Dissertation Meaning Simplified
For any university student, understanding the dissertation meaning goes a long way in ensuring that you don't stray from the essence of the academic paper.
The meaning of a dissertation is pretty simple – It is an independently-researched academic paper that you have to complete to obtain your undergraduate or postgraduate degree. In many countries, you can interchange the word 'dissertation' with 'PhD degree' or 'thesis.'
But before you can dive deep into what this kind of academic paper entails, let's look into the definition of a dissertation.
What Is A Dissertation?
If you've never written a dissertation before, the first question that will pop into your mind when you first hear the word is- "What is the meaning of dissertation?"
A single glance at any dissertation definition will tell you that it is a long and highly-researched formal academic piece on a particular subject that you write to attain a degree. Through this type of academic writing, you will have the opportunity to showcase the independent research skills you have picked up through your college or university days.
During your study of the dissertation meaning, you will come across two major types of dissertations. These are:
- Empirical dissertations– In this type of a dissertation, you have to conduct small-scale research, collect and analyse data and present it systematically.
- Non-empirical dissertations– In the case of this kind of a dissertation, you don't need to conduct any original research or collect data. Instead, you'll have to analyse and carefully dissect the work of others critically.
At the undergraduate level, the dissertation can be around 10,000-12,000 words. It increases up to 25,000 in the postgraduate and finally up to 50,000 during PhD.
How To Write A Dissertation Introduction?
Once you have understood the dissertation meaning, conducted your research and prepared everything you need, it's time to start the process of writing the paper. You can divide a dissertation into five parts:
- Review of literature
- Research methodology
- Result presentation
- Summary, implications, conclusion
Out of all these parts, the dissertation introduction plays a vital role in capturing the reader's attention. Your introduction paragraph needs to convey your intention behind writing the dissertation. It should also inform the reader of the research question and your aims concerning it.
Let's look at some of the steps you can follow to write the perfect introduction for your dissertation:
Provide the topic and context of your research
By starting your dissertation with a precise topic and contextualising your research, you make it easier for the reader to understand which direction your paper will go. Your dissertation meaning becomes clearer due to the background information, and the reader can find themselves more invested in your writing.
Include your specific research question
Once you have established the context behind your paper, your dissertation introduction should highlight the specific research question that you wish to tackle. Always try to focus on a single problem instead of bringing in multiple areas of interest. You should also carefully choose the complexity of the question as you need to develop the answer to the question within the scope of your dissertation.
Write a sentence on the scope of your research
Highlighting the scope of your research can help the reader gain information on-
- The geographical area of your research
- The time covered
- Demographics of your research subjects
- Specific themes you want to address
Give the relevance and importance of your research
Looking at any dissertation meaning will tell you that this academic paper is vital in passing your graduation, post-graduation or doctoral with flying colours. Therefore, your dissertation paper introduction needs to properly convey your motivation behind choosing the topic and what new and unique insights you intend to explore throughout the paper.
Finish with an overview of the structure
Providing an overview of the entire dissertation paper in the introduction by summarising each section helps guide the reader properly. Ending with a synopsis is an excellent bridging technique to dive into the body of your essay smoothly.
Following these five simple steps will ensure that you capture the reader's attention and keep them engaged in your dissertation.
How To Cite A Dissertation?
Looking up the dissertation meaning will tell you that this is a professional piece of academic writing. Therefore, to maintain that professionality, you must include citations in your work to acknowledge the contributions of other writers and researchers whose works you referenced.
If you've never written a dissertation before, you are bound to wonder how you can cite a dissertation. Depending on the subject that you're writing your dissertation in, there are three styles you can follow – the APA, Chicago and MLA format. Let's have a look at the rules for the three types of citations.
How To Cite A Dissertation In APA Format
If you're writing a dissertation in Education, Psychology and Sciences, you'll have to follow the APA citation format of a dissertation, which is:
- In the case of a published dissertation:
Last Name, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation/thesis (Publication No.) [Doctoral dissertation/Master's thesis, Name of institution awarding the degree]. Database or archive name.
For example, McNiel, D.S. (2006). Meaning through narrative: A personal narrative discussing growing up with an alcoholic mother (Publication No. 1434728) [Doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago]. ProQuest Dissertations and Thesis Database.
- In the case of an unpublished dissertation:
Last Name, F. M. (Year). Title of dissertation/thesis [Unpublished doctoral dissertation/Master’s thesis]. Name of the institution awarding the degree.
For example, Castle, C. (2001). Interpreters, docents and educators: Ways of knowing, ways of teaching in a history museum, an art gallery, and a nature centre [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of Toronto.
Following these formats will make it easier for you to cite a dissertation in the APA style.
How To Cite A Dissertation In Chicago Format
Generally, you have to use the Chicago citation style in dissertations if you're writing a paper on Business, History and the Fine Arts. There are two formats you can use in such cases:
- When citing a published hardcopy dissertation
Last Name, F.M. "Title" Master's thesis or PhD diss., University, Year published
For example, Choi, Mihwa. "Contesting Imaginaries in Death Rituals during the Northern Song Dynasty." PhD diss. University of Chicago, 2008.
- When citing a dissertation from the database
Last Name, F.M. "Title" Master's thesis or PhD diss., Database (Identification number), Year published, URL
For example, Meredith Stewart, "An Investigation into Aspects of the Replication of Jembrana Disease Virus," Australasian Digital Theses Program (WMU2005.1222), 2005, http://wwwlib.murdoch.edu.au/adt/browse/view/adt-MU20051222.104106.
Always be careful and double-check your sources when you cite a dissertation. Otherwise, you might lose grades for minor errors.
How To Cite A Dissertation In MLA Format
You can use the MLA dissertation citation format for the Humanities. The vital information you have to include are:
- Author's Name
- Dissertation title (italicised)
- Publication date
To cite a dissertation in the MLA format, you can also include the following optional information:
- Institution granting the degree
- Description of the work
- Database and URL if you access the dissertation online
For example, Njus, Jesse. Performing the Passion: A Study on the Nature of Medieval Acting. 2010. Northwestern U, PhD dissertation. ProQuest, search.proquest.com/docview/305212264?accountid=7432.
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