Writing a dissertation is probably the most important task you will need to accomplish in your academic career as a student. Make no mistake – it is a complex, time-consuming academic project that requires from you a clear sense of direction, as well as highly developed management, organising, and monitoring skills. That is why good planning becomes of crucial importance when it comes to writing a high-quality dissertation.
Having a clear and detailed plan not only means you will have a clear aim and structure for your study. It also means that you will be prepared for any challenge and will not be fazed if your project does not go the way it was expected to go.
Choose your field of interest and topic
Selecting your area of interest is the first thing you should consider when writing a dissertation plan. Think about the most interesting topics you have studied in your course and select one of them. In this case, you will be much more interested in your study and the process of dissertation writing will be less daunting and overwhelming.
It would be a good idea to conduct preliminary research on the topic you have selected to make sure there is enough literature and empirical evidence out there to support and further develop your ideas. You could also visit your university library and look at other students’ research papers in the field of your interest to get some inspiration and guidance.
Do not be afraid of asking your supervisor or tutor for advice as they can assist you in refining any grey areas or provide you with a list of relevant literature sources. Running your dissertation topic and title by the supervisor is compulsory if you do not want to rewrite your dissertation, which is quite stressful, especially at its later stages.
Design an outline plan
This is the heart of your dissertation plan as it outlines the most important components of your study, starting from your research problem and aim to research methods and limitations. Though your outline plan may be different, depending on the requirements of your university and the research area/topic selected, its general structure consists of the following elements:
- Literature review
In the introduction section, state what you are examining, why you have selected this topic/area, and how you are going to attain what you are planning to attain. In the literature review section, you will conduct a short, preliminary literature review to set out the area of your study, present your main argument, and identify potential research gaps.
In the methods section, you will outline the proposed research methods and techniques and provide some details on how you will organise the data collection and analysis process. In the justification section, the appropriateness of the selected methods is discussed.
In the limitations section, you will outline the matters that the selected methodology may not help you explain. Finally, in the timetable section, you will schedule your dissertation by allocating enough time to each task you are going to complete.
Create a list of sources
When planning your dissertation, you will need to search for relevant literature and create a list of references or bibliography, preferably for each section of your plan. It is most likely that your reference list will contain more sources than you can read. In this case, just use the abstracts of these sources to identify whether they are worth reading in detail. It is important to be selective and focus on those articles that are:
- Suggested by your supervisor
- Published in reputable academic journals
- Cited in other works
- Published in the last 5-7 years, except for seminal papers and key texts
Review your plan as your research progresses
Plans are just plans so do not worry when your dissertation plan will require modification. As you research around the selected area, you may find that the initial structure or direction of your study is shifting. When this happens, you can simply adjust your title, methods, or content notes before writing your dissertation.
Your supervisor may also suggest certain changes to your plan. Sometimes, these changes may seem overwhelming or difficult to implement on your own so using online editing services might be a good idea to finalise your dissertation plan and make sure your academic project is greenlighted. By hiring a professional editor, you can improve your work not only by addressing your tutor’s feedback but also by proofreading and editing your dissertation plan to improve its overall quality and consistency.