A sample dissertation is a complete or partial dissertation text that serves as a model for pupils. Sample dissertations are most commonly available from a university department. Sample dissertations may also be found in writing manuals and on educational resource websites. These two types of example dissertations will be very different, as those distributed by a university department will typically be actual dissertations completed by former students, and the samples distributed by other sources will likely be partial, un-published dissertation texts developed for modeling purposes only. In any circumstance, an example report should never take the place of a university's style and content handbook for dissertation preparation, as university policies regarding student manuscripts are updated regularly. Students should always obtain this handbook separately and consider it the authoritative source on dissertation composition.
A sample dissertation provided in a writing manual or another type of educational resource is most valuable for examining general aspects of report composition. These sources are often provided in order to show students the correct way to write dissertations using a certain writing and citation style. These samples will typically only present the report pages that have the most specific style requirements, such as the title page, references page, and appendix pages. Such samples may also present a sample of a page within the body of a report for purposes of demonstrating the proper way to cite references or title figures. These types of example dissertations are particularly helpful for formatting, but will likely not provide any insight on content issues.
The most useful sample dissertations are those that a student receives from his or her department. This is because the sample text will be in the same discipline as the one in which the learner will be writing and will also be composed following the guidelines of that particular department and institution. Though the student should always reference the university's dissertation handbook regarding exact formatting requirements, learners can use dissertation samples to see the result of these formatting requirements and observe how the text is laid out on the page. These types of example dissertations are also useful for determining the structure of a college report. Because dissertations are very long texts, their organization can be very difficult. Observing how another writer in the same discipline approached this organization can give the student ideas on how to structure his or her own text.
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