A dissertation aims at producing an original piece of research work on a topic that is clearly defined. It is generally independent work during the undergraduate programme, unlike the thesis, which is for master's degrees. Students can pick a topic of their interest and work on it, which makes it a rewarding piece, unlike other regular assignments. There are some planning and research skills needed for this. Let us see some tips for teachers related to the dissertation format and how to write one.
Dissertation formats vary based on the topic, but empirical research in the field of social science has some particular elements in the format, which have to be followed. Here is the generic format:
i. Title page:
It has the name of the dissertation, your name, number, department name, institution and the university's logo, the degree program to which you belong and the date of submission.
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ii. Acknowledgements (optional):
This section is to thank everyone who has helped you in completing the dissertation, like your supervisors, teammates, friends, or family.
This is the dissertation's summary in 150-300 words and is often compiled at the end. It has the topic mentioned, with the research aim, methods used, result in summarization along with a conclusion.
iv. Table of contents
It lists out the chapters, and subheadings along with the page numbers to give the reader an overview of your document and ensure ease of navigation.
v. Figures and tables list:
This will be an itemised number list that can be generated automatically with MS Word's Insert caption feature.
vi. Abbreviations list:
This will be a list of abbreviations in alphabetical order for the ease of the reader to find the meanings.
It is a list of the specialised terms with a short description, that readers are not usually familiar with, arranged alphabetically.
It introduces the topic to the readers along with the research scope, relevance and what to expect in the next sections. The research questions and objectives are specified, and an overview of the dissertation structure is also provided.
ix. Literature review
This is done for grasping the existing academic work related to the topic. Hence, it involves collecting sources and selecting the most relevant ones, critically evaluating them to draw connections and make an overall point. Then, a new theoretical approach has to be taken to the topic to propose a solution to an unresolved issue. This helps in fortifying the existing knowledge with new data.
It describes the way in which the research is conducted to let the readers access its validity. So, it should indicate the approach and type of research, data collection and analysis methods, tools used, steps taken to overcome the obstacles faced during the process and justification of the methods used.
The research results need to be reported, by structuring them around the subquestions, themes and hypotheses.
The meanings and implications of results related to the research questions are explored in this section, with a detailed discussion.
This section answers the main research question precisely for the reader's clear understanding of the central idea and the research's contribution.
xiv. Reference list
This includes the sources used in the work, to be mentioned by following a consistent citation style.
Tips to be followed when working on your dissertation
Here are some tips to be followed while working on a Dissertation:
i. Writing schedule development:
The dissertation will have many chapters and milestones. So, to make the process easy, you need to break the thesis into smaller sections and simultaneously handle each section to make the routine handy. Setting deadlines for each of the tasks and gauging the time needed for completing them can be helpful. Choose the best time for actual writing when you believe you can easily focus on your work.
ii. Continuously writing:
Once you have the writing schedule, you need to get the maximum out of it. So, start without wasting time and make sure to keep it continuous. Any kind of discouragement should be avoided. For example, if you don't feel like writing, it is still okay to create a rough draft and later amend it.
iii. Revise your initial draft:
The first draft might not be necessarily perfect. So you need to rewrite, proofread and revise wherever needed, to develop strong arguments.
iv. Working on thesis and methodology:
A solid thesis and methodology are important before serious dissertation writing. The thesis acts as a guide and helps in creating strong statements to make the content better.
v. Deal with easier sections in the beginning:
You can't avoid difficult tasks in dissertation writing, but effective utilisation of time is important. So, if one section seems to be overwhelming, deal with the easier sections and get back to the tougher ones later. This keeps up the motivation to complete the dissertation.
vi. Ask for feedback:
Communicate with your committee to get feedback on your writing. This will make editing the dissertation content easier for you. It is recommended to sit with your supervisor/editor with the rough outline of your chapter and see if it works. In case someone is willing to read your partial drafts, it would be a perfect way to avoid feeling isolated as you write. In some cases, you might just need someone to encourage you, rather than provide any criticism of your writing. Negative feedback can be discouraging but, if you get any, try to take it sportingly and take a second opinion before making changes to your draft.
If you are writing a dissertation for the first time, it can be a tough thing, but the right guidance from teachers and a detailed idea about the dissertation format can make things easier. Follow our tips mentioned above to do thorough research on the topic and come up with the best dissertation.