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Tips for Collecting Information for Your Dissertation

Writing a dissertation might be the most vital academic milestone in your entire academic career. One of the building blocks to writing a great dissertation is to make sure you are collecting information that is valid and reliable. Here are few useful tips to help you out during the information collection phase of a dissertation.

 Define Your Research Objectives

Before gathering the information, define the research objectives – what are you hoping to achieve by doing this dissertation? What are the specific questions you seek to answer? Keeping these questions in mind when gathering the information will allow for the most focused and relevant information.

 Use a Variety of Sources

Chances are, if you only use one source, you are going to miss a lot of the information out there. You never really know what is out there until you look, which is why a good research paper writer will take the time to really make sure they have found everything.

This includes looking for different kinds of sources, such as academic journals, books, other types of publications such as magazines or newspapers, and primary sources like letters. These will all help to give you a well-rounded view of your topic.

 Develop a Systematic Approach

Establishing a method of gathering and consolidating your research will keep you from feeling scattered and disorganized. Identify the sources you are going to use and how you plan to access and rifle through them. Decide exactly what you plan to extract from each— whether you will be printing out hard copies and highlighting them or simply tracking down relevant quotes and page numbers.

 Consult with experts and peers

Schedule some time to talk to the professors, mentors, and students in your dissertation area of interest. They will be able to point you to some relevant resources that you may not have encountered, and they will be able to give you some guidance on your ideas. When you are developing ideas for your dissertation, it is helpful to get feedback. Even though the dissertation is typically an independent project, it works out better when it looks more like a conversation among colleagues. It is also helpful to brainstorm with your colleagues. One head is good, but two heads are better, and six heads are better yet!

 Leverage Technology

Leverage technology to streamline your information-gathering efforts. Use reference management software to put your citations in the right format, scholarly databases so that you can be sure that you are looking at peer-reviewed assignments, and your academics digital library so that you can get your hands on the books and journals you need. Ensure you have the right tools to analyze different varieties of data, such as codebooks and data for analysis.

 Evaluate Source Credibility

Assess the authority, accuracy, objectivity, currency, and relevance of the sources you use before including them in your dissertation writing. Rely on peer-reviewed articles from respected academic institutions.

 Document Sources Properly

Keep detailed notes of the sources you have consulted during your research and correctly document bibliographic information for any material, such as author names, publication dates, titles and page numbers. This practice will help you avoid plagiarism, or a failure to cite any specific or intellectual passions.

It also speaks to the last criterion we mentioned: question. There must be a clearly defined problem before you get knee deep into your research.

 Balance Breadth and Depth

Seek to strike the right balance between depth and breadth. It is important to explore a wide variety of sources, but you should also dig deeply into key ones

to extract nuanced insights and evidence that you will be able to use to support your arguments.

 Stay Organized

Keep a carefully curated set of materials gathered in one place. You might use an annotated bibliography, a set of index cards, or digital folders of digital articles, snippets, or slides (in speaker mode) of material collected. There is a productivity gain, and a scholarly one. The more organized your repository of links and thoughts, the lower the threshold to return to them for another idea and the less likely you are to forget a pearl.

Remain Flexible and Open-Minded

Be prepared to adjust your information collection plan, based on what you find and what type of information you uncover. Stay flexible, and do not be afraid to embrace new processes, new methods, or new ideas that could potentially benefit your dissertation help.

Gathering information for your dissertation is a complex process that requires careful planning, efficient execution, and the ability to make judgments about the quality, veracity, and usefulness of sources as you go. By following the tips above, and by constantly reminding yourself of the basic considerations of your dissertation (Who is your audience? What is your research question?) you can build the most solid foundation — the most reliable web of information — before you sit down to write the longest and most important document of your academic career.

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