Premium dissertation services 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.
Move Around: In a similar vein, if you find yourself stuck on a certain section in a chapter move on and come back to it later. As long as you have outlined your argument and approach for the chapter, you can easily skip a difficult part and use your time more efficiently to write a straightforward section. Having made progress on an “easy” section, you will be more confident when returning to the tricky paragraphs. Get Feedback Early: This tip is somewhat dependant on your supervisor and their preferences. If possible, share your work with them early and often. They can alert you to problems sooner and help you work through any difficult sections. Plus doing smaller revisions along the way will save you from rewriting an entire chapter closer to the due date. Discover more info at 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.
Read everything you can. Read this post. Read the one I wrote in August. Read this one by Kaitlin Gallagher about PhD thesis project management, or the one she wrote on sucstress. Read this post by Amy Rubens about Exit Strategies. Read this post by Terry Brock on “The Dissertation from Afar”, or this one by Micalee Sullivan on getting started writing. Browse our dissertation or productivity tags. Read this book, or this book, or this book. Or this one. Try this one. An awful lot of people, far smarter and more accomplished than I, have written guides for writing a dissertation. Read them.
Write in order to rewrite. Writing sooner and writing continually can only happen if you aren’t consumed with perfection. Some of us are discouraged from writing because we think our first draft needs to be our final draft. But this is exactly the problem. Get your thoughts on paper and plan to go back and fix awkward sentences, poor word choices, and illogical or unsubstantiated arguments in your subsequent drafts. Knowing that rewriting is part of the writing process will free you to write persistently, make progress, and look forward to fixing things later.
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.
Set deadlines. Depending on your project, you may have built in deadlines that force you to produce material at a steady clip. If you do not have built in deadlines, you must impose them on yourself. Deadlines produce results, and results lead to completed writing projects. Set realistic deadlines and stick to them. You will find that you are able to accomplish much more than you anticipated if you set and stick to deadlines. Take productive breaks. Instead of turning to aimless entertainment to fill your break times, try doing something that will indirectly serve your writing process. We need breaks: they refresh us and help us stay on task. In fact, studies have shown that overall productivity diminishes if employees are not allowed to take regular, brief pauses from their work during the day. What is not often mentioned, however, is that a break does not necessarily have to be unrelated to our work in order to be refreshing; it needs only to be different from what we were just doing. So, for example, if you have been writing for 90 minutes, instead of turning on YouTube to watch another mountain biking video, you could get up, stretch, and pull that book off the shelf you’ve been wanting to read, or that article that has been sitting in Pocket for the past six weeks. Maybe reorganizing your desk or taking a walk (see above) around the library with your capture journal would be helpful. Whatever you choose, try to make your breaks productive.