Writing a Master’s dissertation is no small undertaking. However, with some preparation, and by following the right steps, it can be done! In this complete guide to writing your Master’s dissertation we cover all the critical steps, one by one.
Topic and Hypothesis
It may sound obvious, but before you can begin you need a topic, and a hypothesis within that topic. The hypothesis, in a nutshell, is a specific statement or argument you wish to make about your topic. Once you have these things you can begin your primary research. Here your goal is to find out everything you can about your specific topic that has been researched and published. In doing so, you can get a clearer idea of how exactly your own hypothesis fits in the context of that research, and in many cases, it allows you to improve upon and sharpen your thesis statement. This is a critical step, and it can be very helpful to consult your advisor on coming up with a good hypothesis that fits with what you want to say, and what research has already taken place.
Type of Research
Sometimes the terms used for research projects and dissertations/thesis, etc, can be used interchangeably. No matter what you pick for your topic, you will be doing a research project of sorts. What varies is the type of research you do, and that often depends on your area of study first of all, followed by what you want to research, and how it is best done. The first question is whether or not you are required or are able to do a statistical study, or whether you will be reviewing research and writing your discussion in response. This is, generally speaking, the difference between quantitative and qualitative research.
Now, if you’re running statistics, you will likely be in a program whereby you’ve already learned some of the principles and formulas involved in your particular type of study, so this is something you will work out with your advisor. If you’re not in a stats-based program, your research will likely involve a literature review in some form or other. Here, you review all the most important and relevant research that has been done in your particular area. Generally, as this research all tends to build on each other, you want to find the most recent publications from the past few years.
Time to write, right?
Well, yes. If you have designed an experiment (with statistics) then you need to run that experiment, run your stats, and then make sure you understand the results. If you are working purely from a literature review, once you have a clear understanding of the research you’ve found, you can begin. Whichever kind of research you are doing, you should do your research first, and write that part out. It is the core of your dissertation, and thus all the other parts are either leading up to it, or drawing conclusions based upon it.
Overall, even if writing isn’t your strongest skill, understanding your research fully makes that process a whole lot easier. And that is made a whole lot easier by making sure you have a well-written thesis that is easy to understand. Put your effort into the beginning, and the complete guide to your Master’s dissertation will be like a walk in the park.