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Dissertation writing advice: where do you begin?


Your dissertation is an important piece of writing but it is also one that can take quite a long time to complete. It may seem overwhelming at first and you may be curious: where do you begin?

It all begins with brainstorming.

Your institution will likely give you some guidelines as to what your topic may cover or what area it should focus on, but it is up to you to brainstorm the exact topic. Chances are you’ve been given an instructor or mentor who must approve the topics. To avoid wasting their time and yours, be sure to start brainstorming ideas. Don’t come to them until you have done some free writing and know precisely what you want to cover.

Create a title.

Your title should use words with care. You have to keep it short, but you also have to inform the reader to the best of your abilities what the entire dissertation will cover. Avoid words such as “experimental analysis on…” because these take up precious space. Just jump right in to the good stuff.

It is also recommended that you design your blank template ahead of time. The last thing you want is to have your dissertation turned back to you because of a remedial formatting or template error. You will receive guidance from your institution about what rules to follow, so take a day or two to create a blank template that follows all of those details to the letter. By doing this ahead of time, you can save yourself the headache of scrambling to get it done after months of research.

Now, the research if you please…

Now you need to start your research. Draft some notes on the thesis, on what background information you will need to provide your readers, and start researching. There are many websites and libraries that can provide you with tangible copies or electronic copies of articles, newspaper clippings, or books. Use them and make sure you note the source.

It is good to keep a separate document with your sources for later.


As you start writing bear in mind the structure of a thesis. It all starts with:

  • Title Page
  • Abstract
  • Preface
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • List of Illustrations
  • List of Symbols, Abbreviations, or other
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion or Discussion
  • Bibliography (Or Reference)
  • Appendices

By following this structure you will be well on your way to writing a great dissertation.

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