How to write as a professional: tricks for completing a dissertation
One big difference is that rather than just summarizing the work of others with occasional original thoughts, you are required to carry out primary research and write about it at the higher level. Aside from the differences in research, this creates major differences in writing styles. Follow these tips and tricks to master this transition and complete a successful dissertation:
- Set yourself up for success with a dynamic topic
- Make your research relevant
- Do exhaustive background research
- Create a comprehensive methodology before you begin research
- Keep track of your sources from the beginning
- Have someone proofread your paper at several different stages
Depending on your program, you may have complete control or very little control over your topic. But even if your research advisor dictates your research area to you, try your best to put your own spin on it and make it as relevant as possible to your own interests and future ambitions.
One of the best ways to ensure that you won’t get tired of your dissertation project after a short while, is to make sure that your research is relevant. This can mean that it is relevant to the industry that you hope to work in, or that it is relevant to addressing some social good in a community that you have a connection with. Giving it a larger importance, outside of itself, will help to keep you motivated. It will also increase the odds that it will be seen by others once you’re done.
Students are often overly eager to get to their own research, that they don’t put enough time into background research. This is important not only for the literature review or background section of your paper, but it will set the framework to your own research as well. You want to make sure that you have a good understanding of what work has already been done in your area, what methodologies were used, and what resources are out there for you to take advantage of.
Again, resist any urge to jump right in to your research, collecting data or making contacts, before you have finalized your methodology. When it comes time to defend your dissertation or try to get it published, you will have to answer many questions about why you did what you did. Having a well thought out methodology that references other established research will help to do this.
If you don’t already, try using reference organization software. It may be available to you through your university, or there are free versions that work well.
This is helpful to make sure that your methodology is solid and can be easily followed by someone else, to make sure that your organization makes sense, and to catch any typos and errors.
Put a lot of thought into the organization of your paper
This has to do not only with how you organize your paper one the page—with section headings and subheadings—but with you lay out your background and research. To get an idea of what kind of organization you want to use, look at other dissertations and journal articles and pick out the ones that you like the flow of.
Identify the assumptions that you are making
This relates to having a clear methodology, in that it will help you when it comes time to defend your research. It can be helpful to keep a running list of the assumptions that you are making. You should also lay them out in your paper.