Any postgraduate programme, especially those leading to PhD degrees, must have a dissertation as a necessary component. And what exactly is a dissertation? To put it simply, a dissertation is a report of a significant original research endeavor finished as the last prerequisite for a PhD degree.
Let’s first examine the word’s origins to have a clearer idea of what the dissertation means. The word dissertation comes from the Latin word dissertationem, which means discussing or debating (nominative dissertation or past-participle stem dissertare) (Online Etymology Dictionary). When broken down further, the word debate denotes a conversation including various concepts and viewpoints.
Therefore, a dissertation is a comprehensive piece of writing that analyses a topic and analyses several viewpoints (about the topic in question) based on original research. It exhibits the author’s command of the material, academic approaches, key details, and distinctive points of view. It also summarises the study and develops or emphasises the review point(s) that come from the first investigation.
What is the objective of a dissertation?
Unlike other module exams, a university dissertation is an autonomous learning project rather than an examination. To put it another way, every student can share their research and conclusions in answer to a research topic or proposal of their choosing. In reality, students receive support from their PhD advisors, but the lecturer or supervisor’s contribution is confined explicitly to an advisory capacity.
Dissertations typically provide students with the chance to:
- Investigate in-depth their area of interest.
- Show accuracy and competence while researching and debating a subject.
- For the first time, manage a significant project from start to finish.
- Apply the knowledge they gained in college in a more real-world setting.
- Learn about the creation of knowledge.
Students must complete a dissertation to evaluate their knowledge of independent research and other university-acquired abilities. Most significantly, dissertations contribute to a student’s final grade and are often completed at the end of a PhD degree.
What constitutes a university dissertation’s structure?
It goes without saying that a university dissertation’s whole material will not be provided in a single section. Whether your dissertation is 100 or 300 pages long, it should be divided into logical chapters or parts to follow a particular pattern.
Remember that a dissertation is akin to your first academic book and a chance to publish. In this regard, books follow a particular format, and your work must follow the same rules. A well-written dissertation will typically have five (or sometimes six) chapters that should be handled wholly and briefly.
These parts consist of the following:
Section 1: Introduction
The dissertation’s topic, goal, and significance are all explained in the opening section, along with a summary of what to expect in the body of the paper. It serves as a teaser by outlining the action’s what, how, and why. Generally speaking, the opening must be concise, engaging, and pertinent to the study.
Briefly stated, the introduction must to:
- Indicate the research’s goals and objectives in detail and how they will be achieved.
- Describe the research question and provide background information to place the study in perspective.
- Limit the focal region and define the research’s scope.
- Describe the dissertation’s organisation briefly, giving a sneak peek at the following chapters.
- Describe how the selected topic still has value today.
Section 2: Literature review
The literature review is a thorough assessment and synthesis of research that has already been done on the chosen subject. It frequently serves as the foundation for the theoretical framework, where you study the main ideas, hypotheses, and models that guide your research.
In conclusion, a literature review needs to demonstrate how the study:
- Fills in the gaps found during the assessment and analysis of previous research.
- Uses current and latest theoretical and methodological approaches to the subject.
- Enhances a theoretical defence.
- Suggests a suitable answer to an issue not addressed by earlier research.
- Add new information to the knowledge already known.
Step 3: Methodology
The techniques and methods suggested and utilised to gather and analyse data are described in the methodology section. The reader may evaluate the validity of the complete procedure thanks to the description of the research’s methodology. The main goal is to correctly describe the research’s scope and persuade the reader that the best techniques and strategies were employed to address the study’s questions and objectives.
The methods section often contains the following:
- The vital details on the location and timing of the research. Details on the research participants are also included.
- The general methodology and research strategy adopted (e.g. experimental, ethnographic, quantitative, or qualitative).
- Methods for gathering data (e.g. surveys, interviews, or archives)
- Techniques for data analysis (e.g. discourse analysis or statistical analysis)
- Equipment and supplies utilised in the research (e.g. lab equipment or computer software programs)
- A list of the difficulties encountered throughout the research and how they were resolved.
- Finally, a thorough analysis and defence of the techniques employed.
Step 4: Results
A thorough report on the findings that are most pertinent to the study question and goals is provided in this part. The section often lists research-related findings that are expressly related to the hypothesis.
As a general rule, the results section needs to contain the following information:
- General inferences are drawn from the research’s findings.
- Materials or details that will make your findings easier for the reader to grasp.
- Tables, charts, and graphs that help visualise the findings would enhance the text’s usefulness.
Charts, tables, and graphs are occasionally helpful additions to the results section. Don’t include them here, though, if they are redundant or have no bearing on your study subject.
Step 5: Discussion
In some disciplines, the discussion is the final chapter, whilst in others, it is the penultimate portion. Just as its name suggests, the discussion portion provides a discussion or interpretation of the findings. It puts together pieces and threads from the literature reviewed, the methods applied, and the outcomes displayed.
The topics covered in this section include:
- Did the outcomes match what was anticipated based on the study question?
- How do the findings broaden the existing body of research on your topic?
- Have you discovered any surprising findings? If so, give a thorough justification for what transpired.
- Alternative data interpretations that highlight the more significant implications of the findings.
- Acknowledgement of any restrictions that may have influenced the outcomes.
- Recommendations for future research or practical action
Some PhD candidates write a separate chapter just for their findings, suggestions, and further study.
What are the Effective Dissertation Writing strategies?
- Organise your time first. Create a timetable for the day and specify your deadlines. Determine how long a section or chapter will take to write. Select the time and begin working on it. You’ll be able to do this within the allotted time if you do it in this manner. If you have a deadline nearby and don’t have time to complete your dissertation assignment, you can get dissertation help online. These services are eager to provide students with instant assistance.
- Keep in mind that the initial draft of your dissertation is not the finished product. Verify your text numerous times for errors. This will force you to be more specific when describing your augmentations.
- Leave the introduction till the conclusion. Try composing the central body first to give yourself time to collect your thoughts. As you have been working on the introduction for a while, you will be able to deliver it clearly in this way.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to ask your boss for input. Try to share your study work more frequently and far sooner than the deadline to give yourself plenty of time to correct any mistakes. You can avoid having to rewrite multiple chapters and parts.
- Use a reference manager to save time and make it simpler for you to cite sources.
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