The RESEARCH & WRITING category on the left has plenty of tools and tips for making progress toward your culminating project. There are also articles on preparing for and taking qualifying exams.
Most graduate programs will require a large amount of original research and writing. This can be quite an enjoyable process, especially if you are passionate about the topic of your project. If you are in a Master’s program, the time frame that you have for your project is much more limited than that of a Ph.D. On the other hand, Doctoral students are expected to have a more sophisticated and involved level of research and analysis. No matter what program you have chosen to participate in, you will likely need to complete a project that includes original research. The earlier you can identify a thesis topic, the smoother the process will be for you.
While you might dream of writing that monumental thesis that would revolutionize the way scholars view your topic, it is important to have realistic expectations on what your thesis will contribute to the field. Picking a thesis topic that can be researched well within the time allotted will be key in making timely progress on your project. Define early the research questions you will be asking, and START YOUR RESEARCH! You should start your research even if you are not required to declare a project topic in the first year. Although you may be required to take other coursework during your first few semesters/quarters of your program, you should always be thinking of what your graduate project should be. After you begin your research, do not be discouraged if your initial analysis and conclusions are not “earth-shattering.” Most of the research done in graduate school serves as a preliminary work in relation to your professional career research as a whole.
Once you have done enough research to feel reasonably comfortable with your topic, and confident that you have a grasp on the particulars of your project, START WRITING! Do not become overwhelmed by the enormity of the final project, just start writing a little bit each day. Writing even one paragraph of your rough thesis every day will help you refine your focus and organize your thoughts. It will also build your confidence in your progress toward the final paper.
Be sure to meet with your thesis adviser and committee members often throughout the process and submit various drafts along the way. They are there to help guide you toward success, so please utilize this resource!
Article by Heather Blanchard
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(Reference: Old books 1 by Riffmax)