PhD dissertation writing prompts

A PhD is, like any academic qualification, a piece of writing which demonstrates the author’s ability to understand, synthesis, and present information. Just like any other essay, or any academic writing in general, PhD’s are subject to a few common errors, and avoiding these can make your dissertation into a more professional document. But, what are those errors, and how can they be avoided?

What Is a Dissertation?

A dissertation is not a book. When writing a long piece of academic work, at the highest level of qualification, we can develop the impression that we are producing a book. Sometimes our PhD does become a book, but that is not its purpose; a PhD demonstrates the ability to write academic level work in a given field. It is intended to demonstrate your knowledge of writing, and of all of the conventions of your field. This, the writing and conventions, make up the majority of the marking criteria.

Not Taking Your Reader

Also, the dissertation is a demonstration, and argument, directed to convince a reader. You must, therefore, hold your reader’s hand, and escort your reader very carefully along the path of your argument. It is easy, in the creative process, to forget the audience.

Losing Focus

Sometimes, in long works, we can lose focus and can digress into discussions that are not directly relevant. Everything must add to the argument and the exploration of your thesis; if something is interesting, and related, but does not add to your argument, then it has no place in your work. Every sentence is your opportunity to bring your argument home.

Overlooking the Obvious

When we are writing at this level, we can sometimes assume too much knowledge on the part of the reader. However, any term that we use in a technical sense must be clarified, and anything that is essential to the argument, however common-sense or obvious it might seem, needs to made explicit to the reader. Leave nothing to chance.

Remembering what a PhD dissertation is intended to do will ensure that you avoid all of the above problems. You are showing something to someone, and if you keep this in mind, your dissertation will serve its function.

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