How to write a dissertation
Make an outline
Before writing a dissertation you must think about what information will go into what sections, to make sure the ideas exposed flow easily from one paragraph to another, making it easy and agreeable for the examiner to read. In the outline detail the broad ideas and themes of what each section, which are all listed below, will contain. Do not forget the Introduction and Conclusion, as they are a vital part of writing a dissertation.
The length of each section of your dissertation depends on the length of your full body of work. It is advisable to check with your tutor or course director first as to what is appropriate. The introduction, for example should be approximately five perfect of your total word count. The same goes for your conclusion. The chapters, which constitute the bulk of the work when you write a dissertation, develop the idea of your title in detail.
The chapters, the broad themes of which you have described in your outline, should constitute the main body of your dissertations and go into the themes and topics in detail. A good structure of a typical chapter would be; small introduction of the topic that will be discussed in the paragraphs of the chapter, followed by the idea itself. Support of the idea or theory by a quote, and lastly a personal opinion as to weather or not you agree with that idea.
Following your conclusion comes the Bibliography, which is also a vitally important part of writing your dissertation. Start on a fresh page. Separate your bibliography into sections if possible. For example, the first section could be entitled ‘Key Texts’, which would be the books or articles you are basing your entire dissertation on. The second section, headed ‘secondary texts’, can list the sources you have used to support your arguments. This will enable the examiner to see more clearly which books you have decided to use and quote.
Fleshing-out your dissertation
When you write a dissertation you should make sure that facts, figures and statements are not the only things included in the main body of your chapters. Try to make sure your own, original opinion is in there somewhere, but not unsupported by references and quotes. Always justify an opinion or explain why you agree or disagree with a quote. Also, it is important your quotes are relevant, as are all the arguments in the body of your paragraphs. You will be marked down for straying off the subject by the examiner. If you find, as you are fleshing-out the body of your dissertation, that you are straying to often off the subject, or you realise the subject matter s too broad for you to go into minute detail, you are allowed to return to your outline to amend it, or even slightly change your dissertation title. You will not be penalised for this.
Finalising your dissertation
Include a cover page with the title of the dissertation, your name, year and the class you are completing it for. On the top right hand side of every page insert your last name followed by the page number. This can be done by using the Header/Footnote section in your Microsoft word document toolbar, under the menu ‘Tools’. If you do not know how to do this ask someone to show you as it is essential to the presentation of your dissertation. The paragraphs should have one point five line spacing or double line spacing if specified by your tutor or university style sheet. Include at least two inch margins on all sides of your pages. Use 12 font and Times New Roman style. Print your dissertation on one side only of plain white A4 paper. Get it bound by your university binding service, or failing that by a dedicated printer that have bound Undergraduate dissertations before. Keep in mind that a neat presentation is essential.
This is often the most ambiguous, not to say trickiest part of writing your dissertation, and many institutions penalise you if your referencing is not accurate or to their exact standards. For a comprehensive referencing guide to quotes and footnotes you can refer to the Recommendations for citing and referencing published material by the British Standards Institution, or for an online guide to the major referencing formats used in academia; http://www.usq.edu.au/library/help/ehelp/ref_guides/default.htm. Always however check your university or college guidelines on the subject. Many institutions have their own particular preferences when it comes to referencing, and it is important you follow them.
If possible look close to home for your sources. Get as many as you can from your campus or local library, and keep a record of where and when you found them. Reference all quotes and acknowledge all ideas that are not your own, even if you are only paraphrasing what you have read. Finally, pass your dissertation through a free online plagiarism scanner before printing to make sure you haven’t forgotten to reference a line from a book by mistake. Most universities and colleges will ask for an electronic copy of your dissertation on a disk as well as a hard copy so they can do just this, so save them the trouble.
Proofread your dissertation for mistakes several times. Get it also proofread by a third party, preferably a fellow student who are themselves writing their dissertations and therefore know what to look-out for. Offer to proofread theirs as they are doing yours.
Learn how to write a dissertation based around your subject...
UK Dissertations has published articles on how to write a dissertation based around your subject, this could be anything from history to law. Please remember to bookmark this page and check back soon for your dissertation subject.
- How to write an accounting dissertation
- How to write an animation dissertation
- How to write an anthropology dissertation
- How to write an archaeology dissertation
- How to write an architecture dissertation
- How to write an art dissertation
- How to write a biology dissertation
- How to write a chemistry dissertation
- How to write a criminology dissertation
- How to write an economics dissertation
- How to write an english language dissertation
- How to write an english literature dissertation
- How to write a film studies dissertation
- How to write a finance dissertation
- How to write a law dissertation
- How to write a management dissertation
- How to write a marketing dissertation
- How to write a media dissertation
- How to write a nursing dissertation
- How to write a science dissertation
- How to write a sociology dissertation
- How to write a social work dissertation
- How to write a sports dissertation
- How to write a statistics dissertation
- How to write a theatre dissertation
- How to write a tourism dissertation