Doing a research for dissertation abroad for your masters and or undergrad is a desire of many students, but not many of us manage to navigate the system and put in place all the arrangements successfully and in good time to be able to achieve that objective.
Not too long ago, I found myself in that situation. I was sitting in a lecture theatre at King’s College London and my mind racing with the inspiration to do a research on climate change and development abroad. After researching the subject and not having found an organisation that could help with my logistics abroad, I decided to settle for doing my research in the UK. And that is sadly the end of many research ideas.
In co-founding Green Planet Ventures, I made it part of our objectives to help students that are precisely in that situation. Hopefully this step by step guide will help you think through some of the challenges.
Step 1: Your research Proposal
This is the first step required. If you decide that you want to do your dissertation abroad. You should sketch your proposal to take account of that. Before you hand it in you may want to:
Step 2: Identify organisations that can facilitate your work and speak to them
If you identify one or more organisations that can help you make your dissertation a success, contact them and ask what is possible to accomplish with their support and make sure that they are interested in your research subject. This is a very important part in your research design because understanding the possibilities will also help you decide on your research methodology. You can search for the subject you are interested in and approach organisations that work on that. Some organisations have a pre-set research need, others may be happy to accommodate your interest.
For example, at Green Planet Ventures, when we get contacted at this stage of the process, we try to understand the student’s requirement and provide information on what part of the research we can facilitate. We use our contacts to put the researcher in touch with local specialists and people that can give a local vision on the chosen subject. With our knowledge of the local communities and institutions in the locations we work, we can help envisage the different social groups that can be interviewed and worked with. Similarly, if it is an environmental research, we can highlight some of the environmental issues that can be of interest for a research in each locality and how the student’s chosen subject relates to that. Likewise, with a biological field research.
Step 3: Funding
Funding is vital as it can make or break your project. The good news is that once you have your proposal, obtaining funding is relatively easy. If you are at a UK university, your first point of contact should be your university department, they will have advice on the best way to proceed. Similarly, universities in other countries also have research funding and it may well be that your research is of their interest. If not, many universities award students research grants and travel grants that can be used to fund your research dissertation projects, make sure you enquiry about those. There are also external organisations that might work on your subject, that you might have identified in step 2. So, make sure you look into their work.
You can find other UK bodies that manage funding for specific subjects look here for international development . This can help widen your views on funding and on relevant research subjects.
The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) are bodies that fund social and environmental research respectively in the UK, which are normally accessed by the universities, so your project may well be part of a wider funded programmes. So having a look through that can also help you with inspiration on the subjects. This one is another useful resource for college funding.
Step 4: Write your schedule and stick to it
After you have conceived your research methodology and have the adequate funding in place. Making it happen is the easy part. However, don’t forget that there are several stages, travel and desk research to be done, so writing a comprehensive schedule and stick to it, is almost as important as the rest. Do some of your literature review before hand, so you go to your field research with a good idea of the subject. Collect your data consistently to make it easier to analyse. And write your results always allowing to cross reference your findings with what has been found by others, so you can provide an enriched analysis of your results. If you choose to do your research abroad, there might be some time for writing after your research, before you travel back home. However, make sure you leave yourself at least 6 weeks after coming back to finish your writing and allow for reviews. Here is a blog from someone that did just that. A dissertation abroad, which can be of help if you want an idea of what can happen.
To your successful dissertation research!