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How to Write a Dissertation

How to Write a Dissertation

A dissertation predetermines the end of one’s academic journey. Once a person obtains a Doctor of Science degree, it is time to search for the dream job. Master’s and PhD degrees increase the chances of finding a prestigious job in the preferred field. That is why you will benefit from reading this guide. In case of any problems with accomplishing the most responsible academic work in your life, feel free to contact our essay writing service to get top-quality help!

Table of Contents

What is a Dissertation?

The incomplete dissertation definition sounds this way: a large piece of work to be completed at the end of a doctorate. A full dissertation meaning is a little different. It is an academic argument; a piece of scholarly writing based on the research or data that a scholar has gathered during their studies. That is how experts define dissertation.
The goal is to bring together all skills a student has learned.

The list includes research skills & methodological skills. It is helpful to define a dissertation as a culmination of the assignments and essays that a student has had to write throughout their higher education. This involves collecting data, synthesizing it, and putting it into academic form. It is an ability to explore student’s field of study.

The main problems doctoral candidates face while working on their dissertations include:

  • Inability to define dissertation and its goals properly;
  • Desire to postpone the work to the last minute;
  • Lack of research skills;
  • Insufficiency of writing skills.

The challenge looks overwhelming. That is why recommend reading this guide to find out more about the dissertation meaning and the ways to write this document. Every dissertation starts with a proposal.

What is a Proposal?

Writing a proposal is the primary step in the drafting process of any dissertation. A dissertation proposal sets the stage for the research the author has done. It is like a table of contents/outline for your research. The proposal will help you write the actual work and should be around 10-15 pages long depending on the length of the complete work assigned by your instructor. Be prepared that your data collection and analysis may not go exactly how you planned it. Before embarking on a novel-length dissertation, take the time to make your proposal to avoid getting lost in the middle of the process.

Proposal Outline and Length

Because the proposal is the initial step, drafting and outlining it is crucial. Here is a proposal template from the experts:

  • 2-3 pages An Introduction + a Summary of significance (A quick recap of your topic. Highlight the focus of your paper. Stress the research question)
  • 3-6 pages Methodology (How you plan to obtain data and how you will conduct your analysis. This section should reveal the resources, tools, and equipment applied and the amount of time dedicated to the project)
  • Objectives (a hypothesis/what you plan to prove)
  • 6-10 pages Literature review (Which works did you use to construct your research? Discuss literature that relates to the topic.)
  • Research constraints (a disclaimer/what went wrong. It is critical as some might try to prove/disprove your work)
  • 1-page Research timetable that serves to outline the core sections of your paper.

Proposal Sample

The following step consists of gathering information for each subheading. Keep in mind that the structure of your dissertation proposal always depends on the specific requirements of your course. Some courses stress that aims and objectives are a separate section in the dissertation proposal while they completely omit the methodology or the literature review section. Make sure to clarify this with your professor.
The primary stage in writing a dissertation is to select the topic, question, and title:

  1. What is the problem your project is going to tackle?
  2. Why is it critical to find a solution to the chosen problem?
  3. How do you plan to collect evidence and get the answers?

Related: How to Write a Research Proposal

Dissertation vs Thesis

The main difference is that a thesis is written at the end of a master’s program while a dissertation is written during a doctoral study. A thesis could simply be a compilation of research. A dissertation is an opportunity to contribute something new to your field. In a thesis, you research a topic and expand upon the subject for which you just got a master’s degree for. A thesis is at least 100 pages in length. A doctoral dissertation is a lot longer because they include background research and other information which makes it at least twice as long as a thesis.
Dissertation Writing: Pick a Topic in the Beginning
Before writing a dissertation, select the topic. Pick one of the offered prompts or find one that you like.

20 Outstanding Topics to Kick-start Your Writing

Dissertations in Education

  • The categories of drinking styles in college students
  • The indicators of flossing behavior on university population
  • The role of homework assignments in the lives of international students
  • The way working as a taxi driver impacts a student’s behavior
  • The influence tutors’ shocking behaviors in fostering creativity in young people

MBA Dissertation Topics

  • Workplace ethics in multinational organization like Walmart
  • A business plan focused on the production of musical instruments
  • A business plan suggesting evaluation of a strategy
  • Empirical analysis of the company’s performance & leadership
  • Dealing with the Millennial Generation

Law Ideas for Dissertations

  • How the ‘fight with terror’ has affected criminal laws around the globe
  • A critical evaluation of the law of omissions liability
  • A review of criminal negligence connected with the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007
  • Evaluating cases filed in the criminal justice field
  • The role of gender and race in the criminal justice system

Technology Dissertation Topics

  • The way full-text databases impact the search engine results
  • An evaluation of apps created for the improved energy efficiency
  • Recently discovered approaches to risk management based on a specific software
  • Recent approaches to exploring the behavior of adware, malware, and different viruses
  • Redundancy & fault recovery on the 4G wireless network

questions to ask yourself before selecting a dissertation topic

Dissertation Outline & Structure

Before drafting your dissertation, draft an outline:

  • Title Page
  • Objectives (decide on up to 3 goals)
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables (if any)
  • List of Abbreviations (if any) in alphabetical order
  • Introduction (including your research question or hypothesis)
  • Literature Review (how you set your research topic up and how it fits into the existing field of study). Do not hurry! Start writing this part after asking the tutor about the recommended sources to be used and the preferred paper format)
  • Research (the main part in which a student should elaborate the ideas of the researched problem)
  • Methodology (explain why you chose these particular methods to answering the research question)
  • Findings (predictions of where you would end up along with the description and presentation of your data, evidence, or case study)
  • Discussion (the cumulation of your argument: literature, methodology, and findings to create synergy)
  • Timeframe (a schedule explaining the way a writer will handle the stage of dissertation writing)
  • Conclusions and recommendations (Reflect on the research and include recommendations and final evaluation of your research. Do not include new ideas as they should go in the discussion!)
  • Bibliography/List of references (a list in alphabetical order of all the external sources that you used to do your research)
  • Appendices (such things as questionnaires, interview transcripts, pilot reports, detailed tables, etc.)
    A writer doesn’t have to include all dissertation chapters mentioned in this outline example - it depends on the prompt, length, goals, etc.

A Dissertation Research

Before embarking on your dissertation writing process, it would be a smart to seek out a database and find other works in your field. Check out the structure of the sample. If you are not able to find a dissertation that would be helpful to you while writing your own, then you can order one online. That way, you’ll have a ready-made custom dissertation to base your work on or a very well-done example that you can use for reference anytime you want.
Dissertation writing is impossible without the corresponding research. These tips will help you with this process:

  1. Create a timeline for the research stage. Plan the time needed to find the relevant resources, collect the evidence, work on the proposal, develop a draft, and carry out the final paper. Stick to the outline and don’t be late!
  2. Discover the place to search for sources. Thanks to the modern technologies, students do not need to spend hours in the traditional libraries any longer! Tools like Google Scholar might be useful for locating credible sources. Those students who prefer traditional methods may ask local librarians to assist them with their investigation.
  3. Organize the resources. Such tools as Evernote or Penzu will help to organize the selected sources to prevent you from getting confused and stuck.

How to Cite a Dissertation?

What About the Lengh?

On average, a dissertation is a minimum of 21 pages and a maximum of 2000 pages long; the average length ranges from 100 to 200 pages.


An abstract is a summary of the entire dissertation. It should give an overview of the research that you’ve done. The purpose of an academic paper abstract is to give the reader an idea of what the dissertation is about and why the problem is important to discuss. Consider all the elements of your proposal and attempt to include them. Include your hypothesis and research question.

how to cite a dissertation

Post-Writing Process

Once you are done with the dissertation chapters and extras, it is important to consider one more critical stage - proofreading & editing.
Take some time away from the dissertation writing process after it is over. A ‘sober mind’ works best when analyzing the quality of the final draft and making final edits.

  1. Start editing. The difference between proofreading & editing is that proofreading focuses on the ‘shape’ of the document while editing focuses on the ‘essence’. Editing requires you to fix any formatting, grammar, structural issues. Proofreading is not about rewriting or changing anything but re-reading the text several times to estimate its efficiency.
    When proofreading and editing, mind the logical connection between every argument; decide if there are any gaps in the provided content and add more details gathered at the research phase. Decrease the volume of the dissertation chapters that have useless information: the clarity & quality matter more than quantity in this case. Fix grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.

  2. Proofread the text. Try to notice any stylistic or logical mistakes and consult a dictionary or thesaurus along with the free and paid apps to ensure the quality of your final draft.
    Seeing flaws may be complicated for the writer. Get dissertation writing help or at least some peer feedback to guarantee a better score on the paper.

More Dissertation Writing Tips: Defending the Work!

Defense: The defense is a significant milestone in the closure on your graduate career. There are three main steps to do before, during, and after your defense:

  • Before: make sure you schedule everything in advance. Be ready to address any questions about your work. Follow all graduate school rules and deadlines.

  • During: Prepare your presentation, answer every question, and try to be patient during the defense in order to identify any weakness in your data collection process or research.

  • After: Celebrate! Provide copies of your dissertation to your friends and colleagues.

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