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The Ultimate Dissertation Guide

Dissertation-writing is a combination of art and craft. On the one hand, university committees usually base their appraisals on the novelty of your topic, the interesting choice of study participants, and the practical contribution of your research. These are the things that make or break dissertation projects and should be your key focus with writing your work. On the other hand, the devil is in the detail and we have seen many students lose valuable points or going through multiple re-writes due to missing some important elements related to submission requirements or format requirements. When you have invested months of hard work in a single endeavour, you may feel tired, absent-minded, and willing to get over it as soon as possible. The key to overcoming this ‘last mile’ barrier is to use a clearly structured plan to be 100% sure that no critical elements have been missed. The following dissertation check-list covers all key aspects you need to inspect to leave no room for failure.

 

 

Dissertation: Tactical View

The next checklist explores all aspects that need to be considered prior to submitting your dissertation. It will be most valuable when you have already completed your document draft and are preparing it for final submission. The recommendations in the check-list address all key parts of dissertation projects. However, you should also revise your dissertation requirements since some universities have custom requirements in terms of submission procedures, referencing styles, document formatting, and the use of visual materials and appendices.

  1. Make sure that all essential sections of the work are included. These are Abstract, Acknowledgements, Table of Contents, Lists of Tables and Figures, Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, Analysis and Findings, Conclusion, List of References, and Appendix.
  2. The Abstract is usually the first part of the dissertation which is placed before the table of contents but is written last. The abstract is a short overview of the whole dissertation which provides the very gist of the research and its main outcomes.
  3. The Acknowledgements are also written after finishing the main text of the thesis so that you could have a chance to acknowledge those who helped you in your research or supervision.
  4. When writing Acknowledgements, common courtesy is to express gratitude to your tutor, the members of the committee, your faculty, and any other people who helped you with writing your work.
  5. If necessary, provide a list of Acronyms and/or Definitions before your main body to facilitate readability.
  6. The Introduction chapter shows the relevance of the topic, the background, formulates the aim and objectives and shows the structure of the study. You may want to revise it after completing the dissertation to make it more specific and enticing to the readers.
  7. The Conclusion summarises the work by showing whether the aim and objectives were attained in the study. Make sure that all of them are discussed with reference to your results and prior studies.
  8. The main chapters of the thesis expose in detail what is done in the study and how it is done. The narrative should be logical and consistent, critical and without mistakes.
  9. Your Literature Review must clearly outline the key theories you rely on and present the conceptual framework of your study. You may want to revise its contents to better align them with the overall course of your dissertation.
  10. Including a table of key theories and authors at the end of your Literature Review may be a good idea for improving readability. It also makes referring to them easier when you are writing your Discussion chapter.
  11. The Methodology section must have a table of variables for a quantitative study and a clear description of all utilised methods and instruments.
  12. Make sure that you have discussed all threats to validity and reliability.
  13. Your analysis process must be clearly defined. Ideally, any other researcher in your field must be able to follow it and obtain similar results.
  14. The Analysis chapter must include all key figures and tables presenting your results.
  15. The Discussion should refer to all critical sources and theories from your Literature Review.
  16. The Conclusion and Recommendations section must revise your objectives and clearly demonstrate how you addressed them.
  17. The text of the thesis should be formatted according to the requirements of the university; make sure that each page, as well as each table and figure, is numbered.
  18. Check if the Reference list includes all sources mentioned in the text and is consistent in style through the work.
  19. All tables and figures should have headings and be referred to in the main text. Also, if they were taken from other sources, these sources should be mentioned below the tables and figures, as well as in the reference list.
  20. Make sure that your Appendices contain all relevant elements such as questionnaire forms, informed consent forms, additional figures, and interview transcirpts.
  21. Read your dissertation from the beginning to the end in one sitting. Your text should lay out a clear line of argument following a consistent flow at the level of sentences, paragraphs, and sections.
  22. Add signposting wherever possible to make your dissertation more articulate even for non-specialists.
  23. To write a 1st standard dissertation, you should outline the key contributions to academics and practitioners.
  24. Discuss all key limitations of your project in detail.
  25. Check the word count for all sections if it is specified by your university requirements.
  26. Make sure that you have all signed informed consent forms necessary to confirm your compliance with the ethical standards of your institution.
  27. Try to open your dissertation file on several computers before submission. This will allow you to identify any bugs or compatibility problems.
  28. If possible, submit the document in PDF. This will ensure its integrity and compatibility with most computer systems.
  29. Check if all figures in your document are embedded JPG or PNG files. Avoid using cross-referenced elements in submitted work.
  30. Proofread all text and format spacing and font consistently. Use both electronic and printed copies to avoid the ‘bleary eyes’ effect.
  31. Check your title page and its formatting.
  32. Analyse your implications for practice and make sure that you have suggested sufficient examples of how your dissertation findings may be valuable to industry practitioners.
  33. Suggest future research directions and clearly outline how your fellow researchers can expand your analysis and address its limitations and knowledge gaps.
  34. Write the necessary declarations such as the statement confirming that you are submitting this dissertation paper for the first time and other applicable documents required by your university.
  35. Leave at least three days for binding your dissertation to reserve the time for any page replacements or similar changes.

 

Dissertation: Strategic View

While the previous section suggested a way to quickly improve the standard of your already completed work, the best way to correct any mistake is to not make it in the first place. Writing a dissertation is the pinnacle of your academic life as a student; so, you definitely want to do it right and produce a high-quality paper. However, many students pick the wrong course even before they write the first sentence of their future work. Correcting such problems during the ending phase of your project will not radically affect its outcomes. This is why we have also included the following tips on making the optimal strategic decisions for your dissertation and managing your expectations.

 

1. Select Your Topic Carefully

Choosing a research topic is perhaps the most important decision any student takes when getting started on the dissertation. Here, students usually struggle for ideas since there are so many areas in existing research that could be further explored. A good piece of advice is to research academic journals, course materials, newspapers and other media to prepare a short list of what topics you find meaningful and engaging. After the topic is selected, take your time deciding whether it is important enough to tackle and what will be the focus of your research. Although it may seem irrelevant at this stage, you should also think of appropriate methods. This can save you a whole lot of time and effort as realising that the topic you have selected is not feasible for analysis is very discouraging.

 

2. Check What Is Expected of You

Make sure to study your university’s module handbooks and ethics protocols to avoid some silly mistakes, which would lower your marks. You should have a good idea of how academic writing in your discipline looks like and what word count should be allocated to each dissertation chapter. Also, take a look at format requirements such as font types and sizes, page margins and referencing style. Remember that the devil is in the detail and what may seem trivial at first sight can have a strong impact on the overall quality of your dissertation in the end.

 

3. Get the Right Supervisor

Having the right supervisor can give you a great advantage in writing your dissertation. If there is a choice, consider someone who has a reputation for getting students through. You should select the most academically and socially engaged supervisor who really pays attention to the requirements for the degree, clearly understands the process and can provide you with the right advice. If you struggle to understand your tutor and still have questions on the dissertation writing process, don’t be shy to apply for our tutoring service. Some supervisors simply don’t have enough time to give a quality consultation to each student.

 

If we could provide a single recommendation on how to write your dissertation, we would suggest that you should thoroughly plan it from the onset. A well-designed research project is a self-fulfilling prophecy that virtually writes itself into existence. You start with a well-designed and unique topic that is supported by realistic and measurable objectives that can be addressed with convenient and reliable methodological instruments. It still takes time and effort but the amount of back-and-forth is rather small and you can easily plan your dissertation work and seamlessly integrate it into your personal life without major conflicts. Many students reverse this order and start with writing some sections of their projects while revising their research objectives or adjusting their topic along the way. This strategy is clearly sub-optimal and will never result in a coherent study with a clearly outlined main argument. Hence, your primary goal is to seek professional guidance and lay this foundation right. 15 Writers team are happy to offer expert help with dissertation writing and share our know-how in achieving top marks. Don’t hesitate to check our sample dissertations to make sure we provide the best academic service in the UK. You can start with a dissertation proposal to avoid the risk of ordering a full project at once.