Now that you have completed your doctorate, it is time to write your final project – the dissertation. It tests students’ research capability and skills that they have gained throughout their overall learning at the university. Some people argue that writing a dissertation is the most challenging school project, as it requires extensive research and depth to show your understanding of your selected topic.
However, a dissertation is like any other essay and should not be treated with the fear that some students show. Although it may take a lot of time, energy, and willpower, fear should never be an option. Furthermore, you have conquered the hard part of learning, and therefore, a small part should not hinder you from scaling the ladder to your much-desired PhD.
A dissertation is written in 5 sections known as Chapters, which make them more straightforward and hence, easy to follow for the reader. Also, you have the freedom of choice on the topic to cover, which ensures you do not get lost in an unfamiliar subject.
Here are a few skills to help you shine in your dissertation:
Once you have identified your topic of choice, here is a chance to introduce it to your readers. The introduction part is labeled Chapter 1, where you state the problem to be investigated, the purpose of the research, and the research questions that will guide your writing. The questions should be particular and well-articulated according to your research topic. This section essentially answers the “what” question.
Here, you will be expected to give a general description, justify your argument and the conceptual framework. Also, you should offer a compelling case regarding the problem. You may include a purpose statement which states what you are researching and why it is crucial. If you had created an outline before the actual writing, drafting the research paper should not be difficult as you already have the whole idea of your paper in mind.
This section, or Chapter 2, brings together previous researches that have been written on the subject. It gives a background history of the issue, putting the current context into perspective and answering the “why” question. Critically evaluate and analyze each source and show how they connect.
You should not just summarize the sources but rather draw a connection and develop a clear structure that will justify your overall argument. Therefore, a literature review is the foundation of the current study, as it brings together known and unknown information regarding the topic.
The methodology is the third chapter of a dissertation. Here, you state the method you will use for your current study, which you already introduced in the first two steps. It explains the process that you will use to arrive at your answer by answering the “how” question. Also, it tests your ability to solve problems by showing how you will go about the whole problem.
You can reintroduce your research questions by giving a comprehensive approach and stating the type of research to use, either qualitative or quantitative. If you use mixed methods, make it clear at this point. Explain how you collected data, such as through surveys and interviews, and other approaches such as the relevant demographic information. Additionally, state your methods of analyzing data and the materials used. Basically, the methodology is an accurate report of what you used to arrive at your argument, which also doubles your thesis.
Now that you have given a report of the methods you used to reach your argument, this section or Chapter 4 of your dissertation shows the results. Briefly state each finding and include the relevant statistics to strengthen your argument. However, the results must be factual and contain complete information to make them clear.
The findings double up as the answers to your research questions you stated at the beginning of your paper. You may also include tables and other figures to help your audience understand the findings better. Make sure your results tally with your research and also state those that did not meet your expectations. The readers need to find out if your research question has delivered what it promised in the introduction, and thus, it is upon you to have practical results.
The discussion part of a dissertation tends to implore the implications your results might have on current research and the future. Unlike in Chapter 4, where you used tables and statistics to explain your answers, the discussion part is a deeper interpretation, describing how well they met the expectations regarding the current context. It tests your communication skills by explaining to your audience the meaning of your overall research in simpler terms. Thus, you need to explain what the results mean to you, why they matter, and any limitations you encountered along the way.
The discussion part also includes the conclusion, where you summarize your overall argument and restate your theoretical position. Finally, you conclude by giving recommendations for future research and the direction it should take. Some universities may ask you to separate this part into two; discussion and analysis. Therefore, you should find out the rules of your school regarding this part.
Besides the actual writing, you need to note the importance of referencing your work as it ensures each piece of information is attributed to its author. Doing so reduces the chances of plagiarism, which is grave academic misconduct. After completing your paper, include a biography list, which shows all the sources you used in your research.
Since a dissertation may be extremely long, it may require extensive research and subsequent reference to various scholarly journals. You, therefore, need to include all of them in your bibliography as part of source attribution. Other essential factors to consider are the abstract and acknowledgment, which come before introducing your paper.
If you follow the five steps, you may find it easy to organize your dissertation and get into the actual writing process effortlessly. Good luck with your upcoming dissertation writing!
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