Because a university report is such a long and complex document, it is essential to develop a dissertation plan before beginning the writing process. Dissertation plans are strategies of approach that detail the way in which a writer will execute his or her assignment composition. Often, these plans are established on a timetable determined by the writer and his or her assignment advisor. Dissertation plans are not the same as dissertation outlines, which detail the information the report will include; dissertation plans are rather schedules for keeping the report on track.
A dissertation plan is best written after a student's dissertation proposal has been approved. Dissertation plans are best constructed by determining specific objectives and tentative deadlines for each chapter. A student will likely have partial chapters of some of the report already complete because some of these chapters will have been submitted in the report.
The first goal of the report plan should be to complete the introduction. The introduction outlines the student's research objectives and provides background on the topic. It is likely that most of this information has been included in the student's dissertation proposal; therefore, the student should attempt to complete the introduction in a fairly short amount of time. Once completed, the student should submit the chapter to the report advisor. Students should always wait to submit the next chapter until receiving feedback from the advisor, as it is likely that the advisor will suggest many changes that will affect subsequent chapters. Students should therefore build extra time into their document plans to account for the time it will take the advisor to respond.
Typically, the second chapter of a university report is the literature review. This is often the longest chapter and also the most time-consuming. It is likely that a partial literature review was submitted with the report proposal; however, the literature review for the document will likely be longer and more in-depth. Students should budget significant time in their document plans for literature review research and composition—likely three or four three times the time they committed to the introduction.
The remaining chapters of the report will explain the student's research and research method. The organization and number of these chapters will vary depending on what type of dissertation the student is writing. No matter how many chapters there are, however, each should be a separate goal in the report plan and should be completed only after the student has received previous chapters from his or her advisor.
When designing a dissertation plan, learners should be realistic about what is possible to complete in a certain timeframe. The research and composition of a report typically take a year or more; therefore, it is unwise to create a plan that follows a schedule of less than a year. Furthermore, learners should know in advance that their document plans will likely change throughout the composition process. They should therefore see the report plan as a working and flexible document that can and will be altered as the project moves forward.
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