planning and research process. But you need to try one out. Write a thesis, write your topic sentences, and provide the evidence. This should take a substantial amount of time, but you have already read the books and the applicable articles, which should make the process much easier.