How to Write a Dissertation Paper

What is a Dissertation?

A dissertation is a piece of scholarly writing based on data or research collected by the author throughout their studies. It is meant to bring together all the skills that a student has acquired during their studies. The skills include methodological skills and research skills. You can also define a dissertation as the peak of the essays and assignments the students has written throughout their education. It involves data collection, synthesizing it, and converting it into an academic document. A dissertation can also be seen as a chance to explore the student’s field of study.

Students often face the following problems while working on dissertations:

  • An incapability of defining the dissertation and its goals appropriately
  • Postponing writing the dissertation until the last minute. Students think that they still have a lot of time to work on their paper, hence keep delaying starting the project. This becomes a major problem when they soon realize that the deadline is fast approaching. If you find yourself procrastinating, it is a sign that you require dissertation writing help. Lack of sufficient research skills
  • Insufficient writing skills. If you do not have sufficient experience writing academic assignments, you would be forgiven for thinking that academic writing involves just collecting relevant resources and quotes. What you do not know is that you are expected to thoroughly analyze those materials and discuss them in your dissertation paper.

Although these challenges may be overwhelming, we suggest that you read this guide to the end to find out ways to write this paper with less difficulty.

General Dissertation Structure

Writing a dissertation is considered as the most substantial form of writing in academia. It is probably the longest academic writing piece that you will ever have to write. If you are not sure about how a dissertation structure looks like, we will help you figure out the most significant sections of a dissertation paper and what they should contain. You should note that the actual dissertation structure depends on several factors including the preferred research approach, the research topic, and field of study. For example, humanities students develop their dissertations on the same structure as any long essay. This includes building a general argument to support your thesis statement and organize chapters around questions or theories.

However, if you base your dissertation on empirical or primary research, you will need to include each of the components below, mostly as a separate chapter for each component. But depending on the academic subject and word count limit, you may opt to combine some of the elements. For example, engineering and sciences students often present discussions and results within one chapter instead of two separate chapters. If you are not sure about the structure of your dissertation, it would be prudent to check your department’s rules or consult with your supervisor.

  1. Title Page

A dissertation has to begin with a title page that contains the details of the researcher/author, research topic, degree program, and your supervisor. You should also include your university’s name, logo, student number, and date of submission. Check with your department to find out the dissertation title page formatting requirements.

  1. Acknowledgements

This is the section that allows you to thank the people who helped with your dissertation project. You can mention the name of your academic supervisor, friends, family, God, and any other participant who contributed towards the successful completion of dissertation paper. Keep in mind that the acknowledgements section is not obligatory.

  1. Abstract

Depending on your field of study, you will be required to write an executive summary or an abstract of your research study. This is an opportunity for the author to write a summary or a digest of your paper. The executive summary or abstract section introduces the research question and dissertation topic that you intend to address before giving a brief synopsis about research methodology, major findings and conclusion.

  1. Table of Contents

The table of contents section of a dissertation paper’s purpose is to guide each section of the entire paper’s contents. You should list the most useful headings to give the reader the page where to find the information. Instead of doing it manually, you can auto-insert the table of contents using Microsoft Word.

  1. List of Tables and Figures

If you use several figures, tables, and illustrations, it is best to list them in a numbered list in a different section. As with the table of contents, you can auto-create and auto-insert a list of tables and figures using Microsoft Word built-in feature.

  1. List of Abbreviations

Dissertation papers with several abbreviation should have a separate and independent alphabetized list of abbreviations to enable the audience decipher their meanings.

  1. Glossary

If you think that there are phrases and terms in your dissertation that are unfamiliar to your reader, you can craft a glossary that has important terms and phrases with their meanings.

  1. Introduction

The introduction chapter concisely introduces the relevance and purpose of your dissertation topic. In this section, you will be expected to list the key objectives and purpose of research to make your readers understand the contents of the dissertation’s other chapters. A good dissertation introduction contains the following information:

  • Background information to provide context to your research
  • Clearly define the research question or problem you intend to address within your research. When formulating research questions, ensure that the research’s scope and focus are not too narrow or too broad
  • Demonstrate the relevance of your research and how it will contribute to existing knowledge
  • Provide an outline of your dissertation structure

All information presented in the introduction section should be engaging, clear, and relevant. Your readers should be able to figure out how, when, why, and what of the study after reading the introduction.

  1. Literature Review and Theoretical Framework

A literature review chapter states previous research carried out on the topic and expands your understanding of current literature on your dissertation topic. Usually, this is organized to support your primary research work done at a later stage. Ensure that your chosen sources of information are credible and current. This chapter should be comprehensive in nature and talk about the aims and objectives as stated in the introduction chapter.

The literature review chapter should aim to achieve the following:

  • Data collection from relevant and authentic academic sources such as research papers, journal articles, and books.
  • An analytical evaluation of the information gathered from those sources
  • Identification of major research theories, patterns, conflicts, and gaps to put your point across to the reader successfully.

Although a literature review is supposed to summarize previous literature, it is of equal importance to ensure that you present a comprehensive a structure or argument to validate your dissertation topic.

While you write a literature review, it would be useful to consider the following:

  • How does your research fill a particular gap in existing literature?
  • Did you implement a new research strategy while investigating the topic?
  • Is there a certain problem that your research will solve?
  • Is your research advancing an existing theoretical discussion?
  • Does the research build and strengthen on current knowledge within your study area?

Usually, your theoretical framework will be created out of a literature review. Your theoretical framework is expected to evaluate and define relevant theories, ideas, and models that will join the pieces together.

  • Methodology

The techniques and methods (primary and/or secondary) used to collect the research data are deliberated in detail in a methodology chapter. Primary data collection techniques that are mostly used include observation, focus groups, surveys, interviews, questionnaires, etc.

Basically, the methodology chapter permits the researcher to describe how he/she obtained the findings, their reliability factor, and how they assisted in addressing the research problem or testing the research hypothesis.

When writing methodology for a dissertation, consider the following:

  • Type of approach and research your work is founded on. Some common types of research include qualitative, quantitative, and experimental.
  • Data collection methods applied such as observation, focus groups, surveys, questionnaires, etc.
  • Details of what, where, when, and how for the research was done.
  • What kind of data strategies were used?
  • Tools and software used to analyze data, for example, SPSS, STATA, Excel, lab equipment, etc.
  • Limitations to research to underscore any challenges you overcame when conducting your research
  • Justification of your selection of research methodology and research approach
  • Findings

This is the section where you present your research findings. The chapter about dissertation findings is developed around the research questions, as stated in the introduction chapter. Your findings should be directly relevant to the research questions. Any other information that is indirectly relevant to the hypothesis or research questions, but can useful to the readers can be positioned under the appendixes.

Research findings can be presented as an individual chapter or combine it with the discussion chapter.  This option will depend on your type of research and your academic field. For example, while using qualitative research data, it is commonplace to have the findings and discussion in one section. Alternatively, dissertations using experimental or qualitative data should have their findings and discussion/analysis in two different chapters.

  • Discussion

The discussion chapter comes immediately after the findings. This chapter is perceived to be the heart of a dissertation paper. It is an opportunity for the researcher to tie the knots together and address the research questions and present key themes, models, and arguments.

This chapter does not need any new information or data. It focuses more in the meaning or interpretation of the data you collected and presented.

Think about the following questions when writing your discussion chapter:

  • Did your research test the hypothesis or respond to all the research questions?
  • Did you obtain some unanticipated results that you have to offer additional justification or explanation?
  • Are there limitation that somehow influenced your research findings?
  • Conclusion

The conclusion chapter presents conclusions consistent to each research objective. This is normally done by returning to the research questions to conclude the dissertation twist finally. Some institutions may particularly request for Recommendations to assess your critical thinking.

  • Reference List

Each academic source you obtained information from should have in-text citations and also included in a references list (or a bibliography). This is to make it easier for your readers to locate the source of information when required. You can format your reference resources using APA, MLA, or Harvard.

  • Appendices

Every dissertation chapter should contain relevant information. Any other information that is indirectly related to your dissertation topic that could be interesting to your readers should be in the appendices section, for example, interview transcripts.

How to Write a Dissertation

The following tips will help you develop your dissertation paper more easily

  • Carefully Choose Your Research Topic

It is important that your research topic is a subject you find meaningful and engaging. It may be an issue that suits your career aspirations and is significant to the broader academic community. Writing a dissertation is an opportunity to display your ideas and thoughts, explore an area in more detail and merge previous knowledge. You will be motivated throughout the dissertation writing process if you choose a topic that you are genuinely interested in.

If you are having problems with dissertation topic ideas, search newspapers, academic journals and other media, to recognize current issues related to your field and find some motivation for your dissertation topic. Also, work with your supervisor to agree on a focused research question as the supervisor has a good understanding of the area of research, suitable methods, and what you can achieve within your timeframe.

  • Check What’s Expected of You

You need to familiarize yourself with referencing style guides, module handbooks, and faculty’s ethics protocols to prevent any mistakes that could eventually be costly. Before you start planning your dissertation, ensure that you understand all that is expected of you. Try and establish:

  • What your academic discipline expects for academic writing
  • The expected word count
  • Where and when you should submit your dissertation paper

Furthermore, you should ask questions of other academic writing or dissertations in your chosen discipline, including:

  • How do you structure a dissertation?
  • Which sources should you use?
  • How will you use the sources?
  • What forms of analyses are deemed appropriate?
  • Have a Clear Structure and Objectives

Once you settle on a dissertation topic, you can proceed to writing a dissertation proposal. When you demonstrate the relevance of your research area, it will be easier to tackle the introduction, literature review and methodology sections. Remember that your dissertation proposal outlines the objective of the dissertation and how you plan to go about your research.

Sticking to a plan will help in maintaining focus without being too overambitious with the research. This will increase your chances of presenting a coherent and strong argument. Having an idea of the direction of your ideas will ensure that you only present relevant points and that you remain on track.

If you somehow shift your focus, you can adjust the plan, but also revise your title, headings and content accordingly. Talk through your reviewed dissertation structure or plan with your supervisor to maintain focus on the research and establish if it is reasonable.

Make sure you factor in time for:

  • Researching and reading
  • Collecting and analyzing data
  • Arranging and rearranging
  • Drafting and redrafting
  • Proofreading and editing
  • Printing and binding
  • Write as you Progress

When you are ready to start writing, you should aim for an appropriate target, for example, to write 1,000 words per week. This can be both productive and motivating. Start writing immediately and take the writing process as a resource to help you understand the topic better. After completing each section, check to see if you have addressed everything you wanted to cover. Every section should serve a specific function and link well with the rest of the dissertation content.

The writing process helps in making better sense of the research topic as you attempt to develop the narrative. As you continue to better comprehend your topic, you will also change your analysis, interpretation and emphasis. Remember to regularly back up, keep research notes and keep a detailed list of your sources. It is essential to keep track of what you have read and where you read it from as it can be really difficult to remember where you obtained your ideas, especially when reading a lot of books and journal articles.

  • Leave sufficient time for editing

A detailed editing process is crucial to ensuring that you produce polished, coherent, and well-structured piece of work. Leave enough time to go through your writing at different stages, such as, proofreading, checking for correct spellings of theories and names, referencing format, and re-evaluating the logic of the entire piece.

Other than ensuring that your primary argument is sustained by appropriate citations, also let the reader know that you appreciate the contributions of dominant research and theories within your research topic. Failing to do this might make you appear to be ill-informed.

Dissertation Paper Writing Help

Writing a dissertation paper can be quite difficult especially if you have insufficient research and/or writing skills. Once you find yourself in a dilemma on how to go about your dissertation, you can ask for help from a custom dissertation writing service. is a writing service dealing with different types of college and university academic papers. Contact us today and let us see how we can help you make your dissertation better. We can write specific dissertation chapters based on the data you provide or we can do the entire paper for you.

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