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Eye-Opening Tips For Writing Dissertations

Writing a dissertation does not have to be the mammoth confusing undertaking many graduate students make it out to be. When I was working on my dissertation, I learned all kinds of tricks and tips that I am going to share with you right now!

If you are still coming up with a topic, here’s method number one for finding one.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Dissertation Abstracts International by now. These abstracts are compiled every year from all across the world and contain subject areas based upon students’ majors and the area of focus of their dissertation. So, if you are specializing in quantum physics, for example, you could see all the dissertation topics compiled that year on quantum physics. Then, you can strategize new concepts for studies based upon what other students are doing—and use these as part of your research as well!

Another good way to strategize a focus for your project: View Dissertations Bound and Held in Your Library

Typically, students meet with their committee members and see what they have in terms of topic ideas. Therefore, the ideas you’ll get from other students dissertations are actually products of several scholars’ brainpower—your professors’ professors, and your professors’ knowledge banks. Your professors had to write dissertations in your area too, you know. Also, head to your library and ask your university head librarian to help you find bound dissertations in your major area. Recent ones probably used committee members from your school, and you can see what university scholars at your school are encouraging students to peruse and get ideas.

Now, Bound Dissertations are Great Resources in All Kinds of Ways

Bound dissertations from your school can help you in all kinds of ways. How?

  • First, if you look at bound dissertation from recent years at your university, they will have the same formatting that you’ll need to use and you can learn how to format your book from the acknowledgements to the works cited.
  • Two, you can learn what sources they used in attacking their subject matter. You can always learn about new sources by viewing researchers’ bibliographies and if you’re looking at dissertations in your same area or—even better—on your same topic—all the better. I interlibrary loaned every dissertation I could on my topic in English lit, and gathered hundreds of little known about sources there.
  • Three, you can learn all about what the introduction of a dissertation should sound like.
  • Four—looking at bound dissertations is a wonderful way to learn how to do those necessary explanatory endnotes at the end of every chapter. Endnotes are where you put commentary that would interrupt the natural flow of your argument or phrasing and go something like this “For more on Heidelberg’s theories on quantum physics, see his book Title.”
  • Lastly—looking at other students’ dissertations is reassuring. You won’t realize how good you actually write—believe me—until you do it. And the well-written ones will teach you much about writing scholarly research.

There’s nothing wrong with getting help from a professional – or another student

I learned to learn from the graduate students directly ahead of me early on—and often schools assign you a mentor to help you through your first year. Make the most of students currently working on their dissertations or who have just completed it. Befriend students in your major area who are ahead of you and ask them about dissertation formatting, resources, and any advice they may have.