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How to Write a Dissertation

For the benefit of those who do not already know, a dissertation is a lengthy paper that one submits in order to obtain a professional qualification or degree. Generally, a document of this type presents the research work of the writer and their findings. As a heavyweight assignment, this requires a significant amount of research based on primary as well as secondary sources and the skills to analyze any research findings. Overall, dissertations should demonstrate the specific subject knowledge and creative thinking skills the student has acquired during their educational career.

Steps Required to Write a Dissertation

The usual amount of time required to prepare and write a dissertation is anything from three to eight months. On occasion, this time period can be extended over the course of a year’s study. However, with this amount of time allowed for the project, it would seem unreasonable to delay getting started or to tackle the task without a solid plan or schedule. The following steps describe how to plan and how to write a dissertation.

  1. Make a list of all the courses and subjects you studied during your degree program and select a specific research area upon which to develop your hypothesis.
  2. When you have decided upon a suitable research area, read over any secondary source material you have in order to whittle it down to a specific hypothesis or problem.
  3. Once the hypothesis is developed or a suitable problem identified, write your dissertation proposal. This is a statement outlining the importance of your project and a means of seeking approval to undertake further research in that field. Additionally, use your proposal to let the review board know that you can answer this question, “what is a dissertation?”
  4. When the review committee approves your proposal, you can begin planning your work. Start by developing a comprehensive outline based on the different chapters that will make up your overall paper.
  5. Consider the methods you will use for your research work and assemble the tools each methodology will require.
  6. Now you will need to start writing the different chapters, going from theoretical literature reviews, which will include any existing research work in that field, to the practical aspect, which may include gathering primary source material. This step is common to all dissertations.
  7. As individual chapters are refined in line with any comments or feedback from your professor, you will be moving to the final chapter – the conclusion. Here, you should summarize your research results, discuss their significance and connect them back to any theoretical element(s) you discussed at the outset.
  8. Your entire paper will need to be thoroughly proofread, twice at minimum. This applies even if you have re-read the individual chapters numerous times.

Selecting Topics

A crucial aspect of selecting a topic for your dissertation is that it is subject matter you are interested in, not least because you will be working on it for a prolonged time period. If your work is to be solid and successful, you will need to maintain your interest in the topic while you are researching it and writing about it. Should you come to a halt at times and have difficulty narrowing your topic down to a specific entity, think of three problems you would most like to study and translate these into questions. This technique can also help with deciding on a topic. It is, however, vital to understand your capabilities and limitations when choosing a topic since your project will have to be completed in a specified timeframe. Hence, honesty in terms of yourself and your abilities is the key because you will need to be certain you can stick with the topic and complete such an important work within the project requirements and deadline.