Planning Your Research Dissertation

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Your doctoral dissertation is a major part of your doctoral program. It is important to develop a clear sense of direction early in the project. Focused planning and preparation will help the research for your dissertation happen as smoothly as possible.

Choosing a Topic

Some doctoral students begin their program knowing the type of research they would like to address. However, many need to dive into research and do other work in order to narrow down their focus. It can be helpful for doctoral students to talk with others about the topics they are considering and research different areas of interest in their field of study.

Determining the Type of Research

Research for a dissertation can take many forms. You can replicate an existing study and change some of the parameters or extend a previous study to a different context or population. Part of the dissertation will include a review of the literature and a critique of previous research. This critique can lend itself to developing a new methodology in your thesis.

Prepare for Dissertation Research

When determining the topic you want to research and the type of research you want to conduct, consider the time requirements needed to conduct the study that you are formulating. Find out how much traveling you will need to do in order to reach your intended research subjects. You also need to think about necessary equipment and access to the space that you need to conduct your work. Dissertation research may cost money related to required travel and materials, so make sure that you have funding to cover all areas of your work.

Dissertation Research Question

Developing the right research question is at the heart of your dissertation research project. You will need to explain the issue you plan to investigate, what you plan to prove, disprove or explore, and the limits of your research. Establishing your research problem or question early on allows you to make a concrete plan around the rest of your project. As you learn more about the topic, you may need to revise the problem or your own hypotheses about the issue.

Dissertation Research Proposal

Your Institutional Review Board may require that you submit a research proposal as part of the planning process for your dissertation. Even if it is not required, writing a research proposal could help you determine how to proceed with your work. Your dissertation research proposal should include the topic, the research question, the significance of your research to the field, the primary resources that you will refer to, justification for the methods that you plan to use, and the expected limitations for the research.

Dissertation Research Work Plan

You will need to create a timeline that helps you manage and undertake the variety of tasks that you need to accomplish while working on your dissertation, such as collecting data. Do not forget to factor in the time that you will be unable to work on the research, such as holidays or exam weeks. You will also need to give yourself some downtime and be reasonable about the amount of time that it will take you to complete your work.

Consider enrolling in one of the doctoral degree programs at Grand Canyon University’s College of Doctoral Studies. An expert faculty and resources such as the Center for Innovation in Research and Training (CIRT) will help guide you through a dissertation-focused curriculum designed for working professionals. To learn more about our programs, visit our website or click on the request More Information button on this page.

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