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Thread: Preparing to do my dissertation: what things do I need to know?

  1. #1
    Mar 2008
    Perth, Western Australia

    Preparing to do my dissertation: what things do I need to know?

    I'm about to embark on my Dissertation for my Masters in Urban Planning.

    I'm interested to hear people's thoughts on what of the following priorities are most important and why;

    1. That I chose a topic I'm passionate about?
    2. That I get a supervisor who is well regarded?
    3. That I find a supervisor that I get along with?
    4. That I chose a topic that will be directly applicable in the workplace?
    5. ?

    Any advice on what I should prioritise the most, and other things I need to ask myself when deciding on a topic would be very welcome, especially from people who have completed academic research.

    Thank You!

    Sacha - Australia

  2. #2
    Jul 2008
    Personally I think number one is the most important. Considering the amount of time you'll be spending on the topic, you need something that will hold your interest till the very end. You don't want to get bored of your topic midway through since that'll make completing it all the more difficult.

    Other things to consider are the available resources you have and the amount of time and effort you're willing to put in. Some research techniques take a lot more work than others. The same can be said for certain topics that may not be well researched yet.

    As for your faculty supervisor, just pick someone who's most familiar with your topic. Sure, some professors are easier to work with than others but at the end of the day it's a business relationship. They're all going to provide you sufficient guidance so that you can graduate.

  3. #3
    Dec 2008
    Upstate, NY
    Pick something you are passionate about. You may also find the direction of your research and paper takes you on a different direction once you get started. I originally intended to write about one thing but by the end of the process my topic and paper had changed. Some of the research I started with ended up in the final draft but it was not only about that one topic. Once you start researching/writing you will find the topic that fits your interests.

  4. #4
    Mar 2011
    New Haven, CT
    From Chapter 4 of the third edition of The Craft of Research, by Booth, Colomb, and Williams.

    1. I am studying/working on your topic

    2. because I want to find out who/what/when/where/whether/why/how your question

    3. in order to help my reader understand how/why/whether the "so what" .

  5. #5
    In general, I advise my students to:

    1. Pick a topic that can be completed in the time period you have been given.
    2. Pick a topic that you are interested in.
    3. Pick a topic where there are faculty/others who can help you complete your research.

    Don't worry about anyone stealing your ideas. In my experience, this rarely happens. And no two people approach a topic in the same way.

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