One of the most important tips to expedite the dissertation process is to start with your methodology. The methodology chapter can be a challenging section for many researchers. The methodology contains details of how your data will be collected, what types of survey instruments you are administering, and what specific statistical analyses are going to address your research questions. I see many universities recommend that their students start with the methodology and then work backwards to fill in the introduction and literature review chapters. I tend to agree with this approach. If you do not have a sound methodological plan, then there is no reason to start digging into the literature for your specific topic. You can watch a webinar on general tips to fast track your methodology here. There are several tips and tricks that I have seen help students expedite the dissertation process.
First, you need to identify your ultimate goals for the dissertation. Are you attempting to make a significant breakthrough in your field or industry? Or are you attempting to finish the process as efficiently as possible? While it is noble to research a breakthrough topic and implement actual change in the world, the truth is that this can extend your project time. These breakthrough topics often take considerable time to complete and may require developing a new survey instrument or running advanced statistics (like CFA or SEM). I recommend saving the “world-changing” topics for a journal publication, once you are out of the school system. This way, you have plenty of time to do research and are not paying out of pocket for college expenses.
A dissertation should not take 3-5 years to complete (I’ve even seen some students working on the same project for 10+ years). It is feasible to complete an entire dissertation in one year with proper planning and organization. Establish a timeframe in which you want to complete each section of the paper. And understand how your school functions in terms of committee reviews. Does your school want you to submit one chapter or section at a time? Or do they want a submission of the entire proposal (Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology)? You’ll also want to work around your committee’s schedule. Keep in mind that they may have 10-20 other students that they are working with.
1) School dissertation template. This will give you an idea of how the different chapters and sections of the paper need to be organized and structured.
2) School checklist/rubric. This will identify information is required in each section to obtain a passing “grade”.
3) Previously approved papers. Ask your chair or methodologist to provide a previously approved paper that they have been a committee on. This will give you an understanding of what is expected to gain approval.
Students should establish a consistent relationship with all members of their committee (Chair, Methodologist, Content Expert, APA Specialist, etc). Try to organize weekly meetings with at least one committee member so you can discuss what you are currently working on and upcoming goals. It is also useful to use video chat to share your screen, so you can view the paper at the same time. You can record meetings on Zoom, which will allow you to note any feedback that your committee provides.
Finally, for more tips to expedite the dissertation process check out this webinar: 7 Secrets to Completing Your Dissertation in One Year
We work with graduate students every day and know what it takes to get your research approved.