Writing a PhD Dissertation: Step by Step Guide

Writing a PhD Dissertation: Step by Step Guide

Writing a dissertation is the most important yet tiresome outcome yielded by the whole process of research. A dissertation is the document of the research processed by a doctoral candidate in his field of subject. After choosing a topic of interest and getting the dissertation proposal approved by the university, the candidate begins with the research and it is advisable that he should keep notes of his research side by side. The candidate must start with the first draft of his dissertation as soon as he starts to research to make sure that each important point is added in his dissertation. The dissertation is the extended version of the proposal with similar elements but in a complete form. The candidate should also have a timeline designed to write the dissertation and complete it in that frame of time. The whole dissertation should be grammatically correct with no use of slang or slurs. It should be written in the technical language for the examiner to study.


The first page is the title of the dissertation which should be appropriate and exact. The title has to be descriptive, specific and indicative of the research. It should give a clear picture of the research to the reader who is going to invest his time in it. Through that precise title, the reader should be aware of the study he is going to read.


An acknowledgment and a table of content is an essential part of the dissertation helpful for the candidate to become more apparent. Mentioning the individuals who have particularly been helpful with the research process is appreciated. And a table of content shows up the structure of the dissertation. It shows the process chapter by chapter as it was held by the candidate starting with a brief abstract of the dissertation.


The abstract of the dissertation is to be written very carefully. It is the summary of your dissertation. You have to describe your research question with the method to solve that issue but in a precise manner. It should be concise and crisp to let the reader move to the next section of the dissertation and not assume that it is the whole research. The abstract needs to build the interest of the reader while the introduction needs to hold that interest until the reader reaches to the study of the dissertation.


Introduction is the expansion of the abstract but a mini-study of the literature review. It holds the interest of the reader built by the abstract of the dissertation. It clarifies the purpose of the study, with the research question. It works as a map for the reader as to what the researcher explored in the chosen topic.


The new terms used in the dissertation should be defined in the definition section for the reader to not be confused and leave the study since he might not understand a few terms.


The literature review or the context of the study is the most important chapter of the dissertation. It is the most crucial element of the whole process. As the name of the chapter suggests it holds the study of the dissertation. It provides the reader with the recent literature of the topic outlining the question of the statement. The purpose of this chapter is show the research made by the candidate with a clear background of the topic, identifying the question of research and explaining the plan to find a solution for the issue. It should give a logical structure to the raised issue with a rationale argument to resolve and look into it. The literature review should convince the reader to further read the dissertation portraying the relevance of the research through the raised issue.  The literature review is the study done by the candidate based on the previous researches and putting his own argument to them.


The study is followed by the methodology to resolve the issue. This part of the dissertation focuses on the way the candidate has conducted the research and collected the relevant data. The candidate must mention the used method with the equipment(s) and resources for the reader to be clear about the process of research. If the candidate is writing a quantitative dissertation then he needs to show the research questions, the setting, the collected data and a proper justification for choosing this method. If the candidate prefers to work with qualitative method then he should the process on the hypothesis with the correct information and use of sample for the reader.


The collection of data is then processed through the intellect of the researcher as what are the findings of the research. In the findings, the candidate rephrase the question displaying the results of the done research with a proper explanation through which it led to this result. Precisely, the question raised in the introduction section is hereby answered.


The discussion is the section where the candidate discusses the relevance of his research in the context of the prevailing knowledge of the subject. At this point the candidate adds his own findings in the reviewed literature on the topic, appreciating the limitations of the research.


After finding and discussing the data of the research, the candidate must come to a desired conclusion. This chapter is the end of the whole research, concluding it in a statement. The conclusion section of the dissertation should explain the impact of the research on the academic community. The candidate may also include a “ recommendations for future research” section for the upcoming researches to clarify the issue further.


The reference section of the dissertation should be well structured as the candidate mentions each reference he used for the research. Therefore, it is important for the candidate to keep a copy of every reference he used while composing the dissertation to not miss any cite.


Appendices is not necessary in the dissertation but a candidate can use the additional references for the reader to further study the topic.


After writing the first draft the candidate should edit and proofread the whole dissertation to avoid any major or minor mistakes.

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