Final year stress takes its toll on all students. Therefore, it is a good idea to create a dissertation checklist allowing you to revise all key aspects prior to the final submission. The following questions and answers summarise the most critical elements that should be taken into account during the last-minute checks.
How should you format the dissertation?
The general rule here is to strictly follow the requirements provided by your university. Revising them before proofreading your draft may reveal some critical elements missed earlier. Most dissertation documents must have clear sections with appropriate subdivisions. These are preceded by a table of contents, a list of figures, and a list of tables. If you submit your document as a PDF file, it is recommended to embed the fonts properly to ensure that all characters are displayed correctly.
Which tense should the dissertation be written in?
Most tutors expect to see the past tense in the sections where you report your findings or discuss your methodological choices. The past tense may be used to present the outdated and discarded facts and contrast them with the ones that are currently accepted as true and are referred to in the present tense. Similarly, it is possible to introduce the findings in the past tense while using the present tense to discuss their implications. You may also use future tense for dissertation proposals or for providing possible research directions in the conclusion.
How many references should my dissertation have?
Universally accepted rules include 1 reference per 100 words of your thesis. While this figure provides a good starting point, the actual ‘reference count’ may depend on the standard you seek to attain as well as your research topic. For example, a Distinction work of 15,000 words relying on the appraisal of multiple theories may contain more than 150 references.
Where does the appendix go in a dissertation?
Appendices are used to provide the relevant background information related to your dissertation topic. Often, this information is too extensive or cumbersome to be included in the main body without disrupting the main discussion. Traditionally, this section is placed after the bibliography and the reference list and is referred to throughout the dissertation. Make sure that you include appropriate sub-sections, figure and table names, and other identification elements that guide your readers to the specific information presented in the appendices.
How can I improve the final mark?
Most tutors advise focusing on the key contributing elements of the overall rating such as methodological clarity, independence of thought, and originality. However, the proper use of grammar and language usually form 5 or more percent of the final mark. Therefore, extensive proofreading before the final draft submission may really improve your work standard. A mere 1% change from 69 to 70 points can shift your standard from upper second class to first class. Another good idea is to allocate sufficient time to writing and revising the ‘less significant’ elements such as the dissertation abstract. While most students do not consider them extremely important, these parts may actually be the first ones studied by the markers and the dissertation committee. Make sure that they form the positive first impression of your work.
What submission procedures may I expect?
Every student has to undergo a plagiarism check prior to proceeding with the defence. You will also need to prepare three or more copies of your thesis in hard-bound or spiral bound format. The second option may be more convenient since you may need to change certain pages or introduce some last-minute amendments. Make sure that you strictly follow the rules set forth by your university. You should have at least three days reserved for this and other formal procedures.
Who will mark the dissertation?
Usually, dissertations are double-marked by independent markers and ratified by the Board of Examiners. This is necessary to minimise potential bias coming from individual markers. It also ensures that the Board can alter their marks if they consider the judgement of the markers inaccurate. In some universities, project supervisors may be excluded from the marking process, to maintain a higher level of objectivity.
Who attends a dissertation defence?
The dissertation defence is usually supervised by the dissertation committee, headed by a chairperson. Firstly, you will present the synopsis of your findings, methods, and theoretical and practical contributions. Then, its members may ask additional questions related to your topic or the broader area of study. Additionally, your defence may be visited by other academic attendees and even your family members or fellow students. Make sure that you review the key theories and concepts related to your topic to answer any unexpected questions.
Can your dissertation be published?
It is certainly possible for your dissertation to be published. Research projects involving years of work and producing highly relevant practical results should not go unnoticed. Most dissertations have the potential to be transformed into academic publications such as journal articles. However, this may require focusing on the findings and narrowing the scope of the discussion to fit the required format. You may also want to implement the suggestions voiced by your dissertation committee prior to publishing your results. This should help to make your contribution more relevant.
Completing a Masters or a PhD thesis is a challenging goal that requires extensive preparation and effort. The omission of these steps is one of the primary reasons for failing to submit a strong piece of work or receiving a low mark. Make sure that all formalities have been dealt with in advance to avoid unnecessary stress. It is wise to compile a dissertation checklist that is suitable for your particular work or university requirements using our suggestions as an inspiration. If you experience any difficulties while writing your dissertation and need professional advice, try our custom dissertation writing service.