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After completing a study at a college or university, writing a dissertation is not uncommon for students. A dissertation, sometimes also referred to as a thesis, is a research project completed as part of an undergraduate or postgraduate program. Typically, a dissertation allows students to present their findings to answer a question or proposition of their choosing. The purpose of the project is to assess the independent research skills that students have acquired during their time in higher education, with the evaluation used to determine their final grade. While there are usually some guidelines from your tutor, the majority of the dissertation project is independent.

For most students, this will be the longest, most challenging, and most important task completed in their university career, requiring months of preparation and hard work (the library might become a second home). However, it can also be very rewarding, especially if you are passionate about your chosen topic. Therefore, it is a good idea to ensure that you choose a topic that you are genuinely interested in. So, what is a dissertation? How do you present an impressive dissertation? Let’s explore the related content about dissertations and how to present them:

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1. What is a Dissertation?

A dissertation is a lengthy piece of writing, ranging from ten to twenty thousand words, on a topic set by a department or a topic chosen by the student themselves. It is typically divided into chapters and may contain headings and subheadings, which are sometimes numerically labeled, as in a report.

A dissertation answers a specific research question and can report on either an experimental study or a literature-based study.

Although the purpose of a dissertation is to answer questions, the process is more important than the actual findings. Even if you do not generate usable data, you can still score well on your dissertation – as long as you can demonstrate that you have learned about the research process and can analyze and understand why you were not able to answer the question as successfully as you had hoped.

There are some clear differences: a dissertation is relatively short – usually between 1500 and 2500 words – and you are given clear instructions on what to do. For example: describe and evaluate the key theories of globalization.

A dissertation is a topic you have chosen for yourself. The use of the first recorded in English in 1651 also offers a helpful starting definition: “a treatise advancing a new point of view resulting from research”.

Another useful clue is found in the Latin origin of the word – dissertation comes from a Latin word ‘dissertare’ = ‘to debate’.

What does ‘to debate’ imply? A discussion involving different viewpoints or a collection of different ideas. So, a dissertation will not only examine a topic but also consider different viewpoints on that topic.

Below is another definition that emphasizes some more important aspects of a dissertation: “an important paper often based on original research and providing evidence of the candidate’s mastery both of her own subject and of scholarly method.”

A dissertation will show that the writer knows their topic, the key facts, and different viewpoints within it – but it also advances a point of view resulting from original research. Remember that “original” does not mean “something that has never been done before” but rather “something you do for yourself”.

A dissertation also “provides evidence of the candidate’s mastery […] of scholarly method.” This sounds horribly daunting but don’t be put off. It tells you that you need to elevate your game to write a successful dissertation. “Scholarly method” means that you will be expected to read and research more widely and deeply than for a standard undergraduate essay. It means that your work will display accuracy and skill in its investigation and discussion of a subject. It means that your discussion will give evidence of critical analysis, i.e. standing back from your subject and weighing up pros and cons. It means that you will demonstrate that you understand that, for example, aspects of particular theories or viewpoints are open to question.

The type of dissertation you complete will vary depending on your research process. One of the main differences is between an empirical and a non-empirical dissertation.

An empirical dissertation involves data collection, for example in a psychological degree. This means that you have to follow ethical and professional guidelines when collecting data from members of the public. Empirical dissertations in natural and life science subjects may involve or be entirely centered on laboratory work.

Non-empirical dissertations are based on existing data and arguments in the work of others. This means you will spend a lot of time with books! In this type of dissertation, you need to make sure that you are not only describing what others are saying, but also critically analyzing the work and exploring its practical applications.

No matter what type of dissertation and topic you choose, you will need to demonstrate the following skills:

  • Identifying and outlining a research area with a clear research question
  • Identifying major issues
  • Finding relevant sources of information
  • Evaluating the reliability and legitimacy of the sources
  • Evaluating evidence on all aspects of the argument
  • Arriving at a well-supported conclusion

Organizing and presenting your work in a critical, persuasive, and clear manner, following all formatting guidelines for your essay.

2. What is a Dissertation called in English?

A dissertation is called a “Dissertation” in English.

3. Guide on how to present an impressive dissertation

Below is the most common structure of a dissertation, where you can divide the content into sections as follows:

3.1. Introduction:

In the introduction section, you need to present the following content:

  • Reasons for choosing the topic
  • Objectives
  • Scope of the study
  • Research subjects
  • Scientific and practical significance of the topic.
  • Overview of the research topic
  • Content, research results
  • Conclusion and recommendations
  • List of the author’s published works (if any).
  • List of references.

3.2. Complete structure of a master’s dissertation:

In reality, a well-structured and scientifically presented dissertation will be highly valued by examiners. The complete structure of a dissertation is usually presented as follows:

  • Main cover page (optional or as per the template)
  • Sub cover page (optional or as per the template)
  • Copy of decisions (topic assignment, changes during the dissertation process, research tasks, etc.)
  • Declaration page
  • Acknowledgment page
  • Table of contents
  • List of abbreviations, acronyms (in alphabetical order)
  • List of tables
  • List of figures, graphs
  • Content section (including chapters, sections, sub-sections)
  • References (of the cited works in the essay)
  • Appendices (if any)

3.3. Detailed dissertation presentation format:

  • Text editing
  • Presentation of sub-sections

When presenting a master’s dissertation, you arrange the sub-sections of the dissertation into numbered groups of letters.

  • Tables, figures, equations

When presenting tables, figures, graphs, equations, or sets of equations, these elements must be associated with specific chapter numbers.

  • Abbreviations

For important dissertations, you should limit the use of abbreviations, or preferably not use them at all.

  • Citations

The purpose of citing references is to record the source of valuable literature, helping the examiner understand the author’s thought process.

  • Types of lists in a dissertation

Here are some instructions for presenting a master’s dissertation according to the lists that you need to be familiar with to have the best dissertation results:

  • List of abbreviations
  • List of tables
  • List of figures, graphs
  • List of references
  • Presentation of appendices

The appendices mainly include forms, data, images, etc.

  • Presentation of cover and sub-cover pages for master’s dissertation

The cover page of a master’s dissertation can be seen as a concise presentation by the author about themselves and the topic of the dissertation. How to present the cover page of a dissertation:

  • Cover page frame
  • The main cover page should clearly and completely state the content
  • Sub cover page is usually presented as the content of the main page

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