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Top dissertation writing advices today: The methodology chapter or section describes how you conducted your research, allowing your reader to assess its validity. You should generally include: The overall approach and type of research (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, experimental, ethnographic); Your methods of collecting data (e.g. interviews, surveys, archives); Details of where, when, and with whom the research took place; Your methods of analysing data (e.g. statistical analysis, discourse analysis); Tools and materials you used (e.g. computer programs, lab equipment); A discussion of any obstacles you faced in conducting the research and how you overcame them; An evaluation or justification of your methods. Your aim in the methodology is to accurately report what you did, as well as convincing the reader that this was the best approach to answering your research questions or objectives.
Move Around: In a similar vein, if you find yourself stuck on a certain section in a chapter move on and come back to it later. As long as you have outlined your argument and approach for the chapter, you can easily skip a difficult part and use your time more efficiently to write a straightforward section. Having made progress on an “easy” section, you will be more confident when returning to the tricky paragraphs. Get Feedback Early: This tip is somewhat dependant on your supervisor and their preferences. If possible, share your work with them early and often. They can alert you to problems sooner and help you work through any difficult sections. Plus doing smaller revisions along the way will save you from rewriting an entire chapter closer to the due date. See additional info on help me write my dissertation.
Know when to read. Write sooner, write continually, and write in order to rewrite. But you need to know when you are churning an empty barrel. Reading and research should be a stimulus to write and you need to know when that stimulus is needed. Be willing to stop writing for a short period so that you can refresh your mind with new ideas and research. Establish chunks of time to research and write. While it is important to keep writing and make the most of the time that you have, it is best for writing projects specifically to set aside large portions of time with which to write. Writing requires momentum, and momentum gathers over time. Personally, I have found that I need at least an hour to get things rolling, and that three to four hours is ideal.
Stop making excuses. There will always be a million reasons to not write. You have other work to do, you have papers to grade, you have jobs to apply for, you have meetings to go to, your back hurts, your computer is acting funny, the stars aren’t in the right position. There will always be reasons not to write. And it’s hard, but sometimes you pretty much just have to tell these reasons to shut up. Sitting down to write, even when it seems like you can’t, is the only way to get anything written.
Write in order to rewrite. Writing sooner and writing continually can only happen if you aren’t consumed with perfection. Some of us are discouraged from writing because we think our first draft needs to be our final draft. But this is exactly the problem. Get your thoughts on paper and plan to go back and fix awkward sentences, poor word choices, and illogical or unsubstantiated arguments in your subsequent drafts. Knowing that rewriting is part of the writing process will free you to write persistently, make progress, and look forward to fixing things later.
Ask for feedback early, and often. The sooner you can be communicating with your committee about your writing, the smoother your editing stages will go. Sit with your advisor with just a rough outline of the chapter and find out if it works. Send partial drafts to anyone willing to read them. This will not only prevent feelings of isolation as you write, as it will keep you connected to your committee and other writers, but it will also help prevent situations where you have to rewrite entire chapters.
Set deadlines. Depending on your project, you may have built in deadlines that force you to produce material at a steady clip. If you do not have built in deadlines, you must impose them on yourself. Deadlines produce results, and results lead to completed writing projects. Set realistic deadlines and stick to them. You will find that you are able to accomplish much more than you anticipated if you set and stick to deadlines. Take productive breaks. Instead of turning to aimless entertainment to fill your break times, try doing something that will indirectly serve your writing process. We need breaks: they refresh us and help us stay on task. In fact, studies have shown that overall productivity diminishes if employees are not allowed to take regular, brief pauses from their work during the day. What is not often mentioned, however, is that a break does not necessarily have to be unrelated to our work in order to be refreshing; it needs only to be different from what we were just doing. So, for example, if you have been writing for 90 minutes, instead of turning on YouTube to watch another mountain biking video, you could get up, stretch, and pull that book off the shelf you’ve been wanting to read, or that article that has been sitting in Pocket for the past six weeks. Maybe reorganizing your desk or taking a walk (see above) around the library with your capture journal would be helpful. Whatever you choose, try to make your breaks productive.