Learn How to Write an Incredible Dissertation!
If you have to create a well-structured dissertation but your writing skills are not good enough, just keep reading our article and we will provide you with efficient tips and secrets that will help you understand all the peculiarities of this academic assignment. In particular, you will figure out what is a dissertation, what is the common dissertation length, what are the main dissertation chapters, and many other important points that should be known if you are going to impress your supervisor by professional approach.
What Is a Dissertation? Finding out the Nature of Dissertation Writing
Before you will learn how to write a dissertation, you need to find out what is a dissertation. The vast majority of degrees ends with this important academic task. It is an academic assignment that is completed as a part of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. Typically, when working on a dissertation, the student should present their findings in response to a research question chosen after the thorough study of the research material. The fundamental purpose of the dissertation is to test the independent research and analytical competence of the student acquired at the university to understand what final grade this student deserves. Although you will be provided by some common guidelines by the supervisor, a dissertation project is often independent.
Due to its complex nature, a dissertation project is the most challenging assignment completed at the university. It requires months of long work and preparation, as well as awareness of the high academic standards set by the reputed scholars. For many students, the library becomes a second home. However, at the same time, writing a dissertation can be very rewarding, especially if the student is passionate about the research topic. Therefore, it is vitally important to select a good topic for a dissertation. Making up a good topic will require much time and effort but this step should not be underestimated as it impacts the whole writing process. Before choosing the topic, the student should do preliminary research to find out what research question may be interesting to the audience and what research topic is not discussed enough. Remember that your dissertation is your chance to bring something new to your research area. When the preliminary research is carried out, make sure to brainstorm and think about what topic will provide you with room for research. Write down several topics and then choose the one that seems the most interesting to you. If you hesitate regarding the topic chosen, we recommend you to talk to your supervisor. Having many years of experience, they will help you choose the subject you can work with and shape a good research hypothesis.
How Long Is a Dissertation? Useful Information
After receiving such a task, many students wonder, “How long is a dissertation?” Even if you know how to write many other academic papers including essays, research papers, term papers, coursework, case studies, and many others, dissertation writing hides many mysteries. When searching for how long should the dissertation be, you will not find a clear answer to this question. We assure you that the length, as well as the structure of your dissertation, depends on your graduate department along with the rules and guidelines suggested by your educational institution. Thus, the best way to find out the required dissertation length is to study the graduate department`s dissertation guide or a template that will help you understand how a good dissertation should look like. Unfortunately, many students forget about their handbook right after receiving it. Thus, they have many questions that could have been easily answered it they consulted the guide previously. Noteworthy, this guide can hardly be underestimated as it provides the students with not only essential information on dissertation writing but also specific guidelines on the structure and content of the dissertation. Of course, this guide will not suggest the exact number of pages that your dissertation should include. This is because each dissertation project is unique. Thus, the student should use as many pages as it is necessary in order to explore the topic chosen. One student may need 50 pages for that, whereas the other will find 70 pages not enough for the in-depth analysis. However, you should pay attention that writing a lengthy dissertation and filing it out with irrelevant or meaningless information is not a good strategy. The dissertation committee members will highly evaluate your dissertation only if your writing is clear, concise, and straightforward. In any case, we highly recommend you locate a copy of your dissertation guide and study it very carefully. Remember that the more time you spend on the preparation stage; the better outcome you will receive later. Since there is no common requirement for the length of the dissertation, we will provide you with information about every chapter so that you could get a clear understanding of how long should they be.
After you have studied your dissertation handbook, it is time to take the next step and review the dissertations that were already accepted by your department. We recommend you to pay special attention to the ones that were praised by your supervisor and were evaluated as perfect. By learning from those dissertations, you will improve your skills in the content, structure, and formatting of your dissertation. Do not look at too many dissertations because they will confuse you. Ideally, you need to study 3 to 5 dissertations to get a solid insight into the content, approach chosen by the researcher, as well as research design. Also, by studying these samples, you will find out the approximate length of each chapter. Knowing this proportion, you will be able to write your own dissertation. Pay attention that the lengthy dissertation does not mean a quality dissertation. What is more important is to make sure the dissertation includes all the necessary chapters. The most important chapters that should appear in any dissertation are as follows:
- Literature review;
As for the approximate length of every chapter, it should be noted that the introduction will cover from 10 to 15 pages, the literature review in which you will provide the findings of other scholars on your topic will take 20 to 25 pages, a methodology chapter will take 10 to 15 pages, the results chapter will cover only from 5 to 10 pages, and, finally, the discussion chapter will take 15 to 20 pages in your dissertation. If you need to explain some information or provide additional data, you may include an appendix, which is not included in the word count.
Pay attention that the length of your chapters may be different from the one mentioned above as it is only the approximate structure. However, it is very important to keep the length of your chapters reasonable compared to each other. It means that the results chapter cannot be longer than your literature review chapter. We assure you that your dissertation will bring you the best result only if it is balanced. Overwriting is always a bad strategy. We assure you that writing 200 or more pages in your dissertation, you will make it too broad and your dissertation committee member will not be able to understand your point clearly. Of course, topics in humanities require more pages, but it is necessary to be reasonable about what you are going to write. Remember that you are writing only one dissertation!
So, let us summarize. If you want to find out the length of your dissertation, as well as other important guidelines, it is necessary to study the handbook provided by your department. Then, you need to look at the successful dissertations completed by other students as it will help you boost your writing skills. The most important thing that you should know about the length of your dissertation is that all the chapters should be reasonably balanced.
Dissertation Chapters: How to Structure Your Dissertation?
If you are working on your dissertation, you need to learn more about all the dissertation chapters. First and foremost, you should understand that your dissertation is based on original research. It is the longest project you need to complete in your educational institution, thus, it is always broken into several pieces that are related to each other. Keep reading and you will find out what chapters will be included in your dissertation and how to write them well.
The first thing you should understand about the dissertation structure is that every dissertation is unique. Thus, its form and structure will depend mainly on the topic, discipline, and approach chosen.
For instance, a dissertation in humanities can have a form of a long and detailed essay. In such a dissertation, all arguments should support the main thesis whereas all chapters will be organized around different case studies. However, if you are going to present empirical scientific research, then the structure of your dissertation will be quite different. For instance, in such dissertations, the results and discussion chapters are always combined in order to present the data and interpret them. In case of having some doubts regarding the structure of your dissertation, we recommend you to address your university handbook as it will provide you with the important information on what chapters should your dissertation contain. Let us find out the basic parts of your dissertation.
The very first page of your dissertation is a title page. This page should include the title of your dissertation, your name, the name of your supervisor, and the name of your university along with its logo. Pay attention that the dissertation title page should be formatted in accordance with the formatting style requested by your instructor.
An abstract is a brief summary of your dissertation that provides your reader with an understanding of what is your dissertation about. Many students prefer to write it when the dissertation is already written because it helps avoid numerous revisions. Despite the rather short length (150-300 words), a dissertation abstract should:
- Indicate the main points discussed in a dissertation;
- Describe the methods chosen;
- Summarize the results obtained;
- Give a clear conclusion.
Pay attention that your abstract is the first thing people notice in your dissertation. Therefore, it is very important to write it perfectly. If you are struggling with writing your abstract, make sure to read our detailed guide on abstract writing.
Table of Contents
As the name suggests, your table of contents should list all the chapters of your dissertation along with their page numbers. It is particularly important since it will help your audience navigate through your paper easily. Pay attention that all parts of your dissertation, including the appendices, should appear in your table of contents.
List of Tables and Figures
If you have included some graphs, figures, and tables in your dissertation, make sure to put them in a separate list. This list can be created using the Insert Caption feature in Word.
List of Abbreviations
If you have used many abbreviations in your dissertation, you need to put them into an alphabetical list so that your readers could easily learn their meanings.
If you need to use many specific terms in your dissertation, we recommend you to create a short glossary that will explain all these terms and definitions. We assure you that helping your audience understand your dissertation will definitely bring you a few additional points.
In your introductory chapter, you need to present your topic, indicate its relevance, as well as tell your audience what results you expect to get in your dissertation. In your introduction, you need to:
- Establish your research topic providing the reader with enough background information;
- Narrow down your focus and define the scope of your research;
- Explain the existing state of your research problem showing that your research is relevant;
- Indicate your objectives clearly;
- Give a brief overview of the dissertation structure.
Before you begin your in-depth research, you need to carry out a literature review to gain an understanding of the existing academic work on your topic. To conduct a good literature review, you need:
- Collect credible and peer-reviewed sources and select the most relevant ones;
- Critically evaluate each source chosen;
- Draw conclusions finding the essential similarities and differences in the approaches of other researchers.
Please, note that you are not asked to summarize the studies of other researches but give an objective analysis of their work that will serve as a justification for your own research. A literature review always becomes a basis for a theoretical framework in which the writer defines and analyzes new research theories, models, and concepts defining the research.
The methodology chapter of a dissertation explains how students conducted the research allowing the audience to assess its validity. A methodology section of your dissertation will include:
- The overall approach and specific type of research (quantitative, qualitative, ethnographic, experimental, etc.);
- The methods of data collection (surveys, interviews, questionnaires);
- The methods of data analysis (discourse analysis, statistical analysis, etc.);
- The materials and tools used in research;
- A justification of the methods chosen.
In your methodology, you need to explain what you did, as well as to convince your reader that the methods chosen for your research are accurate and relevant.
A results chapter always follows the methodology section of your dissertation. Depending on the nature of your research, you may structure this chapter about hypotheses, questions, or topics. The main thing that you should know about your results section is that you need to provide the results that are relevant to your research question and objectives stated in your introduction. In some dissertations, a results chapter is separated from the discussion section whereas other institutions require both these sections to be combined. In the results section, you need to present your graphs, tables, and figures that will help you explain what data you have manages to achieve. Only by presenting your data in the correct way, you will be able to please your reader and reach the anticipated outcome. We assure you that by visualizing your results, the dissertation committee members will assess your dissertation with a high score.
The discussion chapter in your dissertation is the place where you interpret the data received. Here, you need to explore the meanings and implications of your results in relation to your research questions. After presenting your results, you need to explain whether you managed to reach the objectives stated in the introduction. If you have received the results that were unexpected, explain what could be a reason for that. In this chapter, you can also give recommendations for other researchers for their further work.
The dissertation conclusion should address the research questions stated in the introduction explaining whether the researcher has coped with the task. In your conclusion, you need to wrap up your reader with a final reflection of your work. Pay attention that your conclusion should not include new information. Instead, it should suggest recommendations for further research and explain why your particular research is relevant.
In your reference list, you need to put all sources used in your research. Pay attention that different formatting styles have their own requirements to the reference list and you need to follow the one mentioned in your dissertation prompt.
You probably know that your dissertation should contain only relevant information necessary for exploring your research question. However, you could use extra data that do not fit any of the chapters mentioned above. In this case, you need to present this data in your appendix.
Dissertation acknowledgements section is often optional. It is a note where you express your gratitude to everyone, who helped you with this dissertation. This list may include your supervisors, the participants of your research, laboratory assistants, librarians, editors, family and other people who supported you. Usually, the student thanks people, who were involved in the research process. However, if you feel that your high school literature teacher deserves acknowledgement, feel free to mention his or her name. To some people, you can just say “thank you,” whereas when talking about the contribution of other people, you need to explain what role a particular person played in your work. It is important not to overlook anybody, who has contributed to your research, especially from the professional sphere. If you want to keep the privacy of the particular person, you can mention only their name. If you think that your supervisor did not help you with a dissertation, and you do not want to include their name in the acknowledgements section, we recommend you to write just a short “Thank you” instead of nothing. As for personal acknowledgements, there is no need to mention the name of every member of your family. However, if someone has helped you more than others, make sure to mention the full name of this person. This section appears right after the title page and before the abstract. As for the writing style, this part may sound less formal than the rest of your dissertation as it is not an essential part. In this section, it is acceptable to use personal pronouns whereas in other chapters it is strictly forbidden. Even if you want to acknowledge your pet for companionship, you can do that. However, make sure not to put the name of your pet above the name of your supervisor.
Professional Dissertation Abstract Writing
As it is mentioned previously, a dissertation abstract describes the content and scope of writing and briefly reviews the content of the whole dissertation. Basically, an abstract is a “snapshot” of your research work. To write a good dissertation abstract, you need to answer the following questions:
- What makes this dissertation relevant?
- Why should someone read this dissertation?
- What questions does this dissertation answer?
- What are the key terms and concepts mentioned in a dissertation?
There are two common types of dissertation abstracts: descriptive and informative.
Such an abstract provides the reader with a brief description of a dissertation. It includes the purpose, methods, and scope of the dissertation. At the same time, such an abstract does not include the results, recommendations, or conclusions. A descriptive abstract is shorter than the informative one as its primary purpose is to introduce the topic to the reader.
Such an abstract provides more specific information about the dissertation including its purpose, methods, scope of work, results, recommendations, and conclusions. Informative abstracts may take up to 10% of the overall length of the dissertation and directly explain why this particular dissertation is worth reading.
A good dissertation abstract is always unified, coherent, and detailed enough to provide the target audience with the necessary information.
Dissertation Abstract Writing Tips
- Read your dissertation from the very beginning until the end to understand what specific points should be covered in the abstract;
- Use your headings and subheadings, as well as the table of content, to write your abstract;
- If you are writing only an abstract for someone`s dissertation, introduction and conclusion are the places where you can find all the necessary information;
- Do not copy whole sentences from your dissertation into your abstract but try to paraphrase them;
- Make sure there are no mechanical errors in your abstract as they compromise its quality.
How to Write a Good Dissertation Title? Expert Hints
To get the expected grade for your dissertation, you need to come up with a good dissertation title. Actually, the first thing you learn about the book, article, or film is its title. A good title will always make the audience read a specific piece. As such, a good dissertation title will always grab the readers` attention providing them with a clear understanding of what is the paper about. When writing a title for an academic paper, the student is always gravitating between making it informative and eye-catching. You may start working on your dissertation with just the rough draft of your title and then revise it when the dissertation is completed. After all, a great title for a dissertation is always catchy and original outlining the scope of research and indicating the value of the dissertation.