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Dissertation: Getting Started

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I'm overwhelmed! Where do I start?

Congratulations! You're ready to start working on your dissertation! Feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start is pretty much how everyone feels at first.

  1. Determine a topic. You might already have a general idea or a broad starting goal. That's ok for now.
  2. Literature -  Once you have a topic, start to get a feel for what literature has been written already on this topic. The resources in the box to the right might help. Remember, at this stage, you're just looking for ideas:
    • What sparks your interest? Why? (There might be different aspects that interest you - don't worry about how to make connections yet - you're just getting a feel for things right now)
    • What are most of the articles focusing on? What are the trends? Where are the gaps?
    • What isn't interesting to you? Why not?
  3. Get support! Talk to people:
    • Faculty members - your seminar teacher and those you might want to serve on your committee
      • The process
      • Your topic
    • Librarians
      • Finding resources (books, articles, etc.)
      • Your topic (get a feel for what others in this specific field have done)
    • Center for Learning and Teaching
      • Structuring thoughts and concepts coherently
  4. Once you have a feel for your topic, start your literature review. Luckily you already probably have some resources from Step 2.

For more help, check out the Sage Research Methods database below.


This guide was created by Frances Brady for Adler University.