How To Write A Dissertation Using Secondary Data
A dissertation or thesis is a lengthy body of academic writing dependent on unique research submitted as a component of a postgraduate degree program.
The structure is dependent on the area; however, it is commonly separated into four or five chapters (incorporating an introduction and conclusion chapter).
The most prevalent dissertation format encompasses an introduction to the chosen topic in the sciences.
A survey of pertinent materials in the form of a literature review
a description of the approach
A synopsis of the research findings
An examination of the findings and their ramifications
A conclusion that demonstrates the value of the research
Dissertations in the humanities are frequently formatted rather like a lengthy essay, with primary and secondary texts analyzed to develop a position. One could arrange the chapters over alternative themes or case studies rather than the conventional format described below.
The title page, abstract, and list of references are crucial parts of the dissertation. A student should constantly review the department’s standards and communicate with the supervisor if they are unsure how to format their dissertation.
The title of the paper, institution, degree program, name, dissertation, submission date department, and all appear on the first page of your paper. The supervisor’s name, the institution’s emblem, and student number are typically included. Numerous programs have specific formatting criteria for the dissertation title page. The title page is used as the cover upon printing and binding. The title page is frequently utilized as the cover when printing and binding a dissertation.
The acknowledgments part is normally elective, and it allows one to express gratitude to anyone who assisted them in the composition of their dissertation. This could comprise the supervisors, participants of the study, and acquaintances or relatives who helped them.
The abstract is a brief description of any dissertation, typically between 150 and 300 words in length. Once you have finished the remaining section of the dissertation, you should compose it at the very ending. In a nutshell, keep in mind to:
Declare the research’s key topic and objectives.
Explain the techniques employed.
Compile a list of the most important findings.
Summarize your findings.
Despite its brief length, the abstract is the initial (and often only) element of the dissertation that anyone will examine, so it’s critical that you get it correctly. Check out our article on how to create an abstract if you are having trouble writing one.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Provide all of the chapters and subtopics and the respective page numbers in the table of contents. The contents page of the dissertation offers readers an idea of your layout and makes it easier for them to explore the material.
The table of contents should cover all portions of the dissertation, such as the appendices. In Microsoft Word, the author may create a table of contents automatically.
LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES
In case you employ many tables and figures in your dissertation, they make a checklist of them. Leveraging Word’s Insert Caption tool, you may create this array automatically.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
If the dissertation has many abbreviations, you can incorporate them in a list of abbreviations that have been arranged alphabetically so that the reader can seek up their contents quickly.
It is a smart option to incorporate a glossary if you have utilized numerous specialized phrases that your reader won’t be acquainted with. Rank the terms alphabetically and provide a quick overview or definition for each.
In the introduction, you establish the topic, aim, and significance of your dissertation, and you inform the reader what to anticipate from the remainder of the dissertation. The introduction must include the following information:
Identify your research topic by providing background information that will help you contextualize your study.
Define the boundaries of the investigation and focus on the topic.
Describe the current status of study on the subject, demonstrating how the work relates to a larger issue or discussion.
Thoroughly define your goals and research questions, as well as how you plan to respond to them.
Present an outline of the framework of your dissertation.
Anything in the introduction must be easy to understand, interesting, and pertinent to your research. The audience will grasp the what, why, and how of the research by the ending. Not sure how to go about it? Learn how to create a dissertation introduction in our tutorial.
LITERATURE REVIEW / THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
It would be best if you undertook a literature study prior to beginning your research to acquire a full overview of the existing academic work on your issue. This translates to:
Gathering and evaluating sources (for instance, books and journal articles) to ascertain which are the most pertinent
Reviewing and considering each source objectively
To make a larger argument, draw links between them (e.g., themes, trends, contradictions, and omissions).
It would be best if you did not only describe studies published in the dissertation literature review chapter or subsection but instead form a rationale and logical framework that builds to an apparent premise or elucidation for your research. It could, for instance, try to demonstrate how your research:
Fills a void in the literature
Approaches the topic from a novel theoretical or methodological perspective.
Recommends a remedy to an issue that has yet to be handled.
Contributes to a theoretical discussion.
With fresh data, it expands and develops old knowledge.
The literature review frequently serves as the foundation for a theoretical framework, in which you identify and assess the theoretical approaches, ideas, and concepts that your inquiry is framed by. Respond to descriptive research questions about the relationship between ideas or variables in this area.
The book fills a gap in the literature.
Takes a fresh theoretical or methodological view of the matter.
Suggest a solution to a problem that has yet to be resolved.
Makes a contribution to a theoretical debate.
It extends and enhances old knowledge with new facts.
The literature review often forms the base for a theoretical framework, in which you analyze the theoretical methods, concepts, and principles that are used to outline your investigation. Answer descriptive research questions in this section on the connection between principles or factors.
After that, you present the findings of your investigation. This part can be organized on sub-questions, assumptions, or subjects. Only include findings related to the goals and research questions in the report. The findings segment and discussion are kept away in certain fields, while the two are integrated into others.
For qualitative approaches like in-depth interviews, for instance, the presentation of the data is frequently interwoven with analysis and discussion, whereas in quantitative and experimental research, the findings must be given independently before discussing their relevance. If you’re doubtful, talk to your supervisor and examine example dissertations to see what structure works best for your research.
Charts, graphs, and tables are frequently valuable for the results section. Keep in mind how you want to exhibit your statistics, and do not incorporate figures or tables that echo what you have written – they must make a contribution to your text by offering extra information or purposefully envisaging the findings.
As an appendix, you can attach original versions of your data (for instance, transcripts from interviews).
You will dig deeper into the relevance and results of your findings with respect to your research topics in the discussion. You must address if the outcomes fulfilled your objectives and they match into the context you formed in previous chapters in this section. Offer insights if any of the outcomes were unforeseen. Contemplate alternative meanings of your data and talk about any restrictions that may have shaped your findings.
The discussion should include references to previous scholarly work to demonstrate how your findings fit with known information. You may also give suggestions for additional research or appropriate measures.
The conclusion of the dissertation must succinctly react to the key research question, rendering the audience with a distinct comprehension of your main point. End your dissertation with a closing commentary on what you have realized and how you have attained it. The conclusion routinely has research or practical proposals.
It is vital to show how your results advance to area information and why your research is vital in this part. What new information have you contributed?
In a list of references, you should incorporate precise data of all sources you have mentioned (at times also referred to as a bibliography or works cited). It is vital to stick to a uniform referencing style. Every style has its rules for how to structure your references in the bibliography.
Vancouver and Harvard referencing are the most popular styles utilized at UK universities. APA style is common among psychology learners, MHRA is common among humanities undergraduates, and law students always use OSCOLA. Review the criteria and consult your supervisor if you have any questions.
Only necessary information that impacts positively to addressing your research question must be included in your dissertation. Appendices can be utilized to include resources that do not flow into the main section of your dissertation (for instance, tables, survey questions, or interview transcripts.
Academic articles and Dissertations were traditionally authored in the third person and the passive voice; for instance, ‘A test was used to investigate…’
Numerous journals, nonetheless, have drifted away from that standard and instead need first person and active voice, which means you would have to write something like ‘I conducted an inquiry to assess…’
Before you begin writing, find out what your university’s criteria are.
If you cannot discover any, inquire about your supervisor’s or the individual who will grade your thesis’ interests. Ensure that the tone of voice and the persona remain constant continuously.
Whichever style you use, maintain your language clear and devoid of jargon. Whenever feasible, use short, more explicit words and statements. Brief sentences are preferable since they are easy to comprehend. Any sentence that extends above three lines should be erased or subdivided.
THE ROLE OF YOUR ACADEMIC SUPERVISOR
Your supervisor’s job is to keep an eye on your conduct. It is not to perform the task for you or instruct you on how to perform it.
Nonetheless, because their academic prestige is tied to the academic performance of the students they oversee, they have a personal stake in assisting you in achieving the best possible grades. As a result, you should not be humiliated or timid about approaching them for assistance if you are having issues or require advice.
Scholars have a tendency to address supervision in a very personalized manner. Others will be willing to spend a significant amount of time with you, discussing your study plans and developing discoveries. Besides being ready to read a draft of your dissertation, individuals will have very little engagement with you.
It is worthwhile to invest some effort in improving your rapport with your boss. It is also crucial to talk about and confirm with them precisely what they are willing to do to help you, including practical things like:
How frequently are they happy to discuss with you as part of your survey?
How soon will they answer emails requesting assistance or direction?
How long do they require to go over work drafts?
How many drafts are they willing to view? According to university norms, numerous scholars are willing to review a rough manuscript to ensure that you are on the correct route, followed by a more refined version.
Will they provide you feedback through email after reviewing a draft, or would they like to convene to review it?
One last tip of supervisor suggestions: switch supervisors if you don’t get along. However, do so as soon as feasible. No one intends you or your boss to have a dysfunctional relationship, but they won’t be receptive if you ask for a correction a few weeks before the deadline.
FORMATTING AND TEMPLATES
If your university has a prescribed dissertation style, especially if they provide a template, follow it! Keep writing in the template right away, or organize your work properly from the onset. There’s nothing worse than feverishly copy-pasting your work into a template 20 minutes prior to your deadline. The purpose of templates is to make your life simpler, not worse.
You will also have to arrange the references according to the institution’s guidelines. As you progress, it becomes simpler to do so. If the article is in Chicago, APA, or MLA format, you may utilize Google Scholar to structure it for you: search for the title of the paper, then click ‘cite.’ This will spare you time typing out all of the names, and it can also be utilized for other formats with small changes. But be careful: it isn’t always correct! Review the original source if something doesn’t seem right.
You will have to provide sufficient time to proofread your paper to ensure that you have not made any silly mistakes and that everything flows well. This will most likely take more time than you anticipate. It would be best if you also did this first thing in the morning, rather than the last thing at night once you are exhausted.
If practicable, identify a buddy or other student in a similar situation with whom you may exchange dissertations for reviewing. A fresh set of eyes are significantly more likely to discover flaws than those who know what it should say.
Many colleges compel their students to present their dissertations in English because it is the global language of academic writing. If you are not a native English speaker, this will be a drawback since your English would almost undoubtedly be inadequate. You have two options for dealing with this:
You locate a native English speaker, maybe a peer, who is keen to peruse your thesis for you and assist you to focus on improving your English (ideally at no cost, or at least for the price of a meal and a few refreshments); or you locate a native English speaker, maybe a classmate, who is inclined to read your thesis for you and assist you to focus on improving your English (ideally at no cost, or at least for the cost of a meal and a few refreshments); or
You will want to ascertain that you leave enough time for others to look through your task. No one wants to remain awake editing your work since you finished it too late, even if you hire them to do so. Many people also do not want to work on weekends. Permit at least twenty-one days for language editing by an expert.
STEPS IN WRITING A DISSERTATION
While it is crucial to devote enough time to organizing and arranging your written content at university, it is critical to prepare thoroughly for that all-inclusive dissertation.
From the minute you decide on a topic and create a title to the instant you submit it, you will experience sensations of enthusiasm, self-doubt, worry, and happiness.
Whether you’re working on your undergraduate, master’s, or a doctoral dissertation, the following tips should enable you to stay on track.
Pick a study topic that interests you.
It is critical that your research topic be interesting and relevant to you – possibly a concern that aligns with your professional goals and is relevant to academia.
‘Your dissertation is a chance to offer your concepts and opinions, research an issue in considerable detail, and integrate past knowledge. Choosing whatever you’re passionate about will keep you inspired.
If you’re stuck for insights, look through newspapers, academic journals, course materials, and other media channels to discover contemporary dilemmas in your profession and get suggestions for your dissertation topic.
You must collaborate with your supervisor to consent on a specific focus or research issue, taking advantage of their awareness of the research subject, relevant methods, and what you can accomplish in your timetable.
‘Think about why it is vital to address the topic you have picked.’ Consider how your results relate to your rationale for why this is a pertinent question or topic once you have summarized them.
It would help if you familiarized yourself with your department’s ethical guidelines, referencing style guides, and module handbooks to avoid missteps. Ensure you know what is required of you before you start planning. You must learn about your subject’s academic writing style, the word count, and you must present your dissertation.
You are ready to compose a dissertation proposal once you have decided on a theme. The methodology, introduction, and literature review will be simpler to approach if you show how your study area is pertinent. ‘The goal of your dissertation and how you plan to conduct your research are outlined in your proposal.’
Adhering to a plan can assist you in staying centered on your research without becoming overambitious, increasing your prospects of generating a powerful and cohesive argument. Getting to know where your thoughts are going can help you stay on course and make only pertinent points.
If the trend changes, it is no obstacle to changing your strategy; however, your title, headings, and body will need to be updated. Speaking with your supervisor about your updated dissertation strategy or framework might enable you to keep engaged in the research and assess if it is sensible.
It would help if you account in time for the following tasks when determining what has to be completed before the final submission:
reading and researching
collecting and categorizing data
restructuring and reorganization
drafting and rewriting
after printing, ensure you bind
Experts recommend Gantt charts as a good tool for structuring the research and writing stage for some writers; this cautious method can be honored by the eventual outcome.
When you strive to form the story, your writing aids you in understanding the topic, and as you have a deeper understanding of it, your insight, perspective, and focus will shift. Editing can be the start, not the finish, of your writing process.
You must routinely back up your work, take research notes, and keep a detailed record of your resources.
Regular monitoring of what you’ve studied and where it originated from can spare you hours of work in the future. It is hard to recall where inspiration comes from, especially when you have stacks of books and folders bulging at the seams with journal articles.
It is crucial to keep a vital and questioning perspective all through the dissertation writing process, both in terms of your research and discoveries and those of others.
Try to consider how persuaded you are of a view or rationale, why you are sure, and whether there are any possibly legitimate options.
You must also provide the reader with an explanation of your reasons. As the author, you may believe that the rationale for a certain point is self-evident, but this may not be the situation for anyone learning about the subject initially. If you do not show how you came to a specific conclusion, an examiner will not give you credit for making a compelling case.
Ensure you are attentive to the accurate spelling of names and concepts in your bibliography, in addition to having lots of references.
To ensure that you generate a well-structured, cohesive, and professional piece of work, you must go through a rigorous editing process. Allow enough time to interact with your writing on a variety of dimensions, from reassessing the overall rationale of the article to editing and double-checking that you’ve given importance to details like the appropriate reference structure.
Make it apparent to the audience that you’re cognizant of the inputs of the most prominent concepts and studies within your field, in addition to guaranteeing your main argument is backed by pertinent citations, as failing to do so may make a writer seem ill-informed.
There is no reason to despair if you have managed your time well and followed a strategy, even if something does not go as planned. Keep in mind that you choose your dissertation topic after thorough deliberation. Therefore any unreasonable notions about restarting from the beginning should be ignored. Maintaining focus on your goal will allow you to be delighted with your work. Your dissertation is an opportunity to research, develop knowledge, and solve an essential topic within your profession.
Your dissertation may, in the end, be one of your most significant accomplishments. It will be challenging at times to finish your dissertation, but if you make the best of the situation, you will reflect back with enthusiasm.