How to Write a Great Dissertation and Score an A

Writing a dissertation or thesis requires expertise, patience, and commitment. More often than not, students ask themselves how to write a perfect dissertation. In this article, we answer your questions on what is the length of a dissertation. We also discuss how long a dissertation is.

By the end of this article, you will learn how to write a perfect dissertation and how to plan a dissertation proposal. You are likely wondering whether there is an undergraduate dissertation. Well, read on through this information-packed article to satisfy your curiosity.

Composing an excellent dissertation requires adequate planning, research, organization, and presentation of facts. When it comes to the topic, be sure to choose one that you can collect information on within a short time, like two months.

Mostly, because of limited time, students prefer having someone to help them complete their dissertation proposals and dissertation. Check out our dissertation proposal writing services and find the best hire for your proposal. Our custom writing service also offers dissertation writing help.

Dissertation Definition

So what is a dissertation anyway?

A dissertation is an academic writing project undertaken by doctoral candidates for doctoral degree classification. Other courses mandate undergraduate students to write a dissertation.

Simply, Ph.D. candidates present a final project called a dissertation for a doctoral degree. In close semblance, a dissertation can also refer to final independent research work compiled by either an undergraduate student. However, for a Master’s student, a thesis fits the definition.

Notably, all dissertations commence with a dissertation proposal. However, before then, choosing an excellent dissertation topic matters a lot.

When you finally get to the point of writing a dissertation, you are at an important stage in your education and career journey. This is the time to display your ability to conduct research and apply writing skills in your field of interest.

Whether at the undergraduate or Ph.D. level, the approach, process, and presentation of this assignment is level. However, a Ph.D. project is much superior and needs some serious work.

A dissertation or thesis requires the student to produce an original piece of research work based on a selected topic.

Both thesis and dissertation are longer than the other essays you will encounter. They are rewarding since you get the chance to pick a topic of interest and immerse yourself.

8 Simple Steps on How to Write a Dissertation

There are different steps and approaches to writing dissertations, and your tutor/professor will probably brief you. However, here is a systematic approach to writing the best dissertation or thesis.

1. Choose a Great Dissertation Topic

Every professor will tell you that good writing is an essential part in a thesis or dissertation. However, it has its accompaniments, such as useful concepts or ideas, a great topic, and a clear presentation.

When we talk of choosing a great dissertation/thesis title, you must first think around the course objectives, the course readings, and then the career path you would like to take.

Your academic supervisor also comes in handy when choosing a topic. In a bid to help you get the best marks, for which their reputation rests, they will help you through the dissertation writing process.

Briefly, here are some tips for choosing a topic for your final year research project, thesis, or dissertation.

How to choose the best Dissertation Topics

Brainstorming backed up with research assures you of choosing the best topic for a dissertation. Many questions linger in someone’s mind as they brainstorm. However, when choosing a dissertation topic, consider the following

Choose a topic that interests you

A dissertation takes weeks to months to complete, as does a research project or a thesis. As such, it is practical to choose a topic you find interesting to handle.

It is always best to consider a topic that meets your career projections. Sometimes, the subject on the course that interests you can inspire the topic of your dissertation. Still, it can be a topic that you have thought through and through during the course.

A simple internet search can help you brainstorm on the best ideas, which you can share with your supervisor for approval and criticism. Whether it is a business, psychology, nursing, biology, or sociology/social work dissertation, ensure you choose a topic that is feasible to research. One that will not get you bored along the way.

Defy being predictable

Every student will rush to find a thesis or dissertation topic that is on the internet. However, since this is your independent research, aspire to stand out.

While using the internet, understandably benefits you when choosing a topic, do not copy it verbatim. Instead, reason with the course objectives and tweak it. If you are unable, ask your supervisor what angle or approach they would take to make a topic different from the rest.


A key secret is to narrow down your topic to a smaller, less explored topic. Finding already researched topics will make you seem lazy. Therefore, the more you tweak it and standardize it to your own, you get a chance to get a unique dissertation topic finally.

Avoid vagueness

We are sometimes masters of ambiguity. When selecting a dissertation, research project, or a thesis topic, lock up this habit for once. A dissertation is a serious piece of work, as is a thesis or research project. Therefore, avoid topics that do not have content or do not seem as necessary, at least for now.

Also, avoid too broad ideas that will make you sink into research. For instance, if you intend to bring a change process that reduces congestion in the ED, you can frame your topic as The Impacts of Technology in Reducing ED congestion.

Under this, you can talk about how technology has helped reduce cueing and overcrowding in the ED. Besides, you can also explore the role of technology in quality improvement within the ED under the same topic.

Do not go too narrow

While we have mentioned that you are concise and succinct in your dissertation topic choice, do not narrow the topic too much that you lack content to write.

Do not choose a topic that can be answered by a simple Yes or No. Instead, go for a topic that can be expanded in different perspectives while answering the research questions, objective/aims, and proving the hypotheses of your thesis or dissertation.

Maintain objectivity

When selecting a dissertation topic, do not fall to the trap of being so absorbed into the topic. Instead, be utterly realistic about the scope of your research and create a topic that befits the process.

Let your dissertation steep in the relevant literature. You can choose topics from

  • Professional journals in your field
  • Past dissertations published online (ProQuest)
  • The internet
  • Leading scholars in diverse areas
  • Handbook on research and teaching
  • Conference and seminar publications
  • News items
  • Consulting with librarian research assistants
  • Colleagues and other professionals

When you choose to go the replication way, you can contact the author of the previous research and find ideas. You can also ask for ways to tweak your topic from your advisor.

Consult with your tutor

As always, you must engage in meaningful discussions with the faculty and the scholars in your field. It can be easy to find a professional scholars forum such as Research Gate and ask for topics given your course.

However, your supervisor/tutor remains the greatest asset you have when doing your dissertation or thesis.

Dissertation/Thesis topic choice Checklist

  • It should be feasible, relevant, and researchable.
  • Do you know about the topic?
  • Is there enough material to support the need to research the identified topic?
  • Is the topic relevant to your field of study?
  • Has the topic been explored before?
  • What gaps in literature mandate the pursuit of the topic?
  • Do the committee and your advisor/supervisor give your topic a clean bill of health?
  • Are you interested in researching the topic?
  • Is the topic clear and concise?
  • Does the topic align with your preferences, career aspirations, or the course?
  • What problem are you focusing on, and why?
  • Why is it essential to tackle the problem.

2. Craft a Winning Thesis/Dissertation Proposal

As we explained earlier, a dissertation or thesis comes after writing a proposal. So, what is a dissertation proposal?

Dissertation Proposal Definition

A dissertation proposal is meant to outline the area of concentration, the problem, and the approach that a student intends to use in research and writing their dissertation.

A dissertation or thesis proposal is a pre-dissertation or thesis-writing piece of academic task that persuades the committee or the supervisor on your ability to commit to the chosen topic.

Lengthwise, a dissertation or thesis proposal is shorter than the actual proposal. It can be anything between 10 and 20 pages long. We have a sample dissertation or thesis proposal outline. (Be sure to check it out)

The moment you have a proposal that speaks for itself, you will have fewer revisions. Besides, you also get the chance to begin researching for your dissertation early enough.

What is the length of a dissertation proposal?

A dissertation proposal culminates in a dissertation. Therefore, the proposal must be excellent and well-written for the professor to okay your research process and dissertation. A good doctoral dissertation can be anywhere between 10 to 20 pages. The following is a doctoral dissertation proposal template:

  • Introduction (statement of purpose, the significance of the study, and aims and goals) (three pages max.)
  • Objectives (0.5 pages)
  • Preliminary Literature Review (6-10 pages)
  • Methodology (3-6 pages)
  • Research Limitations and Delimitations (0.5 pages)
  • Research Timeline/Gantt Chart (0.5 pages)
Dissecting a Dissertation/Thesis Proposal

The introduction section of the proposal is meant to provide the background of the study. It should also outline the problem and feature the significance of the study.

The objectives section should highlight the general and specific objectives of your dissertation. Depending on your research approach, this section can also serve as the research questions or hypothesis section.

Use the methodology section to outline the research philosophy, research design and approach, data collection methods, and methods of data analysis.

Undeniably, the literature review section of your dissertation proposal is the most critical. It would be best if you put much work into it.  It should explain the previous literature written that relates to your dissertation topic. It should highlight the gaps in past literature that your dissertation is seeking to address.

The research limitation section should highlight the challenges you are likely to face when writing the proposal or conducting your research. Finally, the timeline should elucidate how each task or element of the dissertation will be completed. Most professors prefer Gantt charts for their presentation.

We have made it so simple that our guide is the best dissertation-writing guide for dummies.

3. Conduct a Rigorous and Practical Research

After your dissertations or thesis committee has given you the green light to proceed, you enter the dissertation research stage. Overall, this stage determines the success of your project.  While it seems like a walkover, you need to be effective, in-depth, and methodical. Here are some simple hacks when researching for a dissertation:

Plan your time for the research

The research stage allows you to gather evidence on the topic and immerse yourself into previous research, theories, and find the gaps that your study will fill.

Our dissertation geeks insist that making a timetable for the research cuts down the struggle by 98%. Of course, you cannot research endlessly; there comes a time for you to halt

Making a timeline is not just enough, sticking to it matters as well. Organize when to do internet research, database research, and library research over your chosen topic.

Also, be sure to indicate human resources such as library research assistants, tutors, peers, supervisors, and dissertation writing services to help along the way.

Look at the right places for scholarly sources

The internet is an excellent source of scholarly information. A google search of your topic will lead to grey research literature such as websites, Wikipedia, encyclopedia, dictionaries, and reports that can be a great resource. Although not to be cited, these sources help in contextualizing your research.

You will also notice some scholarly databases such as Ebscohost, ProQuest, Google Scholar, JSTOR, and PsycINFO. Use your librarians wisely; make a point of booking an in-person appointment or an online appointment.

Organize your resources

As you research, the hallmark of your research stage is organizing resources. You can use resources such as Evernote, Penzu, sticky notes, and MS Word document to organize your research. Besides, since PDF readers allow for marking different pdf files, you can use that to your advantage.

3. Create a Dissertation Outline

You can only write a mind-blowing dissertation, which is perfect in all aspects when you have a great outline. Writing an outline is the most vital aspect of the dissertation writing process. It signifies your readiness and envisions your final product: the thesis, research/capstone project, or dissertation in full length.

In essence, the dissertation proposal is your preliminary outline for the final dissertation or thesis. Nevertheless, the latter requires a detailed outline, which must reflect different parts as we explore below.

Basic Outline for a Dissertation/Thesis

After approval of the dissertation proposal and researching, the next step is to write the dissertation. The rubber now meets the road. Remember, you have already aced the literature review; the rest should be a walk in the park.

There is nothing to fear here. Polish the areas suggested by your instructor/advisor/professor, then get started with a dissertation outline.

Here is how to structure your dissertation and make an effective outline that will ease your writing process.

Title Page

The title page comes first in your document. It contains the title, your name, department, institutional affiliation, degree program, and date of submission.

Some universities require that you include your supervisor’s name, state, student number, and the logo of your university. For this, you are most likely to get a copy of the title page from your dissertations or theses committee.

If you are to print and bind your dissertation, the first page will always be the cover page.

Dedication and Acknowledgement

In this section of your dissertation, which is optional, you will thank everyone who has helped you during your dissertation-writing journey. It could be your parents, spouse, nanny, friends, participants, or supervisor.


The abstract, usually 150-300 words in length, is a summary of your entire dissertation/thesis. It is written last after completing the entire dissertation.

Here is a checklist for your abstract:

  • The main topic, aims, and objectives of the research
  • The purpose of your research;
  • The problem
  • The research methods and approach
  • The summary of the findings
  • Conclusions and recommendations

Make sure that the abstract is succinct, concise, coherent, and critical. It is always what your marker reads. If you are struggling with an abstract, we have a guide on how to write an abstract our website for you.

Table of Contents

The table of contents lists all the chapters of your dissertation. It includes the respective page numbers and helps the reader tell the structure or jump to different sections of your dissertation. Every part of the dissertation, including the appendices, must appear in the table of content. You can generate the Table of content using Word Processor as in the video below:

List of Tables and Figures

If your dissertation has tables, especially in the findings/results section, you need to list them here. As well, all the list of figures also appears here. A figure could be a visual illustration of the conceptual or theoretical framework. Again, you can do this automatically using the Word Processor.

List of Abbreviations

If you have used many abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation, be sure to itemize them in an alphabetical list to enable the readers to look up and understand the meaning as they read


Here, you define the highly specialized terms or jargon that your reader might not be familiar with. The list must be alphabetical, and each term must have a definition/description.


The introduction is vital as it sets the pace for your readers. It should highlight:

  • The topic of your dissertation
  • The rationale for the topic
  • Problem statement
  • Scope of the research
  • The rationale of the dissertation
  • Objectives and research questions/hypothesis
  • An overview of your dissertation
  • A summary of the introduction chapter

Make sure that, from the word go; your introduction is clear, concise, and coherent. It should tie to your research as well. Mainly, it should tell your readers about why what, and how of your research.

Literature Review/Theoretical Framework

Writing a literature review is rewarding in the sense that you identify the gaps in research based on your previous stages. It can be methodological, chronological, thematic, theoretical, or systematic. We explored how to write a literature review in our research paper-writing guide, be sure to check it.

A literature review helps understand what scholars have said about your topic of choice. It should:

  • Have a critical summary of the sources;
  • Reveal the methodological choices and approach of related studies;
  • Reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the previous studies;
  • Show the gap in literature;
  • Explore the relevance of the methodological approaches and theoretical frameworks to the current study;
  • Form a basis for your theoretical framework.

When writing about the theoretical framework, be sure to explore concepts, models, and theories. It is always prudent to consider answering descriptive research questions on the relationship between your variables and the concepts.

Research Methodology

The dissertation or theses methodology outlines the process of research. It includes:

  • The setting of the research;
  • The philosophy of the research;
  • The research design;
  • The research strategy (qualitative, mixed-method, or quantitative);
  • Sampling methods,
  • Inclusion and exclusion criteria;
  • Methods of data collection (interviews, surveys, focus groups, secondary research);
  • Justification of the chosen data collection methods;
  • Data analysis methods (statistical analysis, thematic/content analysis, or discourse analysis);
  • Validity, relevance, and credibility of the research; and
  • Challenges during the research.

This section must accurately represent the process of research. It must also convince the readers of the validity and credibility of your research, given the hypothesis or research questions.


Now that you have slain the bull, the next step is sorting the edible parts. The results section of a dissertation or thesis will have different sections. It will have a hypothesis/research question subsection, the findings section, and tables and figures.

It is prudent to report the findings relevant to your research objectives.  You can choose to mix the results and the discussion.

For instance, when reporting the findings of an interview or thematic/content analysis, some universities permit back-to-back presentations. Nevertheless, it is best to consult with your supervisor.

If there are tables, graphs, and charts, this is their rightful place. Present your data systematically to allow you to write the next section better. Sometimes, it is best to save space, and through the graphs, charts, and tables to the appendix section of the dissertation.


The name itself speaks for itself. Here is where you explore the implications and meaning of the results given the research questions or hypotheses.

We found out that professors like critically and well-reasoned discussion sections. By this, we mean connecting literature to your findings and then explaining how they answer your research question or support/refute your hypotheses.

When interpreting the results, assess whether your research has met the objectives or how well the findings fit in the conceptual/theoretical framework.

As a means of being scholarly, you should also appreciate the alternative interpretations of your data and present limitations likely to have influenced the results.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The conclusions chapter is always shorter than the discussion. Get this right; this is never just a mere summary of the research. Instead, it needs to be conclusions of the main points that you have discovered in your research. It should also have implications for your research findings on your field and some recommendations for future researchers.

A thesis or dissertation conclusion answers the main research question. It must also present the central argument and a reflection on what you did and how the process felt like.

List of References/Bibliography

Your reference list contains the full bibliographic information of the sources cited within your dissertation or thesis. It is also known as works cited or bibliography, depending on your chosen citation and formatting style.

If you are in the UK, most dissertations and theses are written in Harvard and Vancouver or Oxford referencing styles. Most Law dissertations are written in AGLC, Blue Book, or OSCOLA format.

The US universities prefer APA for psychology and business. Chicago, MLA, or MHRA referencing styles is used mostly for humanities.

There are many citation machines such as Zotero, BibMe, Citethisforme, Citefast, or RefWorks to help you organize your reference list.


The appendix section of your thesis or dissertation contains essential information that contributes to the elucidation of ideas or answering the research questions. It might include the transcripts, detailed tables, pilot reports, interview transcripts, and questionnaires.

4. Write the Dissertation

The next step after outlining your dissertation or thesis is to write it finally.
According to experts and professors, an all-encompassing dissertation is only possible when you grasp some facts. Here are some pointers to keep you on toes when writing your dissertation.

Write as you go

Now that you have a clear goal, it is vital to organize your writing pattern or habits. For instance, you can choose to write about 1500 words or 6 pages per week.
Alternatively, you can resort to the systematic section-by-section approach according to the timeline on your proposal.
The trick is to start immediately; you are through with the outline and after consulting your advisor or supervisor.
Begin with the cover page and ensure that each chapter is done, including a summary of the chapter.
While writing, make notes, have an updated list of resources, and cite as you write to avoid plagiarism or guessing sources.

Mind your writing style

The development of arguments in your dissertation is critical. The arguments should be based on:
¢ The rationale of the chosen topic;
¢ The best approach to research the topic;
¢ Appropriate data analysis methods; and
¢ The significance of the interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations.
As you will be referring to works by other scholars, you should use a language recognized as scholarly. Like other academic writing tasks, it must be written in the third person and passive voice.
For instance, The researcher engaged a group of community leaders through four focus groups to explore
Nevertheless, some areas might require the use of I in a dissertation. You should verify with your university on the requirements before you commence the writing process.
When writing a dissertation, use short sentences. Ideally, each sentence should not exceed 25 words. Also, maintain a balanced paragraph structure, maintaining each at 150 words to the maximum.
As you write the paragraphs, have a topic sentence, the supporting facts, and the closing sentences.
Here are some words facts about developing strong arguments.

How to develop persuasive arguments in a thesis/dissertation

¢ Develop existing points of view by using complex and larger data sets or applying proven theories to a new contest.
¢ Refute, reject, or rebut the arguments of other scholars on reasonable grounds.
¢ Agree with, concur, accede to, confirm, claim, or defend a given point of view.
¢ Concede that a given point of view has merits but needs qualifications to a specific context.
¢ Reconcile two opposing positions to appeal to a given principle.
¢ Dismiss a scholar based on the weaknesses of their study.
¢ Reformulate an existing point of view to make a better new explanation.
For more read this book:
Taylor G. (1989) The Student’s Writing Guide for the Arts and Social Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

5. Formatting, Editing, and Proofreading

After you have written your dissertation or thesis, you should then move to the next step. Here, your role is to align things to a scholarly level.

If you had been provided with a template for your dissertation by the university, consider using it. Ensure that you have a clear understanding of the formatting or referencing style to be used. Stick to the respective writing rules for the MLA, Harvard, Vancouver, Oxford, OSCOLA, or Chicago formatting styles.

When it comes to editing, you should focus on errors such as language, grammar, and punctuation marks. You must ensure that your paper is written in English, which is the international academic publication language. Therefore, when English is not your first language, hire a native English speaker or an editor to help.

Finally, proofread your work to eliminate any inconsistencies. Again, you can use your friend or professional proofreading services. As you proofread, ensure your work has no plagiarism. You can use tools such as Grammarly, Turnitin, or SafeAssign to assess the degree of similarity in your paper.

6. Wait for the Feedback

Before finally submitting your dissertation for the marking by the dissertation committee, you need to seek some feedback from your colleague, advisor/supervisor, or mentor.

The feedback has to be honest. It should be after an in-depth scanning of your thesis/dissertation. Discuss the project process with your mentor, journal, and reflect on the hard areas, and consult with a scholar.

Evaluate your dissertation against a checklist to ensure everything is in place and submit the perfect dissertation or thesis.

7. Celebrate your Achievement

Now that it seems the dissertation writing process is behind you, is it not time to pop some champagne? Yes. If you have managed your time well and achieved as per your schedule, why not celebrate.

A dissertation completed well is a guarantee for a successful transition into higher levels of education or career.

It is a tedious and challenging process. Therefore, you can complete it by celebrating yourself. You deserve it anyway!