Excellent dissertation tips and tricks 20234 min read
Best dissertation writing guides today: To save time creating the reference list and make sure your citations are correctly and consistently formatted, you can use our free APA Citation Generator. Your dissertation itself should contain only essential information that directly contributes to answering your research question. Documents you have used that do not fit into the main body of your dissertation (such as interview transcripts, survey questions or tables with full figures) can be added as appendices. What Is a Dissertation? A dissertation is a large research project submitted to complete a degree. It involves independent research on a topic chosen by the student.
Dissertations have hundreds of references and you don’t want to be scrambling at the end to track them all down. Using a reference manager like Endnote or Zotero will help you keep track of all the papers and books you might need to cite and makes adding citations in any style easy. Take breaks when you need a rest. At the same time, don’t be afraid to say no to social activities if you need to. Your friends will understand if you miss some social events–especially if you will be stressed to actually enjoy them. Find more info on help me write my dissertation.
Strive for excellence but remember that this is not your magnum opus. A dissertation needs to be of publishable quality and it will need to past the muster of your supervisor and committee. But it is also a graduation requirement. Do the research. Make a contribution. Finish the project. And plan to write your five-volume theology when you have 30-40 more years of study, reflection, and teaching under your belt. Take careful notes. Taking careful notes is essential for two reasons. First, keeping a meticulous record of the knowledge you glean from your research will save you time: there will be no need to later revisit your resources and chase bibliographic information, and you will find yourself less prone to the dreaded, “Where did I read that?” Second, and most importantly, you will avoid plagiarism. If you fail to take good notes and are not careful to accurately copy direct quotes and make proper citations, you will be liable to reproducing material in your dissertation that is not original with you. Pleading that your plagiarism was inadvertent will not help your cause. It is your responsibility to take careful notes and attribute all credit to whom it is due through proper citation.
But say yes sometimes too. As I said above, taking breaks is essential. Next time someone asks you to go for a beer, close your computer and say yes. Carve out little bits of writing time. As I mentioned in my previous post, dissertation writing is a marathon, not a sprint. Writing often happens in little bits spread out over time. No matter how busy you are, take the time to write for half an hour a day. You can find half an hour somewhere. Get up early if you have to. If you write about a page a day, you can finish a chapter in a month.
Write continually. So, don’t stop writing. Of course, you need to continue to read and study and take notes—I will talk about this more in a moment—but it is best if you keep the gears from grinding to a halt. Keep your mind working and your project moving. Your assignment is not to turn in a hundred pages of notes to your supervisor—you must produce a dissertation with complete sentences and paragraphs and chapters. Keep writing.
Find out what your committee wants and expects from your work. Following the advice about feedback above, find out what kind of writing your committee expects. Read dissertations completed by students they have worked with before. Ask them often what kinds of expectations they have for your chapters, and your project: what kinds of sources, how footnotes get used, the structure of chapters, how they feel about headings, and more. Knowing expectations will help you write effectively to your audience, and communication is key to avoiding potential pitfalls. But remember that this is your dissertation. At the end of the day, this is your work. It represents who you are as a scholar (for now, anyway). Stand up for what you think is important, and for what you want to say. Trying to please the entirety of your committee may be impossible, and at the end of the day it is up to you to know what you need to write.
Talk about your ideas with others. When you are writing your dissertation, you might be tempted to lock away your ideas and avoid discussing them with others. This is unwise. Talking with others about your ideas helps you to refine and stimulate your thinking; it also creates opportunities for you to learn of important resources and how your contribution will affect other branches of scholarship. Also, as people ask questions about your project, you will begin to see where your argument is unclear or unsubstantiated.