Writing a masters’ dissertation is a daunting task. It is something that is not to be taken lightly at any cost. The students should understand that when they take up masters’ or a PhD, it is a big undertaking. Writing a masters’ or PhD dissertation can be very complex if it is not done in the right way. Whether you write a masters’ dissertation or PhD dissertation, you need to be right on track. In case of the masters’ dissertation, the course is rapid. You do not get the time that you might want to do good. However, when you write a dissertation for PhD, the process is really long. You work on the same subject and the same topic for 3-4 years. The process can be really laborious and exhausting for the students. But no matter for what you write the dissertation, it is always going to be a task that asks too much of you and makes you push your limits.
There are many things that fall into the making of a good dissertation and the students should always be very careful about these things while writing a dissertation. Here are a few of them:
Before submitting you masters’ dissertation, you should take a final look at the dissertation and ask yourself one last time, “Have I structured it the best I can?” Obviously, there is no one structure that can be considered the best for every dissertation, but you should try and structure it to the best of your ability. You should decide what kind of structure suits your dissertation. For doing so, you can try consulting your supervisor. You can try reading the theses of the ex-students of your university in the library.
However, almost all the dissertations are the same when it comes to the masters’ students. But still, there are two basic structures that the students in a master’s degree can follow. The first is wherein the student can write the dissertation as a series of articles so that it can be easily submitted to the professional journals. If you structure the dissertation in such a way, it will spare you the time of writing it for the submission and then for the articles again.
The second structure that the students can follow is to write the dissertation in the form of a book containing chapters. This type of structure is more conventional and is used by most of the students.
There are a number of factors that the student needs to keep in mind when he decides as to when to start writing the dissertation. Factors like the duration of the course and the scope of the project you are describing on play a huge part in this decision. In some cases, the research project may be relatively short and the student might not be able to write down much of the dissertation before he actually completes the project. There can be cases when the research project can be really long. However, regardless of the nature of the research project and the scope of the course, the student must start writing the dissertation as early as possible. If the student cannot start writing the dissertation, he should start by picking up at least one section and starting with it. This will prove to be really helpful for the student as when he starts early, he will have things fresh on his mind and it will reflect in the dissertation. Also, it will save the student the time that he will have to spend on structuring if he does not have things fresh on his mind. Moreover, one should always remember that academic writing is more about practice and lesser about talent. Therefore, the time that the student utilises in the starting will prove to be really beneficial for him later. Also, it is very unlikely for a student to get the perfect dissertation in the first draft itself. Mostly, a student needs to write one or two more drafts before getting the dissertation right. So, if the student starts early, it will help him as he will get the required time to sharpen the dissertation.
It is no secret that a dissertation is a very important component of the master’s degree. A dissertation provides the students the opportunities to interpret, plan, complete and report research. The student should know that the project or dissertation should be the result of independently conducted work. The dissertation should represent the original research conducted by the student and the critical analysis that he has done in the past few weeks. There are many things that the dissertation should demonstrate and the student should be very careful about these things. The student can have a deep understanding of the subject but it is very important that the dissertation demonstrates awareness and understanding of the important work that has been done in the field by other experts and researchers. Also, the dissertation should be written in such a way that it demonstrates the ability of the student to plan a research activity. Moreover, the dissertation should demonstrate to the officials that the student has the knowledge and motivation to carry out any planned research activity. There are many other things as well. For example, the dissertation should demonstrate the student’s ability to reasonable conclusions from the research conducted and also analyse the results of the research. The dissertation should be able to convey that the message that the student is highly efficient in conducting the research and then completing a written description of the research conducted in the form of a well-written and properly organized dissertation.
This is something that goes without saying to all the students. At the same time, it is something that the students tend to miss out on. Before submitting the dissertation, it is imperative that you make sure that your writing skills are at their best. Doing extensive research on the topic is one thing, but conveying that research is another. Therefore, you need to make sure that you convey that research in the best possible quality of language that you can deliver. There are many ways that you can adapt to make sure the quality of your dissertation is what you want it to be. The best way to do so is to finish a draft of your dissertation and then ask your supervisor to take a look and suggest corrections. He will correct the mistakes for you. As time progresses, you will learn to correct the mistakes yourself. You can also try reading different academic articles on the web. Doing so will make you familiar with the academic style of writing and thus will help you in improving the quality of your dissertation.
Also, if you are a foreign student and you are not comfortable with the English language, you can always ask the native friends that you have for help. They can have a look at the draft of your dissertation and tell you about the recurring mistakes in the draft if any. This proves to be really helpful for the students. Also, just like most of the universities out there, yours will also probably have writing centres that offer writing courses and all the other kinds of support for the masters’ students. If you join one of these courses, you will get to meet many other students and thus you will be able to discuss with them what all constitutes a good dissertation. Also, it will help you to improve your writing skills. Moreover, you can try searching for academic and other writing resources on the internet. As you will progress reading these resources and the articles, you will become more and more used to the academic style of writing, and that’s what you need for writing the dissertation.
Plagiarism is something that can really disgust anyone who reads your dissertation. It is something that is looked down upon. Plagiarism can even cost you your postgraduate degree. The problem with plagiarism is that most of the students do not commit it intentionally. The students do not even realise that they are committing plagiarism. Since the degree is on the line, one should not take this risk. You should prepare yourself beforehand as to how you can avoid plagiarism. Students commit plagiarism when they include specific sections of an article that they are citing. The students simply copy/paste the sections instead of rephrasing them. When you include some information that is not your idea in your dissertation, you should make sure that you mention the source of that information in the dissertation. Also, you should never mention the information exactly as it is written in the piece from where you are taking it up. To many people, plagiarism is as bad as theft. Obviously, you do not want people to be thinking about something like that when you give them your dissertation you read. After so many years of research, the worst thing that can happen to a masters’ student to see an expression of disgust on the face of checker just because he unintentionally mentioned a few lines from an article in his dissertation. So, make sure that there is no element of plagiarism in your dissertation before you submit it. In the simplest of words, the student should know that plagiarism is the worst thing that he can commit, whether intentionally or unintentionally. It leaves a very bad impression on the checker. It tells them that the student himself does not believe in his ability to write the dissertation himself or to conduct the research himself… which is obviously not what a student wants the checker to think.
When you do your masters’, you have to go through piles of study material. You read extensively and prepare notes for yourself. The research part almost becomes your life. There is a huge chance that you will get lost in the huge stocks of data that you might want to include in your dissertation. To avoid this, you need to be able to organise your bibliography. You should keep in mind that no matter how much you read, no matter how much research you have done, if you can’t keep a track of all that, it is useless. Therefore, it is imperative for all the masters’’ students to keep a track of their bibliography. The easiest to do so is to create a table or database of all the articles you have read for the research. You can summarise these article or chapters into the smallest set of words possible to keep a bullet point which will help you to remember their content. Also, you can try using some reference management software which is quite popular among the students these days.
It is important that you prepare your dissertation in the accepted format only. Different universities have different rules and instructions on how to format the dissertation. You should read these guidelines or instructions way before even starting to write your dissertation. It becomes very difficult for a student to change the format if he has already started writing the dissertation. Therefore, make sure that you are absolutely aware of all the guidelines and instructions for writing the dissertation. The students can even get penalised for submitting the dissertation in the wrong format. Obviously, you do not want that. So make sure that you prepare the dissertation in the proper format. It can be really frustrating for a student to know that he has written the dissertation in the wrong format and that too, after doing such an amount of hard work and research that every student puts in. So, it is best that the student checks the required format in advance and prepare the dissertation in that format only.
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