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What Is a Dissertation: Types & Tips on How to Write

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Sumeet Jain
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Imagine embarking on the challenging journey of writing a dissertation – a task that marks the pinnacle of your academic pursuits. A dissertation isn't just another academic assignment; it's a substantial and original research endeavour typically undertaken at the postgraduate or doctoral level. This scholarly achievement plays several pivotal roles within academia, primarily showcasing your mastery of your chosen field. It also assesses your ability to contribute new insights to it.

Unlike shorter academic tasks, a dissertation demands an exhaustive and systematic exploration of a specific research question or topic. You'll delve into extensive literature reviews, gather and analyse data, and draw meaningful conclusions. 

A dissertation is more than an academic challenge; it's a significant milestone in your academic journey, signifying your transition from a knowledge consumer to a knowledge creator. As the dissertation author, one has to delve deeply into the existing body of knowledge, identifying gaps and questions that require investigation. A dissertation proves your intellectual rigour, dedication, and contribution to the broader academic conversation. Yocket aims to guide you through this blog for an in-depth exploration of the various facets of a dissertation. Keep reading!

Table of Contents

What is a Dissertation?

Your dissertation represents the pinnacle of your academic journey, demonstrating your dedication, critical thinking abilities, and aptitude for conducting meaningful research. It's not just a requirement but a significant contribution to your field and the broader academic community. Let’s delve into some of the essential aspects of a dissertation and why you need it:

  • Original Research: Your dissertation is centered around original research. You'll delve deeply into a specific research question or topic, often involving experiments, surveys, data analysis, or comprehensive literature reviews.
  • In-Depth Analysis: Unlike shorter assignments, a dissertation requires thoroughly and systematically exploring your chosen subject. This involves an extensive examination of existing literature, meticulous data collection and analysis, and developing well-substantiated arguments.
  • Structured Format: Dissertations follow a specific structure on how to write it. It typically includes chapters like an introduction, literature review, methodology, data analysis, discussion, and conclusion. Each section has a specific purpose, conveying your research process and findings.
  • Contributing to Knowledge: Your dissertation should contribute to the existing body of knowledge in your field. It's expected to provide new insights, theories, or perspectives that advance understanding in your study area.
  • Academic Integrity: Dissertations must uphold the highest academic standards. This means adhering to rigorous research methods, ethical guidelines, and proper citation practices to avoid plagiarism.
  • Independence and Initiative: While you'll receive guidance and mentorship, your dissertation primarily results from your independent work. You'll need to take the initiative in designing your research, gathering data, and writing the document.
  • Evaluation and Defense: In many educational institutions, you'll defend your dissertation before a committee of experts. This oral defence lets you explain and justify your research methods, findings, and conclusions.
  • Publication Potential: Exceptional dissertations can often be published in academic journals or as books, further contributing to the scholarly community.

What are the Types of a Dissertation?

There are mainly two types of dissertations. They are:

  • Empirical dissertation 
  • Non-empirical dissertation 

Let’s explore more about the types of dissertations in a detailed manner:

  • Empirical Dissertation

In your postgraduate degree, you’ll encounter empirical dissertations that involve collecting data, possibly requiring you to follow professional and ethical guidelines when gathering information from the public. If you’re studying natural or life sciences, your dissertation may revolve entirely around laboratory work. 

This type of dissertation is known as an empirical dissertation. Such a dissertation strongly emphasises your ability to collect and systematically analyse fresh data. Your research methods might involve conducting experiments, surveys, observations, or fieldwork to gather original data. 

  • Non-Empirical Dissertation

In the case of non-empirical dissertations, you'll be building your work upon existing data and arguments presented by others. This likely means dedicating much time to extensive reading and research. 

Non-empirical dissertations, in contrast to empirical ones, do not entail the collection of new data. Instead, they thoroughly examine and evaluate pre-existing literature, theories, concepts, or case studies.

What are the Skills and Strategies Required for a Dissertation?

Irrespective of the type of dissertation you undertake and the topic you select, you will be required to demonstrate the following set of skills:

  • Defining and delineating a specific research area accompanied by a well-formed research question.
  • Discerning the primary issues related to your chosen subject.
  • Sourcing pertinent information from various sources.
  • Scrutinising the reliability and credibility of the information gathered.
  • Analysing evidence from multiple perspectives within a given debate.
  • Formulating a well-structured and well-argued conclusion.
  • Effectively organise and present your research findings in a critical, persuasive, and articulate manner while adhering to the prescribed formatting guidelines for your paper.

What is the Word Strength for a Dissertation?

The word count for a dissertation can vary depending on your university's guidelines. Normally, for -

  • For undergraduate dissertations, it ranges from 10,000 to 20,000 words. 
  • For master's degree holders, it is typically 20,000 to 50,000 words. 
  • For PhD dissertation scholars, it is  100,000 words.

Learn how you can apply for PhD in USA.

Tips and Tricks for a Good Dissertation

To perform well in your dissertation, Yocket breaks down a series of effective tips and tricks for writing a good dissertation:

  • Choose a Manageable Topic - Select a focused and research-worthy topic that interests you.
  • Start Early - Begin your research and writing in advance to allow for thorough planning and revisions.
  • Create a Structured Plan - Develop a clear outline or plan to guide your research and writing process.
  • Conduct Comprehensive Research - Review relevant literature and sources using academic databases and libraries.
  • Consult Your Supervisor - Regularly communicate with your advisor for guidance and feedback.
  • Maintain Clear Structure - Ensure your dissertation has a logical and well-organized structure.
  • Craft a Cohesive Thesis - Develop a clear and coherent thesis statement that guides your dissertation.
  • Proofread and Edit - Carefully review and edit your work for grammar, spelling, and formatting errors.
  • Follow Formatting Guidelines - Consistently adhere to your institution's formatting guidelines and citation styles.
  • Stay Persistent and Motivated - Maintain your motivation by setting achievable goals and persistently working toward them.

Conclusion

A dissertation transcends being merely a document; it stands as a symbol of the author's intellectual journey and capacity to contribute significantly to the collective knowledge of their field. It signifies the culmination of academic pursuits and marks the commencement of a new chapter as a researcher and scholar. A dissertation represents a significant intellectual endeavour and a milestone in a graduate student's academic journey. It contains months, or even years, of rigorous research, analysis, and critical thinking.  The dissertation stands as a reflection of the author's intellectual curiosity, their ability to formulate research questions, and their unwavering commitment to seeking answers. The growth as a scholar is evident throughout the dissertation. So, prepare diligently for your dissertation with Yocket premium and radiate brilliance!

Frequently Asked Question about What is a Dissertation

1. What is a dissertation vs thesis?

2. How long is a dissertation?

3. Does a PhD do a thesis or a dissertation?

4. What are the two types of a dissertation?

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