A dissertation serves to showcase a student’s skills and ability to research a subject or discipline, and present information through an original piece that aims to add value to the academic and scientific community.
But writing a dissertation is no easy task. It takes a lot of time and energy, and a whole lot of willpower to reach across the finish line. Then again, dissertation writing doesn’t have to be a painful process. And if you have a full understanding of the big picture, then researching will be a lot smoother.
In today’s post, we’re going to share a definitive guide to writing a quality dissertation, without you losing your mind along the way!
Step #1: Write A Winning Research Proposal
A research proposal should persuade the panel that you’re about to present valuable, compelling, and complex questions. This is shorter than the actual dissertation but is just as important because this is where you need to come up with a significant research question and set up a plan to present your findings.
Consider the following when writing a research proposal:
Theme, title, and question:
- What problem is your dissertation going to tackle?
- How does this problem affect the academic and scientific community you belong to?
- What is the importance of finding a solution to this problem?
- How are you going to find solutions to this problem?
- No more than three objectives. Anything more may be too extensive and should be narrowed down.
- List down some references or mention the schools of thought, areas of study, and other relevant sources of information you’re going to use during research.
- The main section where you’ll highlight the ideas of your research question.
- This may be empirical (if data are gathered through questionnaires or other similar methods) or non-empirical (if resources are from previously published works).
- Potential Outcomes. Explain how all your research and analysis will come down to.
- Time Frame. Come up with a schedule that will explain how you will tackle all stages of writing your dissertation, within a specific time frame.
If you’re in a slump and don’t know how to get started with this part of the writing process, don’t worry! Dissertation writing requires a great deal of knowledge and expertise, and you can look up dissertation writing companies reviews to find much-needed helping hands to get you on the right track.
Step #2: Carry Out Your Research
Now, it’s time to carry out your research so you can find answers to your question. There are two steps in this process, which are as follows:
Design your research strategy
Here, you need to create a methodology chapter, where you explain the how’s of your research. This is the part where you’ll need to make sound decisions about your research design, including:
- Research philosophy (ie. positivism, realism, pragmatism)
- Overall methodology (quantitative, qualitative, mixed)
- Data collection strategy (ie. surveys, questionnaires, targeted groups, interviews)
- Data analysis strategy (ie. narrative, content, discourse)
Here, put your plan into action and start collecting data.
Data collection can be time-consuming (especially if you host interviews or conduct surveys) depending on your method, so be sure to allow enough time into your research for this. Once you’ve collected data, you’ll need to prepare them before you dip your toes into data analysis. For instance, if you carried out one-on-one interviews, you may need to transcribe audio to text first.
Once you’ve finished preparing all the data, it’s time to analyze them using the techniques laid out in your methodology. Remember, the type of data analysis you’ll use largely depends on your research question and the nature of the research itself.
Step #3: Present Your Findings
Now, it’s time to write the actual dissertation – the final product of all your efforts!
Your research proposal serves as the preliminary outline for the actual dissertation. This time, you need to come up with a more detailed outline. Ideally, your dissertation should be structured in parts:
- Introduction. This includes a background of the problem you’re tackling, along with a statement of the issue. You’ll have to clarify the research question and the purpose of the study. This is also where you’ll provide clear definitions of project-related terms, and present assumptions and expectations of the final results.
- Literature Review. Showcase and review the research process, including important acknowledgments.
- Methodology. This chapter focuses on the way you found your resource materials and the methods used to implement the results.
- Findings. The most important part of the entire process. Here, you will showcase your intellectual capacity by restating the research questions, discussing the results of your research, and the direction they led you to. In short, this is where you’ll provide answers to those questions.
- Conclusion. The final chapter of your dissertation. Here, you will summarize everything about your study and briefly report the results. It’s important to explain how your research process and the findings can impact the academic and scientific community, and how they can be carried into practice.
- Bibliography. Use the recommended citation style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.), depending on your field of study.
Don’t forget to cite all resources used during your research and the writing process. Citing sources accurately and consistently helps you avoid committing plagiarism, which is a serious academic offense in many institutions.
Step #4: Edit and Proofread
One of the secrets to a well-written dissertation is to ensure all the sections in your paper are in the right place. So, you need to spare ample time to edit and proofread your work.
Spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes; and sloppy formatting errors can drag down the overall quality of your research proposal and dissertation. Set aside some time to write drafts of your dissertation and revise them, before focusing on language mistakes, typographical errors, and other inconsistencies.
Writing a dissertation may seem like a challenge that’s difficult to overcome but once you understand the steps and work through each of them carefully, you’d be able to move through the whole process relatively smoothly. The road to completion may be long, but it doesn’t have to be bumpy. You got this!