Guide to Planning your dissertation

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Guide To Planning Your Dissertation

 Your dissertation

Guide To Planning Your Dissertation

A dissertation is an extended piece of writing requiring more thorough research and wider reading than typical essays or reports. From planning through to completion, the dissertation provides you with the opportunity to pursue a topic that interests you. It will also enable you to demonstrate and develop specific skills that are highly regarded by both potential employers and university admissions. This includes problem solving and time management skills in addition to critical thinking and written communication skills.

There are two main types of dissertation: one that involves an element of primary research which requires you to gather data of your own, and another that involves secondary research which relies on data collected by other researchers. This type of research would usually take the form of an extended literature review.

A project that involves an element of primary research with an 15,000 word limit would typically contain the following elements:

  • Introduction ( 1,500 words)
  • Literature review ( 3,000 words)
  • Methodology ( 3,000 words)
  • Research ( 1,500 words)
  • Data analysis ( 3,300 words)
  • Research findings ( 1,800 words)
  • Conclusion ( 1,500 words)

Proofreading involves checking the content and appearance of your written work: looking for errors in typing, spelling and grammar, and ensuring that it is presented in a style that meets the requirements of a module or course. Proofreading is a skill that requires time, but the more you practice, the quicker and easier it will become to spot any corrections that need to be made.

Before you begin

Before you begin planning for your dissertation, make sure that you have considered and sought clarification on the following:

  • Your research question.
  • The exact submission date and word requirements.
  • Any key dates such as when your proposal needs to be approved and submitted.
  • How the dissertation is to be presented and any formatting rules.
  • Who your dissertation supervisor will be and the level of support they can offer you.
  • Any restrictions on what topics can be covered and any ethical issues that must be considered.
  • The estimated workload.
  • Writing out a project schedule.
  • Considered the likely value and use of the work.

Useful sources

Borden, I. (2006). The dissertation. Routledge.

Merrill, M. D. (2000). Write your dissertation first and other essays on a graduate education. Retrieved March30, 2004.


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