How to Start Writing a Dissertation

How to Start Writing a DissertationOften, students are required to write dissertations. The first step of how to start a dissertation is to think critically and do background reading in order to come up with the right topic. It is advisable for students to find topics on issues that they care about. The topic should be about something that you have constantly thought about for sometime since at that time, you should look as if you are a leading expert in the field.

In order to reach that goal, you must care about your topic enough to become deeply involved with it and want to know everything about it. The following tips are essential in choosing a dissertation topic:


Choose a topic about something you understand well and have confidence that you can accomplish successfully. Avoid a topic that is likely to give you a hard time when trying to get enough resources.

Consider your writing ability

Choose a topic that does not require much technical detail especially if you are inexperienced in dissertation writing. It is wise to choose a simple topic that you can write in a way that holds attention of the reader. Creating dissertation outline will also be easier.

Avoid common topics

Avoid topics that many people write about. Such dissertation topics bore and confuse readers. You should instead choose a unique topic.

Consider the deadline

When choosing a topic, bear in mind the time frame within which you have to complete the paper. Do not choose a topic that requires much research that will consume a lot of time. After deciding on the topic, research in-depth using previous study. A subject that is significant to you helps to develop the interest even further as you research.

Some people may be lucky to have an idea about dissertation topic popping up in their mind immediately. If this is not the case for you, there is need to do a more systematic search for dissertation topic or question for further exploration. If you have too few or too many ideas, there is no harm talking to a member of academic staff.

You should however approach the issue as a general discussion about your dissertation ideas since many institutions discourage students from approaching members of staff in a way creating the impression that the student is seeking for a dissertation supervisor. It is also sensible to have a discussion with other students directly or within a discussion forum.

Find your style

During research, read several academic articles. Concentrate on reading academic text that is simple and enjoyable. Study the dissertation format and how the arguments are presented. Consider how the techniques that the author uses to convince the reader about the argument and see if any of them can apply in your writing. Also remember to gather the good examples of punctuation and vocabulary.

This will help you to come up with a relevant and appealing style. Since dissertations are lengthy, you should have sub-headings to break up text and signal the stage you have reached to the readers. Tweak the sub-headings when moving through every draft to make sure that they provide valuable overview of the section.

Avoid repetition

Look out for phrases or words that are already stated or implied at another position in a sentence and remove them. Reading the work aloud helps to spot any clumsy sentence structure. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that longer sentences make you sound cleverer. Every word conveys a meaning hence using many words in sentence makes it harder for readers to grasp   its meaning.

Dissertation Outline

There are different dissertation formats. Many universities have dissertation manuals with comprehensive guidelines although often, the details are at the discretion of dissertation committee. As you consider how to start a dissertation, you should beware that most dissertations are organized into 4 or 5 chapters but there are several variations on the models. The dissertation proposal normally consists of first three chapters in five chapter format. It consists of first two chapters in four chapter format.

As you start to write a dissertation, ensure that you have sufficient number of books, articles and other sources for reference. You need to use both primary (non-academic material) and secondary sources which are academic materials. At the end of your writing, you must acknowledge your sources by referencing them in the bibliography. There are different referencing styles therefore you have to know the one recommenced by your academic department and follow it to the letter.

Image credit:

  1. Comments are closed
  2. Comment Feed for this Post
Go to Top