1)Be inclusive with your thinking
2)Write down your ideas
3)Try not to be overly influenced at this time by what you feel others expect from you
4)Don't begin your thinking by assuming that your research will draw international attention. Instead, be realistic. Make sure your expectations are tempered by:
...the realization that you are fulfilling an academic requirement
...the fact that conducting the research may be just as important (or more important) than the outcomes of the research
5)Be realistic about the time that you are willing to commit to your research. Make a timeline.
6) Take a leave of absence after you are done with the Thinking About it stage and ready to jump into the Writing part
7)Do a Preliminary Research
Levine offers the following checklist:
If you can answer yes to all of these questions, you are ready to start your research:
I am familiar with the other research that has been conducted in areas related to my research project.
I have a clear understanding of the steps that I will use in conducting my research
I feel that I have the ability to get through each of the steps necessary to complete my research project
I know that I am motivated and have the drive to get through all the steps in the research project
8) Read someone else's research proposal.
9) Make sure your proposal has a comprehensive review of the literature. The literature review should be done before the actual research.
10) When you read something that is important to your study, photocopy the relevant article or section. Keep your photocopies organized according to categories and sections.
11) A good proposal consists of the 3 first chapters of the dissertation. It should begin with the statement of the problem/background information (Chapter I). Then move to a review of the literature (Chapter II), and conclude with a defining of the research methodology (Chapter III). Turning a good proposal into the first chapters of your dissertation, consists in changing the future tense to the past.
12)Focus your research very specifically
13) Incude a title. The title must have the most important words; it must limit the use of ambiguous confusing words; if it contains too many words, it must have a subtitle; it must include keywords that will help researchers in the future find your work.
14) Organize your research around a set of questions that will guide it. These questions will establish the link between your research and other research that preceded you. Don't make the questions too narrow.
15) Other remarks: For many students there's the expectation that you will return to your "home" to conduct research. Conducting a research project away from home is important. When at home, students are expected to fulfill other obligations.