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Dissertation Writing: The Importance of Organization

By: Dr. Ron Jones

Writing a dissertation requires extensive organization skills. Effectively managing numerous articles, data, documents, files, instructions, and processes necessitates efficient and orderly behavior. Judicious organizing does not remove the personal and academic demands of completing a dissertation or doctoral study, yet the stress and rigors of research and writing become less arduous. Successfully navigating the doctoral process requires physically, mentally, and emotionally handling a multitude of moving parts and pieces. The doctoral student eases the pathway to completion by developing and improving organization skills.

Organization brings order to the complex process of developing a topic, gathering literature, conducting research, collecting data, aligning components, completing reviews, and assembling the final study. Disorganization creates anxiety and chaos. A disorganized student causes inefficiencies, resulting in a loss of time, control, files, data, peace of mind, and money. Organization requires diligence, effort, and persistence, yet the benefits far outweigh the alternative.

Writing a dissertation can easily involve locating, reviewing, annotating, and storing a hundred or more scholarly articles. Data might consist of hundreds of bits of vital information, each requiring labeling, coding, handling, and safe-keeping. Organization is a key element of eliminating duplicative articles, aligning similar articles, and managing the volume of information. Categorizing and organizing the articles chosen for inclusion in the literature review help create a cohesive, well-structured assessment of the current body of literature. Raw data requires organization prior to analysis, interpretation, or measurement. Haphazard behavior and ineffective management skills regarding the dissertation materials and processes results in lost opportunities to attain a timely end to the doctoral journey.

By fully exploiting technology, today’s doctoral students hold many advantages over their predecessors. A flash drive that will fit in your pocket substitutes for a room full of file cabinets. Retrieving articles consist of entering relevant terms in a database search engine, and clicking Search and Download as opposed to spending months or years researching the existing body of knowledge. Technology is the doctoral student’s friend, offering a variety of methods to label, organize, and ease the retrieval of articles, data, and information. Disorganization is a waste of time, energy, and resources. Possessing good computer hardware and software skills might not equate to superior writing skills, yet by taking advantage of all the available organizing tools, the writing process becomes less demanding.

Crafting and implementing an organization plan for writing the dissertation should go beyond the boundaries of the doctoral process. In other words, personal and professional tendencies to be disorganized are likely to hinder the doctoral student. Researching, collecting and analyzing data, and writing a dissertation requires close attention to details, a significant investment of time and resources, and an unwavering desire to succeed. The consequences of a disorganized personal or professional life are likely to have a negative compounding effect regarding the dissertation or doctoral study. Effectively organizing oneself for the doctorate should equate to implementing a life organization plan, not just a dissertation plan.

A dissertation is an organized, aligned, complex, logically-flowing document. Disorganization frustrates if not ruins the probability of a successful research project. Develop an organized strategy. Free up your brain cells to focus on the important aspects. Time and energy are essential and valuable dissertation resources; expending either because of disorganization is simply an avoidable waste.