Getting Started with Writing Dissertations- An Introduction

A dissertation can be a real bear.

This is your final year, and you are almost done with College or University.


Let me guess, you have not submitted your final project. And you know that you can’t graduate without it. Been postponing for how long?

Or are you the proactive type? Already working on the project? Good job.

Here is a quick guide to help you write your thesis project

What is a dissertation?

Admit it, some of you confuse between a thesis and a dissertation.  We’ve all done that.

The good news is that if you follow through with this series of articles on writing a winning final undergraduate paper, you will eventually know the difference between a thesis and dissertation.

But, first things first…

A dissertation is an essay that gives an in-depth analysis and research on a topic of your choice.

Unlike a normal essay, a dissertation identifies a gap within your field of study and comes up with proposed solutions and recommendations.

Tooltip: A gap, in this case, is a problem that other researchers have explored.

In short, the image below gives a better view of what it takes to write a winning project:

an introduction to writing dissertations

That’s easy, right?

Let’s now look at the types of dissertations in different levels

A dissertation is essential to an Undergraduate, Master’s or Doctorate student. In one way or another, you cannot avoid the final essay.

Some people think that the end of essay assessment is nigh.

Yet a report by the Guardian showed that more than three-quarters of the respondents thought that dissertations are not ending any time soon.

The good news is that the outline of an essay in Undergraduate, Master’s or Doctorate is the same. The only difference between the three levels is the purpose of the research and how it is conducted.

In this case, an Undergraduate dissertation sets the foundation for doing future research. Besides, it tests the knowledge that you have gained in class to solve a specific problem through basic research.

How about a Master’s thesis?

After completing the Undergraduate degree, you now understand basic research.

But, something is different…

Let’s assume you did Business Management in your Undergraduate degree. Now in your Master’s, you have to specialize in a specific field such as Human Resource Management. Your masters’ project is narrower and more specific than your Undergraduate project. It tests your knowledge and ability to research in your field of study and solve existing problems.

You’ve finished the Master’s thesis. What next?

Pursue a Doctorate program and become an expert in your field. Solve new problems.

But how is the Doctorate dissertation different?

Check this out:   A Doctorate essay allows you to contribute new information using facts and theories.

Your role is to establish a new problem,  study it and suggest a solution.

Let’s recap your memory a lil bit:

You did your masters in HRM and continued with the same in your Ph.D.


You cannot base your Doctorate dissertation on employee performance. That is too general and plain old news.

As you can see, a PhD. is more complicated than an Undergraduate or a Master’s program.

Choosing your supervisor

First, the dissertation team will assign you a project supervisor. It is best to know your supervisor as early as possible. After all, they will be in charge of your project.

Besides, the supervisor will be part of the team that will grade your project.  Befriend him or her.

The role of the supervisor is to:

  • Advise on the writing timetable.
  • Guide you where appropriate
  • Helps you to remain focused on the selected topic.


Supervisors do not:

  • Help with writing your essay.
  • Correct grammar and punctuation mistakes.
  • Reread and give corrections chapter after chapter.
  • Reach out to you to ensure that you finish the project.

You have to be serious about your project. The success or failure of the project is up to you. But, you should not worry; take each step at a time.

Ensure that you maintain a healthy relationship with your supervisor. Neither too personal nor too serious. Moderation is key people.

Here are some tips:

Ask the dissertation supervisor on the way forward.

Consider the follow questions:

  • How many times will you meet?
  • How will you communicate with them via email or phone?
  • Where is their office located?
  • Milestones – after how long should you send your first draft?

Tooltip: Communicate regularly with the instructor about the project’s progress. It’s your job to update your supervisor on your current progress. Avoid late submissions.

Prepare questions beforehand.  

If you are going to meet with the supervisor on a specific date, prepare the questions early on…

Here’s the deal though, ask the important questions first.

  • Word count
  • Formatting
  • Submissions


Number of words, Format & Submission dates

It sounds simple. And it is.

Different instructors have different requirements regarding the format and submission date.

However, the good news is that a dissertation word count is relative.

What does this mean? It means that there is no fixed number of words required for a dissertation.

How can you actually beat your word count?

“A Journey of a thousand miles begins with a step” by Lao Tzu

Just like a journey, writing the dissertation is a process. Once you’ve cracked it, you are ready to go.

But, you first have to master the basics. Reaching a pre-set word count is annoying. Isn’t it?

In short, you have to do serious reading and research.

Use the given reference styles; APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard, in your dissertation. Do not mix or interchange the reference styles.

Word of advice: you can use a citation generator to automate the process. Some common generators include Citefast, Citeforme among others.

Here’s an example of percentage word count in each chapter:

Dissertation word count

Writing style and communication

Due to the formality of a dissertation, use a professional tone. Informal words or slang are not allowed.

Submissions Dates

Whether you are doing your undergrad, Master’s or Ph.D. dissertation, deadlines are important.

Case in point: start writing your dissertation early enough. You might consider starting a few months before the actual deadline.

For Ph.D. students, it might take more time to complete your dissertation so start as early as you can.

Tips on Time Management

Set up milestones

To avoid the last minute rush set up milestones to complete specific tasks. For example:

  • Finish the chapters one month before submission.
  • Write at least 500 words per day

Your milestones will depend on the dissertation submission deadline. Finishing the project early than expected is often the right move.

We have been getting requests of whether we can help students with their dissertations but you can go to the best dissertation writers for custom help

Dealing with boredom

Ooh, dissertation writing is not easy. And sometimes, it can be boring.


You are human. So how do you deal with boredom?

  • Work on your dissertation during weekdays only
  • Take breaks between and do something engaging like watching a funny movie or taking a walk
  • Interact with family and friends in the evening or when on a break
  • Exercise and eat well

Defending your dissertation

Does the thought of presenting to a panel make you nervous? It is normal to feel nervous during a presentation. So why don’t you find a few friends and practice on them?

Or better yet, find someone in your class who is willing to be your audience and vice versa. A ‘fake audience’ will point out some mistakes and help boost your confidence.


The best way to finish your presentation is to understand the contents well.

Some of the questions asked in a dissertation presentation are:

  • Why did you choose the topic?
  • How is your research significance to your field?
  • Why did you choose qualitative data in research and not quantitative data?
  • What is the future of that particular problem?

This is the first series of articles on writing a winning dissertation. Look out our next post or subscribe to get notified.


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