Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Writing your Dissertation

Writing Your Dissertation: Part 1

Dissertation proposals represent some of the highest levels of work that one can produce. Going before an audience of faculty, ready to defend your ideas, your research methods, and your overall study can be intimidating!!! You need to be well prepared indeed for these assignments!

Understandably, the dissertation phase of your studies may seem overwhelming initially because of the amount of writing involved and the significant amount of original research required by the dissertation. You may feel like your coursework has not left you thoroughly prepared for writing your dissertation. You may feel apprehensive about whether you are fully prepared to move to the next stage in your academic writing, whatever that stage might be. This is a good time to assess what you know about where you have been, and how it has helped you prepare for where you are going.

The good news is that you do not have to face what may seem like a daunting task alone! You need to have a cadre of people and other resources available to you during the writing process. If used wisely, these resources can lessen your anxiety, allowing successful completion of both your comprehensives and your dissertation. This support team can consist of your family, friends, colleagues, co-workers, mentors, past instructors, or virtually anyone!

After this support network is structured, you’ll want to brush up on the elements of good academic writing, and then delve into the components that are specific to the dissertation. Some of the differences among writing your course papers and a dissertation may not be immediately obvious. Just how hard can it be to write a dissertation? After all, it’s simply a project that is longer and takes more time to research and write – correct? In general, the differences among these types of writing and research projects are straightforward. Your University should provide you with a Dissertation Manual to be followed. If not, no problem! Choose a dissertation topic, conduct a little research… and find a dissertation that you would like to use as a model to structure your own. Of course, you must consider the worldview (paradigm- qualitative or quantitative), and you should consider the research methodology being applied.

Although every writer has preferred ways of working through the writing process, some aspects of good academic writing remain constant. The basics taught in most level one composition courses are still the best standards for effective writing, even at the graduate level. These basics include:

An engaging and relevant introduction.
A specific focus which may be a thesis statement, a hypothesis, a research question, an argumentative claim, or other term.
Clear main points that develop and support your focus.
Supporting evidence for your main points.
A conclusion that provides closure to your text without necessarily summarizing it.
If these elements are present in your advanced academic writing, you will be building on a strong foundation. As you prepare for the comprehensive exam and dissertation, you will need to thoroughly research and think about your material. Sometime during this research and thinking process you will begin to write. Where you start writing – for example, with the body of the text instead of the introduction – is entirely up to you. The most important thing is that you have a writing process that works well for you.

When you’re ready to get serious about structuring your research methods, results, etc… use this phenomenal resource to help you through: Research methods

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