Dissertation Writing Tips
It seems like your time at the university is slowly coming to its final stage. To prove that you have been a diligent and attentive student for several years, you need to get a proper dissertation work done. The Graduate School Regulations of any institution may have different requirements for students. But, most frequently, it's said you cannot graduate without a proper dissertation paper. That is a crucial project that can either open the door to a successful academic future or put an end to your development in a particular sphere. That is why many students may find this assignment challenging, extremely time-consuming, and demanding. But worry not! This post was prepared to provide you with dissertation writing tips and ease your stresses.
Dissertation - What's and Why's
Before writing a dissertation, make sure to recall the basics. Those are definitions, purposes, and main requirements you have to meet. Some people find this stage unnecessary, and that is one of the biggest mistakes. Thus, you risk not knowing what you are expected to do and how to do that appropriately. You are going to receive your degree, and the task is to be equipped with knowledge and skills.
To start with, a dissertation is an extensive academic paper that is focused on particular research objectives. In that project, you highlight the importance of a certain subject matter and study it profoundly. Sometimes, your investigation can lead to unanswered questions. But, even despite such a scenario, the dissertation is an indicator of your competence, ability to analyze and solve, and readiness to set foot in the real academic world.
That is the culmination of your studying and a guarantee that you are competent enough to contribute to science. So, be prepared to read a lot, spend hours in the library, immerse in archives and articles related to the research focus of your work, and so on. We, in turn, will do our best to provide guidelines and recommendations that can help you overcome the dissertation writing without worries.
Consider It in Advance
"Dissertation" comes from "dissertātiō" (Latin), and a translation of that is "discussion." It is a process with various perspectives and aspects that should be considered. As for any discussion, a good dissertation recommends that you:
- state your aims and objectives clearly;
- have enough reliable evidence to develop your ideas;
- stay open-minded and be ready for "What Ifs".
Apart from that, there are important stages you should go through to provide your paper with a reasonable foundation. Now, we are going to analyze each of them so that you miss nothing.
One of the crucial points is that a dissertation must be focused on the task that your research question set. The first reason for that is the core of your work - it will be more precise, and the issues that aren't related to your main topic won't distract you. On the other hand, when the research question is clear, you can think about the strategy of your study. A dissertation is not only about the theory - in most cases, you also have to conduct practical investigation or experiment, and such things require better preparation. Here are the main features of a dissertation topic:
- Appropriate for your studies
- Formulated well (use subtopics if needed)
- Conveys a valuable scientific issue
Sometimes, there's no need in going too far. Relevant topics for your project can be found at the arm's length. Maybe, there was an assignment covering a certain issue that made some theories cross your mind? What if it can be studied more thoroughly - with statistics, precise evidence, findings that will turn the whole area upside down? All you need is to find the impulse. And, sometimes even such thought as "It seems like I can turn this essay into a well-developed study" can be enough.
Time Management and Deadlines
Time management is needed to keep you afloat and prevent a lot of worries. On average, writing a dissertation takes 12-18 months, but here, a lot depends on how you work with information and its synthesis/analysis. Therefore, after you have decided on the topic, answer the question, "Can I find enough information easily? How long can it take?" Then, it will definitely be better to divide the entire writing process into several stages and set deadlines for them. Also, during the work on the dissertation, you will need to devote time to the following aspects.
- Consultations with the professor or adviser at the writing center
- Revising the paper and editing mistakes
- Possible need to re-write particular parts from scratch
- Sudden issues (e.g., illness, moving, etc.)
An ideal strategy would be to make the research stage take approximately a month or two. If you do that, you will have 8-10 weeks to work on an investigation phase, and about the same time for preparing each section of your future paper. Keep in mind any dates assigned by your professor (if any), since a well-organized process is always easier. Also, it guarantees that you won't be writing your dissertation headlong in the last two weeks before turning in. That approach will only increase the possibility of a low grade.
One of the most difficult requirements is that your research has to meet a specific word count. Depending on the dissertation type and specifics, its length may vary from 12000 to 14000 words. It is what frequently becomes a challenge for students - where to get so much information? So, be ready to spend enough time on studying all available sources (and sometimes even those that are hard-to-get). Here are a few recommendations:
- Remember the materials that you have used previously. The book about address space that you read for the IT classes a few months ago? Even it can come in handy if there is information related to your topic.
- Use technology. With today's Internet access, information gathering has been simplified greatly. Browse platforms like Google Scholar or Sci-Hub. And don't forget about foreign materials. How to read those? If a super-exciting article is written in a language that you don't know, use online translating tools. Few clicks - and another invaluable fact for your dissertation is ready.
- Visit the library. Progress is great, but not all books may be available online. Sometimes, even in the thickest and oldest manuscripts, you can find several pages or even paragraphs that are necessary for supporting your statements. That can be especially useful for students writing a dissertation on History, Language (or History of Language), etc.
Information is the key to persuasion. The more references, specific examples, statistics, and other accurate data you provide, the more trustworthy and professional your dissertation will be. Also, this aspect is important for elements such as, for example, References or Appendices.
Even in the Abstract, you need to provide the reader with a background section of your dissertation. You highlight the point of your research, talk about previous works in this area, indicate the importance of the issue you build the investigation on. That is why the gathering of relevant materials is one of the most important steps to be taken.
The Features of a Good Dissertation
After you have collected all the necessary information, it is time to distribute it amongst the main elements of the dissertation. As with any other academic assignment, the structure of graduate dissertation can be divided into Introduction, the Main part, and Conclusions. How is that possible?
Your Dissertation Introduction
It is the part thanks to which the reader understands what your dissertation is about. The task is to do your best to prove the relevance of the project and its importance. Here are the preliminary pages you need.
- Title page
An integral part where basic information about your project is indicated - its name and author.
It is a brief overview of all the work you've done. Here, you point out the main stages of your study. Those are the research question and objectives, the environment and boundaries of the investigation, applied methods, and even the results obtained (their brief analysis). Thus, you provide a short background of your project and information about the way you solved the main research problem.
Here, you include the formalities of your paper. This part is a confirmation that you wrote this work yourself, as well as an indication of who provided you with direct assistance. Be careful - refrain from personal thanks to your older brother who bought you a RedBull at 3 a.m. when you worked on another page for the dissertation. Here, you can identify participants of your study, attach scripts, etc. In addition, acknowledgments indicate that the paper is approved by the school's plagiarism declaration and contains information about the number of words in a dissertation.
- Table of contents
For the committee members to navigate your dissertation and show the organization of your paper, the contents element is required. It is a simple list of headings and subheadings, but it can say a lot about your writing a lot.
- Theoretical introduction
This part can be categorized either as an introduction or the main part of your dissertation. That is because at first, you go through the theory, which means you analyze the information that is already available. It can be said that you are preparing the foundation to build on your research and reinforce your ideas.
The Main Part
Now, the main task is to present the fruits of your work. Since you already explained why you conducted this research, it is time to delve into this process in detail and explain how you did it. Your research can be divided into stages - in that case, make sure you can describe the results for each of them. The main part is where you can justify every choice made during the research, come up with innovative ideas, assume, and challenge the beliefs. All you need for that is to provide enough evidence and facts that will support your statements.
In the main part, there are Discussion and Analysis sections, and that is the heart of your work. Here, analyze where the research has led you. You can trace how much your results are intertwined with existing theories or how a particular examined phenomenon has changed (if it has been studied before). As a result, you may come up with impressive statistics, analyzing which, you will inspire yourself or others to formulate innovative theories or work on brand-new studies.
Here is another important thing. Do not worry if the outcomes of investigation don't lead to an accurate answer (or even challenge your statements). It is acceptable for a dissertation. However, don't forget to include these observations in the last part of your writing.
Conclusions and References
If you worked on the previous parts diligently, you just have to dot the Is. So, in Conclusions, you answer the main question, "Do the results of the study support/answer my thesis statement?" As it was mentioned, there are cases when they don't. And that's OK because such a result is also a result that can be considered valuable.
You can show how the outcomes of your dissertation may affect the following research in this area. Here, you can take a step away from a clear analysis and express your own opinion. Since this part of the writing can be described in a simpler language, it allows you to convey the results of your dissertation to a wider audience.
As for the References - make sure to consult your supervisor on any format requirements first. Here, you have to indicate every source you have used for the investigation. Direct and indirect quotations, official statistics, data from various reports - don't miss anything.
Meet the Expectations of Your Committee
Apart from the rules of the structure and what to write in your dissertation parts, we would like to discuss the basic principles of preparing this project. Here are a few tips that will make this process less worrying:
- Clear statements - avoid redundancy and copy-pasting, support your ideas.
- Basic requirements - follow the length, format, and reference standards.
- Original approach - don't be afraid of expressing new theories and solutions.
- Time-management - watch the deadlines to submit the parts of your project for revision.
- Measured writing - give yourself time to rest and restart your mind if you run out of motivation.
- Proper concentration - organize your workspace so that nothing distracts you from writing.
That's it for our dissertation guide and tips - remember that it is possible to overcome everything if you consider every step well. Hope our article was helpful, and wish you luck with academic achievements!