Writing the dissertation is an important part of your academic and professional career. It gives you the opportunity to prove not just to your advisor but to your review board that you can conduct thorough research within your field and that you are able to give something back to your particular discipline or field of study.
But getting started is so often the most difficult part for students in every area of academics. Finding the perfect thesis and beginning the research is often what holds students back. If you are not required to submit your potential thesis ahead of time you might find that midway through your research the paper has no direction and no topic. Or you might be trying to find a direction or topic so that you can submit your proposal and get the project approved by your advisor before you start researching and writing.
It is difficult for many students to write anything without a proper topic. It is imperative that you narrow down your topic before you start writing. To do this, make sure your topic is just right. Think of Goldilocks and the three bears; you need a topic that is just right, not too big, and not too small.
Review your course materials to see if you can refine your topic. Look over your lecture notes and find anything that sticks out as interesting to you or is remotely related to the topic you were assigned or chose. Look into the bibliographies of your required course reading; these often contain a gold mine of research directions you can take.
Talk over your ideas with a friend or classmate. See if this sparks any ideas on how to proceed. See if you recall points you haven’t covered or need to cover. Sometimes discussing the topic out loud can help clarify areas that are stopping your progress.
If you still cannot figure out how to keep writing, use mind mapping. This exercise is great. You start by writing down your topic on a piece of paper, in the center. In the blank space around it, you should write down related ideas from your research or class materials. Look over the map in search of interesting connections. Remove anything that is unrelated. Use what is left to create a research plan or outline for your paper.
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