How To Write Your Dissertation
A step-by-step guide
Writing your normal assignments is a different thing but completing your Master’s dissertation is a whole different roller coaster ride. It might even be the longest piece of writing that you have ever done. Nevertheless, completing it should not be that difficult with an early start, proper planning, regular reading and accurate notes.
This blog is your one-stop answer to all the questions and advice that would help you master your dissertation!
A Dissertation is an elaborate piece of academic writing based on some original research work and is submitted as a part of your Doctoral or Master’s degree.
- Deciding what your research is going to be about. Finalizing your research topic.
- Formulating the research questions. Deciding upon the purpose of your research.
- Deciding the research method that you are going to follow, whether qualitative or quantitative.
- Selecting your sample and deciding the sampling technique that you will be using.
- Deciding the method of data collection, e.g. survey method, questionnaire method, interview method, testing method etc.
Step-1: Title Page
The very first page of your dissertation includes the topic, your name, department, institution, degree program and date of submission. Sometimes it also includes your roll number, name of your guide and university emblem. Some universities follow a strict format for the title page.
The acknowledgement page is to thank all the people who have helped you through your dissertation. People such as your guide, professors, college, friends etc.
The abstract contains a small summary of your whole research. It is usually around 200-300 words long. You should always mention:
- The main topic of your research
- Aim of the research
- Methods used
Make sure to write your Abstract once you have completed your whole thesis. It is the first impression of your research and therefore, make sure that it impresses people!
The table of contents contains the list of your chapters, their headings and page numbers. All parts of your thesis should be present in the content table. It gives the readers an overview of your Dissertation.
If you have used a lot of technical words in your paper then you should always list them with their meaning in the glossary section. Make sure that these are in alphabetical order. This will help your readers to understand the concept well.
In the introduction, you give your readers a brief idea regarding what the research is about. It should always establish your topic and give a background, define the scope of the research, talk about the existing research and how your work is relevant, state the research questions, and give an overview of the structure of your research.
The reader should be able to understand what, why and how of your research.
Step-7: Literature Review
A good Literature review always analyses, critically evaluates, synthesises and summarizes the sources. Writing a literature review consists of:
- Searching for relevant literature
- Evaluating them
- Identifying themes, ideas, debates and gaps
- Defining the structure
- Presenting it all in words
It provides an overview of your current knowledge which in turn helps you to identify the gaps, methods and concepts in the existing research. You can use Google scholar for searching for existing research.
In this section, you will describe the methods used by you in the research. It will explain what and how you did the research. This will also help the readers to understand whether your research is reliable and valid. Your methodology section must always include;
- Type of research conducted
- Type of tools used,
- Method of data collection,
- Details about your sample
- Method of data analysis.
Make sure that you write this section in past-tense.
Once you have finished with analysing your data, results come next. In this section, you mention all your findings and observe whether they relate to your research questions. It would be helpful for your readers to understand better if you present the results in tabular or graphical form.
This is where you discuss the purpose of your research. This section should talk about:
- What do the results indicate?
- What is the significance of the finding?
- Any other observations throughout the process;
- How is your research going to contribute to the already existing research?
- What are the limitations of your research?
You can also state the practical implications of your research.
the conclusion is the last chapter, where you can finish your essay with a brief perspective of whether or not your hypotheses were supported or whether the research questions were answered. It clearly states the answer to the research questions, recommendations for the future work and novelty that it brought to the existing data.
You must include all the sources with their details in the references section. A few things to keep in mind are; make sure that the references are in alphabetical order and follow a specific and consistent citation style. Two of the most used citation styles are APA and MLA. Most of the time your university or program specifies the citation style to be followed.
Your research should only contain information that is relevant for your research questions. The other tools and sources that you use to collect data or describe a topic should be mentioned in the appendices section. It includes data that is not directly related to the research questions.
“A good dissertation is a done dissertation” - Every MA final year student.
After going through all of this, it might seem like it is a very exhausting and long process. To be honest, yes it is. But keep pushing when you feel like quitting because the results, apart from the grades, that you get after completing your Dissertation will make you forget all the hardships that you went through. It is worth it.