As a graduate student, you will be tasked with the job of completing a dissertation. This long writing assignment is designed so students can prove they can use their knowledge to prove an argument. The topic is often highly precise and requires research in the student’s field of study. Students are usually allowed to choose their own topics, but they work with an advisor or a committee to complete the project.
Students do need to know how to write and research on their own. These are eight of the necessary skills that you will develop as you work on this large project:
This project will take a serious amount of time. And, in most cases, students have more than one class to manage while they are researching, organizing, and writing their dissertation. Without learning to manage time, students might not be able to effectively complete the project – especially if there is a limited amount of time given by the school. In most cases, students will have somewhere between a six-weeks to one year to complete the project. No matter how much time is given, students will need to learn how to create balance while working on it.
Determining validity of sources.
Since there is only so much time to complete the project, students need to quickly be able to determine if a source is valid and unbiased. It can be easy to do this by looking for the website sponsor. Unfortunately, many students just take every source as valid, but this can create a faulty argument – especially in one so important like the dissertation. There are plenty of websites that help students determine validity, but in order to benefit from them, students need to use them.
Once the sources are gathered, they need to be organized. Students need to learn how to build a bibliography and keep track of where they use the facts they uncovered in the paper itself. This can be challenging for students who fail to take good notes and fail to record the sources they used. Of all of the skills, this is the one that can make or break a paper because students who fail to organize their sources could be accused of plagiarism.
Organizing the paper.
The paper has to be organized in a specific way based on the formatting style that the professor requires. Each style, like MLA, APA, or Chicago Style, has different requirements for the organizational sections. The information about organization is in the respected style manuals. Students should invest in a style manual and use it.
Reducing unnecessary words.
Writing a dissertation is different than writing a story, essay, or blog post. It needs to be professional in style, so descriptive, flowery words should not be used. Students do not need to worry about reaching word count goals, they need to worry about being clear and concise. Removing unnecessary words is one of the most important editing steps that students need to master in this project.
Editing and revising.
This needs to be done several times. Most students do not even edit or revise essays, so combing through a large writing project can be difficult.
Crafting a bibliography.
Unless students want to receive a zero on the assignment, they must include a bibliography. It must include all of the sources that were used and it should not include any sources that were not used. The instructor must be able to cross-reference the bibliography to find the sources that were used in the paper.
Students who do not cite their sources in the actual paper will be accused of plagiarism. They must perfectly cite every source so it can be found in the bibliography. Citation styles and examples are always available in style guides, so there is no excuse for doing this step incorrectly.