High quality dissertation writing tips and tricks 2023: If you have used a lot of highly specialised terms that will not be familiar to your reader, it might be a good idea to include a glossary. List the terms alphabetically and explain each term with a brief description or definition. In the introduction, you set up your dissertation’s topic, purpose, and relevance, and tell the reader what to expect in the rest of the dissertation. The introduction should: Establish your research topic, giving necessary background information to contextualise your work; narrow down the focus and define the scope of the research; Discuss the state of existing research on the topic, showing your work’s relevance to a broader problem or debate; Clearly state your objectives and research questions, and indicate how you will answer them; Give an overview of your dissertation’s structure.
Take Care of Yourself: Just because you’re dissertating doesn’t mean you should let your health slide. It’s easier to write when you’re in good physical and mental health. Remember to eat well, get enough sleep, and stay active. Even a simple walk around the neighbourhood will get your heart rate up and can help clear your mind. Give Yourself Breaks: Writing will be your full-time job while you’re working on your thesis, but that doesn’t mean you have to be writing all the time. If you continually work beyond your regular hours you will burn yourself out. See more info at dissertation-zone.com.
Know when to read. Write sooner, write continually, and write in order to rewrite. But you need to know when you are churning an empty barrel. Reading and research should be a stimulus to write and you need to know when that stimulus is needed. Be willing to stop writing for a short period so that you can refresh your mind with new ideas and research. Establish chunks of time to research and write. While it is important to keep writing and make the most of the time that you have, it is best for writing projects specifically to set aside large portions of time with which to write. Writing requires momentum, and momentum gathers over time. Personally, I have found that I need at least an hour to get things rolling, and that three to four hours is ideal.
But don’t let good feelings stop you from working. I have the bad habit of working furiously to meet a deadline and then riding the endorphin rush of finishing the work for weeks. Don’t get distracted by small feelings of accomplishment: finishing one page means that you are now ready to write the next one, after all. Know that you can do it. You’ve got this, seriously. If I can do it, you can do it. It’ll be great. But remember to start writing again. Short breaks are awesome! Take a week off to focus on grading 150 papers. Take off two weeks to prepare for job interviews. But then start writing again. Academic work is always a balancing act between various pressures, and you have to get used to carving out time for writing next to all of your responsibilities. We likely all know that guy who is on his 7th year of writing because he “can’t find the time” to write. Don’t be that guy. To that end…
Write sooner. The dissertation writing process can quickly become paralyzing because of its size and importance. It is a project that will be reviewed rigorously by your advisor and your committee, and your graduation depends on your successful completion and defense. Facing these realities can be daunting and tempt you to wait until you can determine that you’ve researched or thought enough about the topic. Yet, the longer you delay writing, the more difficult it will be to actually start the process. The answer to your paralysis is to start writing. Are you unsure of your argument or not fully convinced you have done the requisite research? You may be right: your argument may not be airtight, and you may need to do more reading; but you will be able to determine to what degree these problems need attention when you start writing. Productivity begets productivity, and you will be amazed at how arguments take shape and the direction of your research is forged as you write.
Set deadlines early on in the process. Having a goal to work towards is incredibly important for sustaining motivation over a long period of time. As someone who needs the pressure of a deadline to get anything done, I found that a list of due dates was essential for keeping me on track. But make sure those goals are flexible. That said, I pretty much immediately blew past my deadlines and had to keep adjusting them back. Life unexpectedly happens often over a year-long period (or more!), and knowing that your deadlines will likely change will help to prevent you feeling guilty about that. If you’ve set early deadlines, you should be able to move things around without throwing off your schedule.
Use a legal pad. There’s nothing magic about a legal pad; my only aim here is to encourage you to push back from the keyboard occasionally and stimulate your mind by sketching your argument and writing your ideas by hand. I have found my way out of many dry spells by closing the laptop for a few minutes and writing on a piece of paper. I might bullet point a few key ideas, diagram my chapter outlines, or sketch the entire dissertation with boxes and arrows and notes scribbled over several pages.