Writing Your Dissertation: Some Tips to Get You Through
I have been writing for GoEssays customers for more than ten years. Throughout this time, I have written hundreds if not thousands of dissertations. I have even handled 15 theses simultaneously, all of which were due in just three months. Yes, really! (and no, I did not sleep well).
I do not say this to brag
I say this because, even after all that time and experience working on these kinds of projects, I admit that dissertations can be very stressful in comparison with any other custom writing project there is. That does not mean I do not enjoy working on them. I find that I grow and learn every time I complete a new thesis. It is my hope the tips I provide here will help you in your writing journey and will reduce some of the stress associated with completing such a massive undertaking. This will be just the first post about dissertation writing tips. I will talk about starting your research and getting to the literature review part. Other blog posts will then address such things like the methodology, finding and analysis, conclusion, and introduction (because I like to leave the introduction alone until the work is complete).
Now, Last time I talked about writing the proposal. So I assume that, if you are on your way to writing your dissertation, the proposal has been accepted by your tutor. That is great news!
Now, you may be thinking, what do I do?
The first thing I always do after the proposal is to move right to the literature review. If you can research thoroughly and execute a well-written review, you can be very confident that your findings and analysis chapter will also be well written because, thanks to the time you put in, you have a good enough understanding of the theoretical issues involved in whatever you are researching. That means, in practice, you can take the findings, be they survey findings or interview findings or whatever, and relate the results (i.e., analyze) them in accordance with the literature you reviewed. So, yes, research, research, research, you must research!
Research takes TIME
Do not underestimate the enormity of this task. While you may take an interest in a subject that is extensively written about, as I did with a project about analyzing change, the fact that there is a lot of literature available does not make it any easier. To the contrary. Sometimes there is so much information; you can become overwhelmed. You have to keep focus and determine what research you want to include and what you want to exclude. So you see, very early on, you are making analytical decisions about your research that will inevitably affect the outcome (that is, your grade).
How do I know what to exclude and what to include, you ask? Well, I would start by only using academic articles (search through Science Direct, EBSCO, and other databases) and stay away from internet sources. Really. There is plenty of good stuff you can access through your university library. You do not need the internet.
What Do I Research?
Now, what do I research? Take my dissertation regarding organizational change. When I began to research organizational change, I started from the beginning. I wanted to get a holistic understanding of such things as, who created this concept of organizational change? What does it mean? How is it defined? Does it appear (manifest) the same in all cases? Why or why not? Is there any literature on change in emerging markets? How might it work different there? These are all questions that guided the research for the literature review and, in particular, the search terms that I used.
What does this mean for you? It means you want to start with understanding the history of the topic. Then, you examine the concept, the different definitions, perspectives (which may help you understand the way different theories inform whatever idea you are researching); you research critical perspectives of whatever concept you are investigating, whether it is organizational change or human relations; you seek to gain a thorough understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your topic. The point is to obtain a comprehensive and analytical perspective of your topic, and understand the body of work that has developed throughout the years. This is not an easy task. I repeat, it is not easy, and it is indeed very tied consuming!
What Can Help Me Through?
I am a little old school. Meaning, I like to write, and I mean with an actual pen. I do not take notes using my computer. Personally, I find that, and academics would also agree with me on this, go ahead, you can look it up on Google if you want, that the brain retains more information when you take notes and actually write using your hands rather than type with your fingers. So I find that it is very easy for me to fill up two notebooks during the research process. Oh, and I don’t read them at the computer if I can help it. I print the materials out and read the studies in my office or underneath my comfy sheets. Go ahead. You can Google this too; studies show that when you read (and not in front of a screen), you are more likely to retain more information because you are less distracted and less likely to open Instagram or whatever it is you like to do online.
I will read hundreds of articles, book chapters, and even whole books to write a good literature review. It is from this basis in which will inform your findings and analysis, so you got to make it good. That is why I said earlier do not underestimate the enormity of the task in researching and preparing for the literature review. It is the most critical part. And besides, when you write a good literature review, you show your tutor you have mastery of the subject, and that is what they want to see.
Plan Your Review
Now that you have all this research, what do you do with it? This part is similar to an essay, somewhat, in that you will go through the process of creating an outline for your literature review and then decide how you will want to organize and arrange your argument. And yes I said argument because the literature review is not just a regurgitation of what other people have said on your subject matter. Your literature review is meant to be evaluative so that the reader knows the knowledge that has been established about a specific topic as well as among other things the strengths and weaknesses concerning that.
So, let’s go back to a real example of organizational change. I started by defining organizational change and reviewing the history of the concept and then moved on the major theoretical perspectives that informed change (planned, rational change versus complexity/chaos). I then argued that there was a gap in the knowledge available because while there have been a plethora of studies examining these perspectives, none, at least at the time in which I was writing, examined organizational change in the context of emerging MNCs in China. China, I argued, might have a different approach to change than what the theoretical literature or empirical literature offers because all of the research on the topic has been conducted in the West and therefore the available research ignores the ways in which politics, economics, culture, and other macroenvironmental factors may influence the ways in which change is navigated in actual practice.
So you see, by reviewing the literature extensively, I not only meet the aim of what a literature review is meant to achieve, evaluating, analyzing and assessing, but I can see an identifiable research gap that my study is intended to address. That is what a good literature review should do.
Now in my next post, I will move on from the literature review part and get to the methodology. That stumps a lot of students. So it will be fun to try and offer some tips that will hopefully get you guys through it.