How to Write Your Dissertation: Purpose, Concept and the Main Structure
Writing a dissertation or thesis is to make a research project which students have to complete to get undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Dissertation can also be written by Ph.D. candidates when they want to proceed with a doctoral degree. The main purpose of such paper is to show the committee your research conducting skills in discipline and present some original content that provides value for both scientific and academic communities.
Despite the fact that, usually, you will have a mentor responsible for your work and able to tell you how to write the paper properly, for the most part this project is independent and requires concentration, knowledge of the topic, fresh ideas and, of course, some research from you. Prepare because it is much more difficult than writing an essay of 500 words.
Depending on your study course, there are different types of dissertation: empirical and non-empirical. What is the difference?
- Empirical type is the one that involves collecting data from the public and you should put into practice the ethical and professional guidelines. If the subject is scientific, the dissertation may be centered entirely on laboratory work;
- Non-empirical type is mainly based on already existing data you can find in the works of other people. You will have to spend some time researching through all these works and make sure that you do not just state what others think but analyze and explore the practical applications of these statements.
After defining the type of your thesis, it is high time to analyze the structure. Usually, the size of dissertation is 10-12K words for the undergraduate degree, 15-25K words for postgraduates and around 50K words for Ph.D.
Part 1: Winning Proposal
This part needs you to convince the readers that your project is really worthy and that you will be researching for solutions of complex questions. It is shorter but is equally important as you need to come up with an object of your research, make a plan and then work on your paper. Here are the things you should consider when writing a good proposal:
- Complex question (describe the problem and its importance for scientific the community, describe methods of finding a solution);
- Unique theme (the topic should be original, valuable for the academic community, not too complex and reasonable);
- Main structure (title, name up to three objectives, literature, areas of study and scientific references, research section, methodology or type of your dissertation, potential outcomes, time you spent and list of references).
Part 2: Conducting Research
Now you should define the general flow of the project. Here are a few tips:
- define the timeline (you should have enough resources so you could totally understand the topic you are focusing on but do not read EVERYTHING related to your theme as this is a common mistake: the point is to get the main idea);
- choose the place (where you should look for information: Internet, library, good resources);
- organize (take notes in order not to get confused).
Part 3: Writing Dissertation
Now you are at the most difficult and important part and it is much easier when you stick to a plan:
- come up with an outline (your proposal is kind of a preliminary outline, but make sure you include new points);
- introduction part (roots of the problem, issue statement, study goal and research question, terms definitions, and final expectations);
- literature review;
- point out methodology (empirical or non-empirical);
- results (the research questions and the results you got);
- conclusion (summarize the study and give recommendations for future research);
- list of bibliography.
Part 4: Editing and Proofreading
After you completed the first draft of your future dissertation, take some rest from the project and then start editing and proofreading. After a break, you will be able to notice mistakes and may come up with fresh ideas. First, you have to deal with essence (editing) and then proofread the form of the paper. Pay attention to logic between arguments, fill in gaps if needed and make final readings to check the grammar, spelling and style mistakes. As you are too attached to the paper, you may have difficulties at this stage but you are not alone!
Part 5: Getting Feedback
Before presenting your project to committee, ask your friend or colleague experienced in this discipline to check your paper. Ask them about their opinion and suggestions and then discuss it with your mentor to find possible weak points. Then you will get instruction on how to finalize the whole process and get ready for project presentation. So, do not be shy to ask your friends, family, and mentors for help: this is a great chance for your skills to shine through.