This article has been specially written for students in disarray surrounding their dissertations as a means to guide them and ensure them that they can get done with their dissertations if they follow a certain set of rules and guidelines.
Studying and working over the years, we are faced with academic and research-based tasks and assignments one way or the other. As children, at primary level, we are given tons of homework which instils researching habits in us and aims to ignite curiosity in us overall.
The world is vast and encompasses of knowledge beyond our thoughts, safe to presume. The path to research never ends. Knowledge is borrowed and carried forward and augmented to divulge new theories. In schools, colleges, universities; at all academic levels research employs a significant portion of our lives, which often tends to take a toll on the mental health of the students due to the burden involved.
“I cannot seem to narrow down on a single dissertation topics”
“My supervisors are just not cooperating with me, how do I furnish a remarkable thesis when I do not know what they want??”
“I sure hope my research article ends up in a journal. I went through sleepless nights to get it done.”
During our undergrad we are tasked with research papers, during our graduate level we are tasked with articulating theses and finally during our postgraduate or doctoral level, we are tasked with dissertations.
From the Bachelor’s level, students are occupied with conducting research to complete their final year projects which usually comprise of tons of research. As the students advance towards a master’s degree, they are conferred with the task of formulating a doctoral thesis; the purpose of which is to attain the master’s degree and also open gateways to a doctorate or PhD level. In the final doctorate level, they are faced with what some might consider the most laborious of them all i.e. the dissertation.
In everyday common language, dissertation refers to the final project a student submits in their dissertation, and hence gaining their doctorate degree. Dissertation comes from the Latin word ‘dissertare’ which means to debate or basically; discussion. Therefore, dissertation came to be known as well-articulated research and discussion on a subject which students eventually entail to garner their doctorates.
The general populace tends to use a plethora of words interchangeably, obscure of their original meanings and as such, we overhear theses and dissertations being spoken of as mutually. Thesis, the plural being theses is also an articulated form of research presented in the same manner as a dissertation but one which is submitted during a master’s degree. It is crucial to note the differences so that you can work on your thesis or dissertation nicely and not end up mixing them.
There are three main differences between a thesis and a dissertation:
A thesis stretches between 15,000-25,000 words while a dissertation is much more comprehensive in nature and thus extends up to 50,000 words. In either case, a dissertation is much more detailed and consists of thorough research and information to back up the research.
The purposes of both also vary. As mentioned, a thesis opens the gates to doctoral studies and is compulsory for obtaining a master’s degree whereas a dissertation is the final gateway to acquiring your doctorate degree.
“Submitted my master’s thesis; fingers crossed for doctorate studies!”
The content of a thesis and dissertation carries a few differences too. Despite the fact that the key components and sections are nearly the same, the matter and content fluctuate to a large measure. The research performed during a master’s degree for a thesis relies mainly on previously done research which is enhanced by the student. The research performed during a doctorate degree for a dissertation is majorly dependent on original ideas and material from previous research. As such, a dissertation can take up to years to be perfect, while a thesis can be done from a period of two months to a year.
It can be inferred that the path to acquiring your doctorate is paved with obstacles and hedges which you must overcome if you are determined to accomplish your doctorate. Many students give up due to the immense pressure and load that engulfs them.
A number of issues stem from:
We are living in the 21st century and the competition has surmounted to a greater degree. Impressing your supervisors with your dissertation especially when you are already entrusted with other responsibilities is a rigorous errand. Often at times, students are faced with a non-cooperative supervisor who vows never to help them out or give some hints as to how they can craft an appealing dissertation. The best assignment writer in class cannot bring good grades without any support either. To add to the dilemmas, if students are hesitant about their writing skills and the thought of creativity and brainstorming shapes their face into a grimace, it is a given that dissertation will be a tiresome task for them. Moreover, the time period of submitting a dissertation is quite long which eventually drives the students to lose focus and be plagued by procrastination.
There is no single solution to perfecting a dissertation which guarantees approval from everyone. However, with every problem, therein lies a plethora of solutions which every student can utilize to their advantage and bring about changes. Similarly, there a variety of tips and instructions students should remember so that they can wind-up their dissertations with ease.
Accordingly, we have explored the essentials to perfecting your dissertation from dissertation structure to habits to the order of steps involved:
It is understandable that the stress level escalates rapidly but it is vital that students relax their minds. Panicking does not solve any problem. Instead, strategic thinking and organizing daily routines assist massively in completing dissertations than packing and stressing out does.
An outline of all your ideas and thoughts is necessary to be shaped in an outline for your own ease. Students get lost while brainstorming especially if they do not make a plan write down every concept that comes in their mind.
Moreover, creating an outline aids in organizing your routine while providing with a layout on how your dissertation shall manifest into existence.
Dissertation Proposal includes whatever research you are planning to carry out and the methods to carry out that research over the course of your doctorate studies. The proposal approval warrants as a ‘go-ahead’ to move with the topic and subject for your dissertation. Finalize your PhD dissertation topic and theme. The theme is to be described and justified for research. Therefore, it will be addressing the following questions:
The structure of a dissertation proposal is as follows:
1. Dissertation Proposal Title
The title should be compelling, appealing and informative which captivates the reader to indulge more in the content.
2. Clearly Defined Objectives
List out all your objectives very clearly and explain them. It is recommended that the student list at least three objectives.
Before starting with this section, it is suggested that you confirm with your teacher or supervisor whether or not you ought to mention specific references. If not, you must write down each study area, schools of thought, or any other source from which you are gathering the information for the study. It needs to be mentioned at the stage of research only.
This section should be informative and comprehensive and illustrate the ideas which pertain to your research topic and theme. This section forms an indispensable part of your proposal so be sure to keep it impressive.
This section shall involve all the methods and techniques that you will be utilising to collect the relevant data to back your research and shall accordingly be mentioning the sources of data to be gathered as well.
6. Expected Outcomes
The outcome or the result that you are hoping to achieve from your research will be listed in this section.
7. Time Span/Time Frame
You need to provide with an estimated or approximate time frame during which you will be successfully completed with your research and hence dissertation. The time span which will be consumed during the research period and the formulation of the dissertation should keep in line the time required to carry out the research overall and should be realistic so as to assure the supervisory committee of its advantage. In either case, whether the research period takes too long or is done in a relatively quicker time may arouse suspicions in the minds of the supervisory committee. So, calculate the time frame realistically.
8. List of References
It is of extreme importance that a complete list of references is cited at the end of the document. Make sure that you are well apprised of the university’s guidelines on whether or not you should be writing the list of references in the end or not and then accordingly conclude your dissertation proposal.
If you are familiar with theses and writing a dissertation proposal, chances are that you are aware of the components and sections of a dissertation. A dissertation proposal can act as warming up tool and assist the student with an outline on how they should embark on their dissertation crafting venture.
Nevertheless, here is a quick review so that you do not jumble up:
The introduction chapter is supposed to include a background of the topic or problem for research and statement of the issue. Then you will move on towards justifying the rationale on pursuing this area of research and list your ultimate research question. Afterwards, you will be illuminating on the terms which might be used in the project and end this chapter with your assumptions and expectations of the final results.
ii. Literature Review
The literature review consists of your overall review on the research process and data and lists any acknowledgements you deem necessary to be mentioned.
This is a highly crucial section of your dissertation as it would describe whatever research you were able to gather and what findings you can discern from the gathered research. Any existing research or new unknown research can be mentioned.
Once you are down with all of the above sections, you need to summarise all of them into a thrilling conclusion which accurately justifies your purpose of research and compensates for all the effort and time put into composing the dissertation. You need to detail your findings and elaborate on how your research can prove beneficial to the academic community.
You can add a ‘suggestions for future research’ section where you can clarify how further research can be performed and is necessary to solve the problem at hand.
Cite all the sources you used to gather all the information and data in the recommended citation style given by your university. It will contain a list of all the books, journal articles, websites, newspapers and other sources that you have used in your dissertation.
Any tables, questionnaires or research methods or data used during the research process.
Once you are done with your dissertation, you need to proceed with the editing and proofreading process. This is a critical process and one which should not be taken lightly.
You can either seek help from some dissertation writing services or avail tips online. Plenty of tools are available on the internet which can help you correct any kind of errors present in your dissertation and also detect plagiarism. One of the worst-case scenarios is disqualification due to plagiarism in the project. So take no risk and minimize the amount of plagiarism present in your dissertation.
The road to submitting your final dissertation is filled with its obstacles but nothing is impossible in life. Panicking is inevitable but bears no fruit. With the right guidance, support and willpower, a student can definitely write a dissertation which ultimately acquires approval from the teachers and the peers and gains the student their doctorate.