How to Write a Dissertation: Easy Guide With Example
If you are working towards earning a PhD, know that dissertation writing is an important part of your journey.
Graduate students start the process of writing their dissertation 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!
- 1. What is a Dissertation
- 2. How to Write a Dissertation?
- 2.1 Dissertation Topic
- 2.2 Dissertation Proposal
- 2.3 Dissertation Research
- 2.4 Dissertation Format
- 2.4.1 Dissertation Titles
- 2.4.2 Dissertation Introduction
- 2.4.3 Literature Reviews
- 2.4.4 Research Methodology
- 2.4.5 Research Findings
- 2.4.6 Discussion
- 2.4.7 References
- 2.4.8 Dissertation Abstract
- 2.5 Rough Draft
- 2.6 Edit and Proofread
- 3. Dissertation Example
- 4. Dissertation Template
1. 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.
1.1 Dissertation Definition
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.
1.2 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 PhD level
The length of dissertation depends on three factors.
- How much time 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 response will definitely impact the project timeline.
2. How to Write a Dissertation?
Wondering how to structure a dissertation?
Consider the following step-by-step process to find out what it takes for completing your dissertation logically and efficiently.
2.1 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.
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 you have started writing.
Also, think of an idea which will attract the most amount of funding.
2.2 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.
2.3 Dissertation Research
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,
historical research, etc.
2.4 Dissertation Format
You have gathered your resource information and have carried out all necessary research. The next step is to determine the dissertation outline.
A dissertation follows the template given below:
2.4.1 Dissertation Titles
Choose the dissertation title, question and theme.
Before you finalize your dissertation title, it is good to discuss some alternatives with your instructor.
2.4.2 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.
2.4.3 Literature Reviews
A literature review is a study of existing research on relevant topics such as:
It isn’t merely a summary of the sources but an analysis of the key findings, variables, concepts about a research problem.
2.4.4 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.
2.4.5 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.
Here, you leave the reader to think critically about the issue as it pertains to your findings.
Note: You need not use formal vocabulary when expressing your thoughts but try avoiding pronouns such as me, my, mine, etc.
The last part is to cite all the references used throughout the dissertation. The key to include all the references is to make a list of them 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.
2.4.8 Dissertation Abstract
In the dissertation abstract, you summarize the entire document. It isn’t a mere introduction of 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.
2.5 Rough Draft
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.
2.6 Edit and Proofread
The last and final step of this exhausting lifecycle of dissertation writing is editing and proofreading. 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, ask for feedback.
There you go, we have explained the major dissertation writing steps along with the dissertation template.
3. Dissertation Example
Here is a dissertation example that you can use as a reference; however, don’t copy the work as it is.
Dissertation Proposal Example
4. Dissertation Template
Use this dissertation template to improve your understanding.
Dissertation Proposal Template
Although we have included all the necessary steps and tips. But writing a dissertation requires a whole lot of hard work unlike other type of academic writing. Students often get stuck during the dissertation process and wonder whether there are dissertation writing services to help them out.
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With that, we will conclude this article.
Were these steps helpful to jumpstart your dissertation writing process?