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Writing A Dissertation Requires A Student To Think Deeply

Writing a dissertation is a big task – one that requires a lot of planning ahead. Students looking to write an effective and complete dissertation should follow the following steps to ensure that they have completed a concise, well written piece.

  1. Compile what you’ve written so far.
    • Do you have academic papers that cover some of the same topics?
    • Did you recently write an article that is relevant to your dissertation?
    • Do you have additional sources that might prove useful?

    Compile hard-copy and electronic copy of as many of these items as possible before moving forward. It’ll help you prepare for the task ahead.

    Tip: Research proposals, reviews, pilot studies, abstracts and reports for your professors and supervisors are all relevant pieces to include.

  2. Carefully review the requirements
    • What is the word minimum/maximum?
    • What chapters are required and in what order?
    • What materials/sources are required?
    • What are the structural requirements?
    • What is the layout scheme?
    • What content should be in the main text instead of appendices?
    • Who is available for review?
    • When is it due?
  3. Plan it out
    • Establish your thesis/research question you are answering
    • Create a map or cluster of what you want to say that will link back to your initial question/thesis
    • Outline your chapter headings
    • List all potential sub-headings under each chapter
    • List the main points that need to be made, including potential sources, under each sub-heading
    • As you compile sources and notes, simply add relevant quotes and content under each heading/chapter as you find them.
    • At the end of this review/preparation stage, ask for a colleague to proof your plan
  4. Refine your argument
    • Is this topic interesting?
    • Are your conclusions/arguments reasonable and balanced?
    • Be clear about gaps in research – yours and others in the field. Does that make the topic more difficult to tackle?
  5. Write!
  6. Once you’ve created your road map (multiple times), start to fill in the information. Break it up into sections so that you can balance each individually within the paper.

    Tip: Don’t be afraid to start over, scrap an old idea or include a new one. Research is ever-evolving – and so are you!

  7. Review (again and again!)
  8. Once you’ve completed your first draft, spend time editing by focusing on specific items: tense, grammar, flow, etc. Once you’re done, edit again. And then request a review by a colleague or two.

When you are comfortable with the end product, it’s time to submit. Be patient with yourself if you need more time – and don’t rush the process.