What is a Dissertation?
A dissertation is a body of original research that includes a literature review, methods and findings, discussion, and implications. Dissertations are typically written to earn a doctoral degree from an academic institution.
Writing a dissertation typically starts with the student deciding on their topic or area of study. Students can typically decide on their area of interest based on their coursework or career goals. However, if a student is unsure what they want to do, they can discuss possible topics with the advisor assigned to help them through their work in the program. After deciding on an area of study and developing an outline for the project (including having it approved by an advisor), students will conduct research and then write until completion.
The process for finishing one’s dissertation work varies from person to person. Usually, it involves meeting with one’s advisor at certain milestones to receive feedback regarding the progress being made. At some schools, there may be deadlines for when you must finish certain portions for students to maintain their status in the program or receive financial support from fellowship programs. There may be more flexibility in terms of deadlines; either way, it is important students keep up with all requirements needed to stay enrolled or receive funding.
To write your best work possible, you’ll need good sources from which information has been gathered accurately and objectively presented without bias (these sources should also have validity). A key aspect here is ensuring these resources aren’t too old–too much time elapsed since publication means that data could have become outdated unless the author(s) updated periodically.
This type of material should come only after extensive background research into areas where someone already knows something about the subject matter under investigation (otherwise, they won’t know whether what they’re reading relates). It’s important too that any citations used within papers themselves come directly after any sentences quoted word-for-word rather than later paragraphs where paraphrased bits reside so as not to confuse readers over who said
The Difference Between a Thesis and Dissertation
- What’s the difference between a thesis and a dissertation? A thesis reports findings from research conducted by you; it’s usually required for students completing a master’s degree. A dissertation is more in-depth, and it discusses existing research that has been conducted within your field. It presents the background of your study, followed by the questions or problems that still need to be addressed. The final section of your dissertation contains suggestions for further research based on what you have uncovered during work on your project.
- How long should my thesis or dissertation be? Usually, a thesis is shorter than a dissertation. However, some graduate schools require both for certain degrees (e.g., Ph.D.). Depending on the length requirements for these documents and how much primary research you’ve done, this could mean that the amount of writing involved ranges from 50 to 500 pages!
Difference Between a Dissertation and Essay
The difference between an essay and a dissertation is that an essay is usually shorter than a dissertation. An essay gives the reader information about a single topic, while a dissertation discusses multiple topics. While an essay may be required in a class, it is not as long as a dissertation. In general, the length of an essay can range from 500-to 1000 words (2-4 pages).
Types of dissertation
There are two main types of dissertation, and you’ll need to decide whether you’d like to use a primary or secondary data source.
Empirical dissertations: Also called primary dissertations, these require the collection of raw data using interviews, questionnaires, surveys, or other research methods. These can be empirical with some study and collection of data such as in natural sciences research or non-empirical without a requirement for collecting data such as philosophical research and creative writing.
Non-empirical dissertations: If you’re doing a non-empirical dissertation, your focus is likely on secondary research (that is, looking at someone else’s ideas) rather than primary (collecting your original data). You might not have the foggiest idea about where to start with your dissertation project! In this case, it’s best to find an approachable academic who specializes in the subject area you want to write about. Your supervisor will guide and support you throughout the process, so don’t worry if it all seems a bit daunting at first.
Skills you need to show.
To do a good dissertation, you need to be able to demonstrate the following:
- Research skills
- Time management
- Critical thinking
- Independent learning
- Organizational skills
- Writing skills
How long is a dissertation?
The length of a dissertation varies; 100,000 words is common, as is 60,000 to 80,000 words. Some dissertations need only 10,000 or 20,000 words. If you allow plenty of time for research and writing your dissertation will be a manageable task.
How many pages is a dissertation? The minimum page count for a Ph.D. thesis paper should be at least 150 pages, excluding the bibliography and appendices section.
Structure of a Dissertation
- Title Page
- Table of Contents
- List of Tables
- List of Figures
- List of Abbreviations
- Introduce the topic (1-2 paragraphs)
- State the purpose (1-2 paragraphs) (main ideas/aims/research questions, if applicable). Introduce your findings (add a table to summarize results; DO NOT write too much in this chapter) (1 paragraph).
- State your conclusions. Discuss the significance of your findings. Identify potential opportunities for future research. Summarize what you have learned as a student through completing this dissertation and conclude what you still need to learn. Give thanks!
Helpful Tips for Writing a Dissertation
- Write a plan. This is a very important part of the dissertation writing process. You must write a plan covering what you intend to include in your dissertation and how you will do it. Show this plan to your advisor so they can advise you on whether it’s appropriate and give you some helpful feedback.
- Organize your sources. If you have lots of books and articles, organize them so that you know where everything is when you need it; keep all your notes in one place; label things clearly so that everything makes sense when you come back to it after some time away; file your information systematically – by topic perhaps, or by author, or by date. Find the method that works best for YOU!
- Get into good habits and write consistently, even if it’s only for 15 minutes every day. Make use of any ‘time off from work (e.g., weekends and holidays) to write too – but don’t forget about other aspects of your life such as seeing friends and family!
- Be formal in style. Academic writing is usually formal in style: avoid using ‘I,’ ‘you,’ ‘we,’ or ‘us.’ Avoid contractions (e.g., don’t, won’t). Use an appropriate academic tone – not too informal nor too academic-sounding either! Usually, the third person (he/she/it/they) is preferred, although some subjects allow the first person (I/we). Check with your tutor if unsure!
- Use the right vocabulary and avoid slang or colloquial phrases: use academic vocabulary instead; if necessary, explain any specialist terms used in your dissertation by putting them in italics at first mention, followed immediately by an explanation or definition; look up words in a dictionary if necessary! Don’t rely on spell checkers alone – they don’t always pick up errors because they are not clever enough, yet programs like Word Perfect highlight unknown words red but only depending upon how well its dictionary.