Your Dissertation is the stepping-stone to your Master's Degree: A Beginner's Guide!
The significance of the dissertation and thesis in the educational experience of the graduate, under-graduate and master’s student should not be underrated. It is a known fact, that all the professors and tutors consider the dissertation as a cumulative effort and it represents the entirety of the educational experience (Silvia, 2007). There are numerous criteria on the basis of which the quality of the thesis is being measured such as format, language development, overall presentation, sources, consistency and many more. Even simple flaws in dissertation can mean the difference amid the quickly dismissed document and a publishable thesis (Smith, 1990). Hence, it is rightly said that dissertation is the stepping stone to the student’s master’s degree. Here, in this present article, focus will be made on determining the important things that needs to be considered while writing a dissertation. Light will be thrown on various steps that need to be take care of while starting and completing a dissertation so that it leads to higher success and glory.
Almost decades have been passed and the students are still struggling and challenged by the formatting and researching requirements of dissertations (Whitesides, 2004). Such students have sought a supporting help from inaccessible professors, unskilled research assistants and busy librarians with pied successes. While writing a master’s degree dissertation, the most vital step is including the effective bibliographies, formatting, investigating and summarizing the information as well as documents. Undergoing a master’s thesis can be a very difficult process (Zeiger, 2000). Those students who have numerous resources and ideas, the process alone will take weeks and sometimes even months also. In addition, documentation and summarization of that collected information is again a challenge for them. There are chances that they might confuse over the use of parenthetical citations, footnotes, APA, MLA, endnotes dissertations formats. Many researches and educators has realized the fact that by using the examples in order to assist the students in developing their own piece of work will substantially help them in their writing process (Martínez, 2005). Learning through example is the most emerging technique that pays attention on the benefits of master’s degree pursuing students from viewing existing dissertations as models for their own piece of work. Using the model dissertation is the common practiced being promoted by many educators, which renders a supportive hand in demonstrating what is expected and acceptable in the writing of individual dissertation.
There are many best approaches that the students should focus on while writing a dissertation. It is not important that one has written 100 papers or they are writing it for the first time, the main problem lies in starting the process. It is possible only when the students have a rigid writing schedule (Rutherford and Grana, 1995). Writing requires intense concentration and brain work. According to Hayes, “Framework for the study of writing is activity which requires motivation and cognitive process as well as memory” (Hayes, 1996). A person will not succeed unless and until he or she will practice regularly. If the students have not done physical exercises a year, only a regular workout will help them to get a good shape. Similarly, regular writing sessions is required in order to have productive piece of paper. It is vital to create a regular time blocks for the purpose of writing as appointments and it is the student’s responsibility to keep that appointment (Smith, 1990).
After scheduling time, the next thing is to decide how to start the writing process. One of the best strategy in this regard is starting with an outline first. These outlines will be considered as a template for the student’s paper. Seeking help from the outline, students will be able to form a structure initially and will generate an ideas and hypothesis (Martínez, 2005). In outline, various tables, figures, formulas, algorithms and equations can be listed down and all will constitute the first level of outline for the paper, which will be going to expand as the students will elaborate. The next level in this process is to discuss the ideas with the colleagues and mentor. There are many universities, which are having a writing centre through which the students can programme individual consultations and get a supporting hand with their paper drafts. As soon as the feedback is being given by the peer group and the students have decided when to submit, the process of writing begins. All need to be done is just copy the outline and start working on elaborating the points (Hayes, 1996). The moment student create their first draft, they should not succumb to the temptation of editing. Further, at this stage, the students are required to write in regards with the materials and methods to be used in the research study. They should be very meticulous while writing this task as it consumes lot of time (Rutherford and Grana, 1995).
Another crucial part that students should concentrate while writing the dissertation is the result section. Writing this section is considered as more intimidating as compared to the materials and methods section. If someone is showing keen interest in the student’s paper then he or she will be interested in their results also. Hence, it is quite essential to employ all the writing skills in objectively presenting the key findings in a logical and orderly sequence by making use of text and materials (Hofmann, 2010). The result of the dissertation should be arranged into various sections, sub-sections as well as segments. Each of them should demonstrate the main purpose of the experiment and its approach. Furthermore, the data commentary should encompass a sensible summary of data presented in the visuals as well as description of the most important findings. In addition, the result section of the study should not include the data interpretation part. Moving in to the other direction, one essential aspect of this section is to develop a comprehensive and supported argument. In other words, the students should be selective while presenting and selecting the information. Only those data should be included, which are carrying experimental details and are essential to make the readers understand the findings of the research study (Crooks, 1977).
The opening of the discussion paragraph is considered as a biggest challenge for many writers. The best way to start is to study the findings, which helps in offering the answer to the research questions. Some of the most common starting phrases are “Our result suggests that...." or "In this study, we have made efforts to show.....". Along with writing the findings, it is also equally imperative to present the importance of these findings. There are many students who commit this common mistake that they assume the significance of their own findings (Hofmann, 2010). The main goal of the research context move is to demonstrate how the findings of the study fit into the general picture of the existing knowledge on the topic. Here in this section, the students can also discuss the unexpected findings and any discrepancies that may otherwise have distorted the general picture of the dissertation. Moreover, it is also essential to add the limitation, scope of the study, weaknesses and assumptions of the study, as it adds modesty to the student’s image as a scientist. On the other hand, it is also to be noted that the students should not merely end up their research paper with problems that overrides their findings (Silvia, 2007). They must put necessary efforts in suggesting some feasible solutions as well as explanations. Finally, if the dissertation does not need a separate conclusion section than the students are required to add one paragraph related with “take-home message”. This message should include a general statement, which states the reiterating answer to the research questions.
Now that the students have created their dissertations, their degree of success depends on their ability to revise and edit the research paper. The revision can be undertaken at macro and micro structure levels. At macro level, revision of the organization, content as well as flow should be done and on the other hand, at micro level, revision of grammar, spelling, individual words, punctuation and sentence structure should be done (Rutherford and Grana, 1995). Other than this, there are many other strategies which can be applied to revise the stuff. Once, all is being done, the dissertation is now ready to share with peer group, colleagues, students, writing advisor and centre. It is always good to have as much feedback as the student can especially from the non-specialists to the student’s field. The students are required to listen to the feedbacks and should not defend their writing. They can just decide where and when to change (Silvia, 2007). If the research paper gets published than it is the most important achievement for the students. Hence, to conclude it can be said that dissertation proves to be a significant stepping stone to the student’s master’s degree and thus, all the necessary care should be taken by the students to write it up. They need to concentrate at the beginning i.e. accumulating the information, managing the documents, outlining the things to be done, methods to be included and many more. As, it is said, the things that begins well, ends well!!!!!!
Books and Journals
Crooks, L., 1977. Findings: Personal Factors Related to the Careers of MBAs. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.
Hayes, J. R., 1996. In: The Science of Writing: Theories, Methods, Individual Differences, and Applications. A new framework for understanding cognition and affect in writing. pp. 1–28.
Hofmann, A. H., 2010. Scientific Writing and Communication. Papers, Proposals, and Presentations. New York: Oxford University Press.
Martínez, I., 2005. Native and non-native writers’ use of first person pronouns in the different sections of biology research articles in English. Journal of Second Language Writing.14(3). pp.174–190.
Rutherford, L. H. and Grana, S. J., 1995. Retrofitting academe: Adapting faculty attitudes and practices to technology. T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education). 23.p. 82.
Silvia, P. J., 2007. How to Write a Lot. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Smith, K. L., 1990. Collaborative and Interactive Writing for Increasing Communication Skills. Hispania. 73(1). pp.77-87.
Whitesides, G. M., 2004. Whitesides’ Group: Writing a Paper. Adv Mater. 16(15). pp.1375–1377.
Zeiger, M., 2000. Essentials of Writing Biomedical Research Papers. 2nded. San Francisco, CA: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.