How to Write an Effective Dissertation

The article was contributed by Isabelle Foster. She works as a freelance journalist and technical writer. Concurrently she serves as an educational consultant and a senior writer at PapersOwl, one of the biggest online education platforms.

Writing a dissertation requires much time, expertise, and mental resources. Therefore, when the time comes, you may find yourself at loss to know how you can fulfill such a responsible mission as dissertation writing. Still, despite the stress, anxiety, self-doubt, and panic you may experience during the writing process, your dissertation is guaranteed to give you a lot of pleasant moments. The joy of discovery, ability to deal with challenges, and putting your expertise, resourcefulness, and knowledge to the test are only some of the bright moments you’re going to experience once you get down to writing one of the most important papers in your academic career. And though we can’t save you from making mistakes, we can offer some useful tips on how to write a dissertation more successfully and less stressfully. Check them out below.

Getting Started

With a big piece of work like a dissertation, you can save yourself a lot of time and bother by asking some questions.

  • Who is my dissertation supervisor? You should realize that you’ll need to spend much time communicating with your supervisor who acts as your mentor, academic consultant, and, ideally, your friend. He or she is the first person you should contact in the event of any difficulties or misunderstanding. So, you want to make sure you’re comfortable with your supervisor.
  • When is the final deadline? Procrastination is one of the worst enemies of students. Though there may be times when you feel like your schedule is falling apart, don’t let anything get in the way of your writing process. To submit your paper on time, always keep the final deadline in mind.
  • How is my dissertation structured? The structure of your dissertation may vary depending on your project, academic discipline, and even your educational institution. So, you need to familiarize yourself with the guidelines for writing a dissertation exactly in your field.
  • What types of sources should I use? The dissertation guide developed by your university will also provide information on what sources are considered appropriate for your project, as well as detailed instructions on how to cite them.

Choosing a Topic

It’s safe to say that choosing a dissertation topic can be as daunting as writing itself. Therefore, you need to select something that will sustain your interest and grip your imagination. Otherwise, you’ll get bored soon and won’t be able to adopt an effective approach to researching and writing.

The topic should also be manageable. So, avoid picking a problem that other researchers have spent many years trying to solve.

It’s also a good idea to start by thinking about the modules on your course. Is there an area of research that posed some interesting questions or that you really enjoyed studying? When thinking, write down some interesting ideas or tentative research questions that you would like to develop in your dissertation.

Create a Proposal  

Once you decide on your topic. It is about time you got down to writing your proposal. Proposing to do a research study, we need to tell the reader what it is that we want to research. The main sections of your dissertation include:

  1. Literature review. The idea behind academic empirical research is that no matter what topic you’re going to develop, chances are there have been plenty of people who already researched it. It’s also through reading relevant literature on a chosen topic can you know what has been done on your topic so far. And it’s only through reviewing relevant literature can you decide on a specific area to focus on.
  2. Research study. Once you’re done with your literature review, you can define your research study.
  3. Data collection instruments. Decide whether you need qualitative or quantitative data or both for your research and outline this on your data collection instruments section.
  4. Planned data analysis. In planned data analysis section, you need to clearly describe what you’re going to do to convince your readers that you’re capable of handling available data properly.
  5. Research ethics. You may want to devote a separate section to research ethics. This can be a simple formality or a real key consideration for your proposal.
  6. Planning. Sometimes, you might need to put a planning chapter into your proposal. Here, you need to indicate a clear time planning for various steps involved in your paper.

Write and Revise

As the wise say, don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Start writing immediately. Make it your rule to write at least 2000 words per week if you don’t want the writing process to last forever.

Once you’re finished with each section, go back and revise what you’ve written. Keep in mind that the sections should serve a particular purpose, but at the same time, link well with each other.

Hopefully, today’s article will help you put together a successful dissertation that, in its turn, will help you move forward in your academic career.


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