A Ph.D. dissertation is a long, in-depth, and 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. reports should not be confused with university dissertations. A university dissertation is also a lengthy, original text, but a university dissertation is written at the undergraduate level rather than the doctoral level.
Ph.D. dissertations are typically written after a doctoral student has completed his or her coursework and successful 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 assignment 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.
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