Research skills for HDR students

It is important to plan your research and your writing. This will help you stay on track with your research and ensure you meet your progress requirements.

Spending time planning your thesis and its structure will help you meet the requirements of each section while ensuring that your thesis is coherent as a whole. You should be aware of dissertation expectations in terms of publication, originality, literature reviews, reporting of results, and linking your findings to the research literature.

Be sure to refer to our page on preparing your thesis for specific information on proper referencing and submission of the thesis, including title and abstract requirements, using an editor, and authorship statements. author attribution. In addition to required workshops and training, the Learning Hub (Academic Language and Learning) offers workshops that can develop your research and writing skills.

Once you have written your thesis, you can follow our instructions for submitting your thesis.


Before you begin your search, think about your general approach. Are you engaged in theory development or theory testing? Does your discipline have a particular approach to research? What research methods are needed?

Management of time

Effective time management is essential when producing a thesis.

You need to create a timeline for the major steps in the research process. This should include:

  • compile an early playlist
  • write and submit your research proposal
  • application for ethics approval
  • writing your thesis plan
  • compilation of references
  • research and/or read
  • chapter planning structure
  • writing and rephrasing chapters
  • prepare your thesis using the correct style and format
  • writing your abstract, keywords, table of contents and figures, acknowledgements, bibliography, appendices
  • obtain final approval from your supervisor
  • editing and proofreading
  • printing and binding
  • submit your thesis.

You will also need to establish a regular schedule to meet with your supervisor. The frequency of these meetings will vary according to the stages of your thesis. They give you the opportunity to discuss the progress of your research, raise questions or concerns, and get feedback from your supervisor.

You may find that a “study buddy” will help you stick to your schedule. You can have daily or weekly check-in meetings where you share what you’ve done since your last conversation and list your top priorities for the day or week.

Learn more about managing your time.

While reading

When reading, it is important to be systematic. Keep track of what you read with basic bibliographic information and brief notes. Try to build a comprehensive reference list as you go, for example using EndNote, rather than leaving it until the end.

You can also use strategies such as a summary grid to give you an “overview” of the readings you are doing. Find out how to create a summary grid in Developing and supporting an argument (pdf 127Ko). Or you can divide your readings into core assignments, directly related non-essential readings, and indirectly related non-essential readings.


This material was developed by the Learning Hub (Academic Language and Learning), which offers workshops, face-to-face consultation and resources to support your learning. Find out how they can help you develop your communication, research and study skills.

Consult our document on writing a thesis project (pdf, 341 Ko).

Paul N. Strickland