Clearly understand the purpose of your dissertation prospectus
Here’s a secret: smart PhD students leverage their dissertation prospectus (also called dissertation proposal) to guide their research. How, you ask? These clever students have bought into the true purpose of the dissertation prospectus.
The prospectus is a blueprint for the rest of your research. Just as entrepreneurs have a business plan that they can later execute, students writing a dissertation have a prospectus. Do most of the heavy-lifting during the development of your prospectus and you will avoid the impulse of constantly questioning your research question when you are in the field. A well-crafted prospectus gives you the freedom to just execute a step-by-step plan.
The key to doing this right is to simulate the entire research process in your mind. Ask yourself how you will do your research? What primary research will you need? What characteristics will you seek in your subjects? How will you gather your subjects? What systems will you have in place to ensure unbiased research? How will you document your research? How will you analyze your research?
Document everything as you simulate very aspect of your research. This documentation will become the meat of your dissertation prospectus. It will become the actionable steps that you can follow once you get approval from your committee.