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Dissertation Structure & Layout 101: How to structure your dissertation, thesis or research project.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Reviewed By: David Phair (PhD) | July 2019

So, you’ve got a decent understanding of what a dissertation is , you’ve chosen your topic and hopefully you’ve received approval for your research proposal . Awesome! Now its time to start the actual dissertation or thesis writing journey.

To craft a high-quality document, the very first thing you need to understand is dissertation structure . In this post, we’ll walk you through the generic dissertation structure and layout, step by step. We’ll start with the big picture, and then zoom into each chapter to briefly discuss the core contents. If you’re just starting out on your research journey, you should start with this post, which covers the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis .

Dissertation structure and layout - the basics

*The Caveat *

In this post, we’ll be discussing a traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout, which is generally used for social science research across universities, whether in the US, UK, Europe or Australia. However, some universities may have small variations on this structure (extra chapters, merged chapters, slightly different ordering, etc).

So, always check with your university if they have a prescribed structure or layout that they expect you to work with. If not, it’s safe to assume the structure we’ll discuss here is suitable. And even if they do have a prescribed structure, you’ll still get value from this post as we’ll explain the core contents of each section.  

Overview: S tructuring a dissertation or thesis

  • Acknowledgements page
  • Abstract (or executive summary)
  • Table of contents , list of figures and tables
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Literature review
  • Chapter 3: Methodology
  • Chapter 4: Results
  • Chapter 5: Discussion
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion
  • Reference list

As I mentioned, some universities will have slight variations on this structure. For example, they want an additional “personal reflection chapter”, or they might prefer the results and discussion chapter to be merged into one. Regardless, the overarching flow will always be the same, as this flow reflects the research process , which we discussed here – i.e.:

  • The introduction chapter presents the core research question and aims .
  • The literature review chapter assesses what the current research says about this question.
  • The methodology, results and discussion chapters go about undertaking new research about this question.
  • The conclusion chapter (attempts to) answer the core research question .

In other words, the dissertation structure and layout reflect the research process of asking a well-defined question(s), investigating, and then answering the question – see below.

A dissertation's structure reflect the research process

To restate that – the structure and layout of a dissertation reflect the flow of the overall research process . This is essential to understand, as each chapter will make a lot more sense if you “get” this concept. If you’re not familiar with the research process, read this post before going further.

Right. Now that we’ve covered the big picture, let’s dive a little deeper into the details of each section and chapter. Oh and by the way, you can also grab our free dissertation/thesis template here to help speed things up.

The title page of your dissertation is the very first impression the marker will get of your work, so it pays to invest some time thinking about your title. But what makes for a good title? A strong title needs to be 3 things:

  • Succinct (not overly lengthy or verbose)
  • Specific (not vague or ambiguous)
  • Representative of the research you’re undertaking (clearly linked to your research questions)

Typically, a good title includes mention of the following:

  • The broader area of the research (i.e. the overarching topic)
  • The specific focus of your research (i.e. your specific context)
  • Indication of research design (e.g. quantitative , qualitative , or  mixed methods ).

For example:

A quantitative investigation [research design] into the antecedents of organisational trust [broader area] in the UK retail forex trading market [specific context/area of focus].

Again, some universities may have specific requirements regarding the format and structure of the title, so it’s worth double-checking expectations with your institution (if there’s no mention in the brief or study material).

Dissertations stacked up

Acknowledgements

This page provides you with an opportunity to say thank you to those who helped you along your research journey. Generally, it’s optional (and won’t count towards your marks), but it is academic best practice to include this.

So, who do you say thanks to? Well, there’s no prescribed requirements, but it’s common to mention the following people:

  • Your dissertation supervisor or committee.
  • Any professors, lecturers or academics that helped you understand the topic or methodologies.
  • Any tutors, mentors or advisors.
  • Your family and friends, especially spouse (for adult learners studying part-time).

There’s no need for lengthy rambling. Just state who you’re thankful to and for what (e.g. thank you to my supervisor, John Doe, for his endless patience and attentiveness) – be sincere. In terms of length, you should keep this to a page or less.

Abstract or executive summary

The dissertation abstract (or executive summary for some degrees) serves to provide the first-time reader (and marker or moderator) with a big-picture view of your research project. It should give them an understanding of the key insights and findings from the research, without them needing to read the rest of the report – in other words, it should be able to stand alone .

For it to stand alone, your abstract should cover the following key points (at a minimum):

  • Your research questions and aims – what key question(s) did your research aim to answer?
  • Your methodology – how did you go about investigating the topic and finding answers to your research question(s)?
  • Your findings – following your own research, what did do you discover?
  • Your conclusions – based on your findings, what conclusions did you draw? What answers did you find to your research question(s)?

So, in much the same way the dissertation structure mimics the research process, your abstract or executive summary should reflect the research process, from the initial stage of asking the original question to the final stage of answering that question.

In practical terms, it’s a good idea to write this section up last , once all your core chapters are complete. Otherwise, you’ll end up writing and rewriting this section multiple times (just wasting time). For a step by step guide on how to write a strong executive summary, check out this post .

Need a helping hand?

masters dissertation planner

Table of contents

This section is straightforward. You’ll typically present your table of contents (TOC) first, followed by the two lists – figures and tables. I recommend that you use Microsoft Word’s automatic table of contents generator to generate your TOC. If you’re not familiar with this functionality, the video below explains it simply:

If you find that your table of contents is overly lengthy, consider removing one level of depth. Oftentimes, this can be done without detracting from the usefulness of the TOC.

Right, now that the “admin” sections are out of the way, its time to move on to your core chapters. These chapters are the heart of your dissertation and are where you’ll earn the marks. The first chapter is the introduction chapter – as you would expect, this is the time to introduce your research…

It’s important to understand that even though you’ve provided an overview of your research in your abstract, your introduction needs to be written as if the reader has not read that (remember, the abstract is essentially a standalone document). So, your introduction chapter needs to start from the very beginning, and should address the following questions:

  • What will you be investigating (in plain-language, big picture-level)?
  • Why is that worth investigating? How is it important to academia or business? How is it sufficiently original?
  • What are your research aims and research question(s)? Note that the research questions can sometimes be presented at the end of the literature review (next chapter).
  • What is the scope of your study? In other words, what will and won’t you cover ?
  • How will you approach your research? In other words, what methodology will you adopt?
  • How will you structure your dissertation? What are the core chapters and what will you do in each of them?

These are just the bare basic requirements for your intro chapter. Some universities will want additional bells and whistles in the intro chapter, so be sure to carefully read your brief or consult your research supervisor.

If done right, your introduction chapter will set a clear direction for the rest of your dissertation. Specifically, it will make it clear to the reader (and marker) exactly what you’ll be investigating, why that’s important, and how you’ll be going about the investigation. Conversely, if your introduction chapter leaves a first-time reader wondering what exactly you’ll be researching, you’ve still got some work to do.

Now that you’ve set a clear direction with your introduction chapter, the next step is the literature review . In this section, you will analyse the existing research (typically academic journal articles and high-quality industry publications), with a view to understanding the following questions:

  • What does the literature currently say about the topic you’re investigating?
  • Is the literature lacking or well established? Is it divided or in disagreement?
  • How does your research fit into the bigger picture?
  • How does your research contribute something original?
  • How does the methodology of previous studies help you develop your own?

Depending on the nature of your study, you may also present a conceptual framework towards the end of your literature review, which you will then test in your actual research.

Again, some universities will want you to focus on some of these areas more than others, some will have additional or fewer requirements, and so on. Therefore, as always, its important to review your brief and/or discuss with your supervisor, so that you know exactly what’s expected of your literature review chapter.

Dissertation writing

Now that you’ve investigated the current state of knowledge in your literature review chapter and are familiar with the existing key theories, models and frameworks, its time to design your own research. Enter the methodology chapter – the most “science-ey” of the chapters…

In this chapter, you need to address two critical questions:

  • Exactly HOW will you carry out your research (i.e. what is your intended research design)?
  • Exactly WHY have you chosen to do things this way (i.e. how do you justify your design)?

Remember, the dissertation part of your degree is first and foremost about developing and demonstrating research skills . Therefore, the markers want to see that you know which methods to use, can clearly articulate why you’ve chosen then, and know how to deploy them effectively.

Importantly, this chapter requires detail – don’t hold back on the specifics. State exactly what you’ll be doing, with who, when, for how long, etc. Moreover, for every design choice you make, make sure you justify it.

In practice, you will likely end up coming back to this chapter once you’ve undertaken all your data collection and analysis, and revise it based on changes you made during the analysis phase. This is perfectly fine. Its natural for you to add an additional analysis technique, scrap an old one, etc based on where your data lead you. Of course, I’m talking about small changes here – not a fundamental switch from qualitative to quantitative, which will likely send your supervisor in a spin!

You’ve now collected your data and undertaken your analysis, whether qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods. In this chapter, you’ll present the raw results of your analysis . For example, in the case of a quant study, you’ll present the demographic data, descriptive statistics, inferential statistics , etc.

Typically, Chapter 4 is simply a presentation and description of the data, not a discussion of the meaning of the data. In other words, it’s descriptive, rather than analytical – the meaning is discussed in Chapter 5. However, some universities will want you to combine chapters 4 and 5, so that you both present and interpret the meaning of the data at the same time. Check with your institution what their preference is.

Now that you’ve presented the data analysis results, its time to interpret and analyse them. In other words, its time to discuss what they mean, especially in relation to your research question(s).

What you discuss here will depend largely on your chosen methodology. For example, if you’ve gone the quantitative route, you might discuss the relationships between variables . If you’ve gone the qualitative route, you might discuss key themes and the meanings thereof. It all depends on what your research design choices were.

Most importantly, you need to discuss your results in relation to your research questions and aims, as well as the existing literature. What do the results tell you about your research questions? Are they aligned with the existing research or at odds? If so, why might this be? Dig deep into your findings and explain what the findings suggest, in plain English.

The final chapter – you’ve made it! Now that you’ve discussed your interpretation of the results, its time to bring it back to the beginning with the conclusion chapter . In other words, its time to (attempt to) answer your original research question s (from way back in chapter 1). Clearly state what your conclusions are in terms of your research questions. This might feel a bit repetitive, as you would have touched on this in the previous chapter, but its important to bring the discussion full circle and explicitly state your answer(s) to the research question(s).

Dissertation and thesis prep

Next, you’ll typically discuss the implications of your findings? In other words, you’ve answered your research questions – but what does this mean for the real world (or even for academia)? What should now be done differently, given the new insight you’ve generated?

Lastly, you should discuss the limitations of your research, as well as what this means for future research in the area. No study is perfect, especially not a Masters-level. Discuss the shortcomings of your research. Perhaps your methodology was limited, perhaps your sample size was small or not representative, etc, etc. Don’t be afraid to critique your work – the markers want to see that you can identify the limitations of your work. This is a strength, not a weakness. Be brutal!

This marks the end of your core chapters – woohoo! From here on out, it’s pretty smooth sailing.

The reference list is straightforward. It should contain a list of all resources cited in your dissertation, in the required format, e.g. APA , Harvard, etc.

It’s essential that you use reference management software for your dissertation. Do NOT try handle your referencing manually – its far too error prone. On a reference list of multiple pages, you’re going to make mistake. To this end, I suggest considering either Mendeley or Zotero. Both are free and provide a very straightforward interface to ensure that your referencing is 100% on point. I’ve included a simple how-to video for the Mendeley software (my personal favourite) below:

Some universities may ask you to include a bibliography, as opposed to a reference list. These two things are not the same . A bibliography is similar to a reference list, except that it also includes resources which informed your thinking but were not directly cited in your dissertation. So, double-check your brief and make sure you use the right one.

The very last piece of the puzzle is the appendix or set of appendices. This is where you’ll include any supporting data and evidence. Importantly, supporting is the keyword here.

Your appendices should provide additional “nice to know”, depth-adding information, which is not critical to the core analysis. Appendices should not be used as a way to cut down word count (see this post which covers how to reduce word count ). In other words, don’t place content that is critical to the core analysis here, just to save word count. You will not earn marks on any content in the appendices, so don’t try to play the system!

Time to recap…

And there you have it – the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows:

  • Acknowledgments page

Most importantly, the core chapters should reflect the research process (asking, investigating and answering your research question). Moreover, the research question(s) should form the golden thread throughout your dissertation structure. Everything should revolve around the research questions, and as you’ve seen, they should form both the start point (i.e. introduction chapter) and the endpoint (i.e. conclusion chapter).

I hope this post has provided you with clarity about the traditional dissertation/thesis structure and layout. If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below, or feel free to get in touch with us. Also, be sure to check out the rest of the  Grad Coach Blog .

masters dissertation planner

Psst… there’s more (for free)

This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project. 

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Dissertation and thesis defense 101

36 Comments

ARUN kumar SHARMA

many thanks i found it very useful

Derek Jansen

Glad to hear that, Arun. Good luck writing your dissertation.

Sue

Such clear practical logical advice. I very much needed to read this to keep me focused in stead of fretting.. Perfect now ready to start my research!

hayder

what about scientific fields like computer or engineering thesis what is the difference in the structure? thank you very much

Tim

Thanks so much this helped me a lot!

Ade Adeniyi

Very helpful and accessible. What I like most is how practical the advice is along with helpful tools/ links.

Thanks Ade!

Aswathi

Thank you so much sir.. It was really helpful..

You’re welcome!

Jp Raimundo

Hi! How many words maximum should contain the abstract?

Karmelia Renatee

Thank you so much 😊 Find this at the right moment

You’re most welcome. Good luck with your dissertation.

moha

best ever benefit i got on right time thank you

Krishnan iyer

Many times Clarity and vision of destination of dissertation is what makes the difference between good ,average and great researchers the same way a great automobile driver is fast with clarity of address and Clear weather conditions .

I guess Great researcher = great ideas + knowledge + great and fast data collection and modeling + great writing + high clarity on all these

You have given immense clarity from start to end.

Alwyn Malan

Morning. Where will I write the definitions of what I’m referring to in my report?

Rose

Thank you so much Derek, I was almost lost! Thanks a tonnnn! Have a great day!

yemi Amos

Thanks ! so concise and valuable

Kgomotso Siwelane

This was very helpful. Clear and concise. I know exactly what to do now.

dauda sesay

Thank you for allowing me to go through briefly. I hope to find time to continue.

Patrick Mwathi

Really useful to me. Thanks a thousand times

Adao Bundi

Very interesting! It will definitely set me and many more for success. highly recommended.

SAIKUMAR NALUMASU

Thank you soo much sir, for the opportunity to express my skills

mwepu Ilunga

Usefull, thanks a lot. Really clear

Rami

Very nice and easy to understand. Thank you .

Chrisogonas Odhiambo

That was incredibly useful. Thanks Grad Coach Crew!

Luke

My stress level just dropped at least 15 points after watching this. Just starting my thesis for my grad program and I feel a lot more capable now! Thanks for such a clear and helpful video, Emma and the GradCoach team!

Judy

Do we need to mention the number of words the dissertation contains in the main document?

It depends on your university’s requirements, so it would be best to check with them 🙂

Christine

Such a helpful post to help me get started with structuring my masters dissertation, thank you!

Simon Le

Great video; I appreciate that helpful information

Brhane Kidane

It is so necessary or avital course

johnson

This blog is very informative for my research. Thank you

avc

Doctoral students are required to fill out the National Research Council’s Survey of Earned Doctorates

Emmanuel Manjolo

wow this is an amazing gain in my life

Paul I Thoronka

This is so good

Tesfay haftu

How can i arrange my specific objectives in my dissertation?

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How to Write a Master's Thesis: A Guide to Planning Your Thesis, Pursuing It, and Avoiding Pitfalls

#scribendiinc

Part 1: Initial Considerations

Who needs to write a master’s thesis.

Thesis writing is one of the more daunting challenges of higher education. That being said, not all master's students have to write a thesis. For example, fields that place a stronger emphasis on applied knowledge, such as nursing, business, and education, tend to have projects and exams to test students on the skills and abilities associated with those fields. Conversely, in disciplines that require in-depth research or highly polished creative abilities, students are usually expected to prove their understanding and independence with a thesis.

What's Your Goal?

Do you want to write a thesis? The process is a long one, often spanning years. It's best to know exactly what you want before you begin. Many people are motivated by career goals. For example, hiring managers may see a master's degree as proof that the candidate is an expert within their field and can lead, motivate, and demonstrate initiative for themselves and others. Others dream of earning their doctorate, and they see a master's degree as a stepping stone toward their Ph.D .

masters dissertation planner

No matter what your desired goal is, you should have one before you start your thesis. With your goal in mind, your work will have a purpose, which will allow you to measure your progress more easily.

Major Types of Theses

Once you've carefully researched or even enrolled in a master's program—a feat that involves its own planning and resources —you should know if you are expected to produce a quantitative (which occurs in many math and science programs), qualitative (which occurs in many humanities programs), or creative (which occurs in many creative writing, music, or fine arts programs) thesis.

Time and Energy Considerations

Advanced degrees are notoriously time and energy consuming. If you have a job, thesis writing will become your second job. If you have a family, they will need to know that your thesis will take a great deal of your attention, energy, and focus.

masters dissertation planner

Your studies should not consume you, but they also should not take a back seat to everything else. You will be expected to attend classes, conduct research, source relevant literature, and schedule meetings with various people as you pursue your master's, so it's important to let those you care about know what's going on.

As a general note, most master's programs expect students to finish within a two-year period but are willing to grant extra time if requested, especially if that time is needed to deal with unexpected life events (more on those later).

Part 2: Form an Initial Thesis Question, and Find a Supervisor

When to begin forming your initial thesis question.

Some fields, such as history, may require you to have already formed your thesis question and to have used it to create a statement of intent (outlining the nature of your research) prior to applying to a master’s program. Others may require this information only after you've been accepted. Most of the time, you will be expected to come up with your topic yourself. However, in some disciplines, your supervisor may assign a general research topic to you.

Overall, requirements vary immensely from program to program, so it's best to confirm the exact requirements of your specific program.

What to Say to Your Supervisor

You will have a supervisor during your master's studies. Have you identified who that person will be? If yes, have you introduced yourself via email or phone and obtained information on the processes and procedures that are in place for your master's program? Once you've established contact, request an in-person meeting with him or her, and take a page of questions along with you. Your questions might include:

  • Is there a research subject you can recommend in my field?
  • I would like to pursue [target research subject] for my thesis. Can you help me narrow my focus?
  • Can you give me an example of a properly formatted thesis proposal for my program?

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help (to a Degree)

Procedures and expectations vary from program to program, and your supervisor is there to help remove doubt and provide encouragement so you can follow the right path when you embark on writing your thesis. Since your supervisor has almost certainly worked with other graduate students (and was one at some point), take advantage of their experience, and ask questions to put your mind at ease about how to write a master’s thesis.

That being said, do not rely too heavily on your supervisor. As a graduate student, you are also expected to be able to work independently. Proving your independent initiative and capacity is part of what will earn you your master's degree.

Part 3: Revise Your Thesis

Read everything you can get your hands on.

Whether you have a question or need to create one, your next step is simple and applies to all kinds of theses: read.

masters dissertation planner

Seek Out Knowledge or Research Gaps

Read everything you can that relates to the question or the field you are studying. The only way you will be able to determine where you can go is to see where everyone else has been. After you have read some published material, you will start to spot gaps in current research or notice things that could be developed further with an alternative approach. Things that are known but not understood or understood but not explained clearly or consistently are great potential thesis subjects. Addressing something already known from a new perspective or with a different style could also be a potentially valuable project. Whichever way you choose to do it, keep in mind that your project should make a valuable contribution to your field.

masters dissertation planner

Talk with Experts in Your Field (and Don't Be Afraid to Revise Your Thesis)

To help narrow down your thesis topic, talk to your supervisor. Your supervisor will have an idea of what is current in your field and what can be left alone because others are already working on it. Additionally, the school you are attending will have programs and faculty with particular areas of interest within your chosen field.

On a similar note, don't be surprised if your thesis question changes as you study. Other students and researchers are out there, and as they publish, what you are working on can change. You might also discover that your question is too vague, not substantial enough, or even no longer relevant. Do not lose heart! Take what you know and adjust the question to address these concerns as they arise. The freedom to adapt is part of the power you hold as a graduate student.

Part 4: Select a Proposal Committee

What proposal committees are and why they're useful.

When you have a solid question or set of questions, draft a proposal.

masters dissertation planner

You'll need an original stance and a clear justification for asking, and answering, your thesis question. To ensure this, a committee will review your thesis proposal. Thankfully, that committee will consist of people assigned by your supervisor or department head or handpicked by you. These people will be experts who understand your field of study and will do everything in their power to ensure that you are pursuing something worthwhile. And yes, it is okay to put your supervisor on your committee. Some programs even require that your supervisor be on your committee.

Just remember that the committee will expect you to schedule meetings with them, present your proposal, respond to any questions they might have for you, and ultimately present your findings and thesis when all the work is done. Choose those who are willing to support you, give constructive feedback, and help address issues with your proposal. And don't forget to give your proposal a good, thorough edit and proofread before you present it.

How to Prepare for Committee Meetings

Be ready for committee meetings with synopses of your material for committee members, answers for expected questions, and a calm attitude. To prepare for those meetings, sit in on proposal and thesis defenses so you can watch how other graduate students handle them and see what your committee might ask of you. You can even hold rehearsals with friends and fellow students acting as your committee to help you build confidence for your presentation.

masters dissertation planner

Part 5: Write Your Thesis

What to do once your proposal is approved.

After you have written your thesis proposal and received feedback from your committee, the fun part starts: doing the work. This is where you will take your proposal and carry it out. If you drafted a qualitative or quantitative proposal, your experimentation or will begin here. If you wrote a creative proposal, you will now start working on your material. Your proposal should be strong enough to give you direction when you perform your experiments, conduct interviews, or craft your work. Take note that you will have to check in with your supervisor from time to time to give progress updates.

masters dissertation planner

Thesis Writing: It's Important to Pace Yourself and Take Breaks

Do not expect the work to go quickly. You will need to pace yourself and make sure you record your progress meticulously. You can always discard information you don't need, but you cannot go back and grab a crucial fact that you can't quite remember. When in doubt, write it down. When drawing from a source, always create a citation for the information to save your future self time and stress. In the same sense, you may also find journaling to be a helpful process.

Additionally, take breaks and allow yourself to step away from your thesis, even if you're having fun (and especially if you're not). Ideally, your proposal should have milestones in it— points where you can stop and assess what you've already completed and what's left to do. When you reach a milestone, celebrate. Take a day off and relax. Better yet, give yourself a week's vacation! The rest will help you regain your focus and ensure that you function at your best.

How to Become More Comfortable with Presenting Your Work

Once you start reaching your milestones, you should be able to start sharing what you have. Just about everyone in a graduate program has experience giving a presentation at the front of the class, attending a seminar, or watching an interview. If you haven't (or even if you have), look for conferences and clubs that will give you the opportunity to learn about presenting your work and become comfortable with the idea of public speaking. The more you practice talking about what you are studying, the more comfortable you'll be with the information, which will make your committee defenses and other official meetings easier.

Published authors can be called upon to present at conferences, and if your thesis is strong, you may receive an email or a phone call asking if you would share your findings onstage.

Presenting at conferences is also a great way to boost your CV and network within your field. Make presenting part of your education, and it will become something you look forward to instead of fear.

What to Do If Your Relationship with Your Supervisor Sours

A small aside: If it isn't already obvious, you will be communicating extensively with others as you pursue your thesis. That also means that others will need to communicate with you, and if you've been noticing things getting quiet, you will need to be the one to speak up. Your supervisor should speak to you at least once a term and preferably once a week in the more active parts of your research and writing. If you give written work to your supervisor, you should have feedback within three weeks.

If your supervisor does not provide feedback, frequently misses appointments, or is consistently discouraging of your work, contact your graduate program advisor and ask for a new supervisor. The relationship with your supervisor is crucial to your success, especially if she or he is on your committee, and while your supervisor does not have to be friendly, there should at least be professional respect between you.

What to Do If a Crisis Strikes

If something happens in your life that disrupts everything (e.g., emotional strain, the birth of a child, or the death of a family member), ask for help. You are a human being, and personal lives can and do change without warning. Do not wait until you are falling apart before asking for help, either. Learn what resources exist for crises before you have one, so you can head off trauma before it hits. That being said, if you get blindsided, don't refuse help. Seek it out, and take the time you need to recover. Your degree is supposed to help you become a stronger and smarter person, not break you.

Part 6: Polish and Defend Your Master's Thesis

How to write a master’s thesis: the final stages.

After your work is done and everything is written down, you will have to give your thesis a good, thorough polishing. This is where you will have to organize the information, draft it into a paper format with an abstract, and abbreviate things to help meet your word-count limit. This is also where your final editing and proofreading passes will occur, after which you will face your final hurdle: presenting your thesis defense to your committee. If they approve your thesis, then congratulations! You are now a master of your chosen field.

Conclusion and Parting Thoughts

Remember that you do not (and should not) have to learn how to write a master’s thesis on your own. Thesis writing is collaborative, as is practically any kind of research.

masters dissertation planner

While you will be expected to develop your thesis using your own initiative, pursue it with your own ambition, and complete it with your own abilities, you will also be expected to use all available resources to do so. The purpose of a master's thesis is to help you develop your own independent abilities, ensuring that you can drive your own career forward without constantly looking to others to provide direction. Leaders get master's degrees. That's why many business professionals in leadership roles have graduate degree initials after their last names. If you already have the skills necessary to motivate yourself, lead others, and drive change, you may only need your master's as an acknowledgement of your abilities. If you do not, but you apply yourself carefully and thoroughly to the pursuit of your thesis, you should come away from your studies with those skills in place.

A final thought regarding collaboration: all theses have a section for acknowledgements. Be sure to say thank you to those who helped you become a master. One day, someone might be doing the same for you.

Image source: Falkenpost/Pixabay.com 

We’re Masters at Master’s Theses! Make Yours Shine.

Let our expert academic editors perfect your writing, or get a free sample, about the author.

Anthony Granziol

A Scribendi in-house editor, Anthony is happily putting his BA in English from Western University to good use with thoughtful feedback and incisive editing. An avid reader and gamer, he can be found during his off hours enjoying narrative-driven games and obscure and amusing texts, as well as cooking for his family.

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How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation

How to Write a Thesis or Dissertation

Selecting a Thesis Committee

Selecting a Thesis Committee

Thesis/Dissertation Writing Series: How to Write a Literature Review

Thesis/Dissertation Writing Series: How to Write a Literature Review

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masters dissertation planner

masters dissertation planner

A Guide to Dissertation Planning: Tips, Tools and Templates

Dissertations are a defining piece of academic research and writing for all students. To complete such a large research project while maintaining a good work-life balance, planning and organisation is essential. In this article, we’ll outline three categories for dissertation planning including project management, note-taking and information management, alongside tools and templates for planning and researching effectively.

masters dissertation planner

For both undergraduates and postgraduates, a dissertation is an important piece of academic research and writing. A large research project often has many moving parts from managing information, meetings, and data to completing a lengthy write-up with drafts and edits. Although this can feel daunting, getting ahead with effective planning and organisation will make this process easier. By implementing project management techniques and tools, you can define a research and writing workflow that allows you to work systematically. This will enable you to engage in critical thinking and deep work, rather than worrying about organisation and deadlines. 

To get prepared, you can do two things: First, start your preliminary readings and research to define a topic and methodology.  You can do this in summer or during the first few weeks of university but the sooner, the better. This gives you time to discuss things with your supervisor, and really choose a topic of interest. Second, begin preparing the tools and techniques you’ll be using for your research and writing workflow. You can use the preliminary research phase to test these out, and see what works for you. 

Below, we’ll cover three key aspects to consider when managing your dissertation, alongside some digital tools for planning, research and writing. 

The 3 Categories of Dissertation Planning

Project Management and Planning 

Your dissertation is a project that requires both long and short-term planning. For long-term planning, roadmaps are useful to break your work down into sections, chapters or stages. This will give you a clear outline of the steps you need to work through to complete your dissertation in a timely manner. 

Most likely, your roadmap will be a mixture of the stages in your research project and the sections of your write-up. For example, stage 1 might be defined as preliminary research and proposal writing. While stage 3 might be completing your literature review, while collecting data. 

This roadmap can be supplemented by a timeline of deadlines, this is when those stages or chapters need to be completed by. Your timeline will inform your short-term plans, and define the tasks that need completing on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. This approach, using a roadmap and timeline, allows you to capture all the moving parts of your dissertation, and focus on small sub-sections at a time. A clear plan can make it easy to manage setbacks, such as data collection issues, or needing more time for editing. 

Note-taking 

Whether you use a notebook, or digital tool, it’s ideal to have a dedicated research space for taking general notes. This might include meeting notes from supervision, important information from informational dissertation lectures, or key reminders, ideas and thoughts. It can be your go-to place for miscellaneous to-do lists, or to map out your thought processes. It’s good to have something on hand that is easy to access, and keeps your notes together in one place. 

Beyond this, you’ll also need a dedicated space or system for literature and research notes. These notes are important for avoiding plagiarism, communicating your ideas, and connecting key findings together. A proper system or space can make it easier to manage this information, and find the appropriate reference material when writing. Within this system, you might also include templates or checklists, for example, a list of critical reading questions to work through when assessing a paper. 

Information Management 

It’s important to consider how you plan to organise your literature, important documents, and written work. Note-taking is a part of this, however, this goes a step further to carefully organise all aspects of your dissertation. For example, it’s ideal to keep track of your literature searches, the papers you’ve read, and their citations but also, your reading progress. Being able to keep track of how many passes a paper has been through, how relevant it is, or where it fits within your themes, or ideas, will provide a good foundation for writing a well-thought out dissertation. 

Likewise, editing is an important part of the write-up process. You’ll have multiple drafts, revisions and feedback to consider. It’s good to have some way of keeping track of all this, to ensure all changes and edits have been completed. You might also have checklists or procedures to follow when collecting data, or working through your research. A good information management process can reduce stress, making everything easy to access and keep track of, which then allows you to focus on getting the actual work complete. 

Digital Project Management and Research Tools for Dissertation Planning 

Trello is a project management tool that uses boards, lists and cards to help you manage all your tasks. In a board, you can create lists, and place cards within these lists. Cards contain a range of information such as notes, checklists, and due dates. Cards and lists can be used to implement a digital kanban board system , allowing you to move cards into a ‘to-do’, ‘in progress’ or ‘complete’ list. This gives a visual representation of your progress.

This is a flexible, easy to use and versatile tool that can help with project management of your dissertation. For example, cards and lists can be used to track your literature, each card can represent a paper and lists could be 1st pass, 2nd pass, or be divided into themes. Likewise, you can use this approach to organise the various chapters or stages of your dissertation, and break down tasks in a visual way. Students have used Trello to manage academic literature reviews , daily life as an academic , and collaborate with their supervisors for feedback and revisions on their write-up. 

Notion is an all-in-one note-taking and project management tool that is highly customisable. Using content blocks, pages, and databases, this tool allows you to build a workspace tailored to your needs. Databases are a key feature of Notion, this function allows you to organise and define pages using a range of properties such as tags, dates, numbers, categories and more. This database can then be displayed in a multitude of ways using different views, and filters. 

For example, you can create a table with each entry being a page of meeting notes with your supervisor, you can assign a date, person, and tags to each page. You can then filter this information by date, or view it in a board format. Likewise, you can use the calendar to add deadlines, within these deadlines, you can expand the page to add information, and switch to ‘timeline’ view . This is perfect for implementing project management techniques when planning your dissertation. 

Although this may sound complicated, there are many templates and resources to get you started . Notion is an ideal tool for covering all three aspects of dissertation planning from project and information management to note-taking of all kinds. Students have used Notion for literature reviews , thesis writing , long-term PhD planning , thesis management , and academic writing . The best part, these students not only share their systems, but have also created free templates to help you build your own system for research. 

Asana is a project management and to-do list tool that uses boards, lists, timelines and calendars. If you’re someone who prefers using lists to organise your life and projects, Asana is ideal for you. You can use this tool to manage deadlines, reading progress, or break down your work into projects and sub-tasks. Asana can integrate with your calendar, which is perfect if you already use other calendar tools for organisation. If something like Notion is too overwhelming, using a mixture of tools with different purposes can be a more comfortable approach. 

Genei is an AI-powered research tool for note-taking and literature management. Your research and reading material can be imported, and organised using projects and folders. For each file, genei produces an AI-powered summary, document outline, keyword list and overview. This tool also extracts key information such as tables, figures, and all the references mentioned. You can read through documents 70% faster but also, collect related articles by clicking on the items in the reference list. Genei can generate citations, and be used alongside other popular reference management tools, such as Zotero and Mendeley . 

This tool is ideal for navigating information management and literature notes for your dissertation. You can compile notes across single documents or folders of documents using the AI-generated summaries. These notes remain linked to their original source, which removes the need for you to keep track of this information. If you find it hard to reword content, there’s also summarising and paraphrasing tools to help get you started. Genei is a great tool to use alongside project management solutions, such as Trello and Asana, and note-taking tools like Notion. You can define an efficient research and writing workflow using these range of tools, and make it easier to stay on top of your dissertation. 

masters dissertation planner

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Your Dissertation Plan - 18 Free Tools

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  • by Charlotte King
  • In Theses and Dissertations

A dissertation  requires solid organisational skills and effective time management  in order to achieve a high standard, so we’ve put together a list of some of the best free tools available to make the planning stages of your project easier.  

Choosing a topic

Before you even get near your research proposal , you need to have a topic in mind. Mind mapping is a great way to organise and visualise your early ideas when developing your dissertation topic. Mind42.com 's mind mapping tool allows you to collaborate with colleagues online, which could be useful for sharing with peers or your project supervisor. Mindmeister.com  also features collaboration and boasts mobile access with it’s free iPhone app, whilst Bubbl.us  focuses on speed with it's handy keyboard shortcuts.

Evernote  provides tools for your computer, mobile device, or web browser which capture your ideas, notes, and inspiration wherever you are. This free toolset lets users save text notes, web pages, photos, and screenshots with a comprehensive search feature so that you can retrieve your ideas quickly and easily.

Reading & research

Using Google Scholar  you can search a large index of scholarly articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions. To get the most out this research tool check out Google’s guide to Advanced Scholar Searches . Compiling a bibliography in the required format can be a time consuming task at the end of a dissertation, especially if you haven't kept track whilst writing . Fortunately there are free tools available which help you to store your citations from the beginning of your project and retrieve them in a number of commonly use formats. Bibdesk  is an Open Source Mac app with bibliography management and search features, as well as some useful import and export capabilities. Alternatively, you could use Zotero 's browser extension for Firefox which can automatically sync your data with multiple computers. It also features browsing for mobile devices, which means you can access your data in away from your computer. For Windows users, BiblioExpress  offers a simple reference manager that can format citations in common styles such as ACS, APA, and MLA.

Planning your time

Time management is crucial  in a large project such as a dissertation. It may be useful to plan backwards from your deadline, allowing extra time where necessary for unforeseen delays and revisions. Gantt charts are a very visual way to allocate time to your dissertation tasks and there are many free tools to help you build your own. This is especially great if you're accommodating some non-work time too . Google Docs has a Gadget  in it’s spreadsheet feature which creates Gantt charts for free. Similarly, if you already own Microsoft Excel you can build Gantt charts with it too.

Tomsplanner  is a dedicated web-based Gantt generator which is free for personal use, and Team Gantt 's free trial offers an alternative with a slick interface. If you’re not keen on Gantt charts you could simply plan your project in a standard calendar. Google Calendars  is web based meaning you can access it from any computer and most mobile devices. You could also share your calendar with your supervisor if you think you're likely to miss deadlines. Microsoft Outlook’s calendar and iCalendar on Mac could also be useful planning tools.

To-do lists

If you need to organise your dissertation workload on a shorter time scale,  TeuxDeux 's well designed interface helps you to plan your tasks on a weekly basis. There’s also a paid iPhone app for task management on the go.

HabitRPG  is an excellent option for those of you who need a bit of positive reinforcement alongside your planning. If a week is still too much to think about, check out Todokyo  which takes simplicity to the next level with a clean-looking daily list.

Productivity

If you find yourself constantly distracted by the lures of email and social networking, you could try Freedom’s free trial . This Mac app blocks your web connection for up to 3 hours at a time, leaving you to concentrate on your dissertation. Alternatively you can block specific websites from Firefox using Leechblock , and Google Chrome users can do the same with StayFocusd .

Related articles

Planning A Good Research Project

How To Write A Thesis or Dissertation

Publishing Your Thesis or Dissertation

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Halley Jan. 10, 2020, 5:57 a.m.

Great article! Thank you :)

Charlotte King Jan. 13, 2020, 8:28 p.m.

Glad you liked it – hope you found it useful too!

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masters dissertation planner

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

The resources in this section are designed to provide guidance for the first steps of the thesis or dissertation writing process. They offer tools to support the planning and managing of your project, including writing out your weekly schedule, outlining your goals, and organzing the various working elements of your project.

Weekly Goals Sheet (a.k.a. Life Map) [Word Doc]

This editable handout provides a place for you to fill in available time blocks on a weekly chart that will help you visualize the amount of time you have available to write. By using this chart, you will be able to work your writing goals into your schedule and put these goals into perspective with your day-to-day plans and responsibilities each week. This handout also contains a formula to help you determine the minimum number of pages you would need to write per day in order to complete your writing on time.

Setting a Production Schedule (Word Doc)

This editable handout can help you make sense of the various steps involved in the production of your thesis or dissertation and determine how long each step might take. A large part of this process involves (1) seeking out the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding specific document formatting requirements, (2) understanding research protocol limitations, (3) making note of deadlines, and (4) understanding your personal writing habits.

Creating a Roadmap (PDF)

Part of organizing your writing involves having a clear sense of how the different working parts relate to one another. Creating a roadmap for your dissertation early on can help you determine what the final document will include and how all the pieces are connected. This resource offers guidance on several approaches to creating a roadmap, including creating lists, maps, nut-shells, visuals, and different methods for outlining. It is important to remember that you can create more than one roadmap (or more than one type of roadmap) depending on how the different approaches discussed here meet your needs.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dissertation Strategies

What this handout is about.

This handout suggests strategies for developing healthy writing habits during your dissertation journey. These habits can help you maintain your writing momentum, overcome anxiety and procrastination, and foster wellbeing during one of the most challenging times in graduate school.

Tackling a giant project

Because dissertations are, of course, big projects, it’s no surprise that planning, writing, and revising one can pose some challenges! It can help to think of your dissertation as an expanded version of a long essay: at the end of the day, it is simply another piece of writing. You’ve written your way this far into your degree, so you’ve got the skills! You’ll develop a great deal of expertise on your topic, but you may still be a novice with this genre and writing at this length. Remember to give yourself some grace throughout the project. As you begin, it’s helpful to consider two overarching strategies throughout the process.

First, take stock of how you learn and your own writing processes. What strategies have worked and have not worked for you? Why? What kind of learner and writer are you? Capitalize on what’s working and experiment with new strategies when something’s not working. Keep in mind that trying out new strategies can take some trial-and-error, and it’s okay if a new strategy that you try doesn’t work for you. Consider why it may not have been the best for you, and use that reflection to consider other strategies that might be helpful to you.

Second, break the project into manageable chunks. At every stage of the process, try to identify specific tasks, set small, feasible goals, and have clear, concrete strategies for achieving each goal. Small victories can help you establish and maintain the momentum you need to keep yourself going.

Below, we discuss some possible strategies to keep you moving forward in the dissertation process.

Pre-dissertation planning strategies

Get familiar with the Graduate School’s Thesis and Dissertation Resources .

Learn how to use a citation-manager and a synthesis matrix to keep track of all of your source information.

Skim other dissertations from your department, program, and advisor. Enlist the help of a librarian or ask your advisor for a list of recent graduates whose work you can look up. Seeing what other people have done to earn their PhD can make the project much less abstract and daunting. A concrete sense of expectations will help you envision and plan. When you know what you’ll be doing, try to find a dissertation from your department that is similar enough that you can use it as a reference model when you run into concerns about formatting, structure, level of detail, etc.

Think carefully about your committee . Ideally, you’ll be able to select a group of people who work well with you and with each other. Consult with your advisor about who might be good collaborators for your project and who might not be the best fit. Consider what classes you’ve taken and how you “vibe” with those professors or those you’ve met outside of class. Try to learn what you can about how they’ve worked with other students. Ask about feedback style, turnaround time, level of involvement, etc., and imagine how that would work for you.

Sketch out a sensible drafting order for your project. Be open to writing chapters in “the wrong order” if it makes sense to start somewhere other than the beginning. You could begin with the section that seems easiest for you to write to gain momentum.

Design a productivity alliance with your advisor . Talk with them about potential projects and a reasonable timeline. Discuss how you’ll work together to keep your work moving forward. You might discuss having a standing meeting to discuss ideas or drafts or issues (bi-weekly? monthly?), your advisor’s preferences for drafts (rough? polished?), your preferences for what you’d like feedback on (early or late drafts?), reasonable turnaround time for feedback (a week? two?), and anything else you can think of to enter the collaboration mindfully.

Design a productivity alliance with your colleagues . Dissertation writing can be lonely, but writing with friends, meeting for updates over your beverage of choice, and scheduling non-working social times can help you maintain healthy energy. See our tips on accountability strategies for ideas to support each other.

Productivity strategies

Write when you’re most productive. When do you have the most energy? Focus? Creativity? When are you most able to concentrate, either because of your body rhythms or because there are fewer demands on your time? Once you determine the hours that are most productive for you (you may need to experiment at first), try to schedule those hours for dissertation work. See the collection of time management tools and planning calendars on the Learning Center’s Tips & Tools page to help you think through the possibilities. If at all possible, plan your work schedule, errands and chores so that you reserve your productive hours for the dissertation.

Put your writing time firmly on your calendar . Guard your writing time diligently. You’ll probably be invited to do other things during your productive writing times, but do your absolute best to say no and to offer alternatives. No one would hold it against you if you said no because you’re teaching a class at that time—and you wouldn’t feel guilty about saying no. Cultivating the same hard, guilt-free boundaries around your writing time will allow you preserve the time you need to get this thing done!

Develop habits that foster balance . You’ll have to work very hard to get this dissertation finished, but you can do that without sacrificing your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Think about how you can structure your work hours most efficiently so that you have time for a healthy non-work life. It can be something as small as limiting the time you spend chatting with fellow students to a few minutes instead of treating the office or lab as a space for extensive socializing. Also see above for protecting your time.

Write in spaces where you can be productive. Figure out where you work well and plan to be there during your dissertation work hours. Do you get more done on campus or at home? Do you prefer quiet and solitude, like in a library carrel? Do you prefer the buzz of background noise, like in a coffee shop? Are you aware of the UNC Libraries’ list of places to study ? If you get “stuck,” don’t be afraid to try a change of scenery. The variety may be just enough to get your brain going again.

Work where you feel comfortable . Wherever you work, make sure you have whatever lighting, furniture, and accessories you need to keep your posture and health in good order. The University Health and Safety office offers guidelines for healthy computer work . You’re more likely to spend time working in a space that doesn’t physically hurt you. Also consider how you could make your work space as inviting as possible. Some people find that it helps to have pictures of family and friends on their desk—sort of a silent “cheering section.” Some people work well with neutral colors around them, and others prefer bright colors that perk up the space. Some people like to put inspirational quotations in their workspace or encouraging notes from friends and family. You might try reconfiguring your work space to find a décor that helps you be productive.

Elicit helpful feedback from various people at various stages . You might be tempted to keep your writing to yourself until you think it’s brilliant, but you can lower the stakes tremendously if you make eliciting feedback a regular part of your writing process. Your friends can feel like a safer audience for ideas or drafts in their early stages. Someone outside your department may provide interesting perspectives from their discipline that spark your own thinking. See this handout on getting feedback for productive moments for feedback, the value of different kinds of feedback providers, and strategies for eliciting what’s most helpful to you. Make this a recurring part of your writing process. Schedule it to help you hit deadlines.

Change the writing task . When you don’t feel like writing, you can do something different or you can do something differently. Make a list of all the little things you need to do for a given section of the dissertation, no matter how small. Choose a task based on your energy level. Work on Grad School requirements: reformat margins, work on bibliography, and all that. Work on your acknowledgements. Remember all the people who have helped you and the great ideas they’ve helped you develop. You may feel more like working afterward. Write a part of your dissertation as a letter or email to a good friend who would care. Sometimes setting aside the academic prose and just writing it to a buddy can be liberating and help you get the ideas out there. You can make it sound smart later. Free-write about why you’re stuck, and perhaps even about how sick and tired you are of your dissertation/advisor/committee/etc. Venting can sometimes get you past the emotions of writer’s block and move you toward creative solutions. Open a separate document and write your thoughts on various things you’ve read. These may or may note be coherent, connected ideas, and they may or may not make it into your dissertation. They’re just notes that allow you to think things through and/or note what you want to revisit later, so it’s perfectly fine to have mistakes, weird organization, etc. Just let your mind wander on paper.

Develop habits that foster productivity and may help you develop a productive writing model for post-dissertation writing . Since dissertations are very long projects, cultivating habits that will help support your work is important. You might check out Helen Sword’s work on behavioral, artisanal, social, and emotional habits to help you get a sense of where you are in your current habits. You might try developing “rituals” of work that could help you get more done. Lighting incense, brewing a pot of a particular kind of tea, pulling out a favorite pen, and other ritualistic behaviors can signal your brain that “it is time to get down to business.” You can critically think about your work methods—not only about what you like to do, but also what actually helps you be productive. You may LOVE to listen to your favorite band while you write, for example, but if you wind up playing air guitar half the time instead of writing, it isn’t a habit worth keeping.

The point is, figure out what works for you and try to do it consistently. Your productive habits will reinforce themselves over time. If you find yourself in a situation, however, that doesn’t match your preferences, don’t let it stop you from working on your dissertation. Try to be flexible and open to experimenting. You might find some new favorites!

Motivational strategies

Schedule a regular activity with other people that involves your dissertation. Set up a coworking date with your accountability buddies so you can sit and write together. Organize a chapter swap. Make regular appointments with your advisor. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that you’ll feel good about showing up for–and will make you feel good about showing up for others.

Try writing in sprints . Many writers have discovered that the “Pomodoro technique” (writing for 25 minutes and taking a 5 minute break) boosts their productivity by helping them set small writing goals, focus intently for short periods, and give their brains frequent rests. See how one dissertation writer describes it in this blog post on the Pomodoro technique .

Quit while you’re ahead . Sometimes it helps to stop for the day when you’re on a roll. If you’ve got a great idea that you’re developing and you know where you want to go next, write “Next, I want to introduce x, y, and z and explain how they’re related—they all have the same characteristics of 1 and 2, and that clinches my theory of Q.” Then save the file and turn off the computer, or put down the notepad. When you come back tomorrow, you will already know what to say next–and all that will be left is to say it. Hopefully, the momentum will carry you forward.

Write your dissertation in single-space . When you need a boost, double space it and be impressed with how many pages you’ve written.

Set feasible goals–and celebrate the achievements! Setting and achieving smaller, more reasonable goals ( SMART goals ) gives you success, and that success can motivate you to focus on the next small step…and the next one.

Give yourself rewards along the way . When you meet a writing goal, reward yourself with something you normally wouldn’t have or do–this can be anything that will make you feel good about your accomplishment.

Make the act of writing be its own reward . For example, if you love a particular coffee drink from your favorite shop, save it as a special drink to enjoy during your writing time.

Try giving yourself “pre-wards” —positive experiences that help you feel refreshed and recharged for the next time you write. You don’t have to “earn” these with prior work, but you do have to commit to doing the work afterward.

Commit to doing something you don’t want to do if you don’t achieve your goal. Some people find themselves motivated to work harder when there’s a negative incentive. What would you most like to avoid? Watching a movie you hate? Donating to a cause you don’t support? Whatever it is, how can you ensure enforcement? Who can help you stay accountable?

Affective strategies

Build your confidence . It is not uncommon to feel “imposter phenomenon” during the course of writing your dissertation. If you start to feel this way, it can help to take a few minutes to remember every success you’ve had along the way. You’ve earned your place, and people have confidence in you for good reasons. It’s also helpful to remember that every one of the brilliant people around you is experiencing the same lack of confidence because you’re all in a new context with new tasks and new expectations. You’re not supposed to have it all figured out. You’re supposed to have uncertainties and questions and things to learn. Remember that they wouldn’t have accepted you to the program if they weren’t confident that you’d succeed. See our self-scripting handout for strategies to turn these affirmations into a self-script that you repeat whenever you’re experiencing doubts or other negative thoughts. You can do it!

Appreciate your successes . Not meeting a goal isn’t a failure–and it certainly doesn’t make you a failure. It’s an opportunity to figure out why you didn’t meet the goal. It might simply be that the goal wasn’t achievable in the first place. See the SMART goal handout and think through what you can adjust. Even if you meant to write 1500 words, focus on the success of writing 250 or 500 words that you didn’t have before.

Remember your “why.” There are a whole host of reasons why someone might decide to pursue a PhD, both personally and professionally. Reflecting on what is motivating to you can rekindle your sense of purpose and direction.

Get outside support . Sometimes it can be really helpful to get an outside perspective on your work and anxieties as a way of grounding yourself. Participating in groups like the Dissertation Support group through CAPS and the Dissertation Boot Camp can help you see that you’re not alone in the challenges. You might also choose to form your own writing support group with colleagues inside or outside your department.

Understand and manage your procrastination . When you’re writing a long dissertation, it can be easy to procrastinate! For instance, you might put off writing because the house “isn’t clean enough” or because you’re not in the right “space” (mentally or physically) to write, so you put off writing until the house is cleaned and everything is in its right place. You may have other ways of procrastinating. It can be helpful to be self-aware of when you’re procrastinating and to consider why you are procrastinating. It may be that you’re anxious about writing the perfect draft, for example, in which case you might consider: how can I focus on writing something that just makes progress as opposed to being “perfect”? There are lots of different ways of managing procrastination; one way is to make a schedule of all the things you already have to do (when you absolutely can’t write) to help you visualize those chunks of time when you can. See this handout on procrastination for more strategies and tools for managing procrastination.

Your topic, your advisor, and your committee: Making them work for you

By the time you’ve reached this stage, you have probably already defended a dissertation proposal, chosen an advisor, and begun working with a committee. Sometimes, however, those three elements can prove to be major external sources of frustration. So how can you manage them to help yourself be as productive as possible?

Managing your topic

Remember that your topic is not carved in stone . The research and writing plan suggested in your dissertation proposal was your best vision of the project at that time, but topics evolve as the research and writing progress. You might need to tweak your research question a bit to reduce or adjust the scope, you might pare down certain parts of the project or add others. You can discuss your thoughts on these adjustments with your advisor at your check ins.

Think about variables that could be cut down and how changes would affect the length, depth, breadth, and scholarly value of your study. Could you cut one or two experiments, case studies, regions, years, theorists, or chapters and still make a valuable contribution or, even more simply, just finish?

Talk to your advisor about any changes you might make . They may be quite sympathetic to your desire to shorten an unwieldy project and may offer suggestions.

Look at other dissertations from your department to get a sense of what the chapters should look like. Reverse-outline a few chapters so you can see if there’s a pattern of typical components and how information is sequenced. These can serve as models for your own dissertation. See this video on reverse outlining to see the technique.

Managing your advisor

Embrace your evolving status . At this stage in your graduate career, you should expect to assume some independence. By the time you finish your project, you will know more about your subject than your committee does. The student/teacher relationship you have with your advisor will necessarily change as you take this big step toward becoming their colleague.

Revisit the alliance . If the interaction with your advisor isn’t matching the original agreement or the original plan isn’t working as well as it could, schedule a conversation to revisit and redesign your working relationship in a way that could work for both of you.

Be specific in your feedback requests . Tell your advisor what kind of feedback would be most helpful to you. Sometimes an advisor can be giving unhelpful or discouraging feedback without realizing it. They might make extensive sentence-level edits when you really need conceptual feedback, or vice-versa, if you only ask generally for feedback. Letting your advisor know, very specifically, what kinds of responses will be helpful to you at different stages of the writing process can help your advisor know how to help you.

Don’t hide . Advisors can be most helpful if they know what you are working on, what problems you are experiencing, and what progress you have made. If you haven’t made the progress you were hoping for, it only makes it worse if you avoid talking to them. You rob yourself of their expertise and support, and you might start a spiral of guilt, shame, and avoidance. Even if it’s difficult, it may be better to be candid about your struggles.

Talk to other students who have the same advisor . You may find that they have developed strategies for working with your advisor that could help you communicate more effectively with them.

If you have recurring problems communicating with your advisor , you can make a change. You could change advisors completely, but a less dramatic option might be to find another committee member who might be willing to serve as a “secondary advisor” and give you the kinds of feedback and support that you may need.

Managing your committee

Design the alliance . Talk with your committee members about how much they’d like to be involved in your writing process, whether they’d like to see chapter drafts or the complete draft, how frequently they’d like to meet (or not), etc. Your advisor can guide you on how committees usually work, but think carefully about how you’d like the relationship to function too.

Keep in regular contact with your committee , even if they don’t want to see your work until it has been approved by your advisor. Let them know about fellowships you receive, fruitful research excursions, the directions your thinking is taking, and the plans you have for completion. In short, keep them aware that you are working hard and making progress. Also, look for other ways to get facetime with your committee even if it’s not a one-on-one meeting. Things like speaking with them at department events, going to colloquiums or other events they organize and/or attend regularly can help you develop a relationship that could lead to other introductions and collaborations as your career progresses.

Share your struggles . Too often, we only talk to our professors when we’re making progress and hide from them the rest of the time. If you share your frustrations or setbacks with a knowledgeable committee member, they might offer some very helpful suggestions for overcoming the obstacles you face—after all, your committee members have all written major research projects before, and they have probably solved similar problems in their own work.

Stay true to yourself . Sometimes, you just don’t entirely gel with your committee, but that’s okay. It’s important not to get too hung up on how your committee does (or doesn’t) relate to you. Keep your eye on the finish line and keep moving forward.

Helpful websites:

Graduate School Diversity Initiatives : Groups and events to support the success of students identifying with an affinity group.

Graduate School Career Well : Extensive professional development resources related to writing, research, networking, job search, etc.

CAPS Therapy Groups : CAPS offers a variety of support groups, including a dissertation support group.

Advice on Research and Writing : Lots of links on writing, public speaking, dissertation management, burnout, and more.

How to be a Good Graduate Student: Marie DesJardins’ essay talks about several phases of the graduate experience, including the dissertation. She discusses some helpful hints for staying motivated and doing consistent work.

Preparing Future Faculty : This page, a joint project of the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the Council of Graduate Schools, and the Pew Charitable Trusts, explains the Preparing Future Faculty Programs and includes links and suggestions that may help graduate students and their advisors think constructively about the process of graduate education as a step toward faculty responsibilities.

Dissertation Tips : Kjell Erik Rudestam, Ph.D. and Rae Newton, Ph.D., authors of Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process.

The ABD Survival Guide Newsletter : Information about the ABD Survival Guide newsletter (which is free) and other services from E-Coach (many of which are not free).

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Dissertations 1: getting started: planning.

  • Starting Your Dissertation
  • Choosing A Topic and Researching
  • Devising An Approach/Method
  • Thinking Of A Title
  • Writing A Proposal

Planning Your Time

The dissertation is a large project, so it needs careful planning. To organise your time, you can try the following:  

Break down the dissertation into smaller stages to complete (e.g., literature search, read materials, data collection, write literature review section…). 

Create a schedule. Working backwards from your deadline, decide when you will complete each stage. 

Set aside time to regularly work on the dissertation. 

Consider what times of day you are most alert and what makes a suitable space to study. 

Identify a specific task to work on. 

If overwhelmed, try to identify one task that needs doing rather than focusing on the larger project. 

Leave time to redraft, proof-read, format, and complete the reference list. 

Gantt Charts

As the dissertation project involves certain processes to take place simultaneously, rather than in a sequence, you can use a Gantt chart to organise your time.  

A Gantt chart is a bar chart which shows the schedule for a project. The project is broken down into key tasks/elements to be completed. A start and finish date for each task/element of the project is given. Some tasks are scheduled at the same time or may overlap. Others will start when a task has been completed. 

To produce a Gantt chart, you can use Word, Excel (see example in the attachment) or an online planner.

  • Tom's Planner . There's  an example  for you to use to complete your plan. 
  • Excel:  example of Gantt Chart in Excel . This is an example of a Gantt chart which can be used to generate a plan of work (timeline) for your dissertation. You can download and edit it as you please. The chart has been created by the University of Leicester. 

Gantt chart using Excel

Research Data Management

This video helps you to understand the importance of research data management and how you can plan, organise, store, preserve, and share your data.

  • Link to video on Research Data Management
  • Feedback Form Please give us feedback on our videos!
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  • Last Updated: Aug 1, 2023 2:36 PM
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Plan Your Dissertation

Plan Your Dissertation

  • Charlotte Brookfield - Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  • Jamie Lewis - Cardiff University, UK
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Super Quick Skills  provides the essential building blocks you need to succeed at university - fast. Packed with practical, positive advice on core academic and life skills, you’ll discover focused tips and strategies to use straight away. Whether it’s writing great essays, understanding referencing or managing your wellbeing, find out how to build good habits and progress your skills throughout your studies.

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Super Quick Skills  gives you the foundations you need to confidently navigate the ups and downs of university life.

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A really easy read that gives you all the information to start thinking about writing a dissertation. The format and structure is perfect for students. I have already shared this text with my Year 2 undergraduate students in preparation for their Independent Project module in Year 3.

Fantastic little book for students, it is clear, concise, easy to read, easy to follow and inexpensive! I have recommended the range of Dissertation related books to my students. Highly recommended.

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Dissertation Planner: Dissertation Planner

Dissertation planner.

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Give Feedback

This Dissertation Planner is a step-by-step guide to help you write a dissertation from starting to think about your question through to final submission. At each stage you will find useful tips and support. You can return to the planner by bookmarking the URL. 

  • Last Updated: Mar 13, 2024 3:14 PM
  • URL: https://library.soton.ac.uk/sash/dissertation-planner

Managing the Dissertation Writing Process

Materials from workshop.

  • Slides:  https://z.umn.edu/dissworkshopslides
  • Revision Memo:  https://z.umn.edu/revisionmemo
  • Dissertation Analysis handout (PDF)
  • "How to Read like a Writer" (PDF) by Mike Bunn (in  Writing spaces : readings on writing Vol 2 )

Finding Dissertations

  • Dissertations and Theses Global This link opens in a new window Collection of dissertations and theses from around the world, offering millions of works from thousands of universities. Each year hundreds of thousands of works are added. Full-text coverage spans from 1743 to the present, with citation coverage dating back to 1637.
  • Google Scholar (Setup connection to get to PDFs) Use Google Scholar to find articles from academic publishers, professional societies, research institutes, and scholarly repositories from colleges and universities. If you are using from off-campus access, change the "Library Settings" to University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Look for the "FindIt@U of M Twin Cities" links in your Google Scholar search results to access full text and PDFs. View this tutorial to learn how to go from a general idea to a very precise set of results of journal articles and scholarly materials.
  • University Digital Conservancy at the University of Minnesota A digital archive of M.A. and PhD theses at the University of Minnesota. The collection in this institutional repository can also be searched by keyword, date, authors and majors.

Sample of project management tools

Tool considerations:

  • Devices -- “apps” vs. Laptop 
  • Collaboration
  • Fewer features vs. lots of features
  • Learning curve
  • Security/privacy 

More Options

  • Open Project:  https://www.openproject.org/
  • Redbooth:  https://redbooth.com/
  • Notion:  https://www.notion.so/
  • Freedcamp:  https://freedcamp.com/
  • Smartsheet:  https://www.smartsheet.com/
  • Click up:  https://clickup.com/
  • Kanboard:  https://kanboard.org/

Student Writing Support from the Center for Writing

Student Writing Support (SWS) offers collaborative one-to-one writing consultations to help student writers develop confidence and effective writing strategies. SWS offers three kinds of consultations:

  • walk-in consultations in 15  Nicholson Hall
  • appointments in  Zoom
  • appointments in  SWS.online

Our writing consultants will listen to your goals and concerns, read and respond to your written work, pose questions that help you clarify and articulate your ideas, and affirm the experiences and abilities you bring to your writing. We value your life experiences and languages, and we seek to provide a supportive space for you to share and develop your voice.

masters dissertation planner

Sample of online books

Cover Art

  • Restarting stalled research by Paul C. Rosenblatt ISBN: 9781483393551 Publication Date: 2016 Written for researchers and graduate students writing dissertations, this unique book offers detailed advice and perspective on many issues that can stall a research project and reveals what can be done to successfully resume it. Using a direct yet conversational style, author Paul C. Rosenblatt draws on his decades of experience to cover many diverse topics. The text guides readers through challenges such as clarifying the end goal of a project; resolving common and not-so-common writing problems; dealing with rejection and revision decisions; handling difficulties involving dissertation advisers and committee members; coping with issues of researcher motivation or self-esteem; and much more.

Get materials we don't own or from our print collection (Interlibrary Loan & Document Delivery)

  • InterLibrary Loan & Digital Delivery Interlibrary Loan (ILL) & Digital Delivery offers access to materials needed for courses and research, including materials not currently available within the University of Minnesota Libraries, AND digital copies of articles and book chapters from our print and microform collections. Free for currently-affiliated University students, faculty, and staff.

Citation managers

What is a citation manager.

A citation manager is a software tool used to create personalized databases of citation information and notes. They allow you to:

  • import and organize citation information from article indexes and other sources,
  • export your citations into Word documents or other types of publications,
  • format citations for your papers and bibliographies using APA and many other styles, and
  • include your own notes.

Choosing a citation manager

  • Guide to Citation Managers at UMN
  • Wikipedia's comparison of reference management software

masters dissertation planner

Browse scholarly journals available from the UMN Libraries on your tablet device, iPhone, or via the web using BrowZine .

  • Read journal articles on your preferred device. 
  • Create personal libraries of your favorite journals. 
  • Set up alerts for new issues of journals.

For a quick overview, see this one-minute video about BrowZine. For more information, see  the full BrowZine guide.

Dissertation Planner: Getting Started

  • Getting Started
  • Prepare & Propose
  • Plan & Research
  • Write & Edit
  • Defense & Closure
  • Help & Resources

Welcome to the University of Kentucky Libraries' Dissertation Planner!

Getting started

This dissertation planner is designed to help doctoral students chart the steps to complete a dissertation and earn a doctoral degree.  It is most beneficial to those just beginning to lay the groundwork for their dissertations. 

Please note : This planner does not contain specific information about your doctoral program. You should always consult with your department about any requirements and expectations as you go through the research and writing processes for your dissertation. Remember, the best resource for information on the specific requirements and expectations of your dissertation is YOUR ADVISOR .

This planner is adapted from the University of Minnesota Libraries' Dissertation Calculator . The University of Kentucky Libraries thanks the University of Minnesota Libraries for granting the permission for reusing the content of its Dissertation Calculator. 

This planner is best viewed using FireFox or Chrome.  Some images may not be displayed properly on other browsers or when viewed on mobile devices.  If you have any comments or suggestions for this planner, feel free to contact the University of Kentucky Libraries by e-mail .

  • Next: Prepare & Propose >>
  • Last Updated: Jan 23, 2024 10:01 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.uky.edu/dissertation-planner

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IOE alumni named winners of the 2024 BERA Master’s Dissertation and Doctoral Thesis awards

27 March 2024

Dr Emily Macleod (PhD) and Kate Fox (Education and International Development MA) have won the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Doctoral and Master’s Thesis prizes respectively.

Left: Emily Macleod. Right: Kate Fox. Image permission: Emily Macleod and Kate Fox.

The awards are given in recognition of academic excellence and research rigour within the field of educational research. 

Emily Macleod won for her thesis, “The status and safety of teaching: A longitudinal study of why some young people in England become teachers, and why others do not.” She investigated young people’s motivations behind pursuing – or not pursuing – the profession amidst the context of national and international teacher shortages. 

She completed her PhD at IOE’s Department of Education, Practice and Society in 2023, and was a co-host on IOE’s podcast series Research for the Real World . She continues on as an honorary postdoctoral fellow. She also worked on the ASPIRES research project studying young people's science and career aspirations, before which she was a secondary school teacher. 

Kate Fox won for her MA dissertation entitled “Building bridges or barriers? A study of home, community, and school literacy practices in rural Tanzania.”

Her dissertation centres the experiences of parents from rural communities within the Tanzanian education system – and the diverse ways families and communities contribute to young children’s literacy learning.

Kate completed her Master’s degree at IOE in 2023. She is now a Research Officer with the IOE Research Development team, and a Research Assistant working on two multi-institutional projects: Climate-U and Equitable research cultures . Her career in education spans 20 years as a teacher, headteacher and teacher trainer in Tanzania and the UK.

Related links

  • Read more: BERA announces 2024 Master’s Dissertation and Doctoral Thesis winners
  • Emily on ‘Why do people aspire to become teachers?’ RFTRW: S19E03
  • More about Kate Fox
  • More about Dr Emily Macleod 
  • Research for the Real World podcast
  • ASPIRES project

Centre for Education and International Development

Emily Macleod (left) and Kate Fox (right).

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Portsmouth leaders: Think there's too much development? Work on zoning, master plan

PORTSMOUTH — Several city Planning Board members — along with Mayor Deaglan McEachern — strongly disagreed with claims by Jayne Begala the board has become a “virtual rubber stamp” for developers.

Begala, who resigned after last week’s board meeting, stated that the Planning Board has become “a totally ineffective, almost powerless body.”

She pointed to recent development in Portsmouth and stated the Planning Board “has approved many new luxury and market rate condos, some with penthouses, many new hotel rooms, and very little actual affordable workforce housing that City Council claims is their big priority. ... Many parts of Portsmouth are losing their historic character, and are starting to look like a suburb of Boston."

Reached Wednesday, McEachern said, “I would disagree with that” when asked about Begala’s comments that the board was ineffective and a rubber stamp for developers.

“The complete opposite is true,” he said. “I was disappointed obviously that Miss Begala … couldn’t complete her term."

McEachern stressed Planning Board members must follow the city’s zoning ordinance and approve proposed projects that meet its guidelines, regardless of how they personally feel about a project.

“We have rules, their job is to follow those rules,” McEachern said. “The idea that the Planning Board is somehow going to stop private property owners that follow the rules for zoning, that’s a take-your-ball-and-go-home sort of attitude.”

He encouraged Begala — and any other city residents who disagree with current zoning — to work with the City Council to change it.

“If we’re tired of seeing hotels instead of affordable housing, let’s talk about that,” McEachern said. “But to believe somehow we can just not follow our own rules that we set, it’s not how government works.”

He also encouraged residents to participate in the upcoming process to craft a new master plan for Portsmouth “that we can all be proud of.”

Portsmouth residents who want changes need to look at zoning and master plan, chairman says

Planning Board Chairman Rick Chellman, who was appointed to serve on the volunteer board by former Mayor Rick Becksted, disagreed with Begala’s statements, calling them “untrue.”

He stated that Begala showed “a fundamental misunderstanding of the role she had,” adding she was “not happy obviously and frustrated and angry.”

Chellman explained once zoning rules “are in place, there’s not a lot of discretion” left for board members voting on a project.

“There’s some permits, conditional use permits being one, where there’s a small amount of discretion,” Chellman said, but board members must judge projects based on the zoning that’s in place.

He noted too that applicants — particularly on larger projects — “spend a lot of time and money on a multi-disciplinary team” making sure the project is in top shape.”

Before projects come before the Planning Board, they must first meet with the city’s Site Plan Review Technical Advisory Committee, he said.

The committee, which is made up of city staff, including multiple members of the Planning Department, work to iron out all the technical details to make sure a project is ready for Planning Board consideration.

“By the time it (a project) gets to the Planning Board, there shouldn’t be significant technical problems with the application,” Chellman said.

Reviewing applications also involves “Constitutional property rights, both for the applicants and for abutters,” Chellman said.

Making “whimsical decisions based on who you like and who you don’t like aren’t good for anybody,” he said.

Chellman explained board members are “supposed to have some decorum and treat everybody fairly, and that’s what we try to do.”

He also encouraged residents to get involved with the new master plan process.

“We really want significant public involvement and not just the usual suspects,” he said. “The master plan is the constitution for all the land-use regulations. If the public wants Portsmouth to do different things, the master plan is the place to start."

Catering to developers? Former mayor says it's happening

Former Mayor Rick Becksted appointed Begala to her second term on the Planning Board as a regular member, after she was first appointed as an alternate, he said.

Asked about her comments, Becksted said, “Do I believe we tend to cater to developers? Yes I do.”

He added, “We’re having residents leave at a rapid rate,” because of what they see as overdevelopment.

He too acknowledged that “you could see the frustration” with Begala at recent board meetings.

“All residents have a right to their beliefs,” he said about her comments.

Becksted believes the city’s land use boards “need to be more balanced,” to “basically have some diversity so not everyone is agreeing on everything.”

That’s why he appointed different members to land-use boards when he was mayor in a term that concluded at the end of 2021.

“Right now we’re seeing all high-end stuff and all rentals and development is happening at a rapid rate,” Becksted said. He said he has been hearing from a growing number of people who have either left Portsmouth or are planning to leave.

“It’s just not their town anymore, it doesn’t feel like home anymore,” Becksted said.

Board regulated by state law

City Manager Karen Conard, who serves on the Planning Board, said, “I don’t share her opinion and I’m not sure that other members do as well,” when asked about Begala’s comments.

She noted that the Planning Board “is regulated by state law … and has sets of rules and findings we need to follow.”

“What is set forth in terms of what controls growth and land use and development in Portsmouth and any community … is the zoning you have in place,” Conard said.

If you don’t like the growth and development in Portsmouth, “you modify the zoning,” she said.

She stressed Planning Board members must follow the established zoning regulations.

“If a developer is following the zoning and understands how to build and redevelop, then the Planning Board has to recognize and honor that,” Conard said. “If there’s nothing to challenge, then it’s fairly black and white.”

Conard credited the work of Technical Advisory Committee members for sometimes holding several meetings to address any zoning or technical issues before a project gets to the Planning Board.

“The staff here maintains the same level of professionalism day in and day out as part of those meetings,” she said.

The work done by city staff on the Technical Advisory Committee often leads to the creation of “better projects that come before our board,” Conard said.

'You can't freeze Portsmouth in time'

Joe Almeida is the city’s facilities manager and also serves on the Planning Board.

He formerly served on the Historic District Commission, where he was chair for five years.

He acknowledged he was “very surprised” by Begala’s comments and “couldn’t disagree with them more.”

“I think the board is doing a great job,” he said Thursday. “I have full confidence in our chair and vice chair (Greg Mahanna). We’re a board that has to respect the laws and property owners' rights. They have to be scrutinized in a very real way.”

He believes it takes “a lot of work to educate yourself for any individual application, never mind the topic itself.”

“It’s a huge amount of work to understand the process, the zoning, the laws, the requirements,” Almeida said. “I understand that most people don’t have that amount of time to study it, but it’s frustrating to be on a board and have people come to the podium without really understanding the process and fine details.”

His more than 12 years on city land-use boards have taught him that it’s “not realistic,” for “someone who wants to freeze Portsmouth in a particular time and not see any change at all.”

“It’s a city, the very definition of a city is change,” he added.

He encourages residents “to embrace and shape that change and be part of guiding it.”

Almeida does not see development in Portsmouth “slowing down at all.”

“The region is so special and the secret is out, it’s just a very desirable place to live,” he said.

Planning Board member Andrew Samonas sat next to Begala at board meetings for 18 months.

He came away from that experience “with not only a great deal of respect for Jayne, but for everyone else on the board,” he said Thursday.

A real estate developer himself, he acknowledged their actions are governed by zoning rules and regulations.

“While we do want to have discretion and authority over these projects, we are at the will of our zoning code, which we are constantly updating, revising and modernizing,” he said.

He understand how residents can be frustrated with development in the city.

“If they want to be engaged, reach out to folks on the City Council and Planning Board to understand the zoning ordinance,” he suggested.

Samonas also encouraged people to participate in the new master plan process.

“We don’t need endless hours of involvement, we just want to hear their opinions and insight,” he said.

COMMENTS

  1. 7 Essential Apps For Writing A Dissertation Or Thesis

    3: Otter. Writing up a good dissertation or thesis requires a lot of, well, writing. Spending hours upon hours hunched over a keyboard can be really draining (and potentially physically harmful). Imagine you could just speak instead of type. Well, now you can, thanks to Otter.ai. Otter is an app that allows you to simply speak into your ...

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    Time to recap…. And there you have it - the traditional dissertation structure and layout, from A-Z. To recap, the core structure for a dissertation or thesis is (typically) as follows: Title page. Acknowledgments page. Abstract (or executive summary) Table of contents, list of figures and tables.

  3. PDF Dissertation Planner: step-by-step

    Dissertation Planner: step-by-step. This planner is designed to help you through all the stages of your dissertation, from starting to think about your question through to final submission. At each stage there are useful prompts to help you plan your work and manage your time.

  4. How to Write a Master's Thesis: A Guide to Planning Your Thesis

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  5. Dissertation & Thesis Outline

    Dissertation & Thesis Outline | Example & Free Templates. Published on June 7, 2022 by Tegan George.Revised on November 21, 2023. A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical early steps in your writing process.It helps you to lay out and organize your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding the specifics of your dissertation topic and showcasing its relevance to ...

  6. What Is a Dissertation?

    A dissertation is a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research conducted by you. It is usually submitted as the final step in order to finish a PhD program. Your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you've ever completed. It requires solid research, writing, and analysis skills, and it can be intimidating ...

  7. A Guide to Dissertation Planning: Tips, Tools and Templates

    In this article, we'll outline three categories for dissertation planning including project management, note-taking and information management, alongside tools and templates for planning and researching effectively. Amirah Khan. October 13, 2022. For both undergraduates and postgraduates, a dissertation is an important piece of academic ...

  8. Your Dissertation Plan

    A dissertation requires solid organisational skills and effective time management in order to achieve a high standard, so we've put together a list of some of the best free tools available to make the planning stages of your project easier.. Choosing a topic. Before you even get near your research proposal, you need to have a topic in mind.Mind mapping is a great way to organise and ...

  9. Dissertation & Thesis Outline

    Example 1: Passive construction. The passive voice is a common choice for outlines and overviews because the context makes it clear who is carrying out the action (e.g., you are conducting the research ). However, overuse of the passive voice can make your text vague and imprecise. Example: Passive construction.

  10. How to Write a Dissertation: Step-by-Step Guide

    In U.S. graduate education, master's students typically write theses, while doctoral students write dissertations. The terms are reversed in the British system. In the U.S., a dissertation is longer, more in-depth, and based on more research than a thesis. Doctoral candidates write a dissertation as the culminating research project of their degree.

  11. How to Write a Dissertation or Thesis Proposal

    When starting your thesis or dissertation process, one of the first requirements is a research proposal or a prospectus. It describes what or who you want to examine, delving into why, when, where, and how you will do so, stemming from your research question and a relevant topic. The proposal or prospectus stage is crucial for the development ...

  12. Dissertation Planner: Plan & Research

    In order to manage the dissertation writing process, you should CREATE A WORK PLAN. A work plan will help you: Break down the large, overwhelming process of writing a dissertation into manageable steps; Discover and take advantage of your most productive work habits; Balance dissertation writing with the other aspects of your life.

  13. Thesis and Dissertation: Getting Started

    Thesis and Dissertation: Getting Started. The resources in this section are designed to provide guidance for the first steps of the thesis or dissertation writing process. They offer tools to support the planning and managing of your project, including writing out your weekly schedule, outlining your goals, and organzing the various working ...

  14. Dissertation Strategies

    Pre-dissertation planning strategies. Get familiar with the Graduate School's Thesis and Dissertation Resources. Learn how to use a citation-manager and a synthesis matrix to keep track of all of your source information. Skim other dissertations from your department, program, and advisor. Enlist the help of a librarian or ask your advisor for ...

  15. Dissertation Planner

    Use our Writing the Dissertation - Overview and Planning guide as a way of steering you through the challenges of researching, planning and writing a dissertation. More detailed guidance on writing each chapter is provided throughout the various stages of the Dissertation Planner. You might find it helpful to start the dissertation process by generating some initial ideas for your dissertation ...

  16. Dissertations 1: Getting Started: Planning

    The dissertation is a large project, so it needs careful planning. To organise your time, you can try the following: Break down the dissertation into smaller stages to complete (e.g., literature search, read materials, data collection, write literature review section…). Create a schedule.

  17. Plan Your Dissertation

    Planning your dissertation is made simple with this quick, step-by-step guide. Your instant pocket supervisor, this book will help you to: · Create a step-by-step plan to keep you on track. Super Quick Skills provides the essential building blocks you need to succeed at university - fast. Packed with practical, positive advice on core academic ...

  18. Dissertation Planner: Dissertation Planner

    This Dissertation Planner is a step-by-step guide to help you write a dissertation from starting to think about your question through to final submission. At each stage you will find useful tips and support. You can return to the planner by bookmarking the URL.

  19. Research Guides: Managing the Dissertation Writing Process: Home

    Collection of dissertations and theses from around the world, offering millions of works from thousands of universities. Each year hundreds of thousands of works are added. ... A Step by Step Guide is a practical guide for the graduate students and faculty planning and executing a generic qualitative dissertation in the social sciences. Generic ...

  20. Dissertation Planner: Getting Started

    This dissertation planner is designed to help doctoral students chart the steps to complete a dissertation and earn a doctoral degree. It is most beneficial to those just beginning to lay the groundwork for their dissertations. Please note: This planner does not contain specific information about your doctoral program.

  21. Master Dissertation Planner

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  22. Masters Thesis Planner

    Dissertation Planner, Thesis Planner, Master Planner, PhD Planner, Thesis Planner, 15 A4 PDF Pages Instant Download, Digital File, DP003 (32) $ 8.50. Add to Favorites Dissertation Planner, University Research Project Guide, Final Year Project Pack, Thesis Planner (9) $ 19.55. Add to Favorites ...

  23. IOE alumni named winners of the 2024 BERA Master's Dissertation ...

    Dr Emily Macleod (PhD) and Kate Fox (Education and International Development MA) have won the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Doctoral and Master's Thesis prizes respectively. The awards are given in recognition of academic excellence and research rigour within the field of educational research.

  24. Portsmouth leaders defend Planning Board against 'rubber stamp' claim

    Portsmouth residents who want changes need to look at zoning and master plan, chairman says. Planning Board Chairman Rick Chellman, who was appointed to serve on the volunteer board by former ...