Nudity and Dissertations
‘It’s gettin’ hot in here, so take off all your clothes!” July 14th is National Nude Day. You can celebrate by going au natural. Comfortable? Great! Now, let’s talk about stripping your dissertation down to the “bare” essentials…
If you’ve been reading these daily missives with any regularity, you know that I focus a lot on simplicity. Why?
Well, about 50% of doctoral students never graduate. They become what is know as “terminal ABD.” ABD stands for All But Dissertation. And, unfortunately…
No dissertation, no Doctor!
And, that’s clearly not the outcome you’re shooting for!
So, how do you strip your dissertation down to the bare essentials?
It starts with topic selection. For me, you don’t have a dissertation topic until you also have a solid research plan. Your plan should be detailed and precise, kind of like a Martha Stewart recipe for baking a cake. Nothing can be left to chance.
You must know where you’re going to get your data. Who are you going to interview or survey? Are you going to use existing data instead? Do you have permission from the owner of that data?
You must also know exactly what the data is going to look like. What are the interview or survey questions? What format is the existing data in? Exactly what information is included in the data?
And, finally, you must know exactly what you’re going to do with the data. What analysis will you perform? Thematic, statistical, or otherwise? What techniques will you use? What will your final results look like?
You cannot guess or wish on any of these elements.
Hope is not a plan.
This plan, however, represents the bare essentials for your dissertation. It informs the rest of your proposal, and your entire dissertation! As you add the vestments of Chapters 1 & 2, this plan helps you to determine what fits.
What articles should you include in your literature review?
Only those that explain, support, or otherwise justify elements of your plan. Strip the rest away.
How should I position my study in Chapter 1? In my Problem Statement? In my Purpose Statement?
Only explain the importance of your study in a manner consistent with your plan. If it’s not in your plan, it’s not in Chapter 1. Strip the rest away.
How do I discuss assumptions, limitations, delimitations, populations, samples, and so on, in Chapter 3?
Again, refer back to the plan. This is your dissertation, naked. Only include details in Chapter 3 that are direct extensions of your plan. No additional embellishments. Strip the rest away.
When you’re done stripping away the extraneous, you will have the simplest dissertation possible.
Complicated dissertations stall. Simple dissertations get done!