Tag Archives: research design

Authoring a PhD Thesis: How to Plan, Draft, Write and Finish a Doctoral Dissertation – Patrick Dunleavy

Part of the positive help that comes from exposing your text to a fairly wide range of commentators, from family or partners to supervisors, fellow students and wider seminar audiences, is that it can help counteract the development of disabling private standards of criticism.

Going out into the professional world at conferences is also generally encouraging for PhD students, since it tends to show you that standards there cover quite a broad range. Doctoral researchers normally cannot match the sweep of large-scale confirmatory research projects or the thematic ambition of major authors. But in terms of doing well-based and consistently-pursued research many PhD students can match or outclass most academics doing conference papers.

The important thing is to have a realistic image of your likely professional audience, one that encourages you to ‘see what may be thought against your thought’ in Nietzsche’s terms (from the epigraph to this chapter) without paralysing you from composing, developing and upgrading your text.

The book gives solid advice how to write a PhD. It is considered one of the best in the field. The purpose is not to read it from page 1 to 250, but to dip in and out, according to needs. This is why the book is somewhat modular in approach.

Good book for early PhD candidates

It is very important in the early stages of a PhD to understand how to build your research design and the research question. The book explains in detail every step, from research design to conclusions and defending the thesis.

The book is very useful for PhD candidates. It is pragmatic and full of good advice, although a bit too long and detailed at times. It is mostly directed to social sciences and humanities, but it applies to all fields.

The author, Patrick Dunleavy, talks from experience, sitting on various committees listening to students defending their thesis from various disciplines.

A good book for those who need it.


Intelligent Research Design – Bob Hancké

The single-most relevant piece of advice, though, is to think carefully who you are writing for. Many, possibly most, research students write just for their supervisor. That is a big mistake: yes, you need to convince him or her of the important of what you are doing, but they are not the ultimate yardstick – and it’s too bad for them if they don’t know that. you should really have a broader, mostly sympathetic, audience in mind when you write, and should probably also diversify your imaginary audience a bit.

Although a book and not an article, I add this post in the Energy section, because it is more related to studies than reading.

Intelligent Research Design is a book offering advice for doctoral researchers at the beginning of their research. While short, the material is condensed and it takes a while to digest. Bob Hancké offers a guide to construct a thesis, from the research question to research design, methodology and presentation.

Learning to construct science

The writing is easy to follow, although the material covered is difficult. It teaches the reader how science is created, the benchmarks of an academic paper and the questions we should ask when reading an article, revealing the potential gaps.

Bob Hancké  is Reader in European Political Economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science and he draws for his decades of teaching experience and grading to show how a good academic paper should look like.

I enjoyed reading the book and I could easily see the points that Hancké wanted to make. I would have liked to recommend the book to my younger me, writing the Masters dissertation.