What is dissertation, writing?
Writing a thesis or dissertation is a daunting prospect, something that many Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD candidates dread. Even after years of schooling, having to put together and defend a long piece like this is a huge job. In fact, it’s one of the most intimidating things that many students will face in their careers.
Fortunately for you, many people have come before you, so you can learn from their wealth of experience on this subject. This article will share the three most important general tips to help you get ready for writing your dissertation or thesis.
Ready? Let’s get started.
The fundamental — and maybe most important — part of writing a dissertation or thesis is the ideas that form the foundation of the whole exercise. That’s why it’s so important to have a solid theoretical framework for your project before you begin.
Ideally, you should be thinking in advance about your thesis or dissertation in the months and years leading up to it. When it’s time to get serious about moving forward and writing, take some time to do a “brain dump”. Write down all your ideas, concepts, and thoughts related to your project on paper. Consider arranging this in a mind map to allow for linkages to be explored. Some people even like to create an online bank of ideas or flashcards with thesis topics so that they have access to important information at any time and can review the information easily.
To refine your ideas further, make sure to have plenty of conversations with colleagues and instructors. Ask for honest feedback, and be prepared to revise your ideas based on this. Your adviser should be a constant help throughout this process.
2. The Proposal
The next step in writing a dissertation or thesis is the proposal: a document that you will submit to your adviser detailing your plan. The proposal has two main goals. First, it serves as a framework to help you plan for and think critically about your project. Second, it allows your advisers to critically evaluate and provide feedback on your ideas before you fully dive into the work.
Your proposal should have a strong line of reasoning that links your work to the field in general, but extends an existing idea or introduces a new one. At this point, it’s important to be realistic about scope. Most people aren’t going to discover cutting-edge new material in their theses; instead, focus on small advancements.
If you’re having trouble with your proposal, you may need to take a step back and do more brainstorming and outlining. It may also be a good idea to read through some of the other proposals made by people in your field to give you a better idea of the standards.
Once your proposal has been accepted, it’s time to move on to writing. In general, it may be best to start writing with the sections that you are best prepared for. Some people, for example, may want to begin with the conclusion and work backwards towards the introduction. Getting started with the easy sections will make the rest come more easily.
Drafting a table of contents and outline early on can also help guide you through the writing process by reminding you to explore certain topics and explain linkages that may otherwise be overlooked.
Try to write in a clear, straightforward style. Academic writing, in general, is valued for clarity over flowery language (unless you’re in literature, eh?).
Also, remember that your proposal doesn’t bind you to a certain path. If your research leads you down a different road than you expected, you should by all means follow it — but it’s probably a good idea to consult with your adviser first.
These tips won’t write your dissertation or thesis for you, but they should help. Now it’s up to you get started. Good luck and let us know how the thesis writing goes in the comments!
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