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Understanding Dissertation Writing Style

  • By Daniel Millions
  • Published 12/5/2008
  • Writing

A dissertation paper is probably the most important project you have encountered in your life, as it is usually a requirement for attaining a Master’s degree (although in this case it is often referred to as a thesis) and is always required for a Ph.D. If you have gotten this far, this final step in achieving such a prestigious degree should not be too difficult, as long as you know exactly how you are going to tackle the paper and are intensely familiar with the topic. Dissertations are different from other papers because of their unique characteristics. For one, dissertations are exceeding long, often beyond ten thousand words, which comes out to about eighteen pages single spaced, and over thirty five pages double spaced. In addition, a dissertation must include heavy amounts of research, often primary, and the writer uses this research to promote a point or introduce an idea. Technically, a dissertation should be worthy of professional or scientific journals, and in some cases they are included in them. Since this is a paper for an advanced degree, it is of extremely high caliber, and can take months to complete. There is no doubt that a dissertation takes a lot of work and is the longest report you will ever have done, but after you have completed it, you will feel exceedingly proud and will have completed the requirements for being awarded a higher level degree.

Traditionally, there are five parts to a dissertation; title, abstract, table of contents, body, and bibliography. Obviously, the body is the lengthiest and most important of the parts, and the others work to support th

e body. Since a dissertation is so long, the table of contents makes it easier for readers to find certain points in the work. The abstract serves a somewhat similar purpose, in that it is a summary of the body and quickly outlines the focus. If one is unable to read the entire body, the abstract gives a clear overview of the content, usually including the end results. Although the abstract appears at the beginning of the dissertation, it is usually written last, as it is difficult to write a summary of something that is not finished yet. The bibliography shows all of the works that are referenced in the body, and no dissertation is complete without having a list of the cited sources. Leaving out any one part of a dissertation can ruin its entirety, so it is critical that the paper be fully complete and not without any sections. Depending on the subject in which the dissertation is written, there can be other requirements and styles besides the standard one. For example, dissertations of a scientific nature require have different research specifications than papers pertaining to other, dissimilar topics. Additionally, universities often have their own in house style requirements, and those will be provided by the professor.

Once the dissertation is completed, it is formally submitted. Unlike other papers, submission actually costs money, as the university binds, publishes, and optionally copyrights your work. Although costs vary by university, they often exceed one hundred dollars, although this price is worth it in exchange for a degree that can earn you an extravagant salary. Of course, besides the monetary fee, one also puts in a considerable amount of time and effort to complete the dissertation.



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