Write Prospectus Dissertation

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Once I found the link between my collection of questions, ideas, and archival materials, everything came together very quickly.

I had been setting myself up for this project all along. My remodeled dissertation topic felt like a much better fit, and allowed me to salvage the questions from my original project in a more compelling way.

Agonizing over figuring out the right turn of phrase or example that conveyed all of this in such a concise format helped me to clarify what I planned to do.

All of this was really helpful when it came time to write up a long-form version of my dissertation proposal, so that I already had a clear structure and getting to go into greater detail felt like a luxury. Talking about writing can be more helpful than writing.

But when it came time to fulfill the final phase of the candidacy process — writing and defending the dissertation prospectus — I found fewer resources here (but found these two especially useful).

So as I settle into the long process of dissertation research, I thought I’d share a couple of things I learned while writing and revising my prospectus.

(Disclaimer: I’m an historian, so some pieces of this list might prove less helpful to grad students in other disciplines.) 1. I came into my graduate program with a clear idea of what I wanted to research.

I had identified a primary research question and potential archives, as well as the body of secondary literature into which I hoped to write.

Last quarter, after surviving coursework, qualifying exams, and the dissertation proposal, at long last, I arrived at the glorious land of being ABD.

Along the way, I’ve taken advantage of many of the strategies suggested here on Grad Hacker, and have found the archive of advice and reflections very helpful.


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