Supervising Dissertations

When we first start talking about your dissertations I will ask you to e-mail me your CV and an example of your previous work, in order to get to know you a bit and have an idea about your writing style. The example of previous work may be your BA paper or a course paper you enjoyed writing and/or you think best represents your writing style. 

During the period you spend working on your dissertation I expect to see drafts of your chapters/subchapters well in advance of the final deadline for the official submission. This is in order to ensure that there will be sufficient time for me to give feedback and for you to improve on your initial drafts. I also prefer to give feedback on a chapter-by-chapter basis, so please send me each chapter as soon as you have a fist draft of it ready. 

We will also schedule regular meetings to talk about your progress on your dissertation and resolve any issues that arise or questions that you might have. In between these meetings, please feel free to e-mail me if you have questions or problems related to the writing of the paper, reading materials, data bases, or data analyses. 

Dissertation Outline

Your first step should be writing an outline for your paper. The outline should contain:

  • a tentative title for the paper
  • a short, 1-2 page presentation of the topic, data, and method you plan to employ in the paper
  • a ’starting point’ in the published literature (see below, under Literature Review) and a brief abstract of that work.
  • any other published literature that has inspired you to choose this topic
  • a list of chapters and subchapters
  • a work plan with deadlines for completing first drafts of each chapter/ task

Literature Review

Consult academic journals and other academic resources for your literature review chapter. You can access academic journals through the academic collections hosted by BCUB (JStor, ProQuest, EBSCO, a.s.o.). Other great full-text resources are: Google ScholarResearch Gate,, and Zenodo. You can construct citation maps, which will help you extend the list of potentially helpful readings for your literature review section. Make sure to consult relevant books as well. You will need to visit the department library and BCUB (we’ll make do with online libraries during the pandemic, ask me about access to these when we meet). If you stumble upon a reference that you are very interested in reading, but you cannot track down its full text, you may e-mail me and I will try to see if I can track it down for you. You may find the following guide for conducting literature reviews useful: How to Conduct a Literature Review: A Guide for Graduate Students (Iowa State University, University Library).

You should try to identify an article/book/research on the topic of your disertation, something that you consider relevant, or an interesting treatment, or a good example of research on the topic. This will be your starting point for your paper and you can use it as a focus for your citation map and your literature review. 

Department Guide for Writing and Formatting your Dissertation

You can find the guide on the department webpage here. The department recommends the Harvard style for handling in-text citations and bibliography. I recommend investing some time in learning a software for managing in-text citations and bibliographies (i.e. Endnote, Mendeley, RefWorks, Zotero). 

Academic Integrity Policy

You are expected to submit your own original work and comply with the rules of academic integrity and conduct. You are also expected to clearly cite and indicate your sources for citations, ideas, concepts and paraphrases. If you are unsure what constitutes a violation of the rules of academic integrity and conduct you should consult the resources available at: 

Academic profile 
ResearcherID                                       Google Scholar