Be realistic about the time that you're willing to commit to your research project. There are strict timelines for completing a degree at UBC. Keep these in mind when you select a project. It's never too early to create a timeline for the project. Try using the 6 stages below.
Put a start and a finish time for each step. Post your timeline in a conspicuous place above your computer monitor? Periodically update your timeline with new dates as needed. It can be helpful at this early stage to conduct a small preliminary pilot research study or scholarly paper. Preliminary work of this sort allows you to test out some of your ideas and can help you gain confidence in what you'd like to do. This pilot work will also give you a chance to get closer to your research and test whether you really are interested in the topic.
And, you can do it before you have committed yourself to doing something you may not like. Take your time and try it first. Students need to consult early with their research supervisors and with the UBC guidelines for Dissertation and Thesis Preparation. They move too quickly to trying to write the proposal.
Does each of these statements describe you? I am familiar with other research that has been conducted in areas related to my research project. I feel that I have the ability e.
I know that I am motivated and have the drive to get through all of the steps in the research project. Very often a stumbling block is that we don't have an image of what the finished proposal should look like. Ask your adviser to see some sample exemplary proposals from students he or she has supervised in the past.
Chances are your adviser has a file drawer filled with them. How was the other proposal organized? What headings were used? Does the other proposal seem clear? Does it show that the writer knows the subject area? Can I model my proposal after one of the ones that I've seen? Make sure your proposal includes a comprehensive review of the literature. Now this idea, at first thought, may not seem to make sense.
I'll do a complete literature search for the dissertation. I don't want to waste the time now. The literature review consists of two lines of argument: Why would you want to wait? Now is the time to get informed and to learn from the scholars who preceded you! If you wait until you are writing the dissertation, it is too late to be sure that you've developed those arguments.
You've got to do it some time, so you might as well do it now. When you read something that is important to your study, photocopy the relevant article or section, or archive it in an electronic citation management system such as Refworks, Mendeley or Zotero. Keep your photocopies or archived references organized according to categories and sections.
And, most importantly, copy the complete bibliographic citation so that you can easily reference the material in your bibliography. Then, when you decide to sit down and actually write the literature review, bring out your photocopied or archived sections, put them into logical and sequential order, and begin your writing.
What is a proposal anyway? A good proposal should consist of the first chapters or sections of the thesis or dissertation. Often the plans we state in our proposal turn out different in reality. We then have to make appropriate editorial changes to move the document from proposal to dissertation.
Focus your research very specifically. You may think that a narrow focus will distort what you want to do, but a broadly defined project can be unmanageable as a research project. When you complete your research, it is important that you have something specific and definitive to say. Otherwise, you may be left with broad, vague conclusions that provide little guidance to scholars who follow you.
Include a title on your proposal. A good proposal has a good title, and it is the first thing to help the reader begin to understand the nature of your work.
Work on your title early in the process and revisit it often. When selecting those guiding questions, write them so that they frame your research and put it into perspective with the literature.
Those questions establish the link between your research and the research that preceded yours. Your questions should clearly show the relationship of your work to your field of study. Be aware of ethical considerations and procedures.
Choose your methodology wisely. Methodological considerations are a core issue as you develop and refine your research topic. Consider questions such as the following: What are the most common research methods used in your discipline?
Which methods are most strongly supported within your program and by your supervisor and supervisory committee members? What are the leading methodological debates within your discipline, particularly in relation to your research topic or problem? What methodological issues have been raised in recent research literature in your area?
You need to be thoroughly acquainted with effective principles and practices of choosing research methods for your thesis or dissertation. Be sure to discuss methodological questions and issues with your supervisor and committee in the early stages of your proposal development. Select and prepare your supervisory committee carefully. Select faculty for your committee who are supportive of you and are willing to assist you in completing your research.
You want a committee that you can ask for help and know that they will provide it for you. Set up a formal meeting with your full committee to discuss your research proposal as soon as possible. Make sure that your supervisor and committee members are fully supportive of the project before you begin. The proposal meeting should be seen as an opportunity for you and your supervisory committee to reach agreement on the fundamental goals and procedures for your research.
Provide the committee members with a well—written proposal well in advance of meetings. Check with them to see how much time they will need to read the proposal. Plan the proposal meetings well. If graphic presentations are necessary to help the committee, make sure they are clear and attractive. A well planned meeting will help your committee understand that you are prepared to move forward with well planned research. Depending on the amount of detail you included in your proposal, you may not need or want to repeat every point.
However, you should not assume all your committee members read the proposal carefully, and you should be sure to cover all important facts and issues. The major myth in writing a dissertation is that you start writing at Chapter One and write straight through. This is seldom the case. The most productive approach in writing the dissertation is often to begin writing those parts of the dissertation with which you are most comfortable. Then complete the various sections as you think of them.
At some point you will be able to print and spread out in front of you all of the sections that you have written. You will be able to sequence them in the best order and to see what is missing and should be added to the dissertation. This approach builds on those aspects of your study that are of most interest to you at any particular time. Go with what interests you, start your writing there, and then keep building!
If you prepared a comprehensive proposal you will now be rewarded! Pull out the proposal and check your proposed plan. Change from future tense to past tense and then make additions or changes so that the methodology section truly reflects what you did. You have now been able to change sections from the proposal to sections for the dissertation. Move on to the Statement of the Problem and the Literature Review in the same manner. Write your dissertation using the real names.
At the end of the writing stage, you can make all of the appropriate name substitutions. If you make these substitutions too early it can confuse your writing. As you get involved in writing your dissertation, you will find that conservation of paper will fade as a concern.
As soon as you print a draft of a chapter, you will notice a variety of necessary changes, and before you know it, another draft will be printed. And, it seems almost impossible to throw away any of the drafts! After awhile, it can become difficult to remember which draft of your chapter you are looking at.
My job has a set schedule, so I could easily plan around that. But, alas, I sit, surrounded by my thesis research at my feet, within a week of my first draft deadline, and not motivated at all to write. Then I get so many different examples, I get hung up on trying to figure out which sample is most like what I should be doing.
How do people do this?! Now is not the time for me to get burned out! What are your tricks for getting this done? Anal retentive observance of a schedule? The acquisition of a muse?
I have to start by saying that I have no answers for you. But I can identify with this so much that I had to wonder for a moment how you were spying on me! This is actually really helpful! Do it in short spurts, but make sure that you stick to whatever short spurt you have started.
This was awesome advice! But I discovered that I had to do one better and head to the library. I actually got a couple of pages written. But, of course, when I was there, it was admitted students day, so there were tour groups rolling through the library every 5 minutes. I discovered working from home worked best for me, and when I got bored after a few days I would go to a coffee shop with headphones. Ride your creative wave until it crashes then walk away for a bit and get some sunshine or get a coffee and go for a walk.
I would write whenever the urged struck, even if it was 1am. I was horrible at keeping a writing schedule because if I tried to write when I had nothing to say I would stare out into space or reading gossip on the internet. Good luck — I feel your pain. I usually turn off everything, grab some coffee and then I go old school. I write a make-shift outline and then I start writing..
Oh and I turn my phone on DND.
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