Dissertation & Thesis Guides

How to Write a Dissertation: Step-by-Step Guide & Tips on Writing

how to write a dissertation
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Students are typically required to write a dissertation when pursuing a doctoral degree. A dissertation is a major research project that allows students to demonstrate their expertise and make a significant contribution to the existing theoretical knowledge. Writing a dissertation involves conducting original research on a specific topic and presenting key findings in a structured, scholarly format.

Writing a dissertation or thesis can be a complex and lengthy process even for a graduate student. It requires a high level of preparedness, which is why our dissertation writing service is here. But producing a truly valuable and innovative study is even more challenging, prompting us to help you learn how to write an effective dissertation. 

In this step-by-step guide, we will explain how to write a dissertation or thesis and make it astounding. 

When Do You Write a Dissertation or Thesis?

In the United States, you must write a dissertation to complete a doctorate degree, while a thesis helps to earn a Master’s degree. This also applies to most universities around the world. Sometimes, a student may be expected to complete a thesis for their Bachelor's degree, which will help them form the basis of academic research, thus requiring time and dedication. You must be prepared to conduct extensive analysis of the topic, draw conclusions, and write a thesis. Let us now look into the basics of completing this type of paper.

Understand the Basics Before Writing a Dissertation

To begin writing your dissertation or thesis, you must understand its primary purpose. A PhD thesis serves as a comprehensive record of your research and the results that follow from it. This document aims to validate your scholarly competence in your field of study and to present a detailed description of the research experiments, theories, and conclusions you have developed.

Before you create your study, you will need tips on writing a dissertation to begin your research, devise a plan of action, and start the actual writing process. It is important to understand that PhD dissertation writing requires you to be organized and self-disciplined. You must plan ahead of time, thus ensuring enough period to write, research, and evaluate results. 

Your ability to write a good dissertation just like a capstone project will significantly impact your overall grade and, in some cases, determine the completion of your university program.

How to Write a Dissertation Step-By-Step?

You most likely need help with understanding how to write your dissertation since it significantly differs from the previous academic assignments you have done. The process can be daunting: from selecting a topic to submitting the paper, you might experience feelings of euphoria, self-doubt, and anxiety. Every thesis writer can, however, overcome these fears by spending some time learning more about them. 

We have come up with steps to writing a dissertation or thesis that will help keep you on track while preparing a stellar practical document. Let's get started!

Alternatively, you can seek expert academic help from our professional writing service. Send us your requirements along with ‘write my dissertation’ order and our qualified writers will provide you with a custom study.

How to write a dissertation according to structure

1. Come Up With an Original Topic

Students are often advised to choose dissertation writing topics they find interesting. Selecting an original title is essential since it will form the foundation of your thesis. Depending on the field of study, you can find research sources in the library, online databases, and other places. However, coming up with dissertation topics can be tricky and difficult, so there are some characteristics of a good topic that we provided below to guide you in writing Ph.D. thesis or dissertation:

  • Relevant to your field of study: The topic should be closely related to the field in which you plan on pursuing further research.
  • Original: Present a unique and novel topic idea that has not been explored before.
  • Manageable in terms of the amount of time available to complete it.
  • Interesting: Write your dissertation on a current topic that will engage the reader.
  • Feasible: It should be achievable to complete the work in the given time frame, and there should be enough available resources related to the chosen subject.

One example of a good topic is "The Impact of Social Networking on Mental Health."

This dissertation topic is original and interesting and can also be managed by completing research within a reasonable time frame.

An example of a bad topic is "The Influence of Weather on Human Behavior."

This topic is too broad, and you might not manage to finish your paper within a reasonable period.

You must discuss your dissertation writing topic with your professor, thus ensuring it aligns with your thesis requirements. This will guarantee that you start your writing project being on the right track and that you can complete it successfully. The advisor will also ascertain that you write a dissertation or thesis that meets the academic guideline, which will help you avoid a situation where you might have to resubmit your paper.

2. Do Preliminary Research

Before you write a dissertation, you must conduct in-depth research on the literature. Preliminary research includes searching and reading relevant books, journal articles, research papers, and other sources to get an overview of the study area. This will enable you to gain knowledge about the topic and how it was addressed in the past. It will also help you identify potential gaps your dissertation can fill. Taking notes is critical in this step since it organizes your thoughts and ideas, thus ensuring that the thesis flows adequately. We hope this helped you understand how to write a high-quality dissertation.

3. Write a Research Proposal

A research proposal is an essential document in which you outline your dissertation's topic, objectives, and research methods. This step serves as a plan for writing a dissertation or thesis and provides details for how each part will be carried out. A dissertation proposal helps define the project's scope and ensures that it remains focused on your line of research. It also enables you to identify potential problems early on and plan accordingly. 

To prepare an effective research proposal, you must understand the topic and structure your ideas logically. Additionally, it is crucial to have detailed information about your sources and ensure they are reliable. 

A well-structured research proposal will demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about the subject and understand how to convey a proper investigation into it. It will also enable you to gain insight from your supervisor on whether you are doing what is expected, which is necessary for writing a doctoral dissertation.

4. Develop a Research Question

Learning how to develop a research question is essential for understanding how to write a Ph.D. dissertation. A well-framed research question should be specific, focused, and manageable. It should also be relevant to your field of study while simultaneously being exciting and original. As such, you must spend sufficient time on this step since a good research question will guide the rest of your dissertation writing. 

An example of a proper research question is:

What are the most effective strategies for preventing teenage pregnancy in low-income communities?

The question focuses on how to prevent teenage pregnancy in a specific demographic. On the other hand, below is an example of a bad question:

What is teenage pregnancy?

It is an awkward research question. This question is too broad, and the answers provided may be too general. As a result, it lacks direction for further research. With this knowledge, you can write your dissertation or thesis with a workable research question to help you fully focus on the writing process.

5. Prepare a Literature Review

Dissertation writing requires you to conduct an in-depth literature review of the research related to your topic. This stage is critical for any dissertation since it provides the basis for further analysis. As such, it is vital to do a thorough study and read as much as possible on the relevant topics. Evaluating the different sources for their reliability and accuracy is also essential. This will help you ensure that any information presented in your dissertation is valid and reliable.

Once you have gathered all the necessary information, it is important to synthesize the existing research, thus developing a comprehensive overview. This will allow you to identify areas where further investigation is needed, which can be used in creating your project.

To successfully write a dissertation or thesis, it is essential to identify a research gap in your field of study. This means you need to spot a need or area where no previous research has been done and then use your thesis to fill this niche. This will help you develop an original topic and produce a successful thesis that will ascertain you score a good grade.

Check our guide on how to write a literature review for more information. By following these steps, you learn how to write dissertation with a relevant literature review. We also prepared a blog on how to write a literature review outline with various examples.

6. Create a Dissertation or Thesis Outline

A well-structured dissertation requires you to prepare a thesis outline to present all the information coherently and comprehensibly. In writing an effective dissertation, a good outline will help keep you organized and on track to meet your goals. It should include a list of key topics, the research approach, and the evidence to be included in each section.

The outline should also contain the structure of your dissertation, subheadings, and a timeline to provide a framework guiding you in writing the thesis and ensure that all sections are adequately covered. It's essential to make sure that the headings and subheadings are easy to read and understand, as this will improve the overall flow of your work. Your outline should also include references, which will be used to provide evidence for your arguments.

By following these steps, you get to write an outstanding dissertation or thesis, thus scoring good grades.

7. Conduct Your Own Research or Experiment

To write your thesis or dissertation, you must collect data and verify existing theories related to your topic. You may also need to develop new theories in support of your research and conclusions. The data collected needs to be analyzed, interpreted, and presented logically to support your conclusions. Additionally, your research should be backed up by reliable evidence and examples. 

In case you are conducting an experiment, you need to ensure that the sample size and methodology are appropriate for your study. This way, you will write a dissertation that is well-grounded, convincing, and backed up by evidence.

1. Prepare a Study Design

A good research design will allow you to effectively collect relevant data, analyze it, and draw meaningful conclusions when writing a doctoral thesis. You must design a research strategy appropriate for your topic. This involves deciding on the best methods, such as conducting surveys, questionnaires, interviews, or experimental designs. Make sure that the research instruments are valid and reliable for your study.

You should craft a methodology chapter to explain your chosen methods and how they were applied. Your dissertation methodology chapter should address the research design, data collection methods, sampling techniques, and data analysis procedures. This will provide an overview of how your dissertation was conducted and make it easier for readers to understand the results. Following these steps will teach you how to write a dissertation with a practical study design.

2. Gather and Analyze Data

Data required to write your doctoral dissertation can be collected through qualitative or quantitative methods

  • Qualitative research methods involve collecting data from interviews, surveys, focus groups, and participant observations. Through these methods, you can gain detailed insights into people's experiences within a particular context. 
  • Quantitative research methods involve collecting numerical data that is amenable to statistical analysis. Examples include surveys, experiments, and quantitative observations.

Once you have gathered the data, you need to analyze it to complete this step. Statistical analysis may be required for quantitative data, while qualitative analysis is often used for qualitative data. 

It would help if you also used appropriate data analysis software, such as SPSS or Excel. Finally, present the findings of your data analysis and conclude the discussion section of your thesis. This way, you can write a quality dissertation or thesis well-supported by data and analysis.

8. Introduce the Results

Your efforts in writing dissertation or thesis will help you present the results of your research in an organized and transparent fashion. In the results section, you will need to briefly overview your research findings and explain how they relate to your theoretical framework. 

It should also be noted that you should not go into too much detail in the results section. Instead, it would be best to point out the most critical findings in concise yet comprehensive summaries. For instance, if your study is about an experiment that investigated the effectiveness of a new medication for treating anxiety, then you can present the results by writing a summary of the key findings, for instance, this way:

The new medication was found to be more effective for reducing anxiety levels than the placebo.

Similar approach will help you develop a comprehensive results section that readers can easily understand, ensuring you write an astounding dissertation.

9. Discuss Your Key Findings

Once you have presented your results and their implications, it is vital to guarantee that readers clearly see your research's overall picture. You must make sense of the data and explain why specific findings are significant. In other words, you need to interpret your findings, making them meaningful for readers. The dissertation discussion chapter is meant for this purpose. Discuss your findings in detail, outline what value they brought, and how they align with the theoretical framework of your study. 

For example, let's say you make a dissertation conducting a study examining the effects of mindfulness meditation on stress levels. You found that participants had significantly lower stress levels after eight weeks of mindfulness practice. To make this finding meaningful, you must explain why this is remarkable and what it suggests for future research. 

For instance, you might write:

The findings of this study indicate that mindfulness meditation can be a useful tool for reducing stress levels, which could lead to improved overall well-being and quality of life. Future studies should explore the long-term effects of mindfulness on mental health outcomes.

>> View more: Research Topics on Mental Health

By providing an interpretation of your results, you make it easier for readers to make sense of your findings and understand the implications of your research. This section substantially helps you in creating a dissertation that provides your professor or research committee with a well-rounded and meaningful answer to your research question.

10. Write a Dissertation Conclusion

The conclusion is vital when writing your dissertation or thesis as it is the last part of your paper that readers will read. It is essential to leave them with a lasting impression. To ensure your conclusion for thesis is effective, you should include key elements in summarizing your research and discuss its implications.

A template for writing a dissertation conclusion includes the following:

  • A summary of the main findings of your research.
  • An overview of how the findings relate to existing literature or knowledge in the field.
  • Links between crucial findings and any recommendations for future research.
  • A brief statement that will state how results can be used in practice.

The closing paragraph should respond to the main problem statement. In Ph.D. thesis writing, an effective conclusion will include all the points previously mentioned in the paper while also providing concluding thoughts for the reader to understand the results of the research. This allows readers to appreciate the significance and value of your findings and how they can be used in practice.

Students might ask themselves, "how do you write an effective dissertation that leaves readers with a lasting impression?". Following the guidance provided in this step will definitely help you achieve just that and make a difference in ensuring that your work stands out.

11. Develop an Introduction Chapter

The next step in how to write a great dissertation is preparing an introduction. First, it outlines what readers should expect to learn in the rest of your work. The PhD thesis introduction chapter should provide a brief overview of the paper, including your research question and objectives, the methods used for data collection and analysis, key findings, and implications. Additionally, it can be helpful to introduce any relevant literature that directly relates to your topic. This is a great way to give readers some context on how your work fits in with what is already known in the field. Lastly, the introduction should include a brief outline of what readers can expect to learn in each chapter. 

This helps readers keep track of the dissertation's structure and provides an overview of key points discussed. By knowing what to include in your introduction, you can ensure that readers will have a clear understanding of your thesis, its purpose, and potential contribution to the field. 

It is important to note that most dissertation writing guides suggest that you prepare the introduction and dissertation abstract last since it is the best way to ascertain that your introduction is practical and transparent, covering all necessary points.

12. List References and Sources

When writing a dissertation or thesis, it is essential to list sources as it allows readers to gain insight into how the research was conducted and how conclusions were reached. It is also crucial for students to cite their sources to demonstrate how their work builds upon existing knowledge in the field. Additionally, listing references can help readers verify facts and check your paper for accuracy. 

There exist multiple different formats, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago style, that can be used for that purpose. It is essential to check the specific guidelines set by your institution or journal to ensure that you cite your sources and format references correctly. 

Having an accurate list of references also allows readers to quickly refer back to sources when they consider how your research is connected to the broader field. With the knowledge we provided in this step, you should be equipped with knowledge on how to write a good dissertation list of references.

Dissertation Writing Style

  1. The dissertation writing style should be consistent and professional.
  2. It is universally recommended for your papers to be written in an active voice since it emphasizes the researcher.
  3. You should also use past tense when describing your own research since it is completed beforehand.
  4. Present tense, on the other hand, should be used when discussing existing theoretical knowledge in your field of study, other people’s research, or in the analysis section.
  5. Future tense suits for discussing the implications of your findings and predictions.
  6. Having a consistent tone and voice throughout your dissertation will help readers follow your argument more easily.
  7. Paying attention to style and readability can help write dissertation that is easier to read.
  8. Incorporating simple sentence structures, avoiding jargon, and proofreading to eliminate errors can help make sure that your work is well-written and professional.

The guidelines on style guide students on how to write a doctorate dissertation that meets submission requirements.

Tips for Writing Dissertation

If you still find it challenging to write a dissertation paper, we have more useful information that can guide this writing journey:

  1. Create a timeline and stick to it to ensure that you take appropriate steps toward completing your dissertation promptly.
  2. Break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks, making them easier to finish.
  3. Set aside time for research, note-taking, and writing, thus ensuring that you stay on track in your writing.
  4. Get feedback from your supervisor or mentor to ascertain that you make good progress in the right direction.
  5. Ask for dissertation writing tips from your peers or other experts, which can be a great source of information throughout the writing process.
  6. Take regular breaks to avoid burnout and keep yourself focused and motivated over the course of working on your dissertation.
  7. Proofread your work to make sure that there are no errors while editing when necessary.
  8. Keeping track of all changes you make to your dissertation can help ensure that important information is not lost during the writing process.

These tips for writing a dissertation will help you prepare an excellent thesis that meets the requirements of your institution.

Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Your Dissertation or Thesis

Now that you have learned how to write a doctoral dissertation, we are providing some common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Procrastinating Putting off the writing process leads to delayed submissions and revisions, increasing stress levels in the long run.
  2. Writing without an outline or checklist Developing a dissertation outline or checklist can help track how far along you are in your writing process and know what tasks need to be accomplished, thus allowing you to write a good dissertation or thesis.
  3. Not taking breaks Regular intervals can help keep your mind fresh and energized, thus avoiding fatigue or burnout during the writing process.
  4. Ignoring feedback Getting feedback from your supervisor or peers is essential to produce a successful dissertation, as it can help identify areas for improvement.
  5. Forgetting about formatting Ensuring that all of your references and citations are correctly formatted according to your institution's standards increases your paper's overall quality.

This list of common mistakes can, in a certain sense, act as a dissertation writing guide to ensure that your work is of the highest quality and meets all requirements set by your institution.

Dissertation Writing Checklist

A checklist can be helpful when writing a dissertation. Here is a writing checklist to help you guarantee that your thesis meets the requirements set by your institution:

  • My title page includes all elements required by the instructor.
  • The dissertation acknowledgements page contains a message thanking everyone who positively impacted the journey in writing the dissertation.
  • My dissertation table of contents covers all chapters.
  • My abstract is short and provides a brief introduction to my thesis topic, its relevance, and the results of my research.
  • Introduction offers an in-depth overview of the topic, methodology, and aims of writing the thesis.
  • The methodology section describes the methods and techniques used to research, collect data, and analyze results.
  • Included results that present findings from the investigation and analysis.
  • Discussion section goes beyond providing conclusive results, offers insights, and gives advice on the implications of my study.
  • A conclusion summarizes key findings of my research and writing process and presents ideas for further research related to my topic.
  • Reference list includes all sources used to research the topic.
  • Valuable documents that can't be incorporated in the main body are added to the dissertation appendix.
  • Proofreading is done to ensure there are no errors, omissions, or spelling issues in my writing.

Bottom Line on Writing a Dissertation or Thesis

Writing dissertations doesn't have to be complicated. With the right dissertation and thesis guide, you can guarantee that your dissertation meets all the requirements set by your institution and is of high quality. We have offered you a clear step by step guide to writing a dissertation and described some common mistakes to avoid, thus helping you write a good paper. Following these writing dissertation tips will help ensure your paper is successful. Your ability to master thesis writing can also give you an advantage in the job market since it is a skill that employers highly value. We wish you all the best as you get ready to begin your thesis writing journey!

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Article posted on:Feb 10, 2023
Article updated on:Feb 6, 2024


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