- Adding an original component to a dissertation will help you stand out in the crowd. Whether it’s conducting an extra experiment or conducting field work, demonstrating individual data collection can be important.
- Make the last chapter of your dissertation a launching pad for future research. With time and financial constraints, graduate students are limited in the type of data they can use or collect for a dissertation. In the last chapter, outline in a perfect world what type of measure you would use or data you would need to collect. During the dissertation defense, spend time getting feedback from committee members on your ideas for your ideas for future research because this chapter could be the starting point for a future grant application, etc.
- When choosing committee members, there are a couple of routes. If there are professors whose research interests overlap with yours, that’s an obvious match. If you find yourself in a department with limited shared interest, think about how/which professors can contribute to different aspects of your dissertation. Maybe you choose a person who would have something to say about the second chapter or a person who is an expert on the methodology you use. A good way to pursue this committee relationship is to take a course from a potential committee member. This allows you to better understand their work and how it can inform yours and also forces them to read your work. When utilizing committee members outside of the department or those with whom you are not familiar, give specific instructions. e.g. I would like you to really pay attention to this aspect, etc.
- When writing your prospectus, be clear and concise. Do not assume your committee members understand your subject area. Clearly lay out the research question, methods, data source, hypotheses, etc. Don’t worry about being creative.