The doctoral dissertation is considered by many to be a huge project, lasting several years and taking hundreds of hours to complete. It’s sometimes been referred to as the crowning event of the doctoral process.

Right from the beginning, plan to make your dissertation a success. An old saying goes, “If you fail to plan then you plan to fail.” These 5 steps will help you move towards a successful PhD dissertation.

  1. Topic Selection – The topic is the integral part of the dissertation. It must be something that lies in your field of interest and has an unanswered question or facet that has not been over-analyzed already. The topic usually must be approved by the advising professor and is presented in the proposal.
  2. Research – This involves a lot of searching and researching. A thorough examination of the literature must be conducted. There is a lot of reading to do, and sorting and cataloguing the literature into groups.
  3. Format and outline – Most important in this step is to remember the dissertation must be formatted according to the rules laid out by your academic institution. Follow those rules first, so that your format complies and you don’t get deducted or rejected on this one point. The outline is a natural projection of the format. The outline will give you a framework on which to build the body of the dissertation. The chapters or main parts of the outline will be the major constituents of the supporting literature. They can then be further broken down into headings and subheadings.
  4. Writing – It’s as simple as it sounds. Write the dissertation. Use all the notes you have written down as you conducted your research. Sort them into which chapters they belong to in your outline. Your writing should bring all the ideas together in a smooth-flowing style that will capture your reader’s attention.
  5. Editing – Never skip this step. It’s so important! Even if the research was fantastic and the topic was brilliant, if the writing is sloppy the dissertation as a whole will be a fail. A good editor is worth every penny it costs. They will pay careful attention to detail and save you a lot of time in the long run. You want to avoid having your dissertation rejected by the review committee over editing problems.

Following a few simple steps such as these can really make the difference between an incomplete or failing dissertation and a successful PhD dissertation that earns you the degree you have always dreamt of.

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