Updated March 2021
A dissertation is one of the most varied and difficult stages for a student. In basic terms, it is a lengthy part of academic content that must be based on original research, which makes the major difference. It usually comes as an undergraduate or postgraduate degree based on your curriculum, like a PhD dissertation.
If you are wondering how to write a dissertation according to the academic standards of your university or the local benchmarks, we’ll try to guide you through. The structure and some aspects will always depend on your course and the field that you choose, yet if you follow some easy guidelines are much more likely to succeed in your writing. Here, we’ll try to cover all the issues you might face during your dissertation.
What Is A Dissertation?
MA dissertation is a scientific work, based on the result of which the applicant is awarded the master's degree. This title is much more valuable than the status of a bachelor or specialist, as with such a degree you can easily find a high-paying job in the specialty.
- How to get a degree?
To be able to defend a master’s degree, you must first complete a master's thesis and obtain the necessary research skills. This paper is not as difficult as the Doctoral thesis simply because it is written for a lower level and it is just a bit more complex than a research project.
- How is doctoral thesis different?
A PhD dissertation is a more serious scientific work than a master's dissertation. Accomplishing it can take years of life because it requires a serious approach to practical research and quite a big stock of theoretical knowledge. As a result of the defense procedure, the applicant can be awarded the title of PhD, which is a serious step in a person’s scientific career.
What else to keep in mind?
As a rule, PhD papers are written on the basis of master's theses. Defense of the candidate’s dissertation is the final point in postgraduate study and takes place before a serious academic Council. However, not everyone can be admitted to defense. Before you reach this stage, you have to do lots of hard work, this is, even more, have own publications, written monographs, as well as the competently issued author's abstract.
That is how these two types of dissertations are different. Below you can find some practical advice on how to start a dissertation, as well as the most effective tips that should make writing a dissertation less stressful!
General Dissertation Structure
How do you write PhD thesis? Usually, dissertation structure follows the same standard rules and consists of:
- An introduction and/or research proposal in which the research question that you plan to investigate should be stated and give some ideas on how you can do it. This is a responsible part. If you send it as a research proposal, it will be rather sketchy, as you will not have the opportunity to thoroughly study the literature, but it should contain at least some theoretical basis and a reasonable idea of why you want to study certain issue;
- A literature review and methodology – that is often combined because what you plan to do should follow from and supplement the previous literature;
- The results and discussion in which you must state what you did, the results that you received, and discuss them in the context of literature.
In the following parts of our article, we’re going to help you with some practical tips and our personal experience in approaching dissertation writing.
How long is a dissertation?
It will always depend on your original instructions and the particular scientific field. In some cases, your institution may introduce a certain word count. If you are applying for a special level of education, it may be up to 100,000 words if you have a Ph.D. thesis. The typical undergraduate dissertation will vary between 8,000 and 15,000 words. Regarding the Master's dissertation, you will have to write from 12,000 to 50,000 words. It is what makes it quite difficult as you include your appendixes and the samples that must be included in the final word count.
The Best Dissertation Writing Tips
- First and foremost
You must accurately answer the question – why You personally need to start writing a dissertation. A person is assumed to have a very, very serious motivation to start this work as it is a hard and often unpleasant process, which can take several months of intensive work.
- Choosing the supervisor is important, but not critical
It is not the fact that will help you during the process of writing and, in fact, your supervisor is a critical figure in the first and the last stage when you define how and where to look for information, and when you need the ideas on how to execute and protect the completed work in the best manner.
- Search for the topic
Here we need the help of the supervisor – often, this person should provide you with some good ideas and issues that can be used as the basis for your text, one of which should interest you. When you are interested in some topic – just do quick research on the Internet to see if there are any already written works on the same subject.
Where to look for more idea? An alternative source of the topic ideas can be anything that you're interested in – an article from a scientific journal, the Internet source or anything else. However, do not think that this step is not important. In fact, half of your success depends on the chosen theme. Thus, when you finally find something you want to write about, be sure to validate it with the supervisor – he must have a good eye for “the complexity” of certain topics. Sometimes the topic is interesting, but there’re not many chances a student can succeed with it.
Do not take some super rare topics. However, you should also avoid too common ones because in the first case, you will get into all the bumps of being an innovator, and the second option will make you tired of proving its novelty.
- Organizing the work
As a rule, when a student defines the topic, he still does not have any idea of what to write in his paper and that is where many people get stuck for days or even months, trying to find at list some ideas. We recommend start with structuring your paper and all dissertation chapters – you can find an example of a good structure on the Internet, library or from some publicly available dissertations related to your subject. This way you will see how it usually looks.
Having an approximate list of contents can greatly clarify the picture. Yes, you may still not have ideas for writing but you will have an understanding of where different information should belong. This will help you in your research as well. This way, you will not get confused by what you should be looking for and besides, you will have a good template for your dissertation outline where you can add notes during the process of investigation.
- Making notes
Any questions, facts, ideas, links, and other information you may find have to be written down in a separate file to prevent losing some good sources or forgetting about some important facts. Besides, this can be useful in future. Even if you will not use the collected data now, maybe it will come in handy in a few years, when you will be working on another project or publication! Of course, this tip sounds too obvious. However, you would be surprised how many students found themselves in an unpleasant situation because they have lost their notes or did not write down some good ideas that they forgot later.
Read also: How you can buy dissertation online from top writers at EduBirdie.com?
The Steps to Writing a Dissertation
As one starts with a dissertation, things easily become complex and confusing, which is why turning to a brief dissertation writing guide helps to identify the starting point and work step-by-step:
- Step 1: Outline your topic and talk about your aims based on your subject and the similar research works that have influenced you to choose this or that. It should be in an abstract-style with the keywords to make your dissertation easier to locate.
- Step 2: Provide preliminary background data that helps to place your research in an appropriate context. It should include various information related to statistics and the surveys, which helps to introduce your topic and talk about why it has been chosen and why it must be researched. It is the set with examples.
- Step 3: Make the focus of your study clear and explain the methodology that you have used. It should include the mechanisms and the approaches that you have chosen to identify certain factors and the ways how your dissertation will become structured. For example, it can be the “cause-and-effect” or “argumentative” methodologies based on your subject.
- Step 4: Explain the value of your research by stating the important points and the samples. It should be the combination of various parts that bring up a complex mixture where you talk about how your dissertation research has made a positive difference and why it has been done differently or similarly. It should be argumentative and clear.
- Step 5: Specify your research objectives and the reasons why you have chosen to explore your subject. Tell about what you wanted to achieve and the ways how you have accomplished certain success based on your methodology. It should be the first and the last parts of dissertation writing that should explain your objectives.
- Step 6: Edit and proofread your dissertation! Remember that editing always comes first, which means that you should focus on the content and the readability by editing the weak parts out. Once ready, you should eliminate the grammar and spelling mistakes as you proofread. Do not forget to check your sources and appendixes to make sure that you do not run into any plagiarism issues because of the incorrect citing!
In the majority of scenarios, start with an outline and make it flexible as you provide materials and explore the materials that you have. It will help you to adjust things and keep your topic precise. Most importantly, do not hurry and take your time to explore and analyze every aspect before you start writing. When you do not know how to start with your dissertation, write down the key statements or try narrowing down your subject to make your dissertation content unique and competing.
How Do You Write A PhD? Common Mistakes
- Lack of scientific novelty
Although it does not sound like a serious issue, this is a big problem that many people face while preparing their works. It is not a secret that every scientific project should be relevant and have novelty but even today many students forget about these factors and fail simply because they were not able to articulate what exactly new their projects contain.
- Limitations of the proposed method
It is always necessary to formulate precisely in what conditions the method is applicable and gives good results in comparison with analogs, and where it should be accurately applied or in combination with others or not applied at all. This is important!
Do not be afraid to say that the offered method is not very appropriate for something, you should be afraid of unsubstantiated claims of wider applicability when, in reality, the method can’t be applied in some cases.
- Lack of comparison with competitors
In 9 dissertations out of 10, you can see the comment "insufficient analysis and comparison of the proposed method with the existing analogs" and this is something you want to avoid.
What does it mean? The problem is that many authors include an overview of the known methods and their shortcomings to prove the novelty of their ideas but they rarely can objectively compare their methods with the others, without exaggerating their brilliance. And this is a big mistake that should be avoided.
What happens in this situation? As a result, the person describes the proposed method, gives tons of facts, theories, and examples that prove the correctness of his ideas. However, has nothing to answer the question – why, in fact, your method is better than the method X, which also solves this problem? Thus, when it comes to an oral defense, this person fails. The candidate has nothing to say to support his method and it appears like the offered ideas have no logical proof and do not seem to stand out from the existing ones.
- Don't think that people in front of you are fools
When it comes to defense, then the subject, with considerable probability, you will understand better than most, if not all members of the Dissertation Council. Just because it's a narrow niche that you've been digging up for the last years. And they may have completely different scientific interests.
But this does not mean that in a very short time they will not be able to assess what you have done and find all the shortcomings in what you have forgotten to do or failed. And here respectful attitude towards the others will be very helpful.
A separate part of this rule – don't think that your opponents are fools. Therefore, it is more than highly recommended to avoid plagiarism and copy-paste (including translations of foreign articles) in your text. After all, you have to admit that today there are almost no people who do not know how to use the Internet or special tools to check the plagiarism, there’re only the ones who don’t want to catch you.
Also, do not assume others as enemies. The commission consists of those who have no purpose to harm you in any possible way, they just play in the other team – they need to examine you according to all requirements and rules they have. Thus, be respectful and friendly!
As we learned above – preparation of a dissertation, collection of information and other procedures for the protection of this scientific work are quite complex, multifaceted and complicated. So, if you still think “there’s so much information, I can’t write my thesis and can’t get what’s going on” we will summarize everything for you at this part of our article.
- A dissertation is the type of paper that must be prepared on your own, according to your research. It should contain a set of new scientific results and provisions put forward for public protection. As a scientific work, it should have internal unity and testify to the personal contribution of its author to science.
- The new ideas and methods proposed in the paper should be reasoned and critically evaluated in comparison with the known, previously described methods. Dissertations of practical value must contain information on the practical use of the obtained scientific results and dissertations, having theoretical value, - guidelines for using scientific findings.
- The basis of the content of the dissertation should be fundamentally new material, including a description of new facts, phenomena, and patterns, as well as a synthesis of previously known information from other scientific positions or in a completely different aspect (to understand what is a synthesis, just read our article with synthesis essay ideas). In this regard, such material may contain discussion questions related to the revision of existing views and submissions. The content of the thesis should meet the requirements of originality, uniqueness, and originality of the provisions.
- The form of presentation of the dissertation content should be characterized by a high degree of abstraction, active use of the mathematical apparatus and means of logical thinking, as well as reasonableness of judgments and accuracy of the data given. Focusing on readers whose professional preparing is the highest, the dissertation should include in the text all available at its disposal sign apparatus (formulas, graphs, diagrams, tables, etc.), i.e. all that is "the language of science", which is understood only by professionals. Linguistic and stylistic design of the material should be determined by the peculiarities of the scientific style of speech, the main feature of which is the objectivity arising from the specifics of scientific knowledge.
We hope this article will help you with your dissertation writing. However, if you find this too hard to write on your own, you can ask our professional dissertation writing service for a help. Check out our rates and writers that will leave you speechless.