The process of research and writing for a PhD dissertation can be incredibly intimidating. You’ll probably be spending 3-5 years on it, making it the most intensive academic project you’ve ever undertaken. But there are several steps you can take that will help you to write the perfect dissertation in sociology:
- Choose a good topic
Choosing a good topic is crucial to setting yourself up for success with your project. Chances are your topic will at least partially be dictated by the program that you are in, what work your advisor is doing, and where your funding is coming from. But even with those factors guiding your research, you’ll still have some room to pick your specific topic. In a field like sociology make sure you are picking a topic that is on the forefront of the field and that is relevant.
- Complete background research for a literature review
Your dissertation will include a literature review that will outline what work has already been done by others that is relevant to your research or that has informed your research somehow. You’ll want to do at least part of the literature review before you choose your research question as it will show you what has already been done and where there are opportunities for new research.
- Come up with a hypothesis or research question
Your research will focus around a hypothesis, or more commonly in sociology, a research question. Make sure this question is concise and of an appropriate scope for the time and resources you will have to work on your project.
- Set your methodology
Before you actually begin your research you should come up with a detailed methodology that will explain how you will collect your data, analyze it, and use the results to answer your research question. It can be a challenge to do this before you have actually started your research, but establishing your methodology at the start will help you to avoid mistakes that could invalidate your results.
- Keep good track of your sources
You’ll be accumulating hundreds of sources during your research, so consider using a source management software to keep track of all of them, organize your notes, and eventually format your sources section.
- Make sure you check in with your advisor along the way
Check in with your advisor, showing them your work so far, as often as possible. This will help you avoid having to go back and redo anything if it turns out they aren’t happy with it.