Writing An Outstanding Dissertation – A Comprehensive Guide
Writing a dissertation can be a completely foreign experience for many students. Not only is it much bigger in scale than any other paper they’ve written in their academic careers, but it requires that they do their own research instead of simply summarizing the research of others as is often the case for coursework papers. Luckily, there are a few easy steps that you can follow to make the whole experience much less intimidating that will help you to produce a top notch paper at the end of it. Follow this comprehensive guide:
- Pick the right topic
- Pick the right advisor and committee
- Do a literature review
- Write your methodology first
- Make your discussion section meaningful
Picking the right topic can be one of the hardest parts of the process. The biggest issue around topics that most graduate students run into is that they choose a topic of an inappropriate scale. Even though you’ll likely have several years to complete your research, many students end up choosing a topic that is much too broad to cover in the time they have.
Depending on your program you may or may not have much control over this. You should, however, try to pick people who you feel are going to be helpful and an asset to you in your research.
The first main thing you should do in your research is to do a preliminary literature review to understand what work has already been done around your topic, or where there are holes that your research could fill in. If at all possible, try to do this preliminary literature review before you settle on your topic.
One of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success is to write a detailed and comprehensive methodology for yourself before you even begin your research. This will ensure that you have a sound methodology before you put in any work to carry it out. It will also give you your ideal methodology, or what you should be doing assuming nothing goes wrong. Of course you will probably have to make some changes, but starting out with a good methodology to work from will ensure that you stay on the right track.
Too many students make their discussion section a slightly beefed up version of their results section. Make sure you are thoroughly and meaningfully discussing your results and what they mean.
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