The Steps Involved in Writing a Dissertation

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The Steps Involved in Writing a Dissertation


stages of a dissertation

Writing a dissertation is clearly an important stage of your education. The main point of this research paper is to gauge your research skills and your understanding of the topic that you’ve chosen. Thus, you have to make sure that your dissertation paper is nothing short of best. A lot is on stake and a lot depends on how you approach your research and what you’ve presented in your dissertation.

A lot of students start writing their dissertation with enthusiasm; however, the intimidating project can leave them in despair. You’ve to fight the procrastinator in you, polish your research and writing skills, and make sure that you present your point of view in the most impeccable manner.

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Reading all this, you might think that writing a perfect dissertation could be almost unmanageable but this isn’t the case. Here are the steps involved in writing a dissertation which will help you pull off your project successfully. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a PhD dissertation or an undergraduate thesis, these stages of dissertation writing will surely get you through:

Step 1: A Winning Proposal

Proposal is the first step towards producing a flawless dissertation. A dissertation research proposal template usually includes introduction, which mentions the research that you intend to undertake, the aims and objectives of the research and the research question (Capella.edu, 2017). The introductory section of your proposal also includes the significance of your research as to what impact this will have in your area of study.

Next, your proposal includes literature review. This section talks about the models and theories that you will utilize in your study and how they relate to the topic that you’ve chosen. Additionally, this section also includes a theoretical framework, through which your readers or your supervisor will become aware as to how you will relate theories to your chosen topic. The theoretical framework is extremely important as it helps build your proposal in the right direction. Even if your supervisor does not have time to go through whole of your proposal, he or she can judge this section based on the theoretical framework that you’ve included.

The third section of your proposal includes the research strategy that you’re undertaking. This is the methodology that identifies how research will be conducted and what type of data will be gathered. This part of your dissertation should be explained in detail as it mentions how research should be carried out and whether the data will be collected through mix method of research or secondary research. Moreover, this section also outline what tools will be used for data gathering. Whether interviews will be conducted, surveys will be done or questionnaires. Detailed explanation of the types of tools and complete procedure should be mentioned so that the readers understand how data was gathered. This builds up credibility of your research.

A few dissertation research proposal examples also include timeline of your research i.e. weeks/days it will take to complete your research. Prepare a proper and detailed timetable as to how many days will each section be completed within.

Here is a useful article to help you decide whether which research strategy you should choose.

Step 2: Thorough Research

This is the second dissertation stage. Formulating a dissertation requires proper and thorough research. You need to look into the different research options that are available to you so that your research is up to the mark and that there are no flaws. If you’ve chosen primary data collection method, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll be conducting interviews or will ask your participants to fill surveys or questionnaires for you. Once you’ve made your decision, do your research and understand how you should engage with participants and what aspects should you look into to collect data without any flaws. Understanding the research instrument will help you conduct a better research. Interacting with participants is a skill that you should learn when conducting your research. This will help you a lot as you would’ve already studied about the instrument and will be able to conduct interviews, surveys or questionnaires in an efficient manner.


On the other hand, if you’re conducting a secondary research, you’d need to polish your desk based research skills. You might save time by not going anywhere in the field to conduct your research, but you certainly will be researching at home, on your desk. This is why this type of research is also known as desk research (Bowie State University, 2017). Researching past studies, reviewing and analyzing them is a difficult task. You need to go through a lot of material, in order to decide which one to include and which one to eliminate. Additionally, for statistics and figures, you will need to go through different official websites to get the data you’re looking for. You will have to make sure that the websites that you’re visiting provide authentic data only and that their information is recent and up to date.

Whether you’re conducting a primary research or a secondary one, you have to make sure that the research that you conduct is flawless and is in accordance with your topic and research question.

Step 3: Writing your Dissertation

The most crucial step involved in writing a dissertation is the write up itself. Once you’ve collected data for your research, you need to make sure that you write your dissertation in a manner which will depict all the hard work and time that you’ve invested. If your collected data is accurate, but your writing isn’t, there is no way you can produce a flawless dissertation. When you reach this stage, you already have your proposal in front of you, and your collected data. All you have to do is to add to the proposal and put your collected data in place.

Start by completing your first chapter. Talk more about the significance of your research, the impact that it will have on the subject and what readers can take from your research. Read the aim and objectives that you included in your research, and see if they need correction or if you need to add/delete any of them. Go through your research question again and see if it can be improved (Sheffield, 2017).

Once you’re done with your first section, move to the second – Literature Review. This section presents an understanding to your reader that you’ve researched well on your topic and have a thorough understanding of it. Make sure that you choose the right and the most appropriate theories and models that fit well with your research. In this manner, you will be able to present researches and studies that have been conducted on the same models and theories. Furthermore, this section also helps in understanding as to how well you’ve understood your subject and how well you’ve conducted your research. Also, in this section, discuss all aspects and characteristics related to your subject and topic. Don’t forget to cite your references as you write. Sometimes we do not cite an information that we gathered from a past research, and then in the end we lose track of the research itself. To avoid hassles, always make sure that you cite as you write.

Next is the dissertation research methodology chapter. When writing about this section, make sure that you discuss the different research methods and then specifically talk about the research method that you’ve chosen. This will give your readers an idea that you’re aware of the various research methods, thus have chosen the method that best suits your study. While mentioning the research method, also talk about the type of data collection strategies that will be done for this research, and the tools that will be used. This will provide a clear understanding as to how the research was conducted. If any statistical tests will be conducted, mention them here as well.

The forth section is the most important in every dissertation. Analysis and discussion section is the crux of the dissertation where all findings are being analyzed and results are being formed. This section is a bit more crucial for studies where primary data has been collected (Capella.edu, 2017). This data has to be analyzed through statistical tests or if the data is qualitative, they will be analyzed through past researches. Usually thematic analysis is conducted where interviews and focus groups are used as a data collection method. Also, the same type of analysis is conducted when secondary research is conducted. For surveys and questionnaires, SPSS is used and different tests, based on the research question, are conducted. The results are then analyzed and discussed in this section after the test results have been included.

The last section of the dissertation is conclusion. This is where you summarize the whole research, talk about how the findings linked with the research question, how it has answered your research questions and how the aims and objectives of the research were achieved. This section provides an overview of your research and concludes it.

After you’ve completed writing your dissertation, it is now time for you to formulate the abstract of your dissertation. Even though this is the first section of your dissertation, but is written last. Talk about all project stages here (American University, 2017). Introduce your topic, talk about the research question, aim and objectives, literature review, the chosen method, and findings of your research and conclusion. Abstract of your dissertation should be around 200 to 250 words so make sure that you talk more in less words. This is the first thing that your readers will read, thus your abstract should encourage readers to read your complete dissertation.

Step 4: Edit & Proofread

The Steps Involved in Writing a Dissertation

Now comes the final stage of research. After you’ve finalized your research and have completed the writing part of your dissertation, make sure that you proofread and edit your dissertation. There are a lot of aspects that are often overlooked when we are writing something. Thus proofreading, editing and going over the content with a fresh mind helps us look through our mistakes and correct them. If you’re too tired to edit and proofread your dissertation the same day, take some rest. Get back on it the next day and edit it. Sometimes you might not be able to locate mistakes and flaws in your own work shortly after you’ve completed it. This happens because your mind is already occupied. Thus, go through your work with a fresh mind so that you can look through your mistakes and correct them. You can even ask any of your friends or colleagues to edit and proofread your dissertation, since it is difficult to find your own mistakes.

Also make sure to proofread your reference list (Bowie State University, 2017). This holds a lot of importance, thus should be flawless. Crosscheck that your references are complete, contain the name of the publisher and/or journal.


The steps mentioned above form a basic dissertation structure template which helps students to put their dissertation in place without any difficulty. However, the steps involved in writing a dissertation may vary according to the academic level. The structure of a dissertation for a PhD research may differ from an undergraduate dissertation. Even though the general format would remain the same, but PHD research stages might include a couple of additional sections.

Whether you’re writing an undergraduate dissertation or a PhD dissertation, we are here to help you. At Research Prospect, our highly qualified team of writers make dissertation writing an easy task for you. You can get guidance from our team and also avail our dissertation writing services. So, get in touch with us right away, and let us take care of all your dissertation related concerns.

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  • edu. (2017). What Are the Steps in Writing a Dissertation? – Capella University Blog. [online] Available at: https://www.capella.edu/blogs/cublog/steps-in-writing-a-dissertation/ [Accessed 13 Oct. 2017].
  • Bowie State University. (2017). The Fundamental Steps to Writing Thesis/Seminar Papers: A Review of Common Mistakes and Errors Associated with Students Papers. [online] Available at: https://www.bowiestate.edu/files/resources/the-fundamental-steps-to-writing-thesis.pdf [Accessed 13 Oct. 2017].
  • Sheffield, U. (2017). 10 steps to writing and excellent dissertation – Modules – Current MA Students – Current Students – SEAS – The University of Sheffield. [online] Sheffield.ac.uk. Available at: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/seas/currentstudents/ma/modules/diss [Accessed 13 Oct. 2017].
  • American University. (2017). Ten Steps For Writing Research Papers. [online] Available at: http://www.american.edu/ocl/asac/upload/ten-steps-for-writing-research-papers.pdf [Accessed 13 Oct. 2017].

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