A dissertation refers to a research project completed as part of a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree. The project aims to assess a student's independent research skills acquired during their time at a university. In a nutshell, a dissertation allows students to demonstrate their ability to define and outline a research area related to their course, source relevant information, evaluate the evidence, and arrive at a well-argued conclusion. While dissertations vary significantly, in nature and scope, most share some key characteristics.
For most students, this is the longest and most challenging assignment they complete at the higher education level. Hence, it requires months of research and writing (the library might become a second home).
A dissertation is submitted as the final assignment of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees completed in the final study year. A dissertation stands out as the most important assignment for any university student since it accounts for up to 70% of the final course grade. It is, thus, most definitely the difference between passing with a distinction or merit.
How do you write an impressive dissertation when you have limited time to formulate a comprehensive plan for such a significant project? Whether you are gearing up for your bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree dissertation, the following pointers should keep you on track. Check what's required: It is also crucial that you familiarize yourself with your faculty's coursework and referencing style as well as ethics protocols. Before you begin, you should also find out what academic writing looks like in your faculty, expected word count, accepted structure, forms of analysis considered appropriate, and when to submit your dissertation.
Carefully choose your research topic: Your research topic need to be something you find meaningful and engaging - perhaps an issue that fits your career aspirations. Also, consider why it is important to tackle the specific topic you have chosen. A dissertation presents an opportunity for students to showcase their ideas and consolidate previous ideas.
Have a clear goal and structure: Once you have settled on a research topic, you are now ready to write a dissertation. Formulating an outline or a plan will help you remain focused without getting stuck or wandering with your research. Having a clear goal and structure highlighted in an overview increases your chances of developing strong and coherent arguments.
Set Targets: When you are ready to begin writing, ensure to set suitable, achievable targets - for example, 1,500 words each week. Start writing straight away and use the writing process as a tool to aid you better understand the research topic. Spending too much time in the preparation stages will get you trapped in analysis paralysis.
Keep Questioning: All through the dissertation writing process, maintain a questioning and critical evaluation mindset. Ask yourself how strongly a given argument or interpretation convinces you and whether there are any potentially valid alternatives.
Do Not Underestimate the Editing and Proofreading Stage: Thorough editing and proofreading are vital to ensuring you produce a coherent, polished, and well-structured dissertation. Allocate sufficient time to engage with the dissertation at various levels - from reassessing, to proofreading, to checking format.
Most importantly, plan your time accordingly: The common mistake that students make is not planning their time accordingly and finding themselves rushing to complete the dissertation when the submission date approaches. As a result, they end up submitting poor-quality work. Factor in time for researching and reading, data analysis, drafting and redrafting, structuring and restructuring, as well as editing and proofreading.
Indeed, dissertations are the most important assignments for university students. The academic world tests students' understanding of their coursework, acquired research skills, and critical thinking developed through one's entire education life in one research paper. For this reason, many students feel pressured about writing their dissertations. When you are under pressure, it is hard to come up with ideas and form meaningful, coherent insights. Others want to write their dissertations but lack the time and energy or are aware of the fact that they might endure all the involved stress, but the final product may not be the best.
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