Writing a dissertation (or thesis) is a highly intricate process that can tax your brain (and your energy) to no end. It is also a time consuming process. It has to be well articulated so that it communicates exactly what you want to communicate. Additionally, it has to satisfy the assessors of the efficacy of doing the research in the way suggested by you. It should be able to answer a question that you have asked. Finally, you may also have to defend the dissertation (depending on the degree and university) and answer any questions the assessors may have.
As you can see, it is quite a tall order. The following 10 tips can help you make things a little easier for you when you write your dissertation.
1. Select a topic that interests you
The starting point of your dissertation is topic selection. You must select a topic that you are interested in and possess at least some knowledge about. You can ideate by scanning the available literature and searching for questions that have as yet no answers. You can formulate a question and then proceed to find an answer for the question.
2. Invest time in your research proposal
You have to expand the question you want answered into a formal research proposal that is placed before your assessment panel for it to approve your topic. You have to be clear about the objective of research and statement of the problem. You’ll also have to provide sources of primary and secondary data. As part of your proposal, you’ll need to detail the available literature on your topic. Additionally, you’ll need to clearly articulate the research methodology you are adopting to help answer the question.
This is an important document on which you have to spend a lot of time. Your proposal should be precise, concise and logical. If you get your research proposal right then you are well on your way to write a great dissertation. According to Grad Coach, who specialize in dissertation coaching, a well crafted proposal is essentially the foundation for your first 3 chapters (intro, literature review and methodology), so its really important to spend the time to develop a good proposal.
3. Pay attention to the required proposal structure/template
Usually, there is a template given by your assessment panel. Fit your proposal within that framework and finalize the final framework you want to follow. Don’t try reinventing the wheel – stick with the structure your university requires.
4. Choose the right research methodology
Remember, you had a question and you want an answer. You now have to find out a proper research methodology that can help you find the answer. This could be both quantitative and qualitative. Various methodologies are available, and you have to choose the one that can help to find an answer to your question. Don’t choose a methodology because it seems easier or its something that you’re familiar with. Your research question and objectives dictate your methodology.
5. Spend time in the literature review stage
Literature on your topic will generally be available in plenty. You have to choose the appropriate literature that will support you in answering your question. You will need to provide literature from a wide cross section of writers that can show the depth of research on the topic. You have to be able to discuss them in your dissertation and show that your research builds onto the existing literature, so make sure you invest the time in reviewing the extant literature.
6. Discuss your research with others
It is a good idea to discuss your dissertation with other researchers and explore alternate ideas. These discussions will expose you to multiple perspectives, help you identify bling spots and help you firm up your own thinking on the topic.
7. Schedule your writing
Writing is a considerable part of your dissertation, and it has to be planned. You can’t just “wing it” – you have to find time everyday to write some part of your dissertation. However, make sure you collect all the relevant information in one place before you commence writing.
8. Set deadlines
Setting deadlines is vital. You know you have to submit the dissertation within a deadline. Therefore plan your writing as per the framework and complete different elements within your internal deadline.
9. Don’t fixate on any one area
It is a bad idea to get stuck on any one element. If you are stuck for some reason, go to the next item and complete that. You can come back to the stuck item after you have had time to think about why you got stuck and how to get out of the jam. Speak to your research supervisor about the areas you’re stuck on.
10. Use technology
Technology is there for the taking. You can use speech to text technology on your computer to quickly write without typing the words. You can also use audio recording to record your thoughts whenever they occur so that you don’t forget later.
Once you split the dissertation into its elements it is easier to handle the final writing. If your thoughts are clear, research problem is well thought out, methodology is suitable, data is accurate and literature is wide ranging, there is no reason why you can’t write a great dissertation.