logo

Home Blog Thesis and Dissertation How to Write a Dissertation - A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Write a Dissertation - A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Write a Dissertation - A Step-by-Step Guide

If you are working towards earning a Ph.D., know that dissertation writing is an important part of your journey.

Graduate students start the process of writing their dissertations with great zeal and enthusiasm. However, the process can be long and tedious, due to conducting research and writing. Which sometimes leads to procrastination and even failure.

But not to worry! We have got you covered.

Before continuing your dissertation read this step-by-step guide on how to write a dissertation.

It will help you get started!

What is a Dissertation

A dissertation is a challenging paper that a student must complete in order to earn their doctorate. Dissertation writing is similar to writing a book. It, too, is divided into several chapters and is longer than your normal academic essays.

It is important to first ask, what is a dissertation? Let’s take a look now.

The aim of the dissertation is to conduct in-depth research on a topic chosen by the student. And to then produce an independent piece of work relevant to that subject.

It is the longest piece of literature where you choose the subject and discuss different points of view and ideas.

This helps showcase an individual's abilities as a researcher, their ability to explore a subject extensively. And to demonstrate how successfully they can manage a research project while using appropriate research tools.

How Long is a Dissertation?

The answer to this question is quite obvious, it varies.

But generally, it is around:

  • 10,000 to 12,000 words - For undergraduate level
  • 15,000 to 25,000 words - For master’s level
  • Up to 50,000 - For Ph.D. level

The length of the dissertation depends on three factors.

  • How much time do you have to give to your project? It is important for you to prepare a schedule for your dissertation work.
  • How long your research work will take. It is usual for the implementations of research work to take as long as a year.
  • Your instructor will provide instructions along the way. How quick they are in providing responses will definitely impact the project timelin

(back to top)

megaphone Paper Due? Why suffer? That’s our job! Click here to learn more.

How to Write a Dissertation?

Wondering how to structure a dissertation?

Consider the following step-by-step process to find out what it takes to complete your dissertation logically and efficiently.

  1. 1. Find an Engaging Dissertation Topic

This is the most crucial part of the process.

Brainstorm as much as you can, go to different lengths of finding out the necessary information.

Seek help from your mentors and instructors; they know about the latest trends. Some key attributes of a great dissertation topic are;

  • Clarity
  • Uniqueness
  • Significance

Look for existing PhD dissertations; they might provide you with useful insights for future improvements.

Another tip is to hit your college library and skim through the titles and abstracts of the previous student’s dissertations.

You want to make sure there is plenty of research material available on your topic before starting writing.

Also, think of an idea that will attract the most amount of funding if you are writing for an international journal.

  1. 2. Craft a Strong Dissertation Proposal

A dissertation proposal is a short persuasive document written to be reviewed by the committee members.

It comprises of the following:

  • Introduction of the problem you’re going to tackle,
  • Aims and objectives of the research,
  • How you will carry out the research,
  • Research methodology (tools used for carrying out the research),
  • Limitations and drawbacks of the research,
  • The significance of the topic and the research question.

In a nutshell, the dissertation proposal must be written to convince the committee members.

And ensure that your area of interest is valuable to your field of study and academic community.

  1. 3. Write an Engaging and Relevant Introduction Chapter

Once your proposal has been approved, it's time to get writing! You’ve already put in a good amount of work on crafting an excellent dissertation or thesis. The first three chapters are done - introduction, literature review, and methodology- so now it's just about polishing off these with some final touches before submitting them for approval.

What will be included in the introduction chapter? Here are the key elements of an introduction chapter.

  • A brief background of the topic.
  • The statement of the problem explains the main issue in detail.
  • The research questions.
  • The significance and importance of your work.

Covering all of these points is important otherwise, your introduction will provide incomplete information.

  1. 4. Conduct In-depth Research and Prepare the Literature Review

Writing a dissertation requires extensive and exhaustive research and fine-tuned organizational skills.

One of the most important things to do when writing a dissertation is to make sure you use reputable source materials.

You can make use of a number of research methodologies:

  • Peer-reviewed essays,
  • Case studies,
  • Surveys,
  • Interviews,
  • Historical research, etc.

Add all these in your literature review, and make sure that you review and add credible and reputed sources only.

  1. 5. Conduct In-depth Research and Prepare the Literature Review

Once you have determined the dissertation structure that must be followed, the actual work will begin.

Begin with a rough draft of your dissertation, go chapter by chapter. The first chapter should talk about the significance and the aims and objectives of your research.

The next section is the literature review or context of your research.

Discuss existing researches taken place, show your understanding of the study, present findings, facts, and figures, and cite references as you go.

Next, talk about your chosen research method and justify using it. The fifth and usually the last chapter of the dissertation is the conclusion. Here you will summarize the entire research, how you have provided solutions for your research question.

  1. 6. Edit and Proofread

The last and final step of this exhausting lifecycle of dissertation writing is the proofreading and editing stage. Make sure you have plenty of time to show your work to others. Show it to your mentors, peers, friends, and family for corrections and improvements, and ask for feedback.

(back to top)

Dissertation Format

You have gathered your resource information and have carried out all necessary research. The next step is to determine the dissertation format and outline. Here are the things included in a dissertation writing process.

1. Dissertation Title

Choose the dissertation title, question, and theme.

Before you finalize your dissertation title, it is good to discuss some alternatives with your instructor.

2. Dissertation Abstract

In the dissertation abstract, you summarize the entire document. It isn’t a mere introduction to the dissertation. It includes the key elements in a way that the reader gets the idea of the entire document.

An abstract shouldn’t exceed the word limit of 350.

3. Dissertation Introduction

In this chapter, you present the idea and knowledge gathered throughout the research process.

  • A dissertation introduction should include the following elements:
  • Background information of the topic and issue at hand.
  • The purpose and value of your study.
  • Research aims and objectives.
  • Expectations of the end results.

Make sure that you do not add all the details here. Save some for the main body section.

4. Literature Review

A literature review is a study of existing research on relevant topics such as:

  • books,
  • journal articles,
  • scholarly sources.

It isn’t merely a summary of the sources but an analysis of the key findings, variables, concepts about a research problem.

5. Research Methodology

In this section, you discuss the research methodology that you used to collect data and carry out the research. In some cases, you must also justify using these methods.

The two main types of research used in dissertation writing are qualitative and quantitative.

6. Research Findings

  • In this section of the dissertation, you must discuss and explain your findings.
  • Depending on the type of your results, you can utilize graphs, figures, tables, etc.

7. Discussion

Here, you leave the reader to think critically about the issue as it pertains to your findings. Results and discussion are often included in a single section also.

Note: You need not use formal vocabulary when expressing your thoughts but try avoiding pronouns such as me, my, mine, etc.

8. References

The last part is to cite all the references used throughout the dissertation. The key to including all the references is to make a reference list as you go.

There are four different citation styles; APA, MLA, Harvard, and Chicago. Every educational institution follows a particular format. Be sure to determine which format you will be using before you begin your paper.

There you go; we have explained the major dissertation format and outline writing steps along with the template it follows.

Below are samples of the dissertation template and dissertation proposal. Use them for your assistance.

Dissertation Proposal Template

pdf icon
Dissertation Proposal Template

Here is a dissertation research proposal example that you can use as a reference; however, don’t copy the work as it is.

Dissertation Proposal Example

pdf icon
Dissertation Proposal Example

Although we have included all the necessary steps and tips. But writing a dissertation requires a whole lot of hard work, unlike other types of academic writing.

Students often get stuck during the dissertation process due to not having sufficient time and wonder whether there are dissertation writing services to help them out.

Lucky for you, 5StarEssays.com is at your service once again.

Our dissertation writers can provide you with a well-written document to get you your degree. Get in touch with our customer support representative today and avail top-notch dissertation writing services by experts.

megaphone Paper Due? Why suffer? That’s our job! Click here to learn more.

Was this helpful?

How can we improve it?

Subscribe to 5staressay's writing blog. Get email updates


Who are we?

We are U.S.-based, native English professional writers. We hold graduate and professional degrees from major universities (Princeton, Stanford, UCLA,Georgetown, Dartmouth, Penn, Northwestern). This is all that we do. We are accountable to our clients, and are proud to serve their needs on a “return customer” basis.

OUR GUARANTEE
  • 100% ORIGINAL work.
  • ZERO plagiarism.
  • You OWN the writing.
  • Your privacy is guaranteed.
  • We meet YOUR DEADLINE.

If you’re after an “A”, you want the best. You want us.

Learn More