Doctoral Dissertations: Tips from 3 Writing Experts

Doctoral Dissertations: Tips from 3 Writing Experts

A doctoral dissertation (or PhD dissertation) represents the culmination of a student's entire educational journey. It's also the final component in completing a doctoral program.  Therefore, you will need to spend a great deal of time in properly developing your dissertation's thesis and gathering supporting information for your report composition.

When writing a doctoral dissertation, the college or university will provide you with specifics regarding how the document should be formatted and finalized.  For example, many universities and educational institutions require that the final document is left unbound, and some also require that it be translated to microfilm or to other forms of media.  In addition, you might be required to provide the college or university with multiple copies of your final dissertation.

Each institution will have its own guidelines for writing dissertations; it is essential that you follow those guidelines precisely.  Failure to do so can result in a delay in graduating from the program.  Although all institutions are not the same, most require the following to be included in a doctoral dissertation:
  • Appendices
  • Bibliography
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Graphics
  • Page headers
  • Page numbers
The appendices are where you will place any supplementary materials that are meant to support your dissertation, such as copies of photographs or questionnaires that you utilized.

The bibliography will list the sources that you used for gathering information.  Since there are multiple ways to write a bibliography, it is important that you find out the preferred method for your college or university.  Regardless of the format, you will need to include the same basic information from your sources, which includes the title, copyright date, and the name of the author.  Footnotes and endnotes will assist in referencing the sources that you use.

Graphics can lend credible, visual aids to dissertations and may be required, although some universities and educational institutions specifically request that graphics not be added.  Therefore, be sure to check with the institution before adding graphics.  In addition, the institution may have some very specific requirements regarding how the graphics are utilized and created.

In most cases, you will not be expected to use borders or fancy page headers.  In fact, you might be strictly forbidden to do so.  At the same time, the university or college will have very strict guidelines regarding how the page numbers should be placed on the document.  In addition, you might have strict guidelines when it comes to which pages are numbered and which are not.

Beyond formatting issues, writing a doctoral dissertation requires completing a great deal of data collection.  You must become an expert on the subject about which you are writing. You must be able to demonstrate your knowledge by developing and supporting theories that are based on your research.  Since you will have to discuss your dissertation with a panel of experts in the field, you must be very comfortable and familiar with what you wrote.  In addition, you must be able to defend your paper and answer questions that may expand further upon the concepts that you explored in your paper.

Viewpoint of Author #2

A Ph.D. dissertation is a long, in-depth, original document that a doctoral student must write in order to earn his or her Ph.D. degree.  Ph.D. dissertations are also commonly known as "doctoral dissertations."

Ph.D. dissertations are typically written after a doctoral student has completed his or her coursework and successfully passed a series of exams in his or her field.  The point of the Ph.D. dissertation is to take the knowledge learned throughout the student's graduate study and apply it in an original way to an original topic such that the student produces relevant and innovative scholarly material that will contribute to his or her field.  To this end, the Ph.D. dissertation process is quite involved and intensive.  It is common for Ph.D. dissertations to take a year or more to complete.

Students are encouraged to select a dissertation topic in an area in which they are particularly interested and in which they wish to specialize.  The topic of a student's dissertation will often determine the type of professorial assignment that individual may have once she has earned her degree.  In addition, it is common for all or a portion of a Ph.D. dissertation to eventually be adapted into a scholarly publication.  Therefore, the student should select a topic for which she has passion and in which she anticipates having enduring interest.

All Ph.D. dissertations are difficult and time consuming, and most Ph.D.  students writing a dissertation will suffer from a lack of motivation at some point in the process.  Therefore, a student should design a schedule for herself that outlines specific goals and completion dates to keep her on track, and should share this schedule with her advisor.  The dissertation advisor is an advanced professor with particular knowledge of or interest in the area of study on which the student is writing, and should be considered the student's mentor and ally throughout the composition process.

The report itself should be written in phases.  Typically, dissertation advisors encourage students to submit each chapter or section to the advisor as it is completed.  This helps the student to stay on the schedule he or she created, and also ensures that the student has detailed feedback on every aspect of the report at various phases in its process.

There are often specific guidelines for how universities and departments wish the chapters and general formatting of Ph.D. dissertation to be; therefore, learners should determine these guidelines before beginning, and strictly adhere to them.

Viewpoint of Author #3

A doctoral dissertation is an extensive, academic document that a pupil writes in order to obtain a doctorate degree.  Doctoral dissertations generally take months to research and write and often jumpstart a student's career in a particular field.  Therefore, doctoral dissertations are not only research papers, but they are vital to attaining of both a Ph.D. and a career.

When learners write doctoral dissertations, the reports are based on the specific field of study that a student has been pursuing as part of his or her Ph.D. program.  These doctoral dissertations must include an extensive amount of data collection.  In many cases, the research that students do for their doctoral dissertations is ground-breaking in their industries.

Many doctoral dissertations are copyrighted and published, making the work public and accessible to anyone at anytime.  Doctoral dissertations may also help to create a name for a particular student in a particular field.  Therefore, learners should dedicate a significant amount of time to their doctoral dissertations in order to ensure that they have the best outcomes and advantages.

There is a specific format that students should follow when creating their doctoral dissertations.  Many institutions have their own guidelines for the reports, as well.  In general, it should begin with an introduction in which the learner will outline information that he or she will include.  The student will provide background information into the subject of the report and define key terms and concepts in the introduction.

The introduction should be followed by methodology, in which students should state the steps that they will take as they approach research, including the theoretical steps to the research.  The student may also list any variables and other conditions that are related to the research.

The body of the doctoral report should include specific information about the research.  Students may wish to comment on this information either in the body of the research or in the footnotes of the research, depending on their preferences and writing style.  The body of the document often takes up several dozen pages, but can be longer.

Finally, it should have a conclusion and discussion, in which the student talks about the research, variables, surprises, and changes that he or she would have made.  The student may also make suggestions to future researchers on the subject.  The student should also include any tables, references, and other appendices at the end of the document Most students also have an acknowledgements page so they can thank those professors and individuals that helped them with the research.

A doctoral dissertation is similar to a graduate reference project.  Both papers are the culminating projects for a student's academic programs and require a significant amount of data collection.  However, a doctoral dissertation usually leads to a career and stays on an individual's professional record.  A graduate dissertation may stay on a record if it is truly ground-breaking, but it usually is a lesser work than a doctoral reference project.

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