An analysis dissertation is a lengthy, original text often written in the areas of the humanities that undertakes an investigation of a particular text, topic, or philosophy to present a unique argument about that text, topic, or philosophy in a way that contributes to its understanding. Analysis dissertations are composed by doctoral students in the final phases of their graduate study, and are overseen by a committee comprised of advanced professors in the field in which the thesis is being written. Such documents are directed by and eventually approved by those committees before a doctoral student is allowed to take his or her Ph.D.
Indeed, analysis reports should follow a standard format and presentation as determined by the writer's field or department. Most analysis dissertations are based in some part on a primary source text—a document in its original, unedited form. The author's analysis of these primary texts should be complemented by a survey of relevant and contemporary research already performed in the area on which the thesis is being written. Though research in the humanities does not become less relevant over time in the same way that studies in the sciences do, it is still best to focus the survey of relevant research on contemporary studies in order to be aware of what contemporary trends and fellow academics are thinking about the subject.
An analysis report should set forth one specific argument about the topic at hand and use various evidence and arguments to support it. Furthermore, that chosen topic should be one that has not already been written on in order to present a text that makes original contributions to the field. For instance, an analysis dissertation of Shakespeare's Hamlet should not put forth the argument that Laertes serves as Prince Hamlet's foil—this is both obvious and too broad to serve as a topic of detailed investigation. A more refined argument would perhaps put forth how a trauma analysis of Laertes and Hamlet reveals men brought to conflict as the result of trauma that was, in the historical context of the play, unacceptable to publicly air.
The point of the analysis dissertation is to provide new insight on a text or topic, but that claim should not be invented from outside the text in an effort toward originality. Every aspect of an analysis article's argument should be defended in multiple ways using a variety of examples from the primary text(s). No claim should be asserted without ample evidence and analysis.
Dissertations written in the humanities frequently follow the stylistic guidelines set forth by the Modern Language Association (MLA).
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