Step-By-Step on How to Plan a Dissertation Project

Twelve months for writing a dissertation may seem like an eternity. However, many graduates have struggled with the completion of a dissertation with much falling prey to the vicious cycle of procrastination. 

Although the time frame for writing a dissertation is longer than that of standard papers, the paper by itself is lengthy and demanding. With a couple of topics to handle and in-depth research to perform, time is often a fast-fleeting commodity for students. 

A dissertation plan is crucial for time management, helping you dedicate ample time to handle the complexity of each chapter within your paper. Here, we will cover some tips to guide you in preparing a detailed research project plan. 

What is a dissertation?

A dissertation is an academic project completed at the end of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. The paper is aimed to test a candidate’s research skills according to the ideas they have encountered throughout their study. 

The thesis may be solely based on research or existing publications in the field. In either case, a candidate has to perform extensive research to argue out their points and dispel various counterarguments. 

A standard dissertation ranges between five to seven chapters and could reach up to 15,000 words. 

How to plan a dissertation

Like all tasks, the availability of more time does not always imply a quality result. More time often inspires procrastination, resulting in a rush to complete the paper a few days before the due date.

With the weight attached to the dissertation, you cannot afford to fall victim to procrastination. Students who have mismanaged their time often end up submitting middling papers that attract equally sub-par results. 

Dissertation planning helps you apportion the sections of your thesis, helping you manage all sections in good time. A good plan, therefore, makes the difference between a thrilling paper and a dull, mediocre submission.

Some of the steps for planning your project dissertation include:

  1. Defining your topic

The key to your dissertation writing process is to establish a topic you are well placed to handle. Before diving into research, brainstorm ideas that you are interested in and check how well the ideas have been exhausted.

Avoid topics that have been covered in multiple papers as these may limit the scope of your paper. Narrow down your list to a few topics that are yet to be addressed and approach the research to gauge the one that can be managed with the resources at your disposal. 

  1. Conducting research

In this phase, coalesce all materials that are related to the idea you want to argue. Settle for a topic that offers ample primary and secondary resources essential for making your case. 

This stage also offers you a glimpse of your argument, allowing you to better plan for each section of your paper. 

  1. Gauge the available time

The dissertation plan proves a success as it holds you accountable for the time at your disposal. Before you start writing your paper, gauge the available time for completing your paper. 

Ideally, leave aside two weeks before the due date for editing and proofreading. plan for the monthly progress of your work, leaving wiggle room for commitments that could pop up along the way. 

This monthly plan can be broken down to weekly targets ensuring that you manage your thesis in good time.

  1. Break down the word count

After getting an idea of the time available and the extent of your topic, chunk your paper into sections. Assign each section an estimated word count and plan for the time that you need to manage each chapter. 

We recommend that you schedule the introduction and conclusion last as these require that you have a good understanding of your argument. This stage will allow you to break down your essay into weekly and monthly goals, ensuring timely completion of the paper. 

Tips for planning a research project

  • Outline your paper to keep yourself from veering off the key argument. This approach may be borrowed for chapters within your work to guide your argument and gauge the gaps in your argument.
  • Always leave wiggle room in your schedule as emergencies may compromise your capacity to adhere to a schedule. 
  • Record your references as you go to avoid omission in the bibliographies as this could result in plagiarism.
  • Delegate tasks like editing and proofreading to focus ample time on the research and development of your arguments.
  • Begin early to complete your paper in time and revise it as many times as needed.