How to Write a Dissertation

The way you approach the most important challenge of your university academic career; which is your project write up or paper review or dissertation, can shape the quality of your finished work and in turn determine how much relevance your work would enjoy and of course, secure high grades.

Having to write a dissertation signifies that you have gotten to the near end of your educational journey; whether as a final year student or an almost PhD holder. At this point, you are expected to showcase your skill and research capacity in your educational field. This means you would be presenting results of the training you have undergone through an original piece that will provide academic and scientific value.

Trust me, you wouldn’t want to mess that up! So, you have to give it your all.

In case you are wondering what a dissertation is…

I’ll tell you.

The term “dissertation” is used to refer to the final result of an independent work and research carried out during the cause of gaining an undergraduate degree or before gaining a doctoral degree.

Although dissertations may look like thesis, because of the shared similarities among them (similarities in their structures; as both contain; introduction, literary review, body, conclusion, bibliography and appendix), they are entirely different from one another. Their differences lie basically in their completion. Unlike dissertation, a thesis is a project that marks the end of a master’s degree.

Also, thesis is a project written to show one’s ability to think carefully and critically about a particular subject matter and knowledgeably discuss the information in depth. In writing a thesis, one is given an opportunity to centralize and expand on a particular subject matter that he/she wishes to pursue professionally. Whereas in dissertation, the research of others serve as a guide in developing a unique hypothesis or theory. A dissertation is an opportunity presented during the cause of a doctoral program to contribute fresh and new knowledge and practices to your field.

Another difference between a thesis and a dissertation is in the length of the write up. A dissertation is far longer than a master’s thesis.

Whether it’s an undergraduate dissertation or that of a PhD program, the method of writing is similar. This article will serve as a guide to all PhD students and undergraduates looking to write a perfect dissertation.

Without wasting any more time, let us look at what you should know before beginning the process of writing a Dissertation.

Problems Students Face When Writing their Dissertation

Procrastination

You may think you have all the time to start writing until it’s really close to the deadline and you end up doing a shoddy job. This is an important project! Always have that at the back of your mind. And if you want it to be rated highly, you have to start writing early.

Lack of research skills

This might be the first sign to show that you need the help of a professional writer. Research is a very important, if not the most important part of academic writing. You need to be able to gather and sort out materials relevant to your topic.

Lack of writing skills

You can’t afford to submit a badly written dissertation paper. Be sure to double check for punctuations, spelling errors, plagiarism, improper sentence structure and languages.

What You Should Do Before Writing

Carefully choose a research topic

Your research topic should be centered on your career choice. I suggest that you choose a topic you find interesting. Think about the importance of the chosen topic to your field. It is important for the summary of your project to be able to justify the importance of the topic to your field.

Check what is required of you

Does your faculty of study prefer a particular referencing style over the other? Before you begin writing, you should do your homework; what academic writings look like in your field of study, the preferred word count and when or to whom the writing should be submitted.

Research

A well conducted research shows your readers the depth of knowledge you have in that field. You do not want your readers thinking you have no idea what you are talking about. If you have failed to research properly, writing would be very difficult for you because you’ll end up lacking details of the basic ideas surrounding your research topic. There are many materials available online. Search for journals, reviews and articles relevant to your topic.

Think about the structure

Think of the subtopics you would be exploring. Include how your research is relevant in your introduction and literature review.  Knowing the direction of your ideas will help you make relevant points. Sticking closely to your plan and structure will help you remain focused which increases your chances of developing a strong dissertation.

Write

Keep your faculty’s word count in mind. Make sure to have a back up of your writing. Always make a comprehensive list of your sources so that you don’t miss any source you are supposed to cite.

The Writing Process

What to include in your dissertation paper?

Introduction

This is the first part of your dissertation and should contain your topic, the relevance and purpose of your topic and what the readers should expect in the rest of the write up. Your introduction should state clearly the objectives and questions in your research topic as well as an overview of your write up structure. Your introduction should be clear, simple and engaging.

Literature review

Your literature review should be done way before you start your experimental research. This enables you to gain knowledge on the academic work that exists as it relates to your research topic. The process of writing your literature review includes; collecting and selecting the most relevant material relevant to your topic, evaluating each source and finding connections between the materials available. This is not a summary of existing studies; it is an in-depth write up to justify your research. The literature review often forms the basis for theoretical framework.

Methodology

This section contains details of what was done, how it was done and a convincing statement to show your readers that it was the best approach.  You should include; the overall approach to your research; whether quantitative or qualitative, the method used in collecting samples or data, approaches used in analyzing the data samples, experimental tools and materials, obstacles encountered in collecting and analyzing data and how these difficulties where dealt with. Lastly, justify the methods used.

Result

Report results that are important to your topic. Qualitative results; like those gotten from interviews, should be presented separately from quantitative and experimental research. You can also confirm with your supervisors if you are confused about how to report your results.

Discussion

This is the section that comes immediately after the result section. Here, you state the meaning of your results and what implications these results have in relation to your research question. This section must contain a detailed explanation of whether or not the results gotten meet your expectations. If an unexpected result is gotten, offer explanations for it. It is advisable to discuss any considerations for alternative practical approaches to your research and the limitations you might have experienced.

Conclusion

At the end of your writing, your conclusion must answer your research question in such a way that any reader that picks your dissertation would immediately understand your central argument. This section should also state the contribution of your findings to your field.

Reference list

Your reference list must contain complete details of all the sources you have cited in your write up. Be sure to use the preferred referencing style of your faculty. Do not forge references, this may lead to plagiarism.

Writing of dissertations can be quite a great challenge. Remember, the way you handle the most important challenges in your academic career shapes the quality of the finished project. You have already come this far in your studies, so employ these steps to ensure your Dissertation is top notch and you finish in grand style.