You are towards the end of an important stage of your educational journey and here comes the time to showcase your skills and capacity to carry out a research in your chosen disciple.
Before we go any further, let us first clarify: What is a dissertation?
A dissertation is particularly a long essay or thesis written on a specific subject, especially the one which is written for a university degree or by Ph.D. students.
This guide will help both undergraduate students as well as Ph.D. students to work on their dissertation projects. Below are the steps to write a perfect dissertation.
Select an appropriate Topic
The foremost part of writing a perfect dissertation is selecting an appropriate Title for your dissertation. You may seek your supervisor’s advice on the expected scope of your dissertation. Remember that you simply don’t have to write about the topic of your choice, but instead should focus on specific aspects, querying currently held beliefs, trying to solve a problem, or arguing a particular “thesis”. You should work out a critical analysis of your selected topic. As you start preparing your dissertation, the title will therefore need to be refined over the weeks before you submit the final version with your supervisor.
Begin Planning and Research
Your dissertation research is going to determine the overall development of your project. It becomes very important, therefore, to plan diligently. The idea of research stage is to show that you have discovered your topic thoroughly. Your research must be methodical and effective, since you won’t like analyzing irrelevant resources.
Internet is a good place to start your research with. However, not everything that we read on Internet is completely true. So, you need to make sure that that your information is coming from a trustworthy source. Another source of your research work could be a library. Librarians are always helpful at this point in suggesting you some interesting publications.
Do not ever leave things to the last minute. There would always be difficulties in obtaining books or delays in receiving replies to your questionnaires. You must allow for all, and there is never an excuse for not handing over your work on time. Therefore, you must frame out a timetable and stick to it.
Structure of dissertation
There can be many variations available in the structure of dissertation. So, make sure to check with your supervisor and with a course literature the required structure before you proceed. However here is a basic framework:
Dissertation title– The Title page should include the title of the dissertation in bold, your name, course name, date and the name of the supervisor.
Objectives– This page should include the objective of preparing the dissertation. Do not be too extensive at this point. A number of three objectives would do.
Abstract– This page should include a brief summary of the whole dissertation.
Acknowledgments– Thank the people who have assisted you with your work.
Table of contents– This section should include all the chapters included in your dissertations with their respective page numbers.
Literature– Ask your supervisor if you need to list some specific references in this section. Otherwise, Mention the areas of study and schools of thought under this section.
Research– The main part of your dissertations starts here. List down all the facts, evidence, analysis, evaluation and discussion under this section. Everything should be well structured and area of your research should be clearly outlined.
Methodology– Under this section, you are required to mention and explain all the methods of collecting data.
Conclusion– Towards the end you need to come to the conclusions, stating very clearly your answer to your central question.
Appendices– Any topics which are too extensive to be included in your dissertation should be included here. For example, complete questionnaires, copies of letters, maps etc.
Edit and proofread the dissertation like a Pro
While working on your dissertation, you should keep in mind that you are not expected to present something completely original, but instead it should demonstrate that you have been able to research a topic within your professional domain.
Dissertations should always be written in the third person and in passive voice. As an example, you may write ‘A research was carried out to depict…..’. However, Many journals now do not believe in those old conventions and go for first person and active voice, which will require you to write ‘I carried out a research to depict…..’ So, whatever style you follow make sure that the person and voice are consistent throughout.
You should write your dissertations in an appropriate academic style. Try avoiding colloquialisms, phrasal verbs, contractions and vagueness. You should aim to keep your language simple and jargon-free. The sentences used should be well-punctuated and complete but not over-long. Shorter and simple sentences should be used as they are easier to follow. Also, linking words or phrases can be used to guide the reader through your writing.
In your conclusion, do not ever undermine your work by stating the lack of time or by apologizing for poor results.
Finally, all the work is completed and it’s time to do the final few readings and catch all the spelling and grammar errors that you have made. Proofreading should not be the last thing at night when you’re tired. You need to read word by word and sentence by sentence when your mind is fresh.
Your writings might need redrafting several times when you carefully proofread or perhaps get someone else do it for you. Any revisions required should be made immediately.
Get a Feed back
It will always be beneficial to get some feedback before you actually submit your dissertation project. You can start with a friend or a person having knowledge in this discipline. Ask them about their opinions and suggestions, if any.
Then, you should discuss the project with your Supervisor. He/She will point out all the possible weak points of your project, and instruct you for the corrections required. This way you can finalize everything before getting ready for the presentation.