The “V” planning template is a useful way to think of planning and giving structure to your thesis. It is particularly useful for empirical and experimental theses but can be adapted to other thesis types.
This technique requires you to consider the planning and conceptual elements alongside the methodological elements of the proposed thesis. Each element in plotted in a “V” shape. The template helps to force you to think in a highly structured way about your thesis. It also helps you to plan it, and this, in turn, assists in the writing process. See the template below.
At the top of the “V” you first plot your context question. This is the broad question you are trying to answer in your thesis (this can change as the thesis progresses).
Below this, and in the middle and near the top of the “V”, you plot the research question which has to be sharp and focussed. For example:
- What is the interplay between the experience of doctoral education and candidates’ familial relationships when candidates are mid- and late-career academics employed in Australian universities?
The research question can also be more than one question, e.g., a main question with related sub-questions, but having one overarching question is very important.
On the left side of the “V” you plot the planning and conceptual elements (why is your question important and how do you intend to answer the question). On the right side of the “V” you plot the methodological elements (what you need to do to establish an answer to your research question). The methodological elements might require several attempts depending on the stage you are at in the thesis planning process.
Use the following questions to guide you:
Planning and conceptual elements:
- Why do you want to use time and resources to solve this question/problem/issue?
- What did you know about the question/problem/issue beforehand?
- What concepts and knowledge from previous experience did you have about the question/problem/issue?
- By which method do you plan to solve or respond to the question/problem/issue ?
- How worthwhile are the proposed new knowledge claims that you intend to establish? (i.e., how useful will what you hope to find out be?)
- What are the main conclusions that you hope to construct out of the data?
- How do you propose to reach your conclusions from the mass of data?
- What kind of data do you plan to succeed in gathering?
At the sharp end of the “V” is the implementation element which is a response to the following question:
- What will you have to do to construct an answer(s) to the research question?
Here is an example of the V planning template filled in:
Here is an annotated explanation of the V template:
Unannotated template below: