This Study Guide addresses the task of writing a dissertation. It aims to help you to feel confident in the construction of this extended piece of writing, and to support you in its successful completion. The process of having to describe your study in detail, in a logical sequence of written words, will inevitably highlight where more thought is needed, and it may lead to new insight into connections, implications, rationale, relevance, and may lead to new ideas for further research.
The good news is that you have already started writing if you have written any of the following in relation to this study:. In each case the object of the writing was to communicate to yourself, your supervisors, or to others, something about your work.
In writing your dissertation you will draw on some of this earlier writing to produce a longer and more comprehensive account.
Before embarking on any substantial writing for your dissertation you will need to check the exact requirements regarding:. There are some conventions that guide the structuring of dissertations in different disciplines.
You should check departmental and course regulations. The title itself is an important opportunity to tell the potential reader what your research is about. You will need it to be succinct, specific, descriptive, and representative of the research you have done. There is likely to be a required format for the title page in your discipline, so you need to check what that is. This may be one of the shortest sections of your thesis or dissertation, but it is worthwhile taking great care to write it well.
Essentially, the Abstract is a succinct summary of the research. It should be able to stand alone in representing why and how you did what you did, and what the results and implications are. It is often only one page long, and there may be a word limit to adhere to. The Abstract is an important element of the thesis, and will become a document in its own right if the thesis is registered within any database. The examiners will therefore assess your Abstract both as part of your thesis, and as a potentially independent document.
It can be best to write the Abstract last, once you are sure what exactly you are summarising. Alternatively it can be useful to write the abstract earlier on, as an aid to identifying the crucial main thread of your research, its purpose, and its findings, which could then guide the structure of the dissertation.
It might be useful to look at how others have managed. It is certainly an academic exercise, but perhaps not too different from the concise explanations of your research you may have had to give to relatives and neighbours over the last few years, in terms of its brevity, accessibility, and comprehensiveness. This is your opportunity to mention individuals who have been particularly helpful. Reading the acknowledgements in other dissertations in your field will give you an idea of the ways in which different kinds of help have been appreciated and mentioned.
The contents pages will show up the structure of the dissertation. This is a useful check on whether amalgamation of sections, or creation of further sections or sub-sections is needed. Although this is the first piece of writing the reader comes to, it is often best to leave its preparation to last as, until then, you will not be absolutely sure what you are introducing.
The introduction has two main roles:. The purpose of this chapter is to show that you are aware of where your own piece of research fits into the overall context of research in your field. To do this you need to:. This can lead logically into a clear statement of the research question s or problem s you will be addressing. In addition to the research context, there may be other relevant contexts to present for example:.
It can be difficult to identify the best order for sections in this chapter because the rationale for your choice of specific research question can be complicated, and there may be several inter-linked reasons why the research is needed.
It is worth taking time to develop a logical structure as this will help to convince examiners of the relevance of your research, and that you understand its relevance. It will also provide you with a framework to refer back to in your discussion chapter, when you reflect on the extent to which your research has achieved what it set out to do.
In these chapters a straightforward description is required of how you conducted the research. If you used particular equipment, processes, or materials, you will need to be clear and precise in how you describe them.
You must give enough detail for another researcher to replicate your study. You will need to check which style of reporting is preferred in your field. For example a scientific dissertation would probably have very clear separation between the results and the discussion of those results; whereas a social science dissertation might have an overall chapter called Findings, bringing the results and their discussion together.
This is where you review your own research in relation to the wider context in which it is located. You can refer back to the rationale that you gave for your research in the literature review, and discuss what your own research has added in this context. It is important to show that you appreciate the limitations of your research, and how these may affect the validity or usefulness of your findings.
Given the acknowledged limitations, you can report on the implications of your findings for theory, research, and practice. This chapter tends to be much shorter than the Discussion. This section needs to be highly structured, and needs to include all of your references in the required referencing style.
As you edit and rewrite your dissertation you will probably gain and lose references that you had in earlier versions. It is important therefore to check that all the references in your reference list are actually referenced within the text; and that all the references that appear in the text appear also in the reference list.
You need to check whether or not the appendices count within the word limit for your dissertation. Items that can usefully go in the appendices are those that a reader would want to see, but which would take up too much space and disrupt the flow if placed within the main text. Again, make sure you reference the Appendices within the main text where necessary. If your dissertation is well-structured, easy to follow, logical, and coherent, your examiners will probably enjoy reading it, and will be able to listen to your argument without the distraction of trying to make all the links themselves.
For this purpose, study the recommendations in our article and use them when writing this page. As you probably already know, one of the best elements of visual representation in a research paper is a table.
To provide your thesis paper with sufficient support, you are to use a whole number of tables, which all will be reflected in the thesis list of tables. This well-developed page is of a big advantage to the whole paper. As it clearly reveals the number, content, and location of each table, make sure it is spotless. The following information will enrich your knowledge on how this page should be written.
It can be efficiently written only with a perfect understanding of what the whole paper is about. Here, you need to explain a whole number of questions, the answers to which would explain the originality and importance of your research. This article will show you how to make the introduction informative and interesting to the reader. It gives your research and the research results credibility and reflects whether you took a purely scientific approach.
The section where the thesis results are represented may be quite complicated for writing, as they are often understood as result discussions. In fact, the results section reveals your actual findings, with as much detail and quantitative representations as possible. What may spoil this section are your own interpretations. To avoid this mistake, find out what exactly results should show, and then compare this information to the recommendations on writing the discussion part.
Thesis discussion is the section where you can interpret the results, explain their significance, and provide proof for your statements. Still, like in other thesis sections, you need to organize everything you wrote into logical and coherent parts, and also be able to exclude the unimportant or unproved statements.
To learn more, refer to this article. While some students find it hard to write the introduction of their thesis, others find thesis conclusions to be a real writing challenge. The complicacy is justified — this part of your paper reveals the most important of your statements concerning certain findings.
The following article will deepen your understanding of how to write this section. Thesis recommendations section is a good way of showing how significant your paper is.
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