Do You Need Support with How to Write a Dissertation?
A dissertation is the research paper that you will write within your doctoral studies, however, in the UK it will be known as a thesis. The two terms are often used interchangeably by many but this is incorrect. There is however in reality often little difference between the two with regards to structure and what you will write, although some will try to convince you otherwise. The main difference is often that a dissertation-length with be often double that of the thesis that you will have written for your master's degree. Whether writing a thesis or a dissertation it will need to be completed to a very high standard. Not only will you have to complete robust research you will also need to carefully present it in a manner that is frankly perfect. The expectation is that your dissertation will be perfectly formatted, free from any writing or other errors, and in perfect academic English throughout. Anything less and your final paper could easily be rejected or returned to you for revisions to be made which can easily delay your final degree award by many months.
What Is the Correct Dissertation Structure to Use?
The important thing to realize when writing any paper at this level is that different subjects and even individual schools and colleges will have very specific dissertation guidelines that you must follow. What one department in a university may expect may be different to another. So it is vital that before you start you will carefully check with your supervisor exactly what format and structure are expected of you. Often they will be able to provide you with a template that will be laid out in the correct format for your dissertation as well showing you the correct structure of your paper. A typical structure, however, will usually look something like the following:
- Preliminary pages: This includes title page, declarations, contents
- Abstract: This is a summary of what your whole paper is about and is usually written last
- Introduction: Provides a broad overview of your research and introduces your hypothesis
- Literature review: This provides a framework for your research as well as establishing importance
- Research methods: Show and justify how you have conducted your research
- Results: What you have discovered within your studies
- Analysis: An interpretation of the data that you have gathered
- Discussion: Explain what your findings mean in relation to your field
- Conclusions: Shows that you have met the objectives of the research that you set out to do
- Future work: Set out what still needs to be researched and discovered within your field
- References / Bibliography: Full list of works that you have used within your research
- Appendices: Detailed information such as primary data
What Is the Correct Dissertation Length?
A PhD thesis length for Cambridge University should not exceed 80,000 words and will be expected to be close to this in length. While Studies on how long is the average dissertation word count suggest that they vary hugely depending on the discipline and the college. Typically they are between 100 to 200 pages in length. While those questioning how long is a masters dissertation will typically find that they are between 40 to 80 pages in length. However, as with the structure and format of your paper, the length that you will need to achieve against your dissertation word counter will need to meet the specific expectations of your college and subject.
Again check carefully with your supervisor to get the answer that you will need. Also, check if the requirements are given to you in pages if that is double-spaced. The last thing you want is to get to the end of your writing and discover that you are going to have to cut out half of what you have written because you have used the wrong spacing. Whatever the word or page count maximum is, however, do not exceed it. The people reviewing your work will not appreciate having to read through scores of additional pages and may simply reject your work for not following the instructions laid down.
How to Write an Effective Dissertation
Getting your paper written to a high standard is not something that is easy to do. Most students will often leave their writing until the last minute and will then have a mad panic trying to get everything completed on time. This often leaves them with no time for revisions and checking and they will often find that their dissertation will be returned for significant revisions. The following tips on how to write a dissertation will help you with your work:
- Be clear as to all of the requirements for your paper such as dissertation length and format. You should be able to get a template for your writing from your supervisor.
- Plan your research and writing so that you have clear milestones for when each part of your work will be completed. Allow plenty of time for revision and proofreading of your writing. Stick to your plan.
- Have a clear thesis to direct and focus your writing. As this from Harvard University says: “Readers of academic essays are like jury members: before they have read too far, they want to know what the essay argues as well as how the writer plans to make the argument. After reading your thesis statement, the reader should think, "This essay is going to try to convince me of something. I'm not convinced yet, but I'm interested to see how I might be."”
- Do your writing and reading at the same time each and every day so that you get into a clear routine for doing the work. Have a set target for how many words you will write and stick to it.
- Do the work in a place that is going to be totally free from any form of distraction. Switch off your phone and also your access to social media. Use a desk and a comfortable seat so that you can concentrate on your work effectively.
- Create an outline of your paper using the structure required. This does not have to be overly complex but should clearly show what you will be including in each section of the paper. This will not only help you with your writing and prevent later rewriting, it will also help you to identify any weaknesses at an early stage.
- Take time to revise and proofread each and every section of your paper so that you are sure that it is written perfectly. Often it is best to have your work edited and checked by a third party to avoid any issues and to improve your writing.
- You must plan your writing and stick to your plan if you do not then you could end up in some serious problems later in your degree with regards to your time.
As this highlights from Chapel Hill at UNC:
“There are usually no weekly deadlines from professors, no regular discussions with classmates, no reading assignments, no one telling you what to do—you are on your own, writing something longer than you’ve ever written, and doing it without a net.”