UKDiss
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UKDiss

How to Write a Dissertation

Writing a dissertation can be a daunting task. It takes a lot more time, effort and skill than writing a degree level essay.

Here we provide you with some guidance to help you complete the task.

General Tips

  1. Manage your time effectively. You will be working to a deadline on a substantive piece of work. All the while, the world keeps turning and day to day activities and life events still happen. Make a timetable of everything you will be doing from day to day from now until your deadline — family/relationship commitments, weddings, birthdays etc. and work on your dissertation in between. Aim to finish with plenty of time left to proof-read and redraft where necessary.
  2. Know your subject. You will need to have, or acquire, in-depth knowledge of your subject matter and the dissertation process. Good sources of knowledge include peer-reviewed articles, conference reports, unpublished dissertations, and research books.
  3. Research, research, research. It can be easy to become frustrated by the sheer amount of research required to write a dissertation. Even with in-depth knowledge you should build on what you already know and enhance your skills with further research. Be persistent, self-motivated, and think creatively.

Subject Area

The first thing you need is a subject area. To make things easier on yourself this should be something you are interested in. Ideally, the subject will not have been studied in depth before. In any case, your ideas should be your own and different to anything that has been written before. This will empower your original thinking and enable you to put forward a convincing argument. For ideas on potential subject areas see our guide on how to choose a dissertation topic.

Research

Once you begin, you should start your detailed research. Use every source possible, such as: books, and journals from your university library; city or town archives; e-books and journals from the internet; other dissertations.

Depending on your subject, you might also want to gather your own data using surveys, or field notes. You will need to analyse and compare any data collected and compare different datasets and opinions to determine which argument you consider to be the strongest.

Writing Style

When writing your dissertation, you should be very clear and concise in the language used. The writing should be obviously academic and avoid simpler expressions that would be acceptable in an essay. Although a dissertation will have a higher word count than an essay, remember that you will be covering a lot more information and detail. Something that might be covered in a paragraph in an essay could span multiple chapters in a dissertation. Keeping your writing style concise makes it easier to read your material.

Make sure you read the dissertation guidelines thoroughly to ensure you also adhere to style guidelines in the use of tables and charts etc.

Proof-reading

Once you have written your dissertation you should give yourself a break. Take a week or two before coming back to proof-read. You should make sure you include time for this when setting your timetable.

Be honest with yourself when proof-reading and ask your supervisor for advice if you feel the need. Make sure your arguments are as well written as they can be and question whether they still hold true after the time away. Make any amendments that you feel are necessary.

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