Dissertation literature review tips for exams
Jun 22, 2018
WRITING CHAPTER 2: THE LITERATURE REVIEW - Dissertation ...
The subjects in the Review of Literature should have been introduced in the Background of the Problem in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 is not a textbook of subject ...
Where to look for topic ideas
- Look at other dissertation in your field in order to get an idea of the overall scope and style. (The MSU Library is a good place to find dissertations from your own department.)
- Identify your areas of interest. What are you passionate about? Write about topics and look at your own academic career to see what you have done.
- Identify how you think and research—do you look at one topic in depth or several ideas you can explore in a comparative manner?
- Look at job openings to see what is “hot” in your field and what potential future employers are looking for.
- Strive for a balance between passion and practicality.
- Talk to your advisor and professors to learn what they are working on. In the sciences, you may have the opportunity to work with them on their research.
- Contact experts and professionals in the field to see what they’re doing and what’s new.
- Generate titles as soon as possible. They will contain words that will frame your work.
Once you have a general idea of your topic
- Remember that an idea or topic that is general and undefined is fine to start. Broad is all right because it is a research topic not research questions.
- Reading, read, read. Do extensive reading and research on your topic to narrow it down and get specific.
- Generate a list of possible titles. This helps identify key words and concepts.
- Choose the best possibilities, analyze them briefly, and present them to your
committee to get their feedback and develop them further.
- Try using cognitive/mind/concept maps to organize your ideas.
What is the proposal?
- A template for the larger project of the dissertation;
- An evaluation;
- A research plan;
- A trial run or head start;
A sales pitch;
- A contract with your committee saying what you will do and what requirements
occur before you get your degree;
- A document that demonstrates you can conceive of a dissertation;
- A document that identifies the ideas you want to call your own;
- A tentative blueprint that is always subject to change as you go.
Before and after the proposal
- Pre-proposal outline (consider letting your advisor look at this early);
- The proposal defense (expect open-ended and specific questions—consider asking
other students to do a trial run with you. Think of your committee as colleagues
trying to help you refine your ideas);
- Ultimately, your proposal won’t answer every question. In final form, it becomes
whatever your committee agrees it should be and guides you into your dissertation.
Two Possible Ways of Structuring the Proposal
Please note that these are just examples. Your program may have specific guidelines. Please speak with your advisor to find out about structures that are appropriate for your project.
Writing a Dissertation Proposal
The dissertation proposal is an important first step towards writing your final dissertation on a taught or research master's course, or a PhD level course. Your proposal needs to be unique and it sets the stage for your research and should help you make a clear plan for your final project. Read more about planning your dissertation here.Search for MASTERS COURSES
Dissertation proposals are like the table of contents for your research, and will help you explain what it is you intend to examine, and roughly, how you intend to go about collecting and analysing your data. You won’t be required to have everything planned out exactly, as your topic may change slightly in the course of your research, but for the most part writing your proposal should help you better identify the direction for your dissertation.
When you’ve chosen a topic, you’ll need to make sure that it is both appropriate to your field of study, and narrow enough to be completed by the end of your course. Your dissertation proposal will help you define and determine both of these things, and will also allow your department and instructors to make sure that you are being advised by the best person to help you complete your research.
Narrow the topic down
It’s important that when you sit down to draft your proposal, you’ve carefully thought out your topic, and are able to narrow it down enough to present clear and succinct understanding of what you aim to do and hope to accomplish by doing it. Aiming for 1,000 words or more, your proposal will give an outline of the topic of your dissertation, some of the questions you hope to answer with your research, what sort of studies and type of data you aim to employ in your research, the sort of analysis you will carry out.
Different courses may have different requirements for things like length and the specific information to include, as well as what structure is preferred, so be sure to check what special requirements your course may have.
What should I include in a dissertation proposal?
Your dissertation proposal should have several key aspects, regardless of the structure: the introduction, the methodology , aims and objectives, the literature review, and the constraints of your research.
The introduction will state your central research question and give background on the subject, as well as relating it contextually to any broader issues surrounding it. Read more about picking a topic for your dissertation.
The dissertation methodology will break down what sources you aim to use for your research, and what sort of data you will collect from it- either quantitative or qualitative. You may also want to include how you will analyse the data you gather and what if any bias there may be in your chosen methods. Depending on the level of detail that your specific course requires, you may also want to explain why your chosen approaches to gathering data are more appropriate to your research than others.
Aims and Objectives
Your dissertation proposal should also include the aims and objectives of your research. Be sure to state what your research hopes to achieve, and what outcomes you predict. You may also need to clearly state what your main research objectives are, in other words, how you plan to obtain those achievements and outcomes.
The literature review will list the books and materials that you used to do your research. This is where you can list materials that give you more background on your topic, or contain research carried out previously that you refer to in your own studies. It’s also a good place to demonstrate how your research connects to previous academic studies, and how your methods may differ from or be building upon those used by other researchers. While it’s important to give enough information about the materials to show that you have read and understood them, don’t forget to include your analysis of their value to your work.
Constraints of your research
Lastly, you will also need to include the constraints of your research. Many topics will have broad links to numerous larger and more complex issues, so by clearly stating the constraints of your research, you are displaying your understanding and acknowledgment of these larger issues, and the role they play by focusing your research on just one section or part of the subject.
Dissertation proposal example
The structure of your dissertation proposal will depend on your specific course requirements. Some courses may specify that the aims and objectives of your research be a separate section in your proposal, or that you do not need to include a methodology or literature review section.
Once you know what sections you need or do not need to include, then it may help focus your writing to break the proposal up into the separate headings, and tackle each piece individually. You may also want to consider including a title. Writing a title for your proposal will help you make sure that your topic is narrow enough, as well as help keep your writing focused and on topic.
One example of a dissertation proposal structure is the following headings, either broken up into sections or chapters depending on the required word count:
- Aims and Objectives
- Literature Review
- Research Constraints
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