Guide to Dissertations

What is a Dissertation?

Dissertation, noun: An extended and typically written treatment of a subject. More specifically, a treatment written and submitted to achieve a doctorate degree.

In order to achieve your doctorate degree, you are required to complete the research, theory, experimentation, and writing of your dissertation. A dissertation is a technical endeavor that documents and sets forth proof of your original thesis. Dissertations should be complete and written for technical audiences, but do not have to be meticulously comprehensive.

Writing your dissertation will require you to use the scientific method. The scientific method means that you will start with a hypothesis, and then collect evidence that supports or denies that hypothesis. The majority of the doctoral dissertation writing process is collecting and organizing the pieces of evidence you collect into an orderly and presentable form. The essence of a dissertation is demonstrating critical thinking skills, not presenting experimental data.

Analyzing research, presenting concepts, and stating all lessons learned, not just the facts, is the application of the dissertation. Each statement within your dissertation should be supported by a reference to published scientific literature, or by your own original work. However, a dissertation shouldn’t repeat the details of the published sources critical thinking and analysis, it should instead use the published work’s results as scientific fact and refer readers to it as a source for additional detail.

The Difference Between a Thesis and Dissertation

Commonly in the United States, a thesis is the final project of one’s master’s degree program, whereas the dissertation is required to complete one’s doctoral degree. A thesis is the research of a specific subject that demonstrates your knowledge of the subject and showcases the information you’ve acquired throughout the program.

Seeking a doctorate and completing a dissertation is different from completing a thesis, in that a dissertation requires the contribution of something new or undiscovered to your field. Essentially, a dissertation requires you to contribute original knowledge to the subject. A thesis is similar to an advanced research paper you may write for a class, whereas a dissertation expands on that research to add your own analysis and findings. Your dissertation should demonstrate your level of critical thinking, showcase your analytical thinking, and come up with completely new hypothesis guided by others research.

Additional Dissertation Reading

Whether you are interested in the pursuit of your doctorate and have questions about what it entails, or you are in the middle of your dissertation defense, you can find additional valuable information in the links below.