15 Dissertation Writing Tips: Climb This Academic Peak!

Elsa Cross
Elsa Cross
November 4, 2022

Writing a dissertation is a significant step on your way to becoming an independent researcher. Of course, you’ll have the assistance of your supervisors, but they will only help you with details. You’ll need to make all the main decisions by yourself.

It may seem frightening, but with the right mindset and a comprehensive set of tips and instructions, you’ll manage everything. If you feel confident about composing a dissertation without assistance from professional dissertation writers, let us share a list of helpful tips.

15 Tips for Writing a Dissertation That Really Work

  1. Choose your topic wisely.
  2. Before you start the dissertation writing process, you’ll have to come up with a research proposal. That’s a short form of the academic paper in which you explain why you’ve picked a specific theme for your dissertation. But before you begin to persuade your potential readers of the significance of the topic, ask yourself: “Am I ready to spend the next twelve months studying this phenomenon/event/person?” Your goal isn’t to satisfy someone’s needs, but to work on something that really inspires you. Only a sincere interest and motivation will guarantee an excellent result.

  3. Pick your dissertation type.
  4. There are two main types of dissertations: empirical and non-empirical. If you study natural, social, or life sciences, the empirical type will suit you best. It’s based on collecting data from experiments, interviews, surveys, etc. In other words, you’ll have to go into the field to gather the information.

    Non-empirical dissertations require rigorous and profound analysis of the existing sources: books, journals, newspapers, articles, essays, etc. But along with the research of others’ works, you’ll also have to shape your own arguments and point of view on a matter.

  5. Set the deadlines but stay agile.
  6. “Agile” has become a very popular word lately, especially in the project management domain. It’s commonly associated with software development but can be used for any process. In short, you plan your actions in advance, break your work into parts, and set some deadlines but don’t get upset if something goes not as you’ve predicted.

    Writing a dissertation is a long-term project, and you’ll need some time limits to come up with certain chapters. But don’t get upset if you can’t keep up with your plan 100% of the time. Life is unpredictable, and you shouldn’t be hard on yourself. Just keep writing!

  7. Communicate with other graduate students.
  8. Learning from someone else’s mistakes is much better than from your own. Find students who have already defended their dissertations in front of the same committee. They’ll share hints and recommendations from their experience. Besides, the most responsive of them can even spend a few hours with you to give feedback on your work and provide you with detailed instructions on how to get a rare book from the library or how to calm yourself before the presentation.

  9. Don’t limit yourself to one library.
  10. Although it may seem like your university library has every book in the world, that’s far from the truth. If you want to conduct comprehensive research, you’ll have to consider other options: state libraries, archives, museums, etc. In case you’re working on a psychological or sociological topic, you should go into the field to communicate with people - the subject of your studies.

  11. Ask for feedback when you’re ready.
  12. Getting a second opinion in the early stages of the dissertation writing process is necessary if you don’t want to redo a significant part of the paper. Ask your supervisor or colleagues for a review, and they’ll point out weak spots that require your additional attention.

    However, you should never ask for criticism if you aren’t prepared for it. There will always be moments when you feel less confident about your work and professionalism. In this state, you’ll need encouragement and motivation. A simple “Great job!” from your friend will serve you better than a detailed guide on what you’ve done wrong from your supervisor.

  13. Consult with the committee.
  14. Let’s be honest: not all the members of the committee will be on your side. Some of them won’t like your topic, others will be too busy to assist you. However, you’ll most certainly find an ally if you look closely. When you discover your potential “friend,” ask as many questions about the committee’s expectations as possible. You should learn about the required writing, the format of footnotes, preferable and unwanted resources, etc. It’ll be much easier to impress the board if you know exactly what they want from you.

  15. Find a dissertation buddy.
  16. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Although this phrase has become a sort of a cliche, it doesn’t mean that it’s not true. Composing a dissertation requires creativity and inspiration to some extent, but routine research, formatting, and structuring are also a big part of the process. And we recommend finding a partner who is also busy with writing the dissertation or another academic paper. You’ll compete and motivate each other to complete your work faster and better. Plus, you’ll also have somebody to drink a cup of coffee with between the research sessions.

  17. Write down your ideas (all the time).
  18. Inspiration is a moody entity. You never know when it comes. You should always be ready to catch it and put it in a written form in your notebook. You can use any mobile application or a classical notebook made of paper.

    We also recommend you avoid the mess: look through and categorize your thoughts from time to time. In this way, the best ideas will be in sight, and unnecessary rubbish won’t clutter your conscience.

  19. Don’t seek perfection from the very beginning.
  20. A dissertation is an academic analog of a marathon. You’ll have enough time to polish it and add all the finishing touches to the final draft. But your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect! It just needs to be done. If you focus too much on making every sentence ideal, you’ll never get to any important milestones like finishing the first chapter. Trust the process and stick to the plan - you’ll be fine! Leave proofreading and editing for later. Two weeks will be enough.

  21. Be prepared for changes.
  22. Research is a tortuous path, and you can’t predict where it will end. One old letter or archival record can cross out all your efforts in a blink of an eye. It might be especially painful if you’ve already built a strong argumentative strategy and gathered a whole bunch of resources.

    If such a nuisance occurs, you should look on a bright side. You’re the first person who has stumbled across this specific source! Your work can become a turning point for the research of the subject, and no real academician will be upset by this opportunity! 

  23. Work hard, play hard.
  24. Writing a dissertation is a major event in your academic career. But you should not forget about other important aspects of your life! Finding time for writing doesn’t mean that you have to give up on your family, friends, job, hobbies, and yourself. It’s crucial to keep the balance because you won’t be able to focus only on the writing process during the whole year.

    You can turn down several invitations to friendly parties or skip a few yoga classes. But you shouldn’t make your dissertation an excuse not to live your life to the fullest.

  25. Reward yourself for achievements.
  26. If you have a long-term goal such as composing a dissertation paper, you should break the whole project into smaller steps. Writing fifty pages seems scary, but coming up with five pages of the text ten times seems achievable.

    At the beginning of the process, your goal will look distant and blurry. That’s why you need some rituals that will encourage you and motivate you to move forward. After you complete a certain amount of pages, reward yourself with a weekend out of town or a visit to your favorite restaurant. In fact, anything that makes you happy will work.

  27. Ask several colleagues to proofread your paper.
  28. When we live with a significant other for a long time, we stop noticing their little flaws. We get used to them, and they become a natural part of our life. The same happens when you work on the same academic paper for a long time. You’ve spent so many sleepless nights with your dissertation that your focus becomes blurred.

    You’ll need a fresh perspective from your colleagues! They’ll be able to point out inaccuracies and spelling mistakes that you’ve missed.

  29. Don’t count on a miracle.
  30. Be reasonable! Your dissertation isn’t another essay that you can complete overnight. It requires laborious research, in-depth analysis of numerous sources, experiments, a deep understanding of the topic, and so much more. Don’t leave it for the last week before the deadline.

However, if you feel that you can’t handle the workload and pressure, our team is ready to provide paper writing help. We can deal with a chapter of your dissertation or manage other academic assignments so that you can focus on the main task.