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Thesis Information: Planning

Planning preparation

Deciding to undertake a research thesis or dissertation requires considerable planning, so investigate procedures, steps and support outlined below.

  • A research thesis is defined where at least 0.75 equivalent full-time study (EFTS) is undertaken.
  • A dissertation is defined as taking less than 0.75 equivalent full-time study (EFTS), and is shorter in length and time to complete.

On this page...

Types of thesis                              Your research question               Research thesis courses 

Support for research                    Ethics and consultation               Managing your data 

Planning stages                           Books on doing research                                           

Types of thesis

The research topic you choose will have a bearing on the type of study you undertake and how you write your thesis.

 Adapted from:

Planning stages

Your Supervisor/s and the Student Learning Centre will work with you on the stages in developing your thesis. Subject Librarians can provide support during these specific stages* :

1.   Writing your thesis topic outline

2.   Reviewing the literature*

3.   Writing your research proposal

4.   Ethics application

5.   Managing your data*

6.   Managing copyright*

7.   Reviewing the literature*

8.   Conducting your research

9.   Reviewing the literature*

10.  Writing the thesis, including formatting and managing references*

11.  Submitting the thesis, including printing and binding*

11.  Examining the thesis

12.  Depositing the thesis*

Remember to consult the relevant official study pages :

as well as postgraduate pages from your Department or Division.

Research thesis courses

Your department will provide support and training to undertake your research thesis or dissertation.

Student Learning Centre run special postgraduate courses for you post enrolment, e.g.:

  • Mind Mapping, Design Jam
  • Introduction to the Research Journey
  • Engaging with the Literature: The Literature Review and the Whole Thesis
  • Thesis Writing for Postgraduates - Practical

Graduate Research School run workshops for graduate research candidates in Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington.

Managing your data

Does your research involve collection of data?

Managing research data makes it easier to locate, access, and use data at all stages of its lifecycle.

Managing your data - Library guide on creation to documentation, to access, storage, reuse and preservation.

Your research question

Use these tools as you brainstorm your topic and refine your research question.

Read more about applying a systematic review to searching.

Ethics and consultation

Discuss your research proposal thoroughly with your supervisor(s).

PhD handbook and Research Master's handbook - consult information on ethical and regulatory consent.

Research consultation with Māori - provides a policy framework for consultation with Māori on your research process and goals. 

TREAD - The Research Ethics Application Repository - hosted by the Global Health Network and the UK Social Research Association, formerly TEAR

Ethics approval for research involving human participants or animals is required to ensure all research complies with national, and university guidelines, and any legislative requirements. The application must be submitted and signed by your supervisor and reviewed and signed by your HoD.

If you or your supervisor wishes to discuss your research, or has questions, you can contact the Academic Committees Office, in the Clocktower Building, G22 and G26, as they administer the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee and the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee (Health).

Books on doing research

Recommended postgraduate research texts, for example: