Structuring a dissertation
When you have completed your research and planning the most daunting step of all can be the actual process of preparing to write up your . Before you begin to write, it is very important to plan a strong .
This will help in two ways; firstly, a clear dissertation structure is key to demonstrate and display your work to the best possible effect, and secondly it will help you to have a clear structure when you come to write up your research, making the actual writing process much easier as you will effectively simply be following the ‘map’ your structure will lay out for you.
Top structure tips
1. Plan your structure out clearly, with a diagram actually laying out the whole of your dissertation, leaving gaps for text, diagrams and images. This will help you really envisage the whole project, making it easier when you come to write.
2. Remember your structure must include a clear introduction and conclusion, as well as each of the sections your university guidelines specify must be included, from a to the literature review and bibliography.
3. Keep your word limit in mind. Try to roughly assign each section of the structure a word count so that when you begin writing your dissertation you will have a clear guideline of how many words to keep to for each part.
4. Structure is essential to clarity and meaning. Make sure your main points and most important ideas are raised earlier on and that each point flows logically into the next one.
5. Place similar ideas near one another and more unusual points or ideas from a different angle later on to give further perspective to the argument.
6. Keep it readable. Whether it is an undergraduate or masters dissertation or even a thesis, remember that the examiner will always favour a that is well laid out and easy to read. For example, keep paragraphs short and always move on to a new one for each new point.
7. Don’t be afraid to use bullet points and numbering to break up your structure and keep it fresh and interesting. This may be particularly useful for presenting lists of facts or findings when writing your dissertation up.
8. Use your structure to really clarify your . If you are comparing two sources or critics, place the sections consecutively to make the concept easier for the reader to follow.
9. Use signpost sentences to make it clear to the reader what each paragraph or section will focus on as you guide them through your dissertation structure.
10. Don’t be afraid to refer forward or back using phrases such as ‘as previously discussed’ or ‘this will be considered in more detail later’. These help to enhance the importance and strength of your structure in the reader’s awareness.
Finally remember that a strong, clear structure is a huge part of how to write a dissertation and achieve a top grade. If in doubt, before writing your dissertation ask others to look at your dissertation structure and let you know where the vague areas are and where the structure is strongest, as this can help you to pick up on things you may not have noticed yourself.