There are many resources on "How to conduct research" or "How to write a dissertation/thesis/journal article", as well as on specific methods of data collection and analysis or the structure of dissertations, doctoral theses and academic articles. But in my academic tutoring experience, I observed that many students are often concerned with yet another aspect of conducting their first research study - how to develop a good research topic? No wonder, having a good research idea is, after all, a prerequisite for conducting a good research study.
I developed this course specifically to share my experiences of tackling this, Seemingly simple, task. I know what it's like to have a tight deadline and wonder "how on Earth am I supposed to come up with something good?" I had to write my own Master's dissertation in 4 months while caring for 2 children and working full-time. I managed to write a strong PhD proposal in just 2 days and to complete my PhD degree in just over 3 years. I know how to manage time effectively, and how to make the best of it when it's limited. Now I want to teach you the same.
The example questions which I answer in this course are as follows:
- What is a "good" research idea and how to develop it?
- What to read? How do you know what topics you should start with? What kind of materials to focus on? Which sections of published work should you pay particular attention to?
- Where to look? Where can you find the literature that is relevant?
- How to read? What reading techniques should you use?
- How to organise your reading sources? How to make sure that you are on top of your reading and don't loose these valuable sources and quotations?
- When should you start writing?
- What to write and when?
- What is free writing and how is it going to help you?
- Is Thinking just a waste of time, or is it just as important an activity as reading and writing?
- How to come up with research questions?
- What types of research questions are there?
- What is a "good" research question?
- How to incorporate your idea and research questions into the Literature Review chapter?
What I DO NOT cover in this course is the exact structure of a dissertation. I focus mainly on how to read, how to write and how to think (!) to effectively manage your time and gradually develop a good research idea. The course does conclude with a short discussion of a literature review but its main purpose is to demonstrate the place of your research idea and questions in it, not to go into detail of the structure of this chapter.