A Short Guide to Dissertation Writing

A dissertation is a research project completed as a part of a Ph.D. degree and it is a key indicator of your true capabilities as a researcher and student. A dissertation is an extended piece of work, divided into chapters, and containing a detailed examination of your subject matter. You are typically expected to carry out the highly independent study and present the results to distinguished scholars those opinions of your intellect and skills will depend on what you have written.

What Makes
a Good Dissertation

The requirements are always specific on every particular course, but there are a few criteria that determine a good project:

  • a clear objective based on a well-produced central question;
  • properly researched and planned information;
  • critical evaluation and deep analysis of the topic;
  • consistent and perfectly structured ideas;
  • original writing presented in an appropriate academic way;
  • accurate referencing.

A good dissertation is one that presents a project work effectively.

Getting On With the Writing

Your approach to one of the most important challenges of your academic career will determine the quality of your final work.

Planning and Research

A dissertation is your major commitment, so it should be planned carefully. It is very important to work out a timetable, stick to it and never leave the things to the last minute. There will always be some problems with obtaining the books, delays in receiving replies to surveys, difficulties with printing the material and so on. To hand in the work on time, it is essential to plan the writing process and anticipate any possible troubles.

You should also include conducting a research and collecting the material into your plan. Typically the information you need to gather includes the results of tests, notes from various interviews, specifications and data from reliable sources. Sticking closely to a plan will help to stay focused without getting too overambitious with your research.

The Structure

It is important to check with a supervisor and with course literature what the required structure is, as there may be some variations. Here is the structure that is commonly used:

Title page. The title page presents your potential reader what your work is about. There will be a required format in your particular discipline, so make sure to check it.

Abstract. It is the shortest section of a dissertation but one of the most important ones. The Abstract represents why and how you did what you did and what results are.

Acknowledgements. This is a chance to mention people who were really helpful.

Contents page. It shows the structure of a dissertation.

Introduction. The introduction has two main functions: to expand the material from the abstract and guide the rest of the work.

Methods. It is important to be clear and precise with the methods, processes and materials you used.

Results. This section includes the results of your research.

Discussion. This is where you review your own research in relation to the wider context in which is it located.

Conclusions. It is not just a summary of your research you need to present what your findings mean to your field.

References. All the references that appear in the text should be included into the reference list.

Appendices. Appendices present the items a reader might want to see.

Content and Style

A dissertation should be written in an appropriate academic style, avoiding vagueness, colloquialisms, contractions and phrasal verbs. It’s important to always aim for concise and clear expressions. As a rule of thumb, don't use too much personal language.

All the sentences should be complete and paragraphs well developed. It is essential to use the linking verbs to guide the reader through your work. Make sure to follow the punctuation rules.

In your conclusion, don't start underestimating your work by apologizing for your poor results or complaining about a lack of time. Any research has weaknesses, but you shouldn't stress them.

And remember to consistently make the references to your sources.

How to Work Smart and
Where to Get Advice

When scheduling your dissertation time, think about where, when and how you work best. By considering these details, you ensure that you work productively. Develop rituals of work that will motivate you to get down to business: take your favorite pen and notebook, brew a pot of green tea, buy cookies – that will help you to get done more.

Always set small goals and take baby steps. The whole process will be much more manageable. Continue writing even if you don't feel like it. Everyone procrastinates, loses focus and gets anxious. Just strive for small, daily advances and you will see the immediate progress.

Your dissertation is an independent project, however, if you need guidance or support, you can turn to your supervisor. To get the most of your meetings you should:

  • arrange a series of meetings to discuss your progress;
  • set yourself deadlines for sending drafts to your supervisor before the meetings;
  • contact the supervisor even if the things are not going well.

This will allow you to get maximum benefit from your meetings.

The prospect of writing a dissertation can be a bit daunting. However, the actual process is not as frightening as it first seems. The dissertation provides you with a unique chance to study the subject of your personal interest in detail, so you may even enjoy it!