Identifying what topic to write for a complex paper such as a dissertation can prove to be a difficult task as a dissertation is an important piece of for a PhD student. It accounts for quite a huge chunk in regards to credits given to finalize your PhD program.

Writing a dissertation seems like it should be a simple and straightforward process, but many students encounter numerous roadblocks along the way, from not knowing how to organize their information to not having the resources they need to write effectively about the topic at hand. So, what is a dissertation?


A dissertation is a long-form type of academic writing that is usually based on original research that has been conducted an individually. It is good to note that a dissertation is mostly submitted as a final step in order for a PhD student to finalize his PhD program. It is considered to be among the longest type of writing to be completed by a student(Scribbr, 2022).

In this regard, it requires to have solid research, writing, and analysis skills to reduce the intimidation that comes with understanding where to start. It is key to note that most departments do offer a guideline to its students relating to how the dissertation ought to be structured and it is advised that in case of any doubts, you better consult your designated supervisor.

This step-by-step guide will walk you through everything you need to know about writing your dissertation. It provides all the tools you’ll need to get started, as well as tips on what to do if you run into any problems along the way. Follow this advice and you’ll be able to write your dissertation successfully in no time!

Choose your topic

Identifying what topic to write for a complex paper such as a dissertation can prove to be a difficult task as a dissertation is an important piece of for a PhD student. It accounts for quite a huge chunk in regards to credits given to finalize your PhD program.

It is important to familiarize yourself with a topic that seems to be interesting to you considering and factoring in that writing the paper will take many weeks and months to complete. Another advice to consider is that it is vital that the topic is inspired by a subject that is incorporated in your course modules(Online, 2022).

It is important to choose a topic that is unique for your dissertation so as to ensure that there is an opportunity to undertake own research. Another way to consider, it approaching an already-researched field but from a different perspective or angle, or in other case developing a unique idea that you think was not researched adequately.

Additional information to factor in while selecting a topic is not being too narrow or vague as writing a dissertation requires coming up with a paper that is tightly-written and academic. This can be achieved through doing intense research and also being objective in what you are researching, and lastly asking advice and questions to your supervisor or tutor.

Have a plan

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Write a research proposal

Having a plan is a crucial factor when it comes to any element of life and so the same concepts applies when it comes to writing a dissertation paper.

Before writing a dissertation plan, it is important to note that an effective planning of the stages and deliverables will play a crucial part in the final paper.

Start by writing a research proposal. A research proposal is defined as a detailed description of a project that you are intending to do which is mostly requested by departments as part of the assessment of the dissertation.

In a comprehensive research proposal, you will lay out what you are going to do. The research proposal will make writing up the project much easier.

Create a research process or plan

In writing a dissertation, you are required to extend your knowledge on a certain topic. This requires managing your time in undertaking a variety of tasks. It is essential to have a plan that will assist you in allocating adequate time to every task that you plan to complete. an example of tasks involved in a dissertation writing process include a literature review process, data collection, research topic, dissertation proposal, research methods, and research findings.

The duration scheduled for the completion of the tasks will act as a guideline how to plan your research plan. Additionally, it is important to be realistic in regards to the duration of every task.


Prepare your tools

With the idea of the topic and the plan in place, it is time to get to work. There are several tools that you will need to in writing your dissertation. One is a computer that has Microsoft Word installed for typing your dissertation.

Two, a printer which you will use to print your work. Third, is a scanner for scanning any images or graphs that you may need to include in the paper. A reliable internet connection to undertake research and cite your sources.

An indexing software in case your required to use one in the indexing such as Endnote or Mendeley. Reference books that are related to your topic discipline such as APA Publication Manual (for psychology) or Modern Language Association style (for literature). Books about how to organize and write a dissertation such as The Academic Scribbler by Drs. Leslie Stephen Morrison and Thomas Nash

Take time to study

The first and most important step to writing your dissertation is to study. You need to have a clear understanding of  the material you are expected to write about and have extensive knowledge about the field of study.

Next, it’s time for writing: Upon completion of study, comes the actual process of putting pen to paper. If you have sufficient time, allocate an entire day or two exclusively for this task.

Writing can be done at any time during the day, but if it’s not scheduled then there will always be something else more pressing that takes priority – like spending time with family or friends, working on other assignments, cleaning around the house etcetera…A good place to start is coming up with a rough draft, then edit it after more thought has been given to what was written so far.

Start the research

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It is important that you consider research as the most vital element in the entire process. In order to write an effective and coherent dissertation, you need to conduct thorough research on your dissertation topic in addition to the existing research you may already have from previous research(Bangor, 2022). It is key to note that this research should be based on the research question or topic. This includes finding sources, using reliable information only, and not plagiarizing anything. You also need to create an outline so that you know what points you want to cover during your research and how they will fit together before you start writing.

Next, you should start researching and outlining your work by collecting bibliographic information, such as title of the book or journal (if it’s written), author’s name, publisher/distributor (if it’s published), date of publication (if it’s published), etc.

If you are citing a personal interview, include the date, location of the interview and the interviewer’s name. Make sure that all the sources are credible ones so that your argument doesn’t lack credibility. After conducting enough research, you’ll need to make an outline which can help you get organized while drafting your paper.

Before starting to draft your paper, be sure to take into account who would be reading it – whether it is for college admission essays or for academic purposes – and try to present yourself with clarity for this person’s needs.

Begin writing

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With your research in place, it is now time to wite your document. This will be guided by your earlier set guidelines and sections that have been approved by your supervisor.

Aim for quality, not quantity

The first aspect to consider in your writing is quality and not quantity. Ensure that your writing is based on the performed on the basis of the research related on your topic. It is important to research and collect sources to use as background information. Quality is going to be attributed to the number of resources used and indicated used in elements such as citing which a tutor can use to base in terms of merit.

These are the key takeaways when it comes to a quality dissertation:

It should have a great hypothesis or thesis statement

It should contain a number of strong supporting ideas

It should have a well-organized and logical structure

It should pose a strong writing that is clear and concise(ARTISTSWITHAVISION, 2017)

Revise and proofread your document

With your document complete, it is time to revise and proofread. Make sure to check for any grammar errors and typos. If you are using quotations, make sure that the quotation marks line up with the start of the quote and end of the quote. This will make your paper look more professional. Also remember to include page numbers on each page so that readers can find specific parts of your paper easily.