Tips on Writing a Dissertation
Make clear in both the empirical and conceptual sense what dependent variable(s) your research is based on
Set out your argument(s) early in your dissertation, even in the first or second paragraph. This helps the reader know where the rest of your paper is going. A dissertation is not a detective-type story that only unveils the answer in the last chapter!
During the process, the writer uses the literature review section to establish their own place in literature rather than to demonstrate they have read all available material. This section should be detailed and critical in the way it shows how previous works have overlooked or misrepresented some important aspect(s). It should be noted, however, that the most essential oversights to draw attention to are those you yourself address in your dissertation. A project like this is not a mechanism for you to show you are capable of critiquing other academic works. Instead, it is your chance to contribute in a valuable way. Critiques are a way of showing how your work adds value.
Although it is important the argument you choose is interesting, it can help to begin your dissertation with a puzzle or eye-catching example i.e. something that makes readers wonder why a particular situation is as you say. While much depends on your chosen topic, it can still be quite difficult to write a catchy opening paragraph. Be serious about your own theories. Give detailed consideration to any concepts you use and how you argue the way(s) they are related. Use this careful thinking for the empirical aspects of your paper when you are figuring out how things should be measured. The arguments you choose may only differ in subtle ways from those used by others, but they can still have significant bearing on what is suitable for measuring a concept or theory.
It can be good to use graphics
The use of graphics often makes a text easier to read and they are good for illustrating various types of data and results. Graphical information is often better than using tables only. While tables are good for providing clear detail, graphics are almost always more effective at showing how variables are related.
Do not exceed the word limit. If you have a limit of 10,000 words, stick to it!
A word limit should not be treated as a “must reach” target. If your word limit is, say, 10,000 words, and you believe you have included all necessary material, do not be tempted to add “padding” to reach the upper limit.
In most cases, 10,000 words are sufficient. Should you feel there is good reason to surpass this word limit, it is probably because you have not done sufficient editing. Including redundant and/or repetitive text, or anything that is not related to your arguments, can lead to you having marks deducted. Make sure you edit your paper, numerous times if necessary, before you hand it in.
A written piece can be structured in different ways, and the structure you use will probably depend on your topic and the methodologies you choose. While the following structure is not the definitive one, you may find it useful for reference purposes. It may seem sensible to you to add, remove, or alter some of the sections described below according to your own judgement.
- An introductory section: Say what you are writing about and your reasons for doing so. Briefly outline your argument(s), dependent variable(s), examples, questions, etc.
- A literature review chapter: Please refer to the section above for more information on this.
- A section outlining your argument or theory: Once you have identified any gaps in existing knowledge and/or literature, fill these in and develop your hypotheses.
- A section setting out any empirical-type evidence: You can use combinations of these e.g. an evaluation of any dependent and any independent variables, a selection of samples or case studies, your findings and/or the results of any tests on your hypotheses.
- A discussion chapter: This is where you discuss the results e.g. how they do or do not support your hypotheses and to what extent. Mention any possible limitations or shortcomings and/or use case study samples by way of illustration.
- A concluding section: This sums-up the main points from a dissertation and what has been learnt. It is also used to make suggestions or recommendations for future research.