How to Craft an Impressive Dissertation: Guidelines for Beginners
The dissertation is an important piece of writing, one which will take a long time to complete. It is important that you treat yourself well throughout the course of the writing, taking breaks every so often, planning out a schedule with small milestones you can easily reach, and taking the time to research and write a little bit every day.
Picking a Topic
Of course, the first thing you have to do is select your topic and have it approved by the review committee and/or your advisor. Before you can select your topic, you have to first review the assignment details. This is done to make sure that you pick a topic which falls under the parameters of your assignment. With that information in mind, you should take a day or two to brainstorm potential ideas. Consider your interests. Reflect upon what arguments you often have with friends and family, and what might be an unusual topic. Why does your particular interest matter in this regard? It matters because a topic that is of interest to you will be fun. You will actually enjoy reading more about it, rather than it feeling like an assignment. It is best to start off with a broad subject and from there, you can narrow down a topic.
With a topic in hand, approved and ready to go, you should start your research. Ask yourself what you already know about the topic and what else you need to know. This will help you to use your research time wisely.
When you take notes, it is handy to have multiple colored index cards. You can use the colors to coordinate your notes. For example: one color can be set aside for any notes related to the background while another color is set aside exclusively for the methods section, and another for your results. Or you can use one color for key arguments and another color for supporting evidence. Whatever method you choose, make sure that all quotes and statistics you write down are double checked for accuracy. Being accurate from the start will save you quite a bit of time near the end. Check that you wrote out full bibliographic information for all notes too, including the page number. Again, this will save you many hours near the end of your dissertation writing which would otherwise have been spent scanning pages for the lost quote.