HOW TO WRITE A DISSERTATION
Writing a dissertation is a lifetime’s achievement. After you have chosen your topic and ensured that no one else has previously researched your topic and thesis, the first step that you should take is to engage in a literature review. The literature review will typically represent the first chapter of the dissertation and is likely to inform both what you will study and how you will study it. Once your literature review is partially complete, it will be time to choose your methodology. Whether you are making use of a quantitative, qualitative or mixed-methods design, the methods section will typically be the second chapter of your dissertation and will focus on your research question and the way you will go about answering it through original scholarly research.
The remaining chapters of your dissertation, prior to your conclusion, will make up the main body of your dissertation. Writing these chapters of your dissertation will be the most complex element of your task as these will encompass the original research that you are producing in writing your dissertation. This is the point at which all dissertations begin to differ. While some will be focused on heavily parsimonious mathematical equations or laboratory experiments in math and physics, others will be premised on large scale interviews or ethnographies in disciplines like psychology and anthropology. As you write your body chapters, you will likely make changes to your literature review, and maybe even to your thesis, as your original research yields new insights.
This is why it is critically important to be highly adaptive when you are writing a dissertation. Because a dissertation is made up of original and novel research that will make a contribution to the literature on your topic, you must absolutely be open to modifying your thesis as you progress with your research. Given that your results might modify or even contradict your original thesis, there is a risk that you will have to change or completely modify your thesis. Keep in mind that, when writing a dissertation, this is not a failure. This is simply a result of the fact that you are writing a novel and unprecedented piece of scholarship, and that it is impossible to know what you will discover before you conduct your dissertation research. The conclusion of the dissertation should typically be written last and must not include new information. Rather, it should reflect on your findings, discuss the limitations of your work, highlight its relevance to your discipline, and discuss potential avenues for future research on the subject that you or another scholar might undertake.