If you are writing a dissertation, it means you have reached a very important stage of your academic journey. A dissertation gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your research skills in a certain area of study as you present the results of the case study through original content that will be of great value to the scientific and academic community. Before we discuss how to create a dissertation, let’s define it first.
A dissertation is a term that describes the final outcomes of independent research for an undergraduate academic project. Thesis and dissertation are normally used interchangeably but they differ in terms of the scholastic level. A thesis is a final project for a Master’s degree while a dissertation is presented by Ph.D. candidates before they get their doctoral degree. Nonetheless, Ph.D. students may be required to complete dissertations but they are much more complicated than the Masters level. This guide will be talking about all types of dissertations regardless of the academic level.
Crafting the best dissertation is a challenging task
A lot of students start with a passion only to be intimidated by the project halfway through it. It takes a lot of planning, researching, and writing hence it is easier to give up even before the completion of the first chapter. Only those who are patient enough get rewarding results. But to reach a point of satisfaction, you have to overcome various obstacles. Here is a rundown of the challenges faced by students when composing dissertations:
Some students make a mistake of thinking that there is still enough time to complete a serious project so they keep on postponing. Until the last minute, that is when they start running up and down looking for information. This mistake can cause a lot of frustration especially when the deadline is fast approaching. If you ever need academic writing help, don’t hesitate to talk to us.
Little or no research skills
Without sufficient knowledge in academic writing, it is not easy to craft a satisfactory dissertation. The research involved here is serious business. It is nothing compared to the regular essays where you just need to collect a few relevant quotes and extract data from one or two sources. In writing a dissertation, you must analyze critically the information sources and provide an in-depth discussion.
Poor writing skills
To create an excellent dissertation, you need to employ the skills of a proficient writer and be an expert in your subject matter. There are some strict academic writing rules you need to follow including proper formatting, language style, and citations.
Even if this paper seems unbearable, you can successfully complete it if you start the right way and finish every chapter step by step. This guide will show you how to do it.
1) Create an outstanding proposal
Before writing the final paper, you need to come up with a proposal. A dissertation proposal should convince your supervisor that you are ready to commit to a serious project. The proposal is usually shorter than the final paper yet it is as important as the dissertation itself because it allows you to come up with a significant question and set up a proper plan for gathering relevant information putting down ideas into a paper. A dissertation proposal is not a compulsory piece of work but it is very important that you write it and present to your supervisor so they can offer more insights or correct you.
Are you wondering how to come up with an interesting title for your dissertation? Here are the main points you must pay attention to - start by choosing a topic, theme, or question. There are a few questions you need to ask yourself in order to come up with a good topic:
a) Which problem in the society do you want to solve?
b) Why do you actually need to find a solution to the problem?
c) How will you come up with the solutions?
These questions are very important when deciding to make a final commitment. Consider a brainstorming session for choosing a suitable, reasonable, and unique theme. Avoid a complicated question that might lead you to a dead end. What you need is a question that leads to a realistic and testable assumption which you must also prove with concrete points. Before you start writing, discuss various options of the topic with your supervisor.
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To compose a compelling proposal, you need to build a clean and straight-forward format. There are 8 elements of a proposal you must pay attention to, namely:
I. The title.
II. Objectives: Start with 3 objectives. You don’t need too many objectives as they might divert you from the main focus. It is therefore important that you narrow down the scope.
III. Literature review: Find out from your supervisor whether or not you need to highlight specific sources in this chapter. If there are no specified literary materials, go ahead and mention schools of thought, areas of study, as well as other information sources you will be using in your research.
IV. Research: Here, you explain the main ideas of the research question. Be sure to outline the case study clearly.
V. Research methods: your data collection method may be empirical or non-empirical. Empirical research entails the collection of information through questionnaires and other interactive ways. Non-empirical methods are those that involve previously published scholarly works. Here, you must explain the methods explicitly.
VI. Possible results: Think about what the research will achieve. Analyze the potential outcomes and explain to the readers what they should expect.
VII. Timeframe: This is a schedule that shows how you will manage various chapters of the paper in a given period of time.
VIII. Bibliography: Find out from your professor if a reference list is necessary. Make sure you have followed all the instructions.
2) Effective research
Your project development is determined by dissertation research. This stage must be well-organized and effective. The last thing you want is to waste time reading and evaluating irrelevant data. The following hacks will enable you to conduct effective research.
✔ Create a deadline
To completely understand the research problem, you need sufficient resources. But you cannot research indefinitely. At some point, you will have to quit and focus on other areas like discussion. A lot of students make a mistake of reading every source that pertains to their research question. You should determine the amount of time you will spend in the research stage and create a deadline to stick to. The main idea of the research is to demonstrate your understanding of a current topic, previous research related to your topic, as well as the limitations of the study.
✔ Search for sources in the right places
The World Wide Web may be a good starting point but you must know that not all of the online information is true. To ensure that you are using reliable and true academic resources, go to Google Scholar and locate the sources. Similarly, don’t rely on Wikipedia but you may use it to lead you to significant publications at the reference list section. One of the best sources of information is your school library. Consult a librarian to give you insights.
✔ Organize the information sources
Take note of every source as you make a draft so you don’t forget where a particular idea is located. A number of online tools can help you organize the resources e.g. Evernote, Penzu, and similar programs.
3) Compose the real project
The most important step is writing a final dissertation paper. Don’t write an ordinary project. Write something that will blow the mind of your supervisor. Interestingly, most candidates are full of morale during the first two stages of dissertation writing. Then, they despair when it comes to the real thing particularly when they don’t have sufficient skills. If you have reached this point, congratulate yourself and know that you must complete what you started. It will be much easier if you have a good plan. So start by creating an outline.
In the dissertation proposal, you have a basic outline of the actual paper but you need to make it more detailed to accommodate the big project. Perhaps the research has led you to something you never anticipated. Be sure to add the new ideas in this final outline. Here is an outline you should follow to make things easier for you.
The introduction: It is the first chapter of your dissertation that gives background information on the research problem as well as a thesis statement. You have to elaborate the rationales for the case study and explain the research questions. After that, clearly define the terms that are used in the project. Don’t forget to reveal the hypotheses as well as the expected results.
Literature review: The second chapter of a dissertation analyzes the materials used in the project as well as the critical acknowledgments you have realized.
Research methods: This section talks about how you have managed to gather data and the methods of implementing the results. The method can be qualitative or quantitative. In a qualitative paper, you have to include the questions, the participants, setting, data collection methods, and an analysis of the data. On the other side, a quantitative dissertation focuses on research questions, hypotheses, the population sample, data collection, instrumentation, and data analysis.
Results: Also referred to as the Findings, this chapter plays a critical role as it represents the intellectual capacity of the writer. This is the place where you restate the research questions and discuss the findings while explaining what they have led to. In essence, you should answer the research questions in this chapter.
Conclusion: It is the last chapter of the project where you summarize the entire paper and report the outcomes briefly. You must explain how your results differ from other studies in your academic field and how they can be applied to real life. At the very end of your paper make a conclusion. Suggest recommendations of what needs to be done in future studies. Propose a future investigation which should further help to solve your research problems and explain why you propose this study as well as the form it should take.
Bibliography: Ensure that you fully understand the citation style required in your field of study. Also, be sure to include every source you have used in the research stage.
Timeline: To manage your time, you have to create a time frame that focuses on the writing process. Every chapter of your dissertation must be planned beforehand, explaining how much time it will take to complete. With realistic goals at hand, writing a dissertation becomes easier without being overwhelming by the complexity and length of the project.
With an outline on your notebook, the next thing to do is writing the first draft without wasting any time. There is no silver bullet for writing your first draft. At this point, you must shun all forms of distractions and adhere to the timeline. Follow the outline and finish the first draft. Once you are done, you will know you have what it takes and now you’re ready to continue your work.
4) Proofreading and editing
After completing the draft, you can take some time off so that the ideas can sink in your head. Do not start editing immediately after completing the draft because there is too much going on in your head. Rest for a few days to refresh your mind. Then, you will be in a position to proofread and spot most of the mistakes.
Not so many people understand the difference between proofreading and editing. Editing focuses on the content while proofreading is about confirming the paper format. What does this tell you? It means that editing should come first. The last thing you should do is to correct the format first only to realize that there are some parts that need to be removed and others added. You will have gone back to square one. To avoid doing unnecessary work, start by editing the content.
During editing, focus on the logical relationship between the standpoints in your dissertation. Find out if there are any loopholes in the information. In case something is missing, fill it up with more information that you gathered in your research. Perhaps you gave too much explanation on a certain idea and left out important information in other sections. This is the point where you balance those points and make them as clear as you can. However, don’t get carried away by the number of words. Rather, aim at improving their quality and clarity.
At the proofreading stage, you reread your paper a few more times to correct the flaws including formatting, stylistic, spelling, and grammatical errors. Examine every word, sentence, and paragraph while consulting a reliable dictionary to clear the doubts. Don’t worry if you feel challenged doing the proofreading. This is a common issue with scholars so you are not alone. The truth is you will feel too attached to your project so that it will be difficult to let go of some parts even when they are flawed. It is for this reason that you should hire professional editors to do the job for you. That way, you can get your project to perfection. It will cost you but it is one of the best investments you can have as a finalist. It will save you a lot of stress and embarrassment after many months of handwork.
5) Make use of feedback
You might be tempted to submit your project immediately after proofreading. You need to hear some opinion about your paper. The best feedback could come from a friend, colleague, or an expert in your academic discipline. Since a dissertation is your own intellectual property, make sure you are getting suggestions from someone you trust and that they have knowledge in your field. Ask them for better suggestions and where you should improve. Discuss the details of your project with a mentor so they highlight the weak areas and guide you on how to finalize the process before you present it to the dissertation committee.
As you can see, the process of writing a dissertation is hectic. Not every student can accomplish it. But if you have come this far, you have no option but to move forward. Take on the long paper step by step and soon, you will have accomplished the most crucial project of your scholarly journey.
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