28. Potentially the silliest part of the dissertation is the Suggestionsfor Further Research section. This section is usually written atthe very end of your writing project and little energy is left to makeit very meaningful. The biggest problem with this section is that the suggestionsare often ones that could have been made prior to you conducting your research.Read and reread this section until you are sure that you have made suggestionsthat emanate from your experiences in conducting the research and the findingsthat you have evolved. Make sure that your suggestions for further researchserve to link your project with other projects in the future and providea further opportunity for the reader to better understand what you havedone.
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e. What if you have the opportunity for conducting your researchin conjunction with another agency or project that is workingin related areas. Should you do it? Sometimes this works well, but mostoften the dissertation researcher gives up valuable freedom to conductthe research project in conjunction with something else. Make sure thetrade-offs are in your favor. It can be very disastrous to havethe other project suddenly get off schedule and to find your own research projecttemporarily delayed. Or, you had tripled the size of your sample sincethe agency was willing to pay the cost of postage. They paid for the postagefor the pre-questionnaire. Now they are unable to assist with postage forthe post-questionnaire. What happens to your research? I usually findthat the cost of conducting dissertation research is not prohibitive andthe trade-offs to work in conjunction with another agency are not in favorof the researcher. Think twice before altering your project to accommodatesomeone else. Enjoy the power and the freedom to make your own decisions(and mistakes!) -- this is the way we learn!
16. Selecting and preparing your advisory committee to respond to yourproposal should not be taken lightly. If you do your "homework"well your advisory committee can be most helpful to you. Try these ideas:
d. Deciding on where you will conduct the research isa major decision. If you are from another area of the country or a differentcountry there is often an expectation that you will return to your "home"to conduct the research. This may yield more meaningful results, but itwill also most likely create a situation whereby you are expected to fulfillother obligations while you are home. For many students the opportunityto conduct a research project away from home is an important one sincethey are able to better control many of the intervening variables thatthey can not control at home. Think carefully regarding your own situationbefore you make your decision.
a. If you are given the opportunity to select your dissertation committeedo it wisely. Don't only focus on content experts. Make sure you have selectedfaculty for your committee who are supportive of you and are willingto assist you in successfully completing your research. You want a committeethat you can ask for help and know that they will provide it for you. Don'tforget, you can always access content experts who are not on your committeeat any time during your research project.
c. Sometimes a combined methodology makes the most sense. You can combinea qualitative preliminary study (to define your population more clearly,to develop your instrumentation more specifically or to establish hypothesesfor investigation) with a quantitative main study to yield a research projectthat works well.
b. Choose your methodology wisely. Don't be too quick in running awayfrom using a quantitative methodology because you fear the use of statistics.A qualitative approach to research can yield new and exciting understandings,but it should not be undertaken because of a fear of quantitative research.A well designed quantitative research study can often be accomplished invery clear and direct ways. A similar study of a qualitative nature usuallyrequires considerably more time and a tremendous burden to create new pathsfor analysis where previously no path had existed. Choose your methodologywisely!
c. Provide the committee members with a well-written proposal well inadvance of the meeting. Make sure they have ample time to read the proposal.
Now this is the part we've been waiting for. I must assume that youhave come up with a good idea for research, had your proposal approved,collected the data, conducted your analyses and now you're about to startwriting the dissertation. If you've done the first steps well this partshouldn't be too bad. In fact it might even be enjoyable!
12. Focus your research very specifically. Don't try to haveyour research cover too broad an area. Now you may think that this willdistort what you want to do. This may be the case, but you will be ableto do the project if it is narrowly defined. Usually a broadly definedproject is not do-able. By defining too broadly it may sound better toyou, but there is a great chance that it will be unmanageable as a researchproject. When you complete your research project it is important that youhave something specific and definitive to say. This can be accommodatedand enhanced by narrowly defining your project. Otherwise you may haveonly broadly based things to say about large areas that really providelittle guidance to others that may follow you. Often the researcher findsthat what he/she originally thought to be a good research project turnsout to really be a of research projects. Do one project for yourdissertation and save the other projects for later in your career. Don'ttry to solve all of the problems in this one research project.
17. The major myth in writing a dissertation is that you start writingat Chapter One and then finish your writing at Chapter Five. This is seldomthe case. The most productive approach in writing the dissertation is tobegin writing those parts of the dissertation that you aremost comfortable with. Then move about in your writing by completing varioussections as you think of them. At some point you will be able to spreadout in front of you all of the sections that you have written. You willbe able to sequence them in the best order and then see what is missingand should be added to the dissertation. This way seems to make sense andbuilds on those aspects of your study that are of most interest to you at any particulartime. Go with what interests you, start your writing there, and then keep building!
11. What is a proposal anyway? A good proposal should consist of thefirst three chapters of the dissertation. It should begin with a statementof the problem/background information (typically Chapter I of the dissertation),then move on to a review of the literature (Chapter 2), and conclude witha defining of the research methodology (Chapter 3). Of course, it shouldbe written in a future tense since it is a proposal. To turn a good proposalinto the first three chapters of the dissertation consists of changingthe tense from future tense to past tense (from "This is what I wouldlike to do" to "This is what I did") and making any changesbased on the way you actually carried out the research when compared tohow you proposed to do it. Often the intentions we state in our proposalturn out different in reality and we then have to make appropriate editorialchanges to move it from proposal to dissertation.