Sunday, January 31, 2016

Am I ready for MPhil/PhD Research: Self Checklist

Am I Ready to Embark on my Thesis/Dissertation Research? Self-Checklist.

This checklist will help evaluate your status of preparation for thesis work:
  1. I know the difference between a thesis and a project.  
  2. I know the difference between an MS/MPhil and a PhD.
  3. I have gone through various self-help blogs like this on research, thesis guidelines and help material available on websites such as this, and the material available at my university's office of graduate research. 
  4. I am aware of the thesis/dissertation objectives. 
  5. I have read the article "What is a thesis statement". I understand the significance of this article and have written a summary of what I have understood from this article.
  6. I have seen topics of thesis done at other universities and have a list of topics in my selected area. I understand the requirements for coming up with topics of thesis?
  7. I have surveyed at least 40-50 research papers of recognized journals in my research courses and am thoroughly familiar with their research objectives and methodology. 
  8. I know what is meant by thesis statement, problem statement, approach and state of art. I can identify these in a couple of hours of study of a research paper. I have extracted these items from the papers that I have surveyed. 
  9. I have made a clear time commitment and I spend reasonable time and effort on my thesis/dissertation research. A full-time research student should be able to finish an MPhil Thesis in six to eight months time, and a PhD dissertation research in about 2 years excluding the course work.
  10. I have scheduled my thesis/dissertation research schedule in a way that it is not conflicting with a major project or engagement elsewhere. 
  11. I write down the summary of any thing I do related to my research, whether it is the website that I have gone to, the paper that I have read, or book chapter that I have consulted. I know the meaning of “I have not read if I have not written”
  12. I am regular in meeting with the adviser. 
  13. I have seen a few copies of successful thesis/dissertation documents of some good US universities and thesis proposals. 
  14. I have studied in detail the anatomy of at least one thesis/dissertation of a top university 
  15. I am following the schedule that I submitted along with the thesis/dissertation enrollment form. 
  16. I am aware of the technical writing rules and make a conscious effort to write clear, correct and concise English. 
  17. I have made a schedule and a time line by focusing on the following dates (i) When would I present my proposal/synopsis? (ii) When would I defend my thesis?

Organizing Your Research Work: Your Research Folder

Research is about organizing and planning your progress and plan of work. If you want to complete your deliverables as soon as possible you need to prepare a research folder and keep it with you whenever you visit your supervisor for research advising. The research folder should contain:
  1. A section where you keep all the references, interesting articles, topics of recent conferences, call for papers, and web addresses related to your area of interest.
  2. A section where you keep the list of papers that you have summarized and are in the process of summarizing,
  3. Summary of reviewed papers.
  4. List of problem statements, list of thesis statements, list of approaches/methodologies, list of open issues/problems.
  5. Photocopies of papers that you have reviewed.
It will be a great source of comfort to you when you see the size of this folder increasing.

If you are already maintaining the Research Folder, then ensure:
  • Does it contain the copies of all the papers that were selected?
  • Does it contain all the summaries?
  • Does it contain a bibliography?
  • Does it contain a list of  web-sites that you have found useful?
  • Do you have the list of conferences, journals, magazines, discussion groups where topics relevant to your area are covered? 
  • Does it contain the topic of the area of research and any material that you have submitted to the supervisors?
Please note that EndNote does all of this for you, however, it will not give you the psychological support of seeing physically the amount of work that you have done. 

[Much of this material was first written in 2005 and distributed to research students as Guidelines for MS Research]


  1. What a treasure of information in one place!! Just amazing. Jazakallah