A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Write A Dissertation

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Write A Dissertation

Doing a PhD is not easy. On the contrary, it is one of the toughest things you will do in your academic career. And writing your dissertation is the most difficult task you will do during your PhD.

A dissertation is the longest piece of writing you will ever do in your life. It is also known as a thesis, and it is one of the major hurdles between you and your doctorate. Therefore, you need to get it right.

There are so many things to include and too many guidelines to follow. Your advisor wants every section to be perfect. Many people are excellent at research but are not so great when writing. Therefore, writing a dissertation can be very intimidating for them. They don’t know where to start, what to include in it and where each piece of information would go.

In this article, you will learn how to write a dissertation, different types of dissertations, and much more.

Types of Dissertations

Before we jump into the particulars of writing a great dissertation, let’s first look at the types of dissertations and how they differ.

There are three main types of dissertations you will need to complete based on the course you are pursuing. Here is a brief inspection of each dissertation type:

1.      Empirical Dissertation

You need to collect data in an empirical dissertation. You will be collecting data from the public and putting your ethical and professional guidelines to practice. It is based on a hands-on or practical study. The candidate will need to submit their research findings based on a survey, an experiment or an investigation. For example, you may conduct a survey on teenagers about the impact of social media on their lives. The empirical dissertations of life or natural sciences may be entirely based on lab work.

2.      Non-Empirical Dissertation

A non-empirical dissertation involves the critical analysis of the current work. In this case, the candidates base their research on the arguments and data already present in the literary world. They analyse other people’s work on a certain topic of their choice. However, the candidate needs to explore the practical applications and touch the grey areas in these previously conducted researches. They also need to explore the practical application of their findings.     

3.      Narrative Dissertation

These are the least common types of dissertations. This type is based on the information retrieved from an experiment the candidate performs. The entire experiment is narrated from the beginning to the end. For example, the description of a laboratory experiment, starting from its preparation to the trials and finally to the analysis of the findings.

 The Main Sections of a Dissertation

A dissertation is not like any other term paper. You need to follow a specific format and include all the important sections to be accepted by your advisor. Therefore, you need to plan it out before you start writing it. It will also help you divide your time among all the sections based on their length and importance. You must check which parts need to be completed first and what can be left to write for the end.

Different institutes may have different section requirements when it comes to dissertations. However, the following are the main sections all doctorate-level write a dissertation have:

  • The proposal
  • The abstract
  • An introduction
  • A literature review
  • The research methodology
  • The findings or results
  • A discussion on the findings
  • The conclusion
  • A list of references

How Long Should a Dissertation be?

The complete length of the dissertation depends on the level of study and the institution requirements. However, a general dissertation is 10,000 to 12,000 words long for undergraduate courses. For the Master’s level, the length should be around 15,000 to 25,000 words, and for a PhD level dissertation, you should be prepared to churn out at least 50,000 words.

It is the total length of the dissertation, including all the sections mentioned above. Let’s look at how much longer each section should be to make things easier. It will help you work better on your dissertation, and you will be able to add the right number of words to each section.

How Long Should a Dissertation Proposal be?

Write a dissertation proposal is the first document you will need to craft for your dissertation. It involves choosing your specific research questions and narrowing your topic of interest and research. Your dissertation proposal should include:

  • An abstract of about 100 to 350 words
  • A background or introduction of up to one page
  • A problem statement of up to one page
  • The research questions or rationale of research of up to one page
  • The literature review of about seven pages
  • An explanation of the methodology of about three pages
  • The implications and significance of your research of about one page
  • The timeline of your dissertation of about one page

Now you must know how long should a dissertation proposal be. So, let’s move on to the next parts and their suggested length.

What is the Ideal Dissertation Abstract Length?

While an abstract is the first section of your dissertation, experts recommend students write a dissertation this section at the end. The abstract presents a summary of your work. Therefore, you can only compose it once you have completed your research and have clear outcomes and results. In addition, the abstract is not very lengthy. Thus, keep things as compact as possible when writing this section. Most institutions have a strict word limit for the abstract section of the dissertation. The ideal dissertation abstract length is about 200 to 300 words. So, make sure you keep your writing crisp and to the point in the abstract.

What is the Ideal Length of Dissertation Introduction?

Once you are done with the proposal, the next step is writing the introduction of your dissertation. It gives the readers important background information and helps them understand the significance and relevance of your research. The main task to be accomplished in the introduction section of the write a dissertation is to identify gaps and problems in the existing research and formulate questions your study will answer.

The ideal length of dissertation introduction is about 10% of your entire dissertation word count. So, try to write about 15 pages in the introduction section. Please include various details to make it easy for your readers to understand the idea and need for research on your specific topic and questions.

How Long Should a Dissertation Literature Review be?

The literature review is one of the most important dissertation components. It involves the review of the current literature about the research questions you are following for your dissertation. Since it acts as the base of your research, the literature review is one of the most time-consuming parts. You will need to thoroughly go through a lot of literature to write this section in the best possible way. When writing your literature review, you must investigate all the details and present them in a compact form.

As for how long should a dissertation literature review should be, aim for at least 30 to 40 pages. It is the average dissertation length of the literature review section of a general thesis. It may also be the lengthiest chapter of your dissertation because of all the reviews of literature you have conducted. The more thorough this chapter is, the better your further research work will be. So, take your time crafting the literature review section of your dissertation.

The Ideal Length of a Dissertation Methodology Section

Once you have completed a review of the current literature, the next step is to explain to your readers the methods and approaches you will be using in your research. Make sure you describe these in detail and why you chose these methods. You also need to justify the usage of these approaches and why you think it is the best decision to approach your research questions using these methods. Write about ten pages in this section.

The Ideal Length of the Dissertation Results Section

The next chapter is the results. You need to present all your research findings in this section. So, include everything from interviews, tables and surveys in this section. Make sure you only present relevant data in this section—present answers to all your research questions with the right data and mention all your research findings. The total length of this section should be around 7 to 8 pages. Add 5% of the total dissertation word count to the results section as a rule of thumb.


The Ideal Length of a Dissertation Discussion Section

Now that you have presented your findings in the results section of the dissertation, the next step is to interpret these findings and present your readers with the implications and limitations of your key findings. It is a crucial part of your research and dissertation. Herefore, make sure you approach each finding from your point of view and give statements that open up avenues for new researchers.

The discussion section of your dissertation should take about 40% of the entire write a dissertation word count. It shows how important it is to present your findings and then carry out a discussion to put forth your viewpoint about your research questions.

The Ideal Length of a Dissertation Conclusion

The conclusion section of your dissertation is like a summary of your whole research. It should summarise everything from the beginning till the end. It makes up about 5 to 7% of the total write a dissertation word count. Therefore, you should write it carefully, drawing relevant and correct conclusions from your entire studies.

The Reference List

It is essential to include full details of all the information and research sources you have used for your dissertation. You must provide in-text citations of your sources and then present their full details in the reference list. Also known as bibliography and works cited list, the references you provide here should be genuine and credible. Ask your institution about the formatting style to follow and make sure all the citations and references are as per this style.

Dissertation Editing and Proofreading

So, you have completed your dissertation and want to send it to your advisor. However, you should never even think about submitting your dissertation before editing and proofreading it. Please make sure all the sections are in their right place, and all the written work is free of grammar, spelling and sentence structure errors. Sloppy formatting and grammar mistakes harm your dissertation, and all your hard work may look shoddy.

So, write several drafts for each section and edit and proofread them before finalising it. In addition to ensuring you have completed all the sections, pay special attention to and correct any inconsistencies, typos and language mistakes. The final document you send to your advisor must be free of all kinds of language, conceptual and factual errors.

Important Skills to Demonstrate Through a Dissertation

Regardless of the dissertation type you are writing and the research topic you choose, you must demonstrate the following skills through your dissertation:

  • Outlining the research area and defining it with clear and concise research questions
  • Recognising and classifying the key issues
  • Finding and presenting the relevant information
  • Evaluating the legitimacy and reliability of the information
  • Assessing the evidence and looking at it from different sides
  • Concluding and presenting valid arguments
  • Organising your work and professionally presenting the findings and outcomes.

The last step should include a critical evaluation of the findings and presenting it articulately and convincingly to the audience.

Well, these are some tips on how to write a dissertation. We hope it will help you write better, score more, and earn your degree without much hassle. Your dissertation is the most important document to complete if you want to earn a degree. Therefore, don’t rush it. Instead, take your time and present your best work to get accepted and take you ahead in your academic journey.

Good luck!