How to Write a Great Doctoral Dissertation? Tips for Writing Doctoral Research Proposal & Thesis.

Doctoral Dissertation

What is a PhD Thesis?

A PhD thesis is research that students pursuing a doctoral degree must submit to get a PhD degree. The Thesis is an accumulation of three to four years of research done throughout the doctoral program. Students have to show dedication to their research and put in time and effort throughout their research period to prepare a valuable and original thesis as their contribution to the academic field. Students must then defend their Thesis at a viva in front of a board of faculty members from the same area to be eligible for a doctoral degree. In this article, you will read about PhD Doctoral Dissertation, Doctoral Research Proposal, the difference between a Thesis and a Dissertation, Tips for writing a top doctoral Dissertation and Thesis, etc.

What is a Doctoral Dissertation?

Doctoral Dissertation

Like a PhD thesis, a Doctoral Dissertation refers to the research conducted by students at the doctoral level to provide as proof of the Thesis proposed by the student. While the Thesis is more like a claim, a dissertation sets to provide evidence as arguments with original statements to prove the proposed Thesis claims.

Difference Between a Thesis and a Dissertation

Throughout the years of academic studies, students at the postgraduate and doctoral level will have to write and propose various dissertations or theses to get the degree they are pursuing. However, there are multiple distinctions as well as similarities between the two. As time progresses, the definitions of a thesis and a dissertation have changed. Let us look at the differences between an idea and a dissertation.

Thesis Dissertation
According to the Cambridge Dictionary “A thesis is a lengthy piece of writing based on a specific subject written to pursue a college or university degree.” Cambridge Dictionary says, “a dissertation refers to the long piece of writing based on a particular subject, which is specially written to receive a degree at college or university.”
A thesis is written while pursuing a postgraduate degree where the student maintains a proposition. This is then read in front of a committee which refutes all the points in the thesis. Students are tested on their ability to arrange and express ideas clearly. A dissertation is written in the pursuit of higher studies. Dissertations are similar to literature reviews wherein students read and research on a particular topic. They would then present their findings on the topic while discussing various opinions.
 In some areas of the world, a doctoral thesis refers to a student’s original research to pursue a PhD. The Thesis also contains extensive citations and references while focussing on the original work. Dissertations are considered research projects conducted at the postgraduate level.
In other parts of the world, a thesis is written at the postgraduate level as preliminary research. Dissertations, on the other hand, are written while pursuing a doctoral degree. The dissertation contains original research conducted by the students.
A thesis also refers to the arguments arrived at while conducting original research and combining it with literature reviews. The dissertation refers to the written statement of the proposed Thesis. The dissertation consists of the findings to prove the conclusion of the Thesis.

As given above, there are many similarities between a dissertation and a thesis. They both refer to researching at different levels of academic studies and are often used interchangeably. The differences lie only in the guidelines of the colleges and universities.

PhD Research

The first step of writing a PhD thesis is choosing the area or field to conduct the research. Students must come up with a research topic that is specific and interesting to them. Students must build up as much understanding and general knowledge about their research topic before beginning the actual research process. The research is either investigative, qualitative, quantitative, or experimental based on the student’s discipline.

The research process involves multiple hours of reading up on various topics related to the research topic. University libraries often have subscriptions to multiple websites, databases and publications that publish articles, essays, etc. on a related topic. Students must stay updated about all the current findings in their field to ensure that their PhD thesis remains relevant to contemporary times.

PhD Thesis Proposal

The PhD thesis proposal is another crucial step in the pursuit of a doctoral degree. Students are required to formulate a thesis proposal for the approval of the professor in their university. The thesis proposal outlines the research that the student will conduct throughout the doctoral program.

Students must ensure that their thesis proposal must be unique and not a copy or repetition of any research already conducted by other scholars on the same topic. Instead, the thesis proposal must offer a new approach. While deciding on a thesis proposal, students should look for appropriate topics related to their field instead of choosing a broad subject matter.

PhD Literature Review

The literature review is one of the critical parts of a PhD dissertation or Thesis. It usually makes up the first chapter of the Thesis.

In this part of the Thesis, students must display their knowledge and understanding of the various topics and discussions related to the research topic that is already published. The literature review’s main objective is to assess and analyse the arguments provided by multiple authors on the related subject.

What is the structure of a PhD thesis?

The structure that a PhD thesis follows varies across various subjects and disciplines. However, the general PhD thesis structure is as follows:

  • Introduction- The first chapter of any thesis is usually the introduction. This details the key points of the research, its importance and its contribution. Students may also add an abstract or summary of the Thesis in the introduction.
  • Literature Review- The literature review generally follows the introduction in most PhD theses. In this chapter, students will provide the details of the scholarly texts that have allowed them to arrive at their PhD thesis.
  • Different Chapters- All details about the Thesis, including arguments, findings, etc., are detailed after the literature review in various chapters. Students can also add a chapter discussing the various methodologies used during the research process. The different chapters in the Thesis are arranged in a systematic manner while providing all the relevant information.
  • Conclusion- The conclusion generally closes the main chapters of the PhD thesis. In this part of the Thesis, students must provide concluding arguments and pieces of evidence about the research. Opportunities for further research are also usually included in the conclusion.
  • Bibliography and Appendix- The bibliography is another vital part of a PhD thesis. In this section, students must provide a list of all the books, articles, essays, etc. referred to in the Thesis’s main body. Additional information about the various terms, etc. used in the Thesis is detailed in the appendix after the bibliography.

Length of a PhD Thesis

Like the structure of a thesis, the PhD thesis’s length also varies according to the research area and the discipline. The size of a thesis also varies across universities. Some thesis is 50 pages long, while others are over 150 pages long. Rather than the number of pages, students have to fulfil a certain number of words in their Thesis. This number varies from 70,000 words to 100,000 words. Students must verify the required minimum length of their Thesis from their supervisor.

PhD Thesis Feedback

During the PhD thesis writing period, students are required to regularly meet their supervisors to discuss progress and various other topics. Based on the kind of research, supervisors will provide their guidance and feedback to students. Students generally get feedback from their supervisors throughout the process of the research. This feedback acts as a guideline for the students to ensure that the research is progressing smoothly. Students doubts and queries are also addressed in the feedback given by supervisors. This feedback is essential to the students before the final submission of their PhD thesis.

Process after writing the PhD Thesis

  • After the final draft of the PhD thesis is written, it is submitted to the supervisor.
  • The supervisor approves the draft and submits it for examination.
  • Multiple copies of the thesis are printed for the examiners before submission.
  • The viva is conducted a few months after the thesis is submitted for examination.
  • The examiners will a report on the thesis. If the report says, “Pass” the student has received the doctorate. If the report says “Minor corrections needed”, the students are given three months to make the necessary small changes. If the report says “Major correction needed”, students have six months to change or add a section as required.

14 Tips for Writing a PhD Thesis

PhD Thesis Proposal

Students pursuing a PhD degree are often under the stress of finishing a PhD thesis because the process of research and writing the doctoral Dissertation is long and requires a lot of effort. Some tips that students can use to make the process of writing a thesis easier are:

  • Ensure that there are no errors in the first few pages. This will ensure that examiners begin the examination process in a good way void of any mistakes.
  • Use online editors. Various online editing websites can help students ensure that the sentence structure used is easy to follow and read and grammatically correct.
  • Stay motivated. The writing process is complicated for many students. Therefore it is essential to stay motivated and remember the various reasons and benefits of finishing the thesis.
  • Take regular breaks. Students must take frequent breaks during the writing process. Regular intervals will ensure that the students maintain focus while working and help students refrain from overworking themselves.
  • Make visual representations. Making diagrams and printing out different kinds of visuals will help candidates have a different perspective of the research results and findings.
  • Save progress. Students must remember to continuously save every advancement that is made throughout the writing process. This will ensure that there is a back-up in case of any unexpected system failures.
  • Add relevant photos and references. Adding pictures in the appropriate sections will make the thesis more attractive. Add and track all the relevant references for a smooth writing process.
  • Sleep regularly. It is crucial to all students’ mental and physical health to sleep for a minimum of 6 hours daily even while writing the thesis. Adequate sleep will help to relieve stress.
  • Write the chapters in proper order. An adequate writing order will make it easier for students to have a better writing experience unique to the order and style that best suits them.
  • Write whatever comes to mind. Students must remember to write whatever comes to mind while writing instead of spending several minutes or hours writing the perfect paragraph. Note all the ideas down and do the required editing at a later date.
  • Stay focused. Maintain a proper writing schedule to stay on track during writing hours. Students must use the hours put aside for writing only for that purpose except during regular breaks after every couple of hours.
  • Ask for help. Students must remember that they can turn to peers or even to their supervisors for any kind of help related to the thesis.
  • Proofread the Thesis. Proofreading is a significant step before the final submission. Students must proofread their thesis several times. Proofreading out loud will also help to spot all kinds of errors.
  • Enjoy the writing process. Although it is a stressful period, every moment of the writing process is a part of the future success and achievements in the pursuit of the doctoral degree.

Conclusion: We hope this article on Doctoral Dissertation and Research Proposal and tips for writing a great Doctoral Dissertation has helped you. Please use the comment box to inform us your suggestions and feedback.

Disclaimer: Studysure does not offer any academic writing services. We do not provide any ready to submit Thesis, Research papers, or any assistance for preparing the thesis, synopsis, research proposals etc.

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