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Enjoy Our Top Ten Dissertation Writing Tips

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1. Define and Frame your Topic Carefully

On a piece of paper, organise the different chapters and think about the main ideas you will develop in each. Think about what sources and quotes you can use in each part, how you will introduce your arguments and how you will transition to the following section. There shouldn’t be any repetition and you should develop your arguments in a logical way. Make sure that you remain coherent with the objectives you have fixed in your introduction.

2. Organise your Dissertation

On a piece of paper, organise the different chapters and think about the main ideas you will develop in each. Think about what sources and quotes you can use in each part, how you will introduce your arguments and how you will transition to the following section. There shouldn’t be any repetition and you should develop your arguments in a logical way. Make sure that you remain coherent with the objectives you have fixed in your introduction.

3. Pick a Familiar Topic

If your degree/ diploma includes a practical part, it can be useful to choose a topic related to what you have learned and observed in practical lessons, or relate it to your practical project. It will inform your research work and prove your tutors that you have acquired a deeper level of understanding. It is always safer to settle on a topic that you familiar with in some ways. On the opposite, if you decide to choose a completely new topic, you can quickly fall out of your comfort zone and you tutors might not be able to give you the same amount of expert advice.

4. Write your Literature Review

After your introduction, you should write a detailed literature review detailing the main research available on your topic. This will be your first chapter, and it should resume the research you have done on your topic as well as evaluate it. This is where you will demonstrate your knowledge of the area and how much you have learnt through your readings. It is, therefore, a crucial chapter and you should make sure it is well informed and that you are able to draw from a large variety of sources. You also need to evaluate the value of the evidence and compare them, rather than merely describe them.

5. Define your Methodology

When you reach the end of your degree or MA, you should be able to describe your methodology in detail, explaining what data you have used or how you have collected it, what theories you have used to interpret it, as well as why you have picked a particular method. Refer to the main scholars in your area and clearly define your key terms. Is your method qualitative and quantitative? Is your data based on available literature or was it collected on fieldwork? What disciplines do you draw from? Explain your method in detail.

6. Use Top Sources

The sources you choose will dictate your arguments and their quality. As a minimum, you should generally use 5-6 sources per 1000 words. Read through academic journals and books from academic publishers, and try to identify the best-known scholars in your area of research. Use recent research papers and pay attention to their bibliography lists. You might skim through dozens of papers and book chapters, and you will need to focus on the most relevant to your research. There is no point to include every piece of research; rather, you need to demonstrate your critical skills and select the ones that support your arguments.

7. Keep your Readers in Mind

Avoid long, complex sentences, create new paragraphs for each new idea or arguments and reference your quotes clearly and consistently, using the reference system recommended by your tutors. Explain technical terms, adding notes when necessary. Each chapter should be roughly the same size, and they should have clear titles as well as short conclusion summing up the main idea before moving on to the next. In addition, don’t forget page numbers and a table of contents.

8. Express Personal Opinions

Don’t be worried about bringing a personal touch to your writing and about expressing opinions, as long as they are backed up with evidence. Your dissertation should reflect your learning journey and the research you have done, and your tutors will want to see evidence of your own critical skills and reflection. The conclusion, in particular, can give you an opportunity to review what you have learnt, highlight your findings and talk about possible future research.

9. Keep Going!

A dissertation could be the longest essay you will ever have to write: it takes dedication and resilience. You might feel stuck and struggle to finish, and that is fine. The key to success is to never leave your research for too long, even if you are just reviewing a chapter or reading a research article. Keep the momentum going. If it gets too much, it’s fine to take a few days off, get a rest and get back to work. Stay focused, try to eat well and sleep well, and exercise. Don’t hesitate to contact your tutor or supervisor if you have any issues, and rely on your family and friends for moral support.

10. Review your Draft

Keep time to fully read and review your draft before submitting. You need to plan to finish it well in advance of your deadline and not to rush it at the last minute. This is a crucial stage: fully reading your draft will give you an opportunity to spot inconsistencies and repetitions, as well as proofread your work. Think about how your arguments develop and how your sections transition into each other. Have you used enough evidence for each part? Have you expressed yourself clearly throughout? Is there any more information that you need to add? This will truly make the difference between a simple draft and polished essay.

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