1. Choose a topic, make sure it is suitable for dissertation project, and make sure it is about your field of study (building). Also think about the end result of your dissertation. During your coursework, be thinking about what you would like to write about for your dissertation.
2. Begin literature review and background of topic review: Review enough material that you know the historical context of the issues/events/artifacts that you will be studying. For the literature review, include material that relates to your topic and some way in which you will contribute to your discipline. Discuss with your advisor your plan of action, your methodology, the issues/events/artifacts that will help make an argument/contribution to your discipline.
3. Begin writing the dissertation proposal. The proposal can be anywhere from 15-20 pages to the first three chapters. It could include the following parts:
Introduction to topic and what you want to study about that topic (3 pages)
Literature review so far (this does not have to be complete, but should be complete enough to provide a good sense that you have reviewed relevant work) (10 pages)
Proposed issues/events/artifacts for study, and research questions (1 page)
Proposed methodology (2 pages)
Bibliography (2-4 pages)
After you have written this proposal, in consultation with your advisor, you should have a dissertation proposal meeting, in which your committee will meet with you to ensure that everyone is on the same page about your topic.
4. The dissertation proposal will then become part of your dissertation, which could consist of the following chapters:
Chapter 1: introduction to topic, literature review/problem area, methodology, research questions (5-10 pages)
Chapter 2: literature review of relevant materials related to topic, your discipline, and other disciplines; other literature related to problem area within discipline that you want to address (15-20 pages) Chapter 3: Methodology: description of approach to collecting data, whether surveys, scientific analysis, texts, ethnographies, or interviews (or some combination), description of theoretical framework for analysis (sometimes this goes in the literature review) (5-10 pages)
Chapter 4: Analysis of data: organize and code data into major themes that help you to advance an argument. Themes should be structured around the central argument of your dissertation. In qualitative work, you may have an idea of the argument you want to advance, but that can change as you begin to analyze your data. (25-40 pages; could be two chapters)
Chapter 5: Conclusion: explore how your analysis of data supports your overarching argument and what contributions your study makes to your discipline. This is an important part of the thesis/dissertation, and should be well-developed. (5-10 pages)
Month 1: meet with advisor to discuss topic, begin preliminary research, work on proposal for Institutional Review Board if you will be conducting interviews or using human subjects
Month 2: write dissertation proposal
Month 3: begin data collection
Month 4: continue data collection and writing dissertation by chapters; sometimes it is most effective to start with chapter 4, and then add in other materials that you may need to chapter 2 and 3 later on
Month 5: consult with advisor on progress, continue data collection and writing
Month 6: consult with advisor on progress, continue data collection and writing
Month 7: submit draft of dissertation to advisor; work on revisions
Month 8: schedule your defense and submit the dissertation to the committee members with approval from your advisor
Month 9: make sure dissertation is formatted properly make final changes after defense