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How to write a dissertation 

Oct 31, 2022

How to write a dissertation.

What Is a Dissertation? | Guide, Examples, & Template

This post isn't just to brag about my accomplishments, but to offer tips for getting through the dissertation process from someone who mostly has and is now looking back on the places where I struggled the most. The (occasionally contradictory) tips below represent the things I would have done differently, if I could have. Set deadlines early on in the process. Having a goal to work towards is incredibly important. Books, articles, and other scholarly works early in the process, and continue to add to your list. Refer to the works cited to identify key literature. And take detailed notes to make the writing process easier.

It is possible to successfully complete a dissertation by breaking down the process into smaller steps. A dissertation is a substantial research project that contributes to your field of study. Graduate students write a dissertation to earn their doctorate. The format and content of a dissertation vary widely depending on the academic discipline. Doctoral candidates work closely with their faculty advisor to complete and defend the dissertation, a process that typically takes 1-3 years. A dissertation is essentially like writing a book. Looking at examples of dissertations can help you set realistic expectations and understand what your discipline wants in a successful dissertation. Ask your advisor if the department has recent dissertation examples. Or use a resource like ProQuest. Doctoral candidates read a lot of monographs and articles, but they often do not read dissertations. Reading polished scholarly work, particularly critical scholarship in your field, can give you an unrealistic standard for writing a dissertation.

Write a Research Proposal: In most doctoral programs, you'll need to write and defend a research proposal before starting your dissertation. The length and format of your proposal depend on your field. In many fields, the proposal will run 10-20 pages and include a detailed discussion of the research topic, methodology, and secondary literature. Your faculty advisor will provide valuable feedback on the process of continuation.

Additionally, you can research course materials, academic journals, newspapers and other media, to identify current issues that relate to your field and to find some inspiration for your dissertation subject. Additionally, Alex recommends that you work with your supervisor to agree a clear focus or research question, benefitting from their understanding of the research area, appropriate methods, and what might be achievable within your timeframe. 'Consider why it's important to tackle the topic you have chosen,' she says.

Your advisor can help identify issues and suggest ways to strengthen your dissertation. Staying in close communication with your advisor will also boost your confidence for your dissertation defense. Consider sharing material with other members of your committee as well.

Write Your Introduction and Conclusion: It seems counterintuitive, but it's a good idea to write your introduction and conclusion last . Your introduction should describe the scope of your project and your intervention in the disssertation.

A dissertation or thesis is an important piece of academic writing that must be submitted as part of many degree courses. Learn how to do this well by paying attention to these seven crucial areas.

While planning and organising your written work properly is vital while you are an undergraduate, your comprehensive dissertation demands careful planning.

You will experience a range of emotions during the process, including excitement, self-doubt, panic, and euphoria, from choosing a topic and creating a title until the moment you submit it.

The following advice should help keep you on track whether you're preparing for your undergraduate, master's, or PhD dissertation.

7 steps to writing a dissertation writing

1. Take care when selecting your research topic.

According to Dr. Alex Patel, learning development adviser at the University of Leicester's Learning Institute, it's crucial that your research topic be something you find interesting and meaningful — perhaps a problem that fits with your career goals and is significant to the larger academic community.

According to Michelle Schneider, the University of Leeds' academic skills development officer, "Your dissertation is an opportunity to demonstrate your views and ideas, research a subject in greater depth, and consolidate prior knowledge." Choosing a subject that actually interests you will help you stay motivated.

In order to discover inspiration and identify current topics relevant to your profession, you can investigate course materials, academic journals, newspapers, and other media.

2. Confirm the requirements.

To avoid any careless, expensive blunders, Christie Pritchard, head of educational development at the University of Plymouth, advises that you become familiar with your faculty's ethics policies, module handbooks, and referencing style guides. Make sure you know the expectations before you start to plan. You should ascertain:

what academic writing in your field looks like

phrase count

when and where your dissertation must be turned in.

Alex suggests that students query other dissertations or scholarly work in their field, such as:

What is the format of a dissertation?

What kinds of sources are employed?

In what ways are these sources used?

What types of analysis are considered suitable?

3. Establish a clear framework and aim.

Christie advises that you are prepared to create a dissertation proposal once you have chosen your topic. Your technique, literature review, and introduction will be simpler to handle if you can show how your research area is pertinent. "Your proposal defines the goal of your dissertation and the research methodology you propose to use."

You'll be more likely to build a compelling and cogent argument if you stick rigidly to your plan and stay focused without getting overly ambitious with your research. Knowing where your ideas are going will help you stay on course and make only pertinent points.

It won't be a problem to change your plan if the course does diverge slightly, but you'll need to change the title, headings, and text of your document. Speaking with your supervisor about your revised dissertation strategy or structure will help you keep focused on the research and assess its logic.

Christie advises that you account for time for the following as you determine what must be finished by the submission deadline:

reading, investigating, accumulating, and analyzing data, drafting and redrafting, proofreading, printing, and binding.

According to Alex, who also proposes Gantt charts as a good tool for structuring the research and writing process for some writers, this cautious approach can be rewarded by the final product.

4. Consistently write.

When you're ready to start writing, set a reasonable goal, such as 1,000 words per week, as this may be both inspiring and fruitful. Alex asks, "Can you utilize a meeting with your supervisor as a helpful deadline?"

Start writing right away, and use the act of writing to aid in your understanding of the subject. Once a segment is finished, be sure you have covered everything you wanted to. Each should fulfill a certain purpose and work well in relation to the other material.

As you try to create the narrative, your writing will help you make sense of the subject better. As you learn more about it, your analysis, interpretation, and emphasis will alter. According to Alex, editing might be the start of your work rather than its conclusion.

You should regularly cite your sources, take notes while doing your research, and keep a complete list of them.

It will save you hours of labor later on if you keep track of what you've been reading and where it came from, advises Christie. When books are stacked high and files are overflowing with journal articles, it can be incredibly difficult to recall where ideas originated.

5. Keep asking questions

Throughout the dissertation writing process, Alex emphasizes the necessity of remaining inquisitive and skeptical, both of your own work and discoveries as well as those of others.

Always consider whether there are any possibly sound alternatives to a given explanation or interpretation as well as how strongly you are persuaded by it.You must also give the reader an explanation of your thinking. As the author, you may believe that a certain point's rationale is apparent, but this may not be the case for a reader who is learning about the subject for the first time. If you don't show your assessor how you came to a specific conclusion, they won't credit you with having a good case.

Make sure your bibliography is well-stocked with references and that you have taken care to spell names and theories correctly.

6. Don't dismiss the editing process.

To ensure that you generate a piece of work that is well-structured, cohesive, and polished, you must engage in a thorough editing process. Give yourself enough time to connect with your work on various levels, from reevaluating the overall piece's logic to editing and ensuring that you have paid attention to details like the proper reference structure.

The Art of Editing Study Guide from the University of Leicester proposes a five-step method for writing a dissertation and offers additional suggestions on what might be involved at each stage.Make it plain to the reader that you are aware of the contributions of the most prominent theories and research within your area. Failing to do so could make a writer appear uninformed. In addition to making sure your main point is supported by pertinent citations.

7. Relish the accomplishment.

How to Write a Dissertation Step by Step - Words Doctorate

There's no reason to become anxious if you've managed your time well and stuck to your plan, even if things don't go precisely as you had hoped. Remember that you carefully considered your options before selecting your dissertation topic, so disregard any unreasonable concerns about maybe starting over from beginning.

Keep your eye on your goal and you'll be happy with your work, advises Alex. "Your dissertation is a chance to research, produce knowledge, and solve an important topic within your discipline."

Your dissertation will ultimately rank among your best accomplishments. Even though finishing your dissertation will occasionally be challenging, Christie advises, "make the most of it and you'll look back with pride."

Literature review: Christie suggests that once you've settled on your topic, you're then ready to write a dissertation proposal. By demonstrating how your research area is relevant, your introduction, literature review and methodology will become easier to tackle. 'Your proposal outlines the purpose of your dissertation and how you intend to go about your research.' Sticking closely to a plan will help you remain focused without getting too overambitious with your research, which increases your chances of writing a quality proposal. It's easy to feel like you're doing work when you read a book about dissertation writing, but reading GradHacker won't code your data, compile your sources, or write your literature review.


Randolph, Justus. "A guide to writing the dissertation literature review." Practical assessment, research, and evaluation 14.1 (2009): 13.

Randolph, J. (2009). A guide to writing the dissertation literature review. Practical assessment, research, and evaluation14(1), 13.

Merrill, M. David. "Write your dissertation first and other essays on a graduate education." Retrieved March 30 (2000): 2004.

Thompson, P. (2012). Thesis and dissertation writing. The handbook of English for specific purposes, 283-299.

Borden, I. (2006). The dissertation. Routledge.

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