Dissertation Research Decision Making

Throughout the dissertation research process there are many decisions you must make. What is your topic of choice? Which methods will you use to answer your research questions? How much data do you need? But how do we make these decisions? I try to follow the three-step method below for making research-related decisions.

  1. Consult the relevant literature. Find examples of what other researchers have done within your field around your topic of choice. Often you can easily find helpful information on your topic within the literature that can inform your decision making. Sometimes you cannot and that is okay.
  2. Discuss potential options with trusted mentors and peers. Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge your advisor, dissertation committee, and even your peers have within your field. Your mentors have completed the dissertation process themselves in addition to the research they are currently performing. Their experience and expertise can help guide you toward an informed decision.
  3. Trust your gut. At the end of the day this is your research, and you will need to make final decisions. Sometimes, whether you think you are ready or not, you will need to make research decisions to keep making progress toward graduation. Use all the help from literature and trusted mentors or peers and make the decision that feels right to you. Just don’t forget to document the ‘why’ behind your decision.

Give this research decision making method a try!