Writing a PhD Thesis: Questions to Consider

Writing a thesis for your PhD may be nerve racking when you begin to consider the amount of time you will spend on it and the weight that it carries upon completion. After all, your dissertation will prove to be the defining, cumulative effort of all of your studying, hard work and dedication.

Although in the beginning this may seem like a daunting task, overwhelming in its magnitude and utterly confusing when you begin, but given a little research and motivation, this will prove to be the most satisfying accomplishment when all is said and done. Below, you will find a few simple answers to help you start off right and ease that all-consuming anxiety that so often accompanies writing a dissertation.

What is a thesis statement? A thesis statement serves as your display of research, findings and experimentation in a chosen field, as well as candidacy for a degree or professional qualifications in your specific field. Typically 200 pages, your thesis will be written to a specific audience with interests in your field and will present your own personal understanding of the chosen topic based on your research. Designed as your personal claim or hypothesis, the thesis leaves the burden of proof and persuasion to the author and acts as the sum of all your years spent in school.

How do I choose a topic? Hopefully, you entered a field of study which interests you and keeps you coming back with a thirst for knowledge. Regardless of how you feel about your schooling, your topic should be something that peaks your curiosity and keeps you wanting to learn. Try to find something that may be controversial or under-researched. You want to bring something new and exciting to your field, not just write a paper to receive a paper.

Is there a correct way to start my dissertation? Every institution has certain criteria which must be met so check with your professor to make sure exactly what it expected. Most dissertations will follow a specific and standard guideline from introduction to body and then conclusion. There is no single sentence structure that must be followed but, as a general rule, you ought to catch the attention of the reader while attempting to include the main purpose of your thesis.

What should be included in my thesis? Even though this may be the longest paper (or let's be honest, it's a book) that you will ever write, a thesis follows the same guidelines as most other papers you have written during your career as a student. Introduction, background, related work, technical approach, a critical assessment of previous research and your conclusion will all be encompassed within your two-hundred page paper. This paper is your original work and a display of your opinions, founded in research and determination. Make it interesting and keep it factual.

Regardless of what you choose to write about, remember that this assignment should be fun instead of daunting. If it gets overwhelming, have a friend read it over and give you pointers, maybe they can even point out something you had previously overlooked. Remember, you want to engage yourself as much as your reader. Ask questions, get answers and enjoy your PhD!

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