You’ve come to that point in your time within academia that you need to start thinking about your dissertation research paper. You might not really know where to start, be unsure about certain stages during the process, or just want a little guidance on what best next step you should take.
Well, Dissta has been put together for you. I’ve spent a number of years writing dissertations on different courses, so you could say that I am uniquely experienced in the whole process of writing a research paper for a professor/supervisor.
What’s Covered on Dissta?
I’ve added a few different pages about the dissertation writing process from the very beginning when you are thinking about hypotheses, what subject to research about and then write your paper about, and how to look at the different stages of a dissertation and why the editing and revising parts are crucial to ensuring both your first and second markers will be able to see your arguments clearly and be able to award the best marks you are looking for.
Fundamentally, there are ten key stages to the whole planning, researching, analyzing and writing your dissertation. Not to mention all of the extra stuff afterwards like ensuring your work is in the correct format, layout, hasn’t got any alarming grammar errors in and is in the right type of binding that your college or university will accept (some of them are quite picky).
Below, I link to a number of pages on the Dissta site that will help you understand what each stage of these contains. If you read them all one after the other then you’ll come to see that whilst the whole dissertation research paper process does seem quite a challenge, there are extra things that will help you plan a better path through and hopefully maximize your final grade/weighting.
Planning Your Dissertation
An important initial stage where you look at the different aspects of the whole research project. This time is important as you will need to plan what you will be doing and the actual time it is going to take you to complete all of the stages.
You’re going to be including times when you will be reviewing what stage you are up to with your professor, and any primary research stages (should you be completing these) should be included in this plan. Some people refer to it as a sketch, and you should think of it as the same thing.
Take a look at the planning your dissertation page.
Dissertation Research Process
This is the stage when you’ll be discovering the topic you’ve chosen in more detail. It’s usually going to be a sub-sub-topic of what your degree course is on, as you’ll need to generate an hypothesis from all of your research that you’ll want to prove (or disprove) as part of your actual research, writing and evaluation.
In general, everyone who is completing a dissertation paper in academia will complete this process because it sets the foundation for what your paper will be about.
Look at this page for information about the research process.
Written Dissertation Proposal
This is when you’ve explored the topic at hand and chosen what you want to concentrate on. Your dissertation supervisor will want to know what it is that you are proposing to study and discover. This document will help them form an opinion and help you understand if you’re on the right track.
I’ve always believe that this stage is one of the most important ones because it will help you form the opinion on what it actually is that you want to study, and you’ll gain valuable feedback from your first marker on whether the topic you’ve chosen is too broad (it usually is).
This process isn’t an easy one, but it is well worth it once you get through it and meet with your supervisor to discuss things.
Here’s page that sets out what you should include in your proposal.
Your Dissertation Schedule
If you fail to plan then you plan to fail: and this is soo true when it comes to the final stages of your degree course. In the schedule of your dissertation it’s important to plan out what you will do and have weekly (or every few weeks) deadlines.
Some supervisors say that you should just attach a date to the time when you will do something: for example, when you will have all of your secondary research complete, once you’ve finalized your questionnaire, and when your interviews are scheduled for.
But, it’s all individual. So, it’s best to understand that while your dissertation schedule might look like other people’s it should be quite different.
Here I write about the different scheduling parts.
Dissertation Literature Review
This process is where you get deep into secondary research. You’ll be in the library a lot or online, reading books, periodicals and online resources to discover what has been researched and written on your sub-topic before.
This chapter of your dissertation is one of the important ones. It sets out for the reader what it is that you have discovered and why your academic research paper should have merit.
If you want to excel in academia when you’re writing your research paper then this stage is fundamental. During it, you set out how your will conduct the part of your research and what methodologies you will use for the research.
A lot of this stage (or chapter) will be already taught to you throughout your degree course lecturers, but it is a key area that can influence the reader’s perception of whether your research study should be considered reliable and robust enough to be given merit.
In general, any primary or secondary dissertation research methods are included and discussed here.
Here is why your methodology is important.
Your Primary Research (Study)
After you’ve completed all of the foundational parts to the research process it’s time to start on your primary research. This is the part where you go about collecting questionnaires or interviewing people, and some people would say that it’s the meat of the whole dissertation process.
I’d tend to agree with them.
After you’ve spoken to your supervisor and he or she is happy with the rest of your paper and your topic is on point, and they’ve already seen the questions you will be asking people, it’s time to actually get down to communicating with individuals and seeing what they think about the topic you’re researching.
Presenting Your Results
It’s all well and good having completed your paper, but what about when it comes time to presenting what your study’s outcomes are. What actually did you discover on your journey?
This chapter usually involves a lot of charts, graphs and percentages. In general, you’ll be writing about “49% of respondents thought this” or “the majority of people believed this”. This chapter is essentially presenting what you’ve discovered in an easy format and layout, and takes the style (commonly) in that of commentary.
Your Study’s Conclusion and Recommendations
This chapter, which is usually the final one of your dissertation paper, reviews what’s been discussed and concluded through the previous few chapters and how your research study contributes to academia.
Most individuals, whether an undergraduate or postgraduate completing their dissertation, will find this chapter easy to complete at first. That is until they realise that it isn’t the easiest chapter to write.
Some times it’s this chapter that is the hardest of the whole research process. Because you need to bring all of the conclusions together and summarize what the outcomes of your research study were.
Then, quite commonly, you will provide recommendations on what further research should (or could) be carried out by future researchers should they wish to explore a different angle/hypothesis on the research topic (or sub-topic, etc).
If your dissertation is part of a larger group project for a real-life business then your recommendations might include some things that will look at how the recommendations might affect the organization you’re conducting the research for.
Revising, Editing and Finalizing Your Dissertation Research Paper
Well, you’ve done it. You’ve got to the stage where you’ve (realistically) done everything apart from the finishing bits: which some people would say are the most important!