Dissertation and Thesis Writers

 

Questions & Answers eBook for Dissertation and Thesis Writers
What is a thesis or dissertation?

This is the final write up report of a research project which was proposed by a student either at undergraduate, masters or PhD level. In undergraduate studies and some masters programs a thesis or dissertation is submitted for partial fulfilment of the graduation requirements. However, PhD students are entirely evaluated on the basis of the theses or dissertations.

What is the need of writing a thesis or dissertation?

This is mainly because a thesis or dissertation is the only way through which you will disseminate the findings of your research to other scholars and the rest of the world in addition to aiding your graduation.

What are the activities which precede thesis or dissertation writing?

Thesis or dissertation proposal is a crucial activity which precedes the process of thesis or dissertation writing because it proposes how the actual research whose findings eventually leads to the dissertation will be carried out.

How do you formulate a thesis or dissertation topic?

Writing a dissertation begins with topic selection and the circumstances will likely determine the latitude involved. The dissertation topic should exactly align with the proposal topic and it should be simple, clear, attention grasping, and self explanatory.

At what time should the selection of a thesis committee be carried out?

Thesis committee for both masters and PhD students should be done relatively early in the thesis or dissertation writing process. This is done to avoid last minute rush and also giving ample time to prepare for any essential assistance they to accord to you in addition to helping you make the necessary rectifications to your thesis or dissertation early enough.

How should you organize your thesis or dissertation?

The process of thesis or dissertation writing can be a daunting one. However, you can take two essential strategies when writing the first draft. For instance, the first strategy is the thesis-by-chapter format, where the literature review chapter of the dissertation is followed the methodology chapter and then the results of the research aimed at addressing the principal research objectives/questions. However, a summary chapter is also included where the research implications are discussed in the context the research questions as a typical way of concluding a thesis or dissertation of this format. The second strategy which is an alternative way of organizing a thesis or dissertation is the manuscript format. In this format, the organization of contents is done in a unified body of text with distinct sections for a literature review chapter, in addition to chapters for the materials and methods, results and discussion. However, the former organization is highly preferred and the most common, due to its minimization of the work required in the preparation, editing, and proofing the contents for publication as discrete research articles.

What should you do to ensure smooth thesis or dissertation writing process?

The trick to this is to start organized to stay organized throughout the entire process. However, you will only achieve this by maintaining a coherent system of organization for your references, research data, as well as preliminary drafts. Therefore, for minimizing the frustrations that are associated with misplaced, lost, or scattered files, it is necessary to organize the with respect to specific research questions/experiments. For example, you should create discrete folders for individual chapters if you are using the thesis-by-chapter format such as introduction, literature review, methods and materials, results and discussion. You are supposed to use this system right from the start of your thesis or dissertation process whereby in the research chapter’s folders there should also be corresponding sub-folders for data, notes, and drafts.

How should you manage references appropriately?

This may require the use of reference management software. This is mainly because over the course of research, you will likely accumulate a large quantity of literature as well as the sources from which the information has been sourced from. Therefore, reference management software may be helpful in making sure that you keep your literature organized, as well as properly formatting in-text citations and references according to specific documentation styles selected.

When should you actually begin the process of writing your thesis or dissertation?

It is advisable to start writing the first draft of your thesis or dissertation as early as you can during your masters or PhD program in order to avoid the rushing during the last minute.

What is the significance of a dissertation literature review chapter?

Literature review is a crucial part of your dissertation and it is actually included in the first few thesis or dissertation chapters so that you can explicitly specify its significance. Writing a dissertation literature review chapter begins with the succinct understanding of its purpose. Therefore, prior to beginning writing the dissertation literature review chapter you should understand that a literature review is a summary of materials that have been used as source of information and related to your topic of research. Thus, you will need be conduct a summary of many research papers, journals and books pertaining to your topic of interest. Moreover, your literature review writing should be done on the basis of the relevance and importance of the topic of research. This is mainly because you are simply striving towards building up a significant reputation of your literature review by increasing the importance of the literature review through indication to the potential readers of your dissertation that you have conducted thorough research on your topic of research.

A dissertation literature review chapter provides a succinct collection of what has been written on a topic that you have chosen to conduct your research on. Therefore, the main purpose to write a dissertation literature review chapter is to ensure that you show your audience concepts and knowledge that have already been prescribed on your particular topic of research while at the same time highlighting their strong and weak points. Your dissertation literature review chapter must also be connected to the research questions as well as the dissertation or thesis topic you are developing. Relevant and appropriate research questions as well as the methods utilized to answer the formulated questions must be framed in the context of the literature review conducted.

How can prepare appropriately to write a literature review chapter?

Prior to beginning writing a dissertation literature review chapter, the first useful step to start with is the identification of the relevant “key words” essential in helping you in the navigation through the existing literature. When conducting the search for information, it is necessary remember that it is advisable to always prioritize primary research. However, in the process of writing the dissertation literature review chapter it is usually very challenging to determine the relevant literature to your research topic necessitating the need for keen evaluation. The ultimate goal of writing the dissertation literature review chapter is to ensure that there is gathering of a representative collection of materials that are most pertinent. Moreover, you are required to ensure that there is accurate documentation of how the material used as sources of information have been collected. This serves a crucial role of ensuring that, other people interested in the same topic of your research can use the same procedure to retrieve the same information. In order to write an effective literature review chapter, you must maintain a logical and coherent progression of ideas. This is achievable through summarizing of the main results of the studies reviewed in a single sentence.

This is usually followed by several other stages that are important in the preparation of the dissertation literature review chapter. These include: conducting data evaluation, this allows you to conduct an assessment of the information in the articles that you chose from your topic of research. Data analysis as well as interpretation is the other step which involves trying to make sense out of the information that is inherent in the extracted data. This sets the stage for the presentation of extracted data where determining of the most essential information to include in your literature review is carried out. The other crucial step is to formulate and justify empirical research questions, this is essential in enabling you to explain the meaningful contributions that your dissertation will make to knowledge in your field.

How should you organize your literature review chapter?

A number of ways do exist through which you can capable of organizing your dissertation literature review chapter. However, there are three which are common such as: 1) the historical format, this facilitates the organization of the literature review in a chronological manner; 2) the conceptual format, where the literature review is developed around research theories or propositions; and 3) the methodological format, this is mostly used to conduct a meta-analyses. Literature reviews can either be qualitative or quantitative. A literature review which is qualitative documents the significance of the research problems at the start of the study, and is often utilized in comparing and contrasting with other studies conducted in the same academic field, whereas quantitative literature review highlights the significance of the research problems at the start of the study, this is done by supporting the explanation or theory used in the study as well as explaining the results obtained from other studies.

What are the common mistakes to avoid when writing your thesis or dissertation? Irrespective of the type and format that you chose to base your dissertation literature review chapter on, there are several common mistakes often made by students that you should avoid at all costs. They include: total failure of utilizing best key words and identification of the best sources, failure to relate the findings of your study to the literature review findings, relying heavily on secondary sources rather than primary ones as well as accepting the findings of other researchers blindly instead of examining them critically. There is also the need to effectively edit your dissertation literature review by doing adequate revision as well as giving you ample time to revise in order to avoid grammatical and spelling errors.

What is a thesis or dissertation methodology chapter?

A dissertation methodology chapter is the most essential chapter in the preparation of a thesis or dissertation and its main purpose is to give you as a researcher a guideline of all the activities you intent to carry out. Writing an exceptional dissertation methodology chapter is important because it gives an experienced researcher adequate information necessary for allowing replication of the study.  The most crucial part of the dissertation methodology chapter is the research design since it is usually used in structuring the research as well as showing how the entire components of the research project, such as the sample, methods, and measures collaborate together to succinctly address the questions that are central research in the study.

What is the significance of a research design in a thesis or dissertation?

This part of a dissertation methodology chapter outlines how the study will be designed. Scientific studies have variables while qualitative studies do not have; this part clearly outlines the dependent and independent variables. Sometimes the research hypotheses are stated in null form to set the stage for statistical inferences that will be carried out later. However, in a quantitative study, you will be required to ensure the level of significance to be used in the acceptance or rejection the hypotheses are appropriately stated.

What is the role of a pilot study in your dissertation?

The dissertation methodology chapter should also include a pilot study part. For example, in a quantitative study, the designed survey instrument effectiveness needs to be validated through the pilot study as well as evaluating whether the questions will elicit the desired information in answering the research’s primary questions. Also in both scientific and qualitative studies, the main study is mostly preceded by a pilot study in order to correct any problems arising from the instrumentation or other data collection technique elements.

What are the details that should be included in the setting and participants section?

In this section you are supposed to describe the environment in which the study will be conducted. If it is a field study, the geographical location must be described while for laboratory studies the conditions must also be described. The sample size should also be stated after determination through a power analysis. However, inclusion and exclusion criteria for participants should also be outlined. In addition, the method to be used to reach for the participants is supposed to be outlined.

What is the significance of the instrumentation and procedure sections of your thesis?

In this part you should succinctly and clearly describe how the data was collect on the basis of an existing instrument.  You should also provide a justification of the method selected to collect data for the study. If there is use of an existing instrument, the instrument background is described including its origin and measures taken for its validation. In case of the use of a Likert scale, the description of the scale should be done. In addition, you are supposed to fully describe how the data were collected. In case of a qualitative study, in this section you should outline how the questionnaires were administered. Moreover, in case of a quantitative study, in this section you are supposed to provide details of when as well as how the data were collected.

Why is the data processing and analysis section essential?

This part of the dissertation is aimed at describing the precise method of the processing and analysis of the collected data. You will also be required to describe the methods used in data analysis including the software which you might have used. This is undoubtedly very crucial since it gives the collected data its meaning.

Why should you have an ethical considerations section in your thesis or dissertation?

When developing the methods to be used in the study ethical issues must be considered. This is to ensure that you state your intended procedures for the protection of human participants. Therefore, ethical concerns are very important, especially in regards to planning, conducting, as well as evaluating the entire research. In this section you should justify that your study presents minimal risk to the study participants as a result of experimental treatment by preventing any psychological and/or physical harm.  Informed consent should also be obtained from the participants owing to the fact that they fully understand the nature of the study.

What is the role of internal and external validity?

This is aimed at validating the effectiveness of how the research design is utilizing methods of measurement to be used in data collection to address the research questions. When writing this part you should consider the two types of validity such as the internal and external. Internal validity is aimed at confirming how correct the study design is, and it is assured through a pilot study in both qualitative and quantitative studies. External validity reflects the ability to replicate the outcomes thereby allowing for generalization to other situations or populations.

What is the importance of writing a results chapter in your thesis?

Writing the results chapter in a thesis or dissertation is undoubtedly one of the most essential chapters since it presents the outcomes of the study. Therefore, the main purpose of writing the dissertation results chapter is to summarize the data collected, statistical treatment, as well as the mechanics of data analysis. In the process of writing the dissertation results chapter the first paragraph should be aimed at briefly restating the problem as it was outlined in the introduction chapter of the dissertation or thesis.

How are the results presented in your thesis or dissertation?

The results should be presented in form of tables and/or figures, or any other form in which the collected data can summarized. However, the tables and/or figures to be used for the representation of the collected data should be selected carefully. It is also important to note that depending on the type of study, the amount of data put in the results chapter will tend to vary. For instance, some studies can be easily defended if all the raw data is presented in the dissertation results chapter; however, in others it is better to present the bulk of the raw data in the appendix.

Mostly writing the dissertation results chapter in quantitative studies is a daunting task since the collected data must be subjected to numerous processing prior to its presentation. However, the presentation of the data in the dissertation results chapter necessitates the need to begin by providing a description of the sample (e.g., description of excluded participants indicating the reasons why they were excluded, sample size, handling of missing data and outliers). In the dissertation results chapter you should make results statements without any assessment, evaluation, implication, speculation, or interpretation. At times the results and discussion chapters are combined, but in general it is advisable to keep the dissertation results chapter separate from the discussion and conclusions chapters. In a qualitative study, the dissertation results chapter may consists of numerous quotes from participants interviewed in the study.

What should be the length of your dissertation?

The length of your thesis or dissertation may vary depending on the research carried out. However, there is no limit to the number of pages which you should include in your thesis or dissertation, but some institutions usually give a range of the number of pages.

How many references should be included in the dissertation?

As many as possible number of references should be included in your thesis or dissertation, as long as they are directly quoted, paraphrased or their ideas borrowed.

What should you do to obtain credible information for your thesis or dissertation?

Use search engines such as MedLine, ACM Digital Library, Psych Info, Compendex, etc. and always ensure you go to the source literature without expecting textbooks and other secondary sources to give you absolute accurate or complete information.

How should you ensure that the final draft is properly written?

This can be achieved be doing the necessary editing as well as submitting to the dissertation committee in time for their comments which are essential to facilitate revision.

References

Booth, W.C., Colomb, G.G. & Williams, J.M. (2008). The craft of research. New York, NY: University of Chicago Press.

Emerson, L. (2001). Writing guideline for education students. Melbourne: Thomson Cengage Learning.

Krathwohl, D.R. (1988). How to Prepare a Research Proposal: Guidelines for Funding and Dissertations in the Social and Behavioural Sciences. Syracuse University Press.

Mouton, J. & Marais, H.C. (1988). Basics concepts in the methodology of the social sciences. London: HRSC Press.

Neumann, W.L. (2000). Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approach, 3rd ed. Boston, MA: McGraw Hill.

Neville, C. (2009). The complete guide to referencing and avoiding plagiarism. New York, NY: Open University Press.

Pequegnat, W., Stover, E. & Beyonce, C.A. (2010). How to write a successful grant application: A guide for social and behavioural scientists (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer.

Perrin, R. (2011). Pocket guide to APA Style. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Sapsford, R. & Jupp, V. (2006). Data Collection and Analysis, 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications Ltd.

Szuchman, L.T. (2010). Writing with style: APA style made easy. Melbourne: Thomson Cengage Learning.

 

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