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A Complete Guide on Dissertation Writing and Formatting

Your professor has already announced the D-Day (dissertation hand-in day)? Hurray, you’re almost at the end of a vital stage of your academic career. Yes, this phase won’t be an easy one but you’ll definitely get reward for all your efforts. This is the opportunity to convince the committee that you do have capacity and skills to carry out research in your chosen discipline. Remember a stack spiral bound papers with of 10,000 words will be squatted on the desks of the evaluators. Make your dissertation the shining gem in rough so that you can win the marathon of attaining academic success.

How? Well, lot of help out there for you.

A Complete Guide on Dissertation Writing and Formatting

Follow this step-by-step guide and wow the evaluators with an outstanding paper.

  1. Don’t rush! Organize your time and make a plan

Remember dissertation is the most important task that you’re going to undertake during your academic life. In short, your entire future depends on this. It’s not easy to reflect your 3 years’ learning in couple of pages. Moreover, the sword of deadline is hanging on your head. They only way to accomplish this task successfully on time is to begin with a proper planning. Here’s how you can do it.

  • Use your time effectively

You must have heard of the proverb “time management is the key to success”. Yes, this is applicable for you too. Create a time schedule and allot time to each phase of dissertation writing. Suppose you have 20 days’ left to submit your dissertation, you can do it in the following manner:

  • 1 day for reading the instructions
  • 2days for planning
  • 4 days for research
  • 1 day for organizing data
  • 10 days for writing the paper
  • 1 day for formatting
  • 1 day for revision

This advice may seem redundant to you but it really works. Make sure that you stick to the schedule you’ve prepared.

  • Plan how you’ll proceed further

Now, it’s time to make a robust plan for your dissertation. Determine the following things:

  • Your dissertation topic
  • Which aspects of the topic you’ll focus on
  • Research methods and tools that you’ll adopt
  • Word limit (approximately) for each chapter of your dissertation.

If you know how you’ll proceed, the task will become much easier for you. Otherwise, you may get confused and fail to prepare that perfect dissertation.

  1. Go through the guidelines provided by your department/university

Next thing you need to do is to study your university norms very minutely. Do not take this part casually. Otherwise, you’ll regret later. Different universities have different requirements regarding dissertation and most importantly, they are very particular about their specifications.

If you miss out a single requirement, you may lose your grades. So, read the guidelines several times. You can highlight the important sections for your own convenience. If you’re failing to understand any instruction, you can clarify it from your professor/supervisor. He/she will definitely guide you.

  1. Remember certain things while choosing your dissertation topic

Choosing a topic is the most crucial and confusing stage of dissertation writing. The success of your paper depends on how relevant and unique the topic is. Thousands of ideas will keep buzzing in your head. But you can’t pick any topic randomly. Consider the following questions before finalizing your dissertation topic.

  • Do you have adequate knowledge about the topic
  • Are you comfortable with the topic
  • Is there enough scope to carry out an in-depth research
  • Does the topic seem interesting to you.

Don’t hurry. A single mistake can ruin your career. Don’t select a topic that seems complicated to you. Always go for a simple topic. Yes, you can find out an interesting approach to deal with the topic that you have chosen.

  1. Conduct an in-depth research

This is one of the most important stages of dissertation writing. Remember you’re going to develop your dissertation based on your research. It has to be empirical and methodical. This is the scope to show your research skills. You can’t afford a single mistake. Here are some tricks that can help you carry out the research successfully.

  • You have to work smart. You don’t have an entire year. The dissertation has to be submitted within the stipulated time. So, make a timeline for research and stick to that. This will make the task much easier
  • You don’t have to read everything in detail while doing the research. It will gobble up much of your time. Just go through the main points to save your time. That’s enough to understand the main concepts discussed in a paper
  • Keep a diary with you and take notes while conducting the research. Another thing you need to do is to make a list of all the sources for your own convenience
  • Find out unique sources of information. You can use Google scholar. Don’t rely on sites like Wikipedia. Double-check all the information to be on the safe side
  • Do organize all the resources. Otherwise, you’ll get confused.

Don’t take this stage casually. Otherwise, you’ll regret.

  1. Read, read and read!

Well done, you’ve accumulated all the resources. Take a short break and start reading them with a fresh mind. Note down all the important points. You can highlight the sections from where you’re going to paraphrase the content. If you face any confusion, do ask your guide. He/she will definitely help you out. Do not procrastinate. Otherwise, you’ll be unable to accomplish the task on time.

  1. Frame your research question/s

Now, it’s time to prepare the research question/s. Research questions indicate which slants you’re going to adopt while dealing with the topic or main concept. Don’t rush. Take your time and compose the questions. Make sure that the question/s you have posed are relevant, unique, simple and clear. There are many types of research questions including:

Question types Samples
Descriptive What are the main features of x? What does it look like?
Defining What phase of the development x is in? How it can be characterized?
Comparative What are the similarities and differences between x and y?
Explanatory What is the consequence of x? How did that occur?
Normative How appropriate is X? What are values of x?
Problem solving What steps can be taken to solve problem x?
Testing What impacts does x have on y?

Your research question should reflect the main topic or theme. If you’re not confident enough, you can consult with your supervisor/guide.

  1. Do the writing keeping all the norms of dissertation in mind

You already have a plan. Now, it’s time to execute that. This is a vital stage and it requires a lot of efforts. So, roll your sleeves up and get to work! Come on, you have to pass with distinction.

  • Create an outline

Wait! Don’t start drafting the paper. Prepare a detailed outline of the dissertation first so that you don’t get confused. This is the most effective way to come up with a well-organized dissertation. The outline should look like this:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Acknowledgements
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Discussions
  • References
  • Appendices

Brief overview of each chapter

Here, we’ve included brief discussions on all the chapters of a dissertation for your better understanding. Have a look!

Title page

In this section, you have to include the following information.

  • Title of your paper
  • Your name
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your university’s name
  • The degree you’re acquiring

Abstract

Abstract is basically a succinct summary of the entire dissertation paper. It may be the shortest section of your dissertation but you have to be careful while drafting this part. This is the first thing the committee is going to read. So, your abstract has to be impactful. Different universities have different requirements regarding the length of this chapter. Check your university norms before you begin writing this part.

Acknowledgements

In this section, you have to thank all those persons who have helped you carry out the research and write the dissertation. Several samples are available online. You can go through them.

Content

This section includes a list of all the chapters. Do check your university guidelines while composing this section.

Introduction

The introductory chapter of your dissertation should inform the readers what is going to be discussed in the paper. You’ve to include background information in this section as well. This section also needs to represents the objectives of your research. It has to be interesting so that it can convince the audience to read the entire paper.

Literature review

This is the section where you need to outline the earlier work on the topic you’re dealing with. This chapter has to be comprehensive. It is better to adopt a comparative approach while composing this section.

Methodology

Here, you have to discuss all the research methods and tools that you have adopted. You can use instances in this section to explain your views. If you are finding issues, you can take expert help.

Results

This section should throw light on the outcomes of your research. It is required to discuss all the findings in detail. Include examples and evidences if required.

Discussions

In this section, you are required to answer the research questions that you have prepared with reference to outcomes of the research. You have to explain everything in detail here.

References

Here, you have to make a list of all the sources that you have used. You can use any of the citation formats like APA, MLA, Harvard, Oxford, Chicago, Vancouver, etc.

Appendices

Here, you can include additional information (facts, charts, tables, questionnaire, etc).

  • Adopt a writing style that is recommended

Crafting a dissertation is completely different from writing a letter or composing a mail. You have to adopt a formal tone while writing your dissertation. It has to be written in passive voice and third person. Keep your language simple, straightforward and jargon free. Try to incorporate terminologies as much as you can. Use short sentences to make the write up more crisp and appealing. We’ve enlisted some phrases that you should avoid below.

Don’t use Use
Due to the fact Because
In addition Additionally
Whether or not Whether
A considerable number Many
  1. Follow the thumb rules for formatting a dissertation

Congratulation, you’ve successfully drafted your dissertation. It’s time to format it properly. Your university must have a required format for dissertation. You have to follow that. Otherwise, your paper may get rejected. So, read the formatting related guidelines provided by your university very carefully and fulfill all the requirements. Here are some general guidelines for formatting a dissertation paper perfectly.

General advice:

Format your dissertation in MS word.

Fonts:  

Use a font which is very easy to read.

Recommended font style – Times New Roman, Arial, Times

Recommended font size – 10 to 12

Spacing:

Double spacing should be used (except footnotes, tables and indented quotations)

Margins:

Each page of your dissertation should have a one inch margin on every side (left, right, top, bottom). The page number can be placed outside of the margin.

Pagination:

All the pages have to be numbered except title page. Page numbers can be placed either at the bottom or top of the page. It is recommended to use lower case Roman numerals to number the pages.

Page size and orientation:

All the pages should be 8.5” X 11” and they have to be in orientation portrait.

Figures, charts and illustration:

All illustrations and images should appear within one inch margins. Do set the resolution for at least 300 dpi while saving or scanning the images.

Pro Tips:

  • Do use spell checker if you want to submit a flawless paper
  • Bold all the headings and sub-headings
  • Maintain consistency in the format
  1. Edit and proofread your dissertation to make it perfect

Don’t rush to submit your dissertation. Edit and proofread it so that you can remove all the unintentional mistakes. Check the following things while editing and proofreading your paper.

  • Capitalization of proper nouns
  • Tense
  • Capitalization at the beginning of the sentence
  • Use of passive/active voice
  • Compound nouns
  • Missing or redundant article
  • Over use of exclamation marks
  • Order of adjectives
  • Modal forms
  • Correct verb conjugation
  • Missing or extra letters

If this is not your cup of tea, you can get your paper edited and proofread by professionals.

Bonus tips:

  • Write a rough draft initially so that you can rectify all the grammatical, punctuation and syntactical mistakes
  • Switch off your mobile phone while working on your dissertation. Otherwise, you won’t be able to concentrate
  • There is no as such rule that you have to start with the introduction. You can begin with any chapter you want
  • If you get stuck in the middle of a chapter, don’t stress yourself. Move on to the next section
  • Be aware of plagiarism. Scan your copy through plagiarism checking tools so that you can submit an original paper. Many plagiarism detecting tools are available online. You can use them

If you’re running out of time, then the safest way is to take help from professional dissertation writing services.

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  • On-time accomplishment
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