How to Write a Dissertation Right the First Time

How to Write a Dissertation Right the First Time
  • Opening Intro -

    If you are thinking about writing a dissertation, chances are you have already come up with a topic.

    Up to this point, you have been studying your chosen field for years and graduation is on the horizon.

    You can almost see that doctorate that you have worked so hard to attain on your wall.


You’ve chosen your theme, question, and title. You’ve got a rough draft of the preliminary outline for your dissertation (dissertation proposal), and have done tons of research. Now you’re left with composing the actual paper, and all your confidence has just flown out the window. Now is the time to develop a plan for writing a dissertation and stick to it.

Everything Starts with an Outline:

You already have a rough draft of your dissertation proposal. Now is the time to detail your outline to encompass the larger project. Maybe the research led you somewhere you weren’t expecting. Include all new points and objectives in your outline.

A Basic Outline Should Include:


  1. Introduction:
    First chapter should include a background of the problem and issue stated. You need to clarify the purpose of your study, including the research question. Provide clear definitions of the terms related to the project. You need to state your assumptions and expectations of final results.
  2. Review of Literature:
    Review research process and your acknowledgments and conclusions.
  3. Methodology:
    Focus on how you located your resources and the methods used in the results. For a qualitative dissertation, you need to expose your research questions, participants and setting, the procedure for data collection, and processes used. For quantitative dissertations, you need to on research questions, hypothesis, instrumentation, information on population and samples, data collection and analysis.
  4. Results and Findings:
    This exposes your intellectual capacity and knowledge, so this is the most important stage. This is where you restate your research questions and discuss the results you obtained. Focus on the direction it led you to. You’ll answer your own questions. That’s the point.
  5. Conclusion:
    In your final chapter, you’ll summarize your study and briefly report your findings. Explain how your findings make a difference in the academic community and your field of practice. It’s a good idea to include a "future research recommendations" at the end of the chapter. Discuss why you suggest this research and what for you will take.
  6. Bibliography:
    Always use the citation style recommended for your field of study. Include all your sources used during your research and writing.

Editing and Proofreading:

First and foremost, walk away. Take some time off. Come back at a later time when your eyes are rested and your mind is relaxed. You’ve already done the hard part. Celebrate.

Now start editing. Are there logical connections between arguments? Is there any gap in any information? Add detail as needed and delete the irrelevant. The point is not quantity, its quality.

Do a few more final readings, catching spelling and grammar errors. Read it out loud and listen to yourself. Check for style and flow.

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