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How Long Does Dissertation Need to be?
The length of a dissertation often happens to be one of the unspoken concerns for a student. These students often wonder, “what should be the minimum number of words or pages that I have to put together for my dissertation?” Also, a student may feel sceptical of raising this question to the professors or teachers for fear of sounding too crude, amateurish and self-serving in some way.
While different fields, disciplines, and universities have set different standards of how long a dissertation should be. But ideally, you should stick to the minimum words or pages that have been specified by your respective institutions. You may ask your mentor about the ideal length of your dissertation paper. But in case if you don’t have a mentor, your first step is to read through as many dissertations as you can that have been approved by the dissertation committees, in the last couple of years. Also more often a lot of dissertation conventions need to be omitted out to publish the paper online. So the bottom-line is, no matter how lengthy your dissertation paper is, ultimately it’s content that has to stand out.
Even though your professor may insist you to write far beyond the minimum length of the paper, but such instances are a rarity. Rather, your professors and your committee members will always look forward to a properly developed argument, evaluation, or analysis that does not stray with the application of words and phrases. Reading through other well-written dissertation papers will help you to be familiar with not just the proper length, but also with the quality of content as well.
Now it’s normal for students to feel unwilling or sceptical of writing an elaborate document like a dissertation. And you may also get to hear stories about unnecessarily exaggerating the topic. However, often most students don’t realise that dissertation also involves a lot of blank spaces, owing to the pages that are one-sided, or lines are double-spaced, and the student can include any information in the appendix section. The main text may only constitute less than half of the page length. A particular chapter presented in the dissertation could be around ten pages long. But irrespective of that, students are often fixated on the ‘appropriate' length of the pages for a dissertation, as if it’s some indicator of how much efforts you've put forward to achieve the grades. You can ask any professor, and all of them will tell you that the length of the paper is not an ideal criterion for judging the quality of the paper. It is always encouraged that you determine the length of your dissertation before you even start writing the paper. You can set your goal to put together the paper in a minimum number of words so that you put sufficient efforts into it, or you can set a higher limit to ensure you aren’t elaborating on the details too much.
While the debate over the page length being related to the quality is still on. There are other professors, who often discourage students from presenting lengthy dissertation papers. But like any determinant, page length offers the details that may or may not be crucial to the specific topic. However, almost every student, at least once in their academic career, has spared a thought about the appropriate length of the dissertation.
Speaking of a proper length of a dissertation, it also cannot be denied that dissertation is, in fact, an elaborate document. So now let’s discuss the necessary elements that usually contribute to the length of the dissertation paper. An ideal dissertation normally comprises of the following sections, the title page, an abstract, acknowledgement, review of literature, methods, findings and interpretation. Inside each section, you should include the relevant details to make your dissertation meet the academic standards set by your specific institution.
The title page and the abstract
Your dissertation should begin with a proper title page and abstract. The title page consists of your specific key phrases and words. This allows a clear idea regarding the topic of your paper and the further scope of your research in your area. The abstract involves a brief and coherent description of the dissertation, the issues elucidated in it and the derived solution. The abstract must be specific to the findings of the investigation conducted on your particular topic, instead of elaborating on the methodology and background for the research. The reason why people read the abstract is to understand what you have found out. The abstract is an independent write-up and must not include references. However, if your university department emphasises on it, then you can incorporate the whole reference in the abstract section.
The abstract is best prepared after the whole writing process is over. Make sure you have enough time on hand, possibly a day or two for preparing the section. The abstract can be quite tricky to prepare considering it is ideally more tough to present a brief text than an elaborate one. The abstract happens to be the most widely read and published part of the dissertation, and this is what the readers will go through first when determining whether to invest time on reading the entire document or not.
In the acknowledgement section, you will mention and thank the people who have given their inputs and supported you to prepare the paper by extending their assistance, administrative support etc.
The acknowledgements are the only segment in your dissertation where you’re allowed to incorporate personal information about your life. Here you are at liberty to take on a less formal tone than the rest of the academic document and can include sentences in a foreign language as well. However, you should also remember that many people who are not acquainted with you personally will read this section, so you should be careful while providing the details and shouldn’t reveal too much.
The acknowledgements part of the paper are the only ones that everyone will read. Make sure to invest sufficient time to write it and incorporate all the people you appreciate, and who have been helpful in your journey to prepare this elaborate document.
The literature review
The literature review is an evaluation of the relevant literature associated with your topic of dissertation. In this segment, elucidate on the topics and the research methodology adopted by previous researchers in your area of study. You will elucidate on what you have understood and derived from your review, for instance, which concepts are already supported and which aspects have not yet been highlighted in the previous discussions. This portion enables you to elaborate where your dissertation fits within your particular area of study.
Your dissertation should consist of a precise description of your research methods and design. You need to elucidate on how you gathered the pertinent information with solid reasons explaining why you opted for that method. This portion should act as a road map to your academic paper. If your readers wish to use your paper as a reference, they should be able to decipher the methods you have employed and replicate the research process. This part should also comprise of a thorough analysis of the information that focuses on how your data is compiled.
The findings or results segment of your paper focuses on the outcomes of the research process carried out. The information provided in this portion should emphasise on the details you’ve accumulated. The part is ideally put together by presenting your details first and then putting forward your outcomes.
Recommendations or Interpretation
The information provided in your findings segment sets the tone for preparing conclusions and suggesting recommendations. This is the major aspect of your dissertation paper. In this section, you sum up the whole of your dissertation topic and highlight any conclusions that you’ve drawn from the details. This part should consist of recommendations for real time applications and any future research required in your particular topic.
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