How to Write a Dissertation

Updated: June 12, 2023

A dissertation is an original research project based on a strong thesis statement to get a degree. It can take many different forms, and students are mostly concerned with how to write a dissertation paper or how to write a Ph.D. dissertation. Indeed, writing is the least time-consuming part of your paper. Most of it lies in thorough preparation, effective research, and making notes. It can be intimidating to know where to start. That is why we have prepared this detailed and informative guide for beginners.

How to Write a Dissertation: Step by Step Instruction

Most of the students postpone writing a research proposal or Ph.D. dissertation because of the main reason – they do not know how to do it properly. Many guides are saying it is super easy to work among your university tasks. Otherwise, we suggest it is responsible work that becomes a smaller monster when you get specific order and simply comply with it.

Thus, it is not as dreadful and scary as it seems. This step-by-step preparation will help you to manage things in your dissertation paper gradually and efficiently:

Find your dissertation topic.

If you don’t have your topic or research questions, do not pick anything from the variety of points. Be realistic and do choose too broad themes. We suggest that you are reading this guide a few months or weeks before the submission date, so you need to assess your time adequately. Narrowing down is your tool to focus on specifics, save effort when seeking relevant literature, and get a good mark.

Make a dissertation paper plan.

Planning creates some structure in your head and averts chaos, thus, stress. Nobody can write effectively under stress, so you have to set up your writing stages or chapters while keeping track of time. Define short and long-term goals with exact dates not to get lost. If you focus on long-term achievement, go further and divide them into smaller ones to maintain a feeling of getting things done.

Have a schedule.

We recommend devoting some time to your dissertation every single day. The power of small steps is impressive, and writing a couple of paragraphs (not chapters!) every day or day after day will facilitate the entire process. It is anxious for your mental health to research, read, write and proofread simultaneously. Your brain needs breaks.

Make good paper notes.

Allocating every idea and comment as per every chapter and subchapter heading and subheading is advantageous. If you start structuring from the beginning, it takes little time to organize but saves much of it prospectively. You should copy-paste everything you want into a specific area and find it within seconds when necessary.

Mark your dissertation paper quotes.

Many students make a huge mistake when they forget to indicate the quote’s author, publication title, page, and position in the References list. Additionally, make notes to your future self to reminisce why you chose this statement, why it is useful for you, do you agree with this person, etc.

Writing the dissertation.

If you prepare your notes correctly, you must come up with the body of many detailed bullet points. What’s left is to extend them into paragraphs and pages. Thus, well-organized and coherent preparation makes your writing smoother and quicker.

Reward yourself.

Praising yourself must go for the whole process of writing because it is a huge project you can be proud of. It is your first time writing something so enormous, and it is not just a few essays in the compilation. Assign this achievement to yourself and accept you deserve small treats like desserts with favorite movies or a big one at this project end.


It is the stage where all magic happens. You’ll see typos and mistakes, which will probably be numerous. And it is okay. You are not a robot but a human being who loses a thought or misses a comma. Many students skip proofreading because they feel uncomfortable seeing their own mistakes, while others read it 100 times and make 1000 revisions. Try to find balance in final corrections and do not run to extremes.

Some of the above recommendations can be easily omitted. They were invented not to say how you are obliged to write a Ph.D. dissertation but to show ways to disburden your brain. Thus, it gives him more free energy to spend on more meaningful things and stages.

How to Structure a Dissertation

You might include different chapters or use different headings depending on the type of research.

However, each of them requires a common structure:

  • Title page
  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Table of contents
  • List of figures and tables
  • List of abbreviations
  • Glossary
  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References list
  • Appendices

The length of each section depends on the type of research. Generally, the literature review and discussion should occupy the biggest paper part. Meanwhile, methodology, results, and conclusion must be shorter and without extra material.

How to End a Dissertation

Throughout the writing process, you relied on the research of other authors who need to be cited. We suppose it is fair to mention them both in the running text and the reference list at the dissertation end. If you want to include any personal references like surveys or interview transcripts, create appendices.

Dissertation Outline

The dissertation outline is indicated in the pre-preceding article part, so let’s review here outline sections going before the introduction:

  • The first page contains the title, your name, department, institution, degree, submission date.
  • The acknowledgment page shows your gratitude to people like supervisors.
  • The abstract is a summary 150-300 words long.
  • A table of contents is necessary to lead your readers through your paper.
  • All figures, tables, and abbreviations need to be grouped into lists before the main material.

The last section is optional as well as a glossary, but others are obliged to be included as per every university standard.

Dissertation Introduction

The introduction is where you disclose your topic, purpose, and relevance. It must include the research problem or question that shows a paper direction and possible path. Thereby, it tells the reader what to expect in the rest of the paper. This section is your chance to justify your study by strong theoretical arguments and other reasoning to such a topic.

Dissertation Body

It starts with the literature review with logical structure and reasonable arguments that evolve into an adequate justification for your research. The methodology section demonstrates your research path and shows your expertise and paper reliability and validity. Results remain in scopes of the given objective.

The discussion sheds light on the meaning and implications of your results with references to the research question. If it did not meet your expectation, you have to explain possible reasons as well.

Dissertation Conclusion

The closure has to answer the main research question. It should be short and general and contain no discussion of specific results. Stay away from implementing new data or interpretation but give the reader the feeling of completion and no ‘so what’ questions.

More Useful Tips & Tricks

It is okay to look for tips, tricks, and techniques to facilitate writing a dissertation paper. So, we have interviewed our professional writers for some tools they use constantly:

Keep everything in one place.

It is more comfortable to research when you keep everything you’ve found on Google Scholar in one collection of sources or bookmarks. Being organized and paying attention to how you store your online or offline files will save much time. A messy environment on the computer or the table creates the same in your thoughts.

Write a conclusion and introduction last.

You do not know what you’ll write about and are free to choose the dissertation direction in the middle. You do not either know what types of arguments you will make. Therefore, write a Ph.D. dissertation main body and move to work on opening and closure.

Create separate Word files.

The dissertation paper is huge, and chapter draft files are required. It is too presumptuous to believe you’ll write correctly from the first time, both grammatically and contextually. References, Chapter 1, Chapter 1 Notes, and other named accordingly draft files are unchallenging to collect and copy-paste everything to the final file.

Proofread in stages.

Proofread reference list, chapters, introduction, and conclusion on separate days. Do not overwhelm yourself with proofreading the entire dissertation in one day. Let your brain rest and distract for small daily pleasures to have inner resources to think new daily. Additionally, do not work on your thesis for two weeks but let it exist in any form and come back with a fresh perspective based on all you’ve read.

Don’t compare yourself to others.

Every student starts the dissertation at a different time, so some finish earlier than others. Remember, you are not behind, and proceed to move in your tempo. Thinking bad of your approach evokes frustration and negatively impacts the entire paper. Keep in mind that university is going to end and does not define your entire future.

Date every version.

If you send drafts or dissertation paper versions to your supervisor or professor, make sure you date them every time you get comments back. If you already implemented some corrections they’ve suggested, you will not confuse them with new feedback.

The list can be extended, but we decided these points are the most applicable for beginners who stand in front of their first dissertation. We wish you luck, and remember that everyone passed through it, and you will do so.

Don’t Want to Struggle with a Dissertation? We’ll Do It for You!

We understand how tough and huge the dissertation paper may be. If you do not have so much time or prefer other duties, please assign us to this task. We are a reliable academic writing service with a professional team of authors who know all ins and outs of the writing industry. We will follow every requirement and stick to the necessary format precisely.

Moreover, our essay writers will be glad to help you choose a dissertation topic since they are experienced people who have written many similar works. Total confidentiality and data protection are guaranteed. Choose several pages and a deadline, and wait for your A+ dissertation while doing your favorite things.

George Lynch
George Lynch
Literature, Psychology, Religion
Experience: 3+ years
I’ve been enjoying academic writing since day one in college. Today, having a full-time job, I’m still looking forward to writing essays and research papers online for others.
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