Dissertation Writing Tips
Writing a dissertation, like most things, is a combination of knowledge and experience: you have the first or you wouldn’t have reached the level to be writing a dissertation in the first place but the good thing about knowledge is that it is best shared and we all gain by sharing experience.
So, don’t be too overwhelmed by the idea of a dissertation and use the dissertation writing tips given here to help you produce a really fine piece of writing. Then, who knows, you may go on to share these dissertation tips with others who are anxious or in need of guidance now or in the future.
The first dissertation writing tip you need to know is that a dissertation, despite common confusion, is not really the same as a thesis. A thesis tends to be written entirely by research, from scratch, for the award of a doctorate, the highest academic degree in any field of knowledge.
On the other hand, a dissertation is more of a long essay, usually directed by the course of study you have been following and used in many courses at most levels. Dissertation writing tips are much more common than thesis tips as dissertation writing tips are more widely applicable. Therefore, with a set of good tips you need not panic that a dissertation is in any way beyond your capabilities.
Okay, having calmed things down with the first dissertation writing tip, let’s move on and discuss dissertation writing tips on getting started. The foundation of all research is textual analysis therefore dissertation writing tip number two is read widely.
If this sounds obvious, that’s because actually it is but that doesn’t stop it being overlooked or simply ignored by a great number of students who write what is basically a badly padded essay, in the manner of a stream of consciousness, and then try to stick in quotes later entirely at random: do not even consider following suit! Instead, follow the dissertation writing tip that states research comes first, not last, and the same goes for the bibliography (more about that later).
In fact, another excellent dissertation writing tip for this stage of your dissertation is note down every single book you consult, whether you quote from it or not. In addition, the appendage to this dissertation writing tip is vital, too: write down all the details of the books you consult, this means the author, title, publisher, place of publication and date of publication; you should write all of these in the referencing style required by your college or university.
Having written essays for many years, you should be familiar with which style your university or college uses but another good dissertation writing tip is that you should check, it might have changed and you’ll lose marks if your referencing is incorrect. While you’re at it, check the other stylistic requirements to make sure that your dissertation adheres to them as otherwise you could be failed just on presentation and there is no excuse, as most academic institutions produce their own style books simply filled with dissertation writing tips, so take a look and ask if you’re not sure.
Right, so you have read everything you can possibly seek, find and inwardly digest, made notes properly referenced and are raring to go but wait, before you begin to write in earnest, the next dissertation writing tip is to organize your notes based on the thesis statement you have formulated from your reading. You need to make a rough plan of the course of your dissertation based on this. If this sounds a bit like an essay, well, yes, it is. The basics hold fast for both pieces of writing but a big difference, and anther important dissertation writing tip, is that the sheer length of a dissertation makes all the difference.
You must not make your dissertation read as if you have simply stretched an essay. The thought processes should be more profound, developed and textually resonant with a strong sense of a cogent argument. Therefore, follow the dissertation writing tip offered here combined with that on research so that what you come up with is a blend of both to give a good plan based on a sound statement.
Now you are ready to begin to write and a good dissertation writing tip now that you have reached this stage is to follow the rules that you know from experience make a good piece of writing. In other words, you need the following:
- An introduction which includes your thesis statement, i.e. your central argument
- The main body of the essay, constructed in connected, sequential paragraphs
- A strong conclusion, summarizing and synthesizing your thoughts and indicating what direction future research might take.
All of the above are common to most academic composition but the dissertation writing tip here is that you must use these three basic structural points as jumping off points, giving your dissertation a strong and familiar framework on which to build but not restricting it to only that.
Perhaps, indeed, the most important structural dissertation writing tip of all should be applied at this point i.e. that knowledge you have, such as those to do with constructing an essay, should not be abandoned now that you are writing a dissertation; rather what you already know should be incorporated into what you are now trying to achieve: the one form of knowledge both informs and complements the other. After all, when you move on to reading Shakespeare you don’t forget how to read more basic work, do you? The most helpful dissertation writing tip here is to use what you know but develop it.
Another dissertation writing tip comes into play at this point, one with which, again, you will be familiar from years of study: use textual evidence wisely and well. It goes without saying that you will have followed the earlier dissertation writing tip on research, so you will have a clear set of properly referenced quotations from a wide variety of texts. These should now be used as evidence, not only to support your dissertation but to expand it. Indeed, a dissertation writing tip that could be applied to essays also is that ideas can actually come from close textual analysis rather than merely being supplied as a means of support.
Make sure, however, that in applying this dissertation writing tip you are not straying from your central argument. It can be very tempting to pursue interesting lines of thought which analysis throws up but another dissertation writing tip is to do this before you begin to write, so as not to disturb the cohesive, logical flow of the argument which is building towards your conclusion.
Many students at all levels make the mistake of thinking that the conclusion does not matter very much and that all you need do at this stage is tack on a few summarizing sentences before submitting your work. This could not be more wrong, as the vital dissertation writing tip here is to use your conclusion to make a final and lasting impression on your reader. In fact, it is not too much to say, that a strong conclusion can often tip the balance and make a good essay or in this case dissertation into a great one.
The real crux of this dissertation writing tip is that the conclusion is your opportunity not only to summarize what has gone before in a synthesis of ideas but also to offer a signpost as to what direction future research, by yourself or others, in this field of study, might take. This is really the key to this dissertation writing tip because it shows your reader that you are aware that you have begun, not completed an idea in your dissertation.
Two final dissertation writing tips to keep in mind before you head off to write a dissertation of which anyone could be proud:
- Compile your bibliography as you write, indeed, perhaps even before you write. It is a very important part of your dissertation and cannot be thrown together at the last minute but should evolve, as your research does, step by step. Remember that all books, essays, journals etc. should be listed according to the referencing style of your college or university. There is often considerable difference between them so make sure the style you use is correct and that you adhere to it strictly at all times.
- When you have completed your work, proof-read it carefully and revise where necessary. Perhaps you might be able to persuade a friend to help you with this, as a fresh pair of eyes is useful when one is very familiar with work. You could easily offer to reciprocate if the need arises and even share your dissertation writing tips. This is a very tedious task it is true but absolutely essential to achieve the best possible grades and after all, nothing but the best will do – the best dissertation writing tip of all!