This short blog will look at making sure that the dissertation reads as a single document rather than a collection of separate chapters. It is a guideling for writing the dissertation, and together with the overall contents provides a structure.
Here is a short video clip on the subject.
A Single Document
Yes, there have to be certain elements within your dissertation including:
- Project Aims
- A Literature Review
- Research Methodology
- Data Collection (or Case Studies)
However, the document must read as a single document, rather than a collection of different chapters. The dissertation must flow and follow a logical argument, and be interconnected.
The Overall Contents of the Dissertation
I have written a separate blog on the overall contents of the dissertation. Looking at this outline may help structure the dissertation via an argument. You should be able to ‘signpost’ between the various chapters as you solve a problem, answer a research question, or develop a new theory. There has to be a clear link through from the literature review through the analysis to the critical evaluation.
Three Elements in a Dissertation
- Application of knowledge
- Critical Evaluation
These three sections now need linking together to make sure that the dissertation flows smoothly from the problem to the solution.
Introduce and Conclude every Chapter
Every chapter needs an introduction and conclusion.
Put each chapter on a new page, and ensure that each chapter has an introduction paragraph, and a conclusion paragraph. Introduce the chapter by telling the reader what will be covered in the chapter. Conclude by recapping the chapter contents, and point towards what is coming in the following chapter.
Justification of Questions
If your methodology is via Questionnaire, or Interviews, then the questions that you are asking need to come from somewhere, rather than appear out of mid-air. Therefore, the origins of any questions need to be covered in the Literature Review chapter.
When the questionnaire is presented you can remind the reader of where the questions derive from in the literature review. When the recommendations are made, you may refer back to the discussion and analysis of a particular questions.
Recommendations are made for a valid reason, because of findings and discussion. It is not sufficient just to make a recommendation, the reader needs to be reminded of the debate or findings or literature review section that are the basis of the recommendation. This will again provide sign-postings linking the dissertation together.
The Dissertation Title
I have a separate blog on writing the title, but make sure that the key words within the title are covered in the literature review. Consider the verb in the title. If your title is “a Comparison of…..” have you really compared? If your tile is “An evaluation of….” have you really evaluated?
The abstract section shows the logical thread in a single page. So you now want to ensure the full document flows. I have a separate blog about writing the abstract which should include:
- What the research is about
- Why the research is required
- How the research was performed
- The findings from the research
I suggested that although this can’t be completely finished until the end of the work, setting it out at the beginning helps concentrate the mind towards a logical flow.
Again, I have a separate blog on writing the conclusion chapter, but now it is useful to link the start – the objectives – to the end – the conclusion. I firmly believe that the objectives should be repeated word for word in the conclusion section, with commentary on if they have been fully, partially, or not met.
The Master’s Dissertation is a single document. Reflect back to the title and abstract, introduce and conclude each chapter. use signposts between chapters, and repeat the objectives at the end.