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How to Write a Dissertation

You’ve completed your courses, you’ve composed your dissertation proposal, you’ve done hours of research, now it’s time to put it all together. The good news is, your dissertation proposal should be an excellent guide in helping you write the rest of your dissertation.

How to Write Your Dissertation

Even though you have a proposal, it may be helpful to write an outline for your dissertation. This can include more detail and help you collect your thoughts in a more meaningful and useful manner. A basic outline would follow a similar structure to your dissertation proposal, consisting of an introduction, literature review, methodology, findings, conclusions, bibliography, and timeline. Think of this as an expanded roadmap to completing your doctoral degree.

Writing your Introduction

Once your outline is complete, you can begin working on translating it into the first draft of your dissertation. Following a chapter structure, you can begin with your introduction. The introduction should include a history of the problem, and a statement of the issue. This section is also used to illustrate the study’s purpose, and clarify the research question.

Creating a Literature Review

In your dissertation proposal, you should have done a reasonably thorough job of presenting what publications and materials you intended to use in order to complete your research. It is vital to provide more detail on your topic and explain further how the literature you’ve chosen relates directly to your topic.

Writing your Methodology

Assuming your proposal was approved by the institutional research board, you will begin data collection through your preferred and approved research method. After collecting the data, you will analyze and explain the quantitative or qualitative nature of the data collected.

Presenting your Findings

The most important part of your dissertation, is presenting your findings. This area should showcase your intellectual capacity and prove to those reading that you deserve to earn a doctorate degree. In the findings section, you will restate the questions and discuss the results you have found. It is important when discussing the unbiased results, to explain what direction the research lead you in, and how you came to the conclusions. The findings section of your dissertation will answer the questions you have posed. There is a possibility that your results provided no new evidence or information, that is still a finding and should be reported.

Presenting Conclusions

The final chapter of your dissertation will summarize the study and report on results. In this area, it is vital that you explain the impact of your findings in the academic community, and how these findings are implied in practice. Your conclusion may also contain a “Recommendations for Future Research” area that you can use to propose future research about your topic. Think back to some of your research constraints and what you’ve learned in your studies, and determine whether or not any of these could expand on the issue your topic addresses and suggest the research and what form it could take.

Create a Bibliography

Cite all of your sources, something that you are likely very familiar with at this point in your educational career.

Dissertation Writing Tips

Create a Timeline, Manage Your Time

Once you have your dissertation proposal completed, it may be beneficial for you to create a timeline of goals and deadlines for yourself. This way you have attainable micro-goals rather than one overarching goal of completing your dissertation. Create a project plan for yourself so that you can stay on track, work in an order comfortable to you, and avoid skipping steps that will require you to double back later.

Sticking to a timeline will help you manage distractions and getting off track. Time will become an ally and an enemy during your dissertation process, it’s vital that you use it wisely.

Edit and Proofread: Repeat as Necessary

Once you have your first draft in hand, it’s time to begin editing. Do you feel that you’ve left gaps in information? Now is the time to fill them in with additional research. Have you created overcomplicated explanations that could be more refined? Consider how you can reduce the amount of content required, and present a clearer explanation. Editing will give you the ability to identify numerous issues that may exist, that were not clear through the process of initial writing. Keep your sentences short and concise, avoid the use of drawn out sentences with overused adjectives.

Keep in mind that the dissertation process is iterative, you should expect to write, rewrite, and revisit much later after components are approved. Research is ever evolving and you should understand that the dissertation is a leaving breathing document that requires constant oversight.

Once you’ve edited your dissertation to fill gaps, or remove unnecessary information, you should proofread for spelling, grammar, and style errors. Pay close attention to the format, and make sure that your dissertation follows the guidelines. Consider having a friend or colleague assist in proofreading, as you may become too attached or too focused and miss obvious issues. An additional set of eyes, even one unfamiliar with the subject matter, may be of great benefit in your dissertation proofing process.

If you are struggling with the editing and proofreading process, you may want to investigate the use of an editing service. The investment may save you time, effort, and reduce your stress level significantly. Make sure that you use a reputable company, and that these services are permitted by your university.

Pursue Feedback, and Use It

There are a number of opportunities for you to receive feedback on your dissertation before submitting it in the final form. Social media may offer opportunities to connect with other professionals willing to critique. The university may provide resources that will help you stay focused and provide professional academic feedback throughout your dissertation process. Once you receive this feedback, consider it carefully and determine how you can use it to improve your dissertation.

Your dissertation is going to be a challenge, but remember that this is the final step before you will be called Doctor.

Additional Dissertation Reading

As you near the end of your dissertation, it may be time to start preparing for your dissertation defense. You may find the following article useful as you move forward:

Prior Reading

Realizing you aren’t yet ready to write your dissertation, you may want to read more on choosing a dissertation topic or writing your dissertation proposal. Read more below: