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Research: Thesis Writing Tips

IV. Research

This is the fourth part of the thesis writing tips, this will focus on research part of your thesis writing. You can also use this tips for your case study, research paper and term paper writings.

1. Research & Explore. A lot of the material you gather won’t turn out to be useful, but you can have no idea until you have dug it out. It’s important to understand and accept that you are not going to know exactly what you are looking for in the beginning. Initially, you should read to explore. As you read, you will find that certain aspects of your topic interest you more than others, and that certain approaches offer more opportunities for new scholarly work. When it comes to secondary sources, pay attention to the footnotes. This strategy will help you to contextualize your ideas.

2. Refocus Inquiry. Materials do not speak for themselves. Your must have questions and hypotheses to organize your inquiry. The material will then fight back, forcing you to change your question, refocus your inquiry, abandon one theory and pick up another. This is how people actually do science, though often it is hard to see the rough process underneath the slick final product.


3. Establish a note-taking system. If I had had a consistent method of gathering information from the beginning, my work would have been infinitely easier. As the amount of material you gather increases, and you have to bring it all together, coherent notes will help a great deal.  Don’t throw away anything – Anything.   Completeness: Give all information needed to recreate your work. Often only the general design procedure and perhaps a textbook equation are included, but actual data is missing. Your contribution is not only finding the equation, but also applying it, so document the entire process. Build your bibliography throughout – Whenever you cite something, immediately record the full citation in your bibliography; this way you don’t lose any citations, and you’re not bogged down at the end, having to write 15 pages of Jones, P. (1977)….   Keep a Journal. Perhaps the most useful tip we can give you is to write all through the research process. As you read, take notes. Write summaries or short reactions to everything you read. It’s also a good idea to keep a journal.

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