Creating A Solid Doctoral Dissertation: A Step By Step Guide

Your doctoral dissertation may well be the most important academic work that you ever do. There are reasons why so few students reach this level of post-graduate study. Even those that make it as far as the dissertation proposal process may not be able to earn their PhD. The level and depth of understanding, research, and thought that goes into composing a successful PhD dissertation takes extraordinary dedication and effort.

It also takes time. You can expect to spend years perfecting your work. Fortunately, you will have the support of your faculty, course supervisors and academic peers to help you out along the way. And we have put together a step by step guide to provide a little support for you as well.

Before You Start

Be sure you are familiar with the most recent work and research that has been conducted in your field of study. Search for papers that have been published, and presented, at top conferences and in the best journals in your discipline. Which ones won awards or received proportionally greater attention than others? Why?

Consult with your advisor, and pick their brains. Don't be afraid to ask them about the process that they went through as they composed their dissertation. They may have valuable tips that will save you time and effort down the road. They will likely also be satisfied to know that you are taking a personal interest in their work as well.

Step 1: Writing A Dissertation Abstract

This is where you need to ask and answer a few key questions. What is the issue or problem you are seeking to resolve or address? Why does this issue need discussion and further research? How will your work contribute to, and improve on, the body of current knowledge?

Step 2: Deciding On your Dissertation Title

Be precise, and keep your title right on point. Seven to eight words should do it. Keep it catchy. You will need to draw readers into your ideas, and keep them interested throughout your dissertation.

Step 3: Creating Your Thesis Outline

You'll need to decide how many chapters you think will be needed to effectively address the issues involved. What will your methodology be? Your sources? What conclusions do you expect to draw? Remember, that depending on the results of your research, you may need to tweak your thesis and the final wording of your dissertation.

Step 4: Getting Down To Work

You'll need to set, and stick to, a schedule for the research and writing that is to come. There will be days when you feel you simply cannot read or write another word of your dissertation. Taking an occasional break will not be the end of the universe. But try everyday to write something down. Every little bit helps, and there is a long road ahead!