What are the Best Tips for Writing an Undergraduate Dissertation?

Jillian Peterson

Perhaps the most exciting but also challenging time in a student’s academic career is the writing of an undergraduate dissertation. The undergraduate dissertation showcases the research and writing skills that undergraduates have learned throughout their academic careers. Though it is an important paper, undergraduates usually have a whole year to complete the dissertation. With a planning and perseverance, writing an undergraduate dissertation can be a rewarding experience instead of a headache. Some tips to make the process flow more smoothly include scheduling ample time to work on it, formulating a strong outline, performing thorough research, staying organized and noting source references as they're used during the final writing process.

Anyone writing a research paper should create an outline before writing.
Anyone writing a research paper should create an outline before writing.

To get started on the right foot, planning should begin as soon as the assignment is received. Students should schedule plenty of time to hone the proposal, work out a thesis, research, write, and edit. Drafting a thorough proposal and making sure the thesis is specific and researchable may make the process easier. In the preliminary research stage, it is advisable to take into account the time to request research materials from colleagues or other libraries. Solid research is usually the key to an excellent dissertation, and good research takes time. Setting aside time every day to tackle a portion of the research plan can help make the heavy load of research work more manageable.

Dissertation research helps narrow down topic ideas.
Dissertation research helps narrow down topic ideas.

Creating a research plan can help students stay organized and focused. Splitting research into topics and making folders related to each topic can help to organize topics in a logical way. Taking detailed notes on research materials may take less time, as glancing over notes is typically faster than reading through source material. Also, creating an annotated bibliography with complete citations as the research is completed can further help to keep track of research materials. An annotated bibliography not only keeps sources organized, but can serve as an excellent reflection of completed work. If students stay organized in the research phase, writing typically will go more smoothly.

While some students may have been able to cram a few papers early on in their academic careers, an undergraduate dissertation is not something that can be rushed. Good time management skills are essential for finishing an undergraduate dissertation in a timely manner. When it comes time to write, scheduling time for writing sessions is a good way to stay on track. Finding a place to write where distractions are minimized and being realistic with scheduling may not only help a student get the work done, but also keep them motivated as well; unrealistic schedules are often difficult to maintain and can cause the work to become overwhelming. Not everybody is able to sit down and write for four hours three times a week, but anyone can find twenty minutes per day to write. Breaking writing up into small sections every day can help to keep topics fresh, and the student won’t waste time refreshing themselves on research topics.

Without proper planning, writing an undergraduate dissertation can seem like a nightmare. Breaking the writing and research process into manageable steps can help students stay focused and relaxed. When a student isn't rushed and disorganized, they usually are better able to write a dissertation that will accurately reflect their knowledge and skills.

The dissertation process typically involves conferences with an advisor or instructor.
The dissertation process typically involves conferences with an advisor or instructor.

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