A dissertation is a piece of original research work that is done on a clearly defined topic. It will be the most important piece of work that a student will write during his academic course. It not only helps the student know how much he has learned but also helps him apply what he has learned in a real world situation. Depending on the country where the student studies a dissertation could be necessary as a culmination for a graduate course or a post graduate degree. This could also vary between the universities as well. Unlike an essay that is short and easy to complete a dissertation is a complex piece of work that requires patience and a tremendous amount of research. At the same time a dissertation when written well can be more rewarding than an essay or a research paper. One of the most important aspects of writing a dissertation is that the student can choose a topic that he or she is interested in unlike an essay or a research paper where the student has to write an essay on a topic that the faculty member assigns. A student can finally opt to write a dissertation on a part of the curriculum that he is interested in and a topic that he is interested in pursuing for his higher education and wants to pursue as a career. This will ensure that the student can work on their own initiative with enough motivation from within.
A dissertation can be written in different styles but there are universities that provide specific guidance to the students as to the approach that they should take when writing the dissertation. Research is a very important part of a dissertation and it is possible to gauge from the quality of the paper whether you have done any research. The kind of research that you perform depends a lot on the kind of research question that you intend to ask in the paper. You will have to take a look at the existing literature to find out the knowledge that has been gained before on the same topic. This is for ones own knowledge and open for interpretation in the dissertation. You may decide to do primary research and secondary research. Primary research is to conduct own experiments and surveys to gain knowledge about the topic. Secondary research is to collect material from other peoples research and produce a new interpretation of the same. It requires a lot of patience and methodology to collect primary data. If you are planning to do primary research to get hold of information it is advisable to start the process as soon as possible. Delaying the process may lead to incomplete data collection and wrong inferences from the primary research.
Gathering data takes a lot of time and energy. Since people are required to take part in surveys, you will have to find people who will be able to fill in the surveys and questionnaires to help you make your conclusions. There is a possibility that the people you choose may not be able to make it to the survey due to their commitments so make sure that you have extra participants who can fill in at the last moment. Scientific experiments can also take a long time and you may require special equipments. A test pilot questionnaire can be first used for testing and preparing for the process. A contingency plan needs to be worked out if people are not willing to participate. Secondary research is also a tool of research and it is important for you to keep it under control. You need to clearly know when it is time to stop your research. In some cases it will be difficult for you to stop researching especially for topics where there is no dearth of material. In such a case you need to stick to the research question and narrow down the scope of the topic. When collecting information it is important to constantly keep a track of how relevant the information is to you and the research question. You also need to be aware of the work schedule and realise early on that you will not be able to cover everything that has been written about your topic. Stick to the research plan that you had created and manage your time effectively. Do not get carried away by the nature of the task. Every step you take will take towards the completion of a well researched dissertation.