Having to write a dissertation is about more than just having to write an important piece. The truth is that a dissertation represents an important juncture in your educational journey. It is the crowning glory, where you demonstrate your ability to conduct research in your particular field, and then present the results in an original way that will provide lasting value to your field and many others.
Your dissertation should not just be rigorous and original, though – it should also be interesting.
An important component of your success in this endeavour is your mindset. In fact, a lot of this guide is about helping you develop the right mindset. By the end, you should be able to write a killer dissertation if you follow our steps closely. If not, you can always use professional dissertation writing services. Even then, knowing about the process will be of great value later down the road.
What is a dissertation?
Put simply, a dissertation is simply a final project for doctoral students before they get their degree. The name isn’t so strictly used, however, and we often find students taking undergraduate degrees, and even high school students, getting them at the ends of their terms. As such, this guide has been crafted to be useful for all students, no matter what stage of learning they are at.
Why writing a dissertation can be so difficult
Writing a dissertation actually starts out as fun. Most candidates are excited about it at the beginning, though they often fall to despair as the realities of the project begin to dawn on them. You have to plan, do your research, and write, which together can be perhaps the most formidable challenge you will ever have to face.
The fruits of your labour are sweet, as you get to show off an original piece of content based on a promising proposal backed by thorough research. The labour itself, however, can be very bitter. Below are some of the reasons why writing a dissertation can be so hard:
- Students tend to procrastinate starting, as they often think they have more time than they actually do.
- Students without much experience usually don’t do enough research.
- Students without any writing experience tend to suffer through the writing process.
Writing a dissertation can seem rather overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. Below is a step-by-step guide to help you through the process.
1: Start with a great proposal
A dissertation proposal is exactly what it sounds like: a proposal for the actual project. The purpose of a proposal is to convince the dissertation committee that your project is going to answer some complex, interesting, and, above all, valuable questions.
By necessity, the proposal will be much shorter than the dissertation itself, though no less important. It is, after all, the point at which you will not only think of the question your dissertation will tackle, but also set up a plan for how you will do research for the dissertation. Even if your committee does not require a proposal, we advise you to write one and discuss it with your mentor. It will be a great help for getting your head into the right space.
There are a few important questions you should ask yourself when writing your proposal:
- What problem will your dissertation tackle?
- Why is this problem relevant to the research and academic community in your field?
- Why is a solution to the problem important?
- How will you search for answers?
These are important questions to ask before you commit to anything. The last thing you want to do is do a proposal that leads to a dead end. Your question should have a testable hypothesis that can be verified and proven with strong arguments.
A dissertation proposal also has a structure. Below are the main parts:
- The title
- 3 or more objectives for the dissertation
- A list of references to literature. This may not be necessary in your school, so ask before you include this part. Instead, you can just point out sources of information you’re likely to use while doing your research.
- A research section, where you will elaborate upon research ideas.
- A methodology section, where you can point out whether the project will be empirical (data will be collected and analyzed) or non-empirical (it will be a review of previous literature). Make sure to explain what methods you will use to collect data.
- A section for potential outcomes, where you talk about what outcomes you expect.
2: Conduct the research
A good first step is to collect resources to help you understand the subject you’re working on. You don’t have to read everything that was ever written on the subject. You do, however, need to set a timeline, read as much as you can, and stay committed to the timeline. Also, make sure to look for sources in the right places, such as Google Scholar, where you are likely to find reliable information. You should also take notes and organize your resources, or else you won’t remember where you found important information.
3: Write the dissertation
This is the most important stage of the dissertation. Start by making an outline. This is just going to be a more fleshed-out version of the proposal. It is especially important in light of the possibility that the research led you in a different direction than you had anticipated. The outline should cover:
- An introduction clarifying the background of the problem
- A chapter on literature review
- A methodology section
- A findings section
- A conclusions section
- A bibliography section
Have a schedule while you do all this and stick to it so as to manage your time. Once you’re done, you can write the first draft.
4: Proofread the dissertation
Once you’ve done the first draft, you can take some time away from the project to clear your head. A few days should be enough. You can then come back and start editing and proofreading. While editing is focused on the essence of the dissertation, proofreading is about the form, catching any style, grammar, or spelling errors.
5: Seek feedback
Get some feedback before submitting your dissertation. You can start with colleagues or friends who work in your field. Make sure it’s someone you trust. You can also discuss it with your mentor.
Pat yourself on the back for having come this far. Writing a dissertation is no mean feat. Many students try and fail. The fact that you’ve come this far is a demonstration of your resilience. Now you can submit it and wait for the committee’s decision!