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Thesis and Dissertation: Getting Started
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The resources in this section are designed to provide guidance for the first steps of the thesis or dissertation writing process. They offer tools to support the planning and managing of your project, including writing out your weekly schedule, outlining your goals, and organzing the various working elements of your project.
Weekly Goals Sheet (a.k.a. Life Map) [Word Doc]
This editable handout provides a place for you to fill in available time blocks on a weekly chart that will help you visualize the amount of time you have available to write. By using this chart, you will be able to work your writing goals into your schedule and put these goals into perspective with your day-to-day plans and responsibilities each week. This handout also contains a formula to help you determine the minimum number of pages you would need to write per day in order to complete your writing on time.
Setting a Production Schedule (Word Doc)
This editable handout can help you make sense of the various steps involved in the production of your thesis or dissertation and determine how long each step might take. A large part of this process involves (1) seeking out the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding specific document formatting requirements, (2) understanding research protocol limitations, (3) making note of deadlines, and (4) understanding your personal writing habits.
Creating a Roadmap (PDF)
Part of organizing your writing involves having a clear sense of how the different working parts relate to one another. Creating a roadmap for your dissertation early on can help you determine what the final document will include and how all the pieces are connected. This resource offers guidance on several approaches to creating a roadmap, including creating lists, maps, nut-shells, visuals, and different methods for outlining. It is important to remember that you can create more than one roadmap (or more than one type of roadmap) depending on how the different approaches discussed here meet your needs.
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- Knowledge Base
What Is a Dissertation? | Guide, Examples, & Template
A dissertation is a long-form piece of academic writing based on original research conducted by you. It is usually submitted as the final step in order to finish a PhD program.
Your dissertation is probably the longest piece of writing you’ve ever completed. It requires solid research, writing, and analysis skills, and it can be intimidating to know where to begin.
Your department likely has guidelines related to how your dissertation should be structured. When in doubt, consult with your supervisor.
You can also download our full dissertation template in the format of your choice below. The template includes a ready-made table of contents with notes on what to include in each chapter, easily adaptable to your department’s requirements.
Download Word template Download Google Docs template
- In the US, a dissertation generally refers to the collection of research you conducted to obtain a PhD.
- In other countries (such as the UK), a dissertation often refers to the research you conduct to obtain your bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Table of contents
Dissertation committee and prospectus process, how to write and structure a dissertation, acknowledgements or preface, list of figures and tables, list of abbreviations, introduction, literature review, methodology, reference list, proofreading and editing, defending your dissertation, free checklist and lecture slides.
When you’ve finished your coursework, as well as any comprehensive exams or other requirements, you advance to “ABD” (All But Dissertation) status. This means you’ve completed everything except your dissertation.
Prior to starting to write, you must form your committee and write your prospectus or proposal . Your committee comprises your adviser and a few other faculty members. They can be from your own department, or, if your work is more interdisciplinary, from other departments. Your committee will guide you through the dissertation process, and ultimately decide whether you pass your dissertation defense and receive your PhD.
Your prospectus is a formal document presented to your committee, usually orally in a defense, outlining your research aims and objectives and showing why your topic is relevant . After passing your prospectus defense, you’re ready to start your research and writing.
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The structure of your dissertation depends on a variety of factors, such as your discipline, topic, and approach. Dissertations in the humanities are often structured more like a long essay , building an overall argument to support a central thesis , with chapters organized around different themes or case studies.
However, hard science and social science dissertations typically include a review of existing works, a methodology section, an analysis of your original research, and a presentation of your results , presented in different chapters.
We’ve compiled a list of dissertation examples to help you get started.
- Example dissertation #1: Heat, Wildfire and Energy Demand: An Examination of Residential Buildings and Community Equity (a dissertation by C. A. Antonopoulos about the impact of extreme heat and wildfire on residential buildings and occupant exposure risks).
- Example dissertation #2: Exploring Income Volatility and Financial Health Among Middle-Income Households (a dissertation by M. Addo about income volatility and declining economic security among middle-income households).
- Example dissertation #3: The Use of Mindfulness Meditation to Increase the Efficacy of Mirror Visual Feedback for Reducing Phantom Limb Pain in Amputees (a dissertation by N. S. Mills about the effect of mindfulness-based interventions on the relationship between mirror visual feedback and the pain level in amputees with phantom limb pain).
The very first page of your document contains your dissertation title, your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date. Sometimes it also includes your student number, your supervisor’s name, and the university’s logo.
Read more about title pages
The acknowledgements section is usually optional and gives space for you to thank everyone who helped you in writing your dissertation. This might include your supervisors, participants in your research, and friends or family who supported you. In some cases, your acknowledgements are part of a preface.
Read more about acknowledgements Read more about prefaces
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The abstract is a short summary of your dissertation, usually about 150 to 300 words long. Though this may seem very short, it’s one of the most important parts of your dissertation, because it introduces your work to your audience.
Your abstract should:
- State your main topic and the aims of your research
- Describe your methods
- Summarize your main results
- State your conclusions
Read more about abstracts
The table of contents lists all of your chapters, along with corresponding subheadings and page numbers. This gives your reader an overview of your structure and helps them easily navigate your document.
Remember to include all main parts of your dissertation in your table of contents, even the appendices. It’s easy to generate a table automatically in Word if you used heading styles. Generally speaking, you only include level 2 and level 3 headings, not every subheading you included in your finished work.
Read more about tables of contents
While not usually mandatory, it’s nice to include a list of figures and tables to help guide your reader if you have used a lot of these in your dissertation. It’s easy to generate one of these in Word using the Insert Caption feature.
Read more about lists of figures and tables
Similarly, if you have used a lot of abbreviations (especially industry-specific ones) in your dissertation, you can include them in an alphabetized list of abbreviations so that the reader can easily look up their meanings.
Read more about lists of abbreviations
In addition to the list of abbreviations, if you find yourself using a lot of highly specialized terms that you worry will not be familiar to your reader, consider including a glossary. Here, alphabetize the terms and include a brief description or definition.
Read more about glossaries
The introduction serves to set up your dissertation’s topic, purpose, and relevance. It tells the reader what to expect in the rest of your dissertation. The introduction should:
- Establish your research topic , giving the background information needed to contextualize your work
- Narrow down the focus and define the scope of your research
- Discuss the state of existing research on the topic, showing your work’s relevance to a broader problem or debate
- Clearly state your research questions and objectives
- Outline the flow of the rest of your work
Everything in the introduction should be clear, engaging, and relevant. By the end, the reader should understand the what, why, and how of your research.
Read more about introductions
A formative part of your research is your literature review . This helps you gain a thorough understanding of the academic work that already exists on your topic.
Literature reviews encompass:
- Finding relevant sources (e.g., books and journal articles)
- Assessing the credibility of your sources
- Critically analyzing and evaluating each source
- Drawing connections between them (e.g., themes, patterns, conflicts, or gaps) to strengthen your overall point
A literature review is not merely a summary of existing sources. Your literature review should have a coherent structure and argument that leads to a clear justification for your own research. It may aim to:
- Address a gap in the literature or build on existing knowledge
- Take a new theoretical or methodological approach to your topic
- Propose a solution to an unresolved problem or advance one side of a theoretical debate
Read more about literature reviews
Your literature review can often form the basis for your theoretical framework. Here, you define and analyze the key theories, concepts, and models that frame your research.
Read more about theoretical frameworks
Your methodology chapter describes how you conducted your research, allowing your reader to critically assess its credibility. Your methodology section should accurately report what you did, as well as convince your reader that this was the best way to answer your research question.
A methodology section should generally include:
- The overall research approach ( quantitative vs. qualitative ) and research methods (e.g., a longitudinal study )
- Your data collection methods (e.g., interviews or a controlled experiment )
- Details of where, when, and with whom the research took place
- Any tools and materials you used (e.g., computer programs, lab equipment)
- Your data analysis methods (e.g., statistical analysis , discourse analysis )
- An evaluation or justification of your methods
Read more about methodology sections
Your results section should highlight what your methodology discovered. You can structure this section around sub-questions, hypotheses , or themes, but avoid including any subjective or speculative interpretation here.
Your results section should:
- Concisely state each relevant result together with relevant descriptive statistics (e.g., mean , standard deviation ) and inferential statistics (e.g., test statistics , p values )
- Briefly state how the result relates to the question or whether the hypothesis was supported
- Report all results that are relevant to your research questions , including any that did not meet your expectations.
Additional data (including raw numbers, full questionnaires, or interview transcripts) can be included as an appendix. You can include tables and figures, but only if they help the reader better understand your results. Read more about results sections
Your discussion section is your opportunity to explore the meaning and implications of your results in relation to your research question. Here, interpret your results in detail, discussing whether they met your expectations and how well they fit with the framework that you built in earlier chapters. Refer back to relevant source material to show how your results fit within existing research in your field.
Some guiding questions include:
- What do your results mean?
- Why do your results matter?
- What limitations do the results have?
If any of the results were unexpected, offer explanations for why this might be. It’s a good idea to consider alternative interpretations of your data.
Read more about discussion sections
Your dissertation’s conclusion should concisely answer your main research question, leaving your reader with a clear understanding of your central argument and emphasizing what your research has contributed to the field.
In some disciplines, the conclusion is just a short section preceding the discussion section, but in other contexts, it is the final chapter of your work. Here, you wrap up your dissertation with a final reflection on what you found, with recommendations for future research and concluding remarks.
It’s important to leave the reader with a clear impression of why your research matters. What have you added to what was already known? Why is your research necessary for the future of your field?
Read more about conclusions
It is crucial to include a reference list or list of works cited with the full details of all the sources that you used, in order to avoid plagiarism. Be sure to choose one citation style and follow it consistently throughout your dissertation. Each style has strict and specific formatting requirements.
Common styles include MLA , Chicago , and APA , but which style you use is often set by your department or your field.
Create APA citations Create MLA citations
Your dissertation should contain only essential information that directly contributes to answering your research question. Documents such as interview transcripts or survey questions can be added as appendices, rather than adding them to the main body.
Read more about appendices
Making sure that all of your sections are in the right place is only the first step to a well-written dissertation. Don’t forget to leave plenty of time for editing and proofreading, as grammar mistakes and sloppy spelling errors can really negatively impact your work.
Dissertations can take up to five years to write, so you will definitely want to make sure that everything is perfect before submitting. You may want to consider using a professional dissertation editing service or grammar checker to make sure your final project is perfect prior to submitting.
After your written dissertation is approved, your committee will schedule a defense. Similarly to defending your prospectus, dissertation defenses are oral presentations of your work. You’ll present your dissertation, and your committee will ask you questions. Many departments allow family members, friends, and other people who are interested to join as well.
After your defense, your committee will meet, and then inform you whether you have passed. Keep in mind that defenses are usually just a formality; most committees will have resolved any serious issues with your work with you far prior to your defense, giving you ample time to fix any problems.
As you write your dissertation, you can use this simple checklist to make sure you’ve included all the essentials.
My title page includes all information required by my university.
I have included acknowledgements thanking those who helped me.
My abstract provides a concise summary of the dissertation, giving the reader a clear idea of my key results or arguments.
I have created a table of contents to help the reader navigate my dissertation. It includes all chapter titles, but excludes the title page, acknowledgements, and abstract.
My introduction leads into my topic in an engaging way and shows the relevance of my research.
My introduction clearly defines the focus of my research, stating my research questions and research objectives .
My introduction includes an overview of the dissertation’s structure (reading guide).
I have conducted a literature review in which I (1) critically engage with sources, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of existing research, (2) discuss patterns, themes, and debates in the literature, and (3) address a gap or show how my research contributes to existing research.
I have clearly outlined the theoretical framework of my research, explaining the theories and models that support my approach.
I have thoroughly described my methodology , explaining how I collected data and analyzed data.
I have concisely and objectively reported all relevant results .
I have (1) evaluated and interpreted the meaning of the results and (2) acknowledged any important limitations of the results in my discussion .
I have clearly stated the answer to my main research question in the conclusion .
I have clearly explained the implications of my conclusion, emphasizing what new insight my research has contributed.
I have provided relevant recommendations for further research or practice.
If relevant, I have included appendices with supplemental information.
I have included an in-text citation every time I use words, ideas, or information from a source.
I have listed every source in a reference list at the end of my dissertation.
I have consistently followed the rules of my chosen citation style .
I have followed all formatting guidelines provided by my university.
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If you’re an educator, feel free to download and adapt these slides to teach your students about structuring a dissertation.
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How To Write A Dissertation Or Thesis
8 straightforward steps to craft an a-grade dissertation.
By: Derek Jansen (MBA) Expert Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2020
Writing a dissertation or thesis is not a simple task. It takes time, energy and a lot of will power to get you across the finish line. It’s not easy – but it doesn’t necessarily need to be a painful process. If you understand the big-picture process of how to write a dissertation or thesis, your research journey will be a lot smoother.
In this post, I’m going to outline the big-picture process of how to write a high-quality dissertation or thesis, without losing your mind along the way. If you’re just starting your research, this post is perfect for you. Alternatively, if you’ve already submitted your proposal, this article which covers how to structure a dissertation might be more helpful.
How To Write A Dissertation: 8 Steps
- Clearly understand what a dissertation (or thesis) is
- Find a unique and valuable research topic
- Craft a convincing research proposal
- Write up a strong introduction chapter
- Review the existing literature and compile a literature review
- Design a rigorous research strategy and undertake your own research
- Present the findings of your research
- Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications
Step 1: Understand exactly what a dissertation is
This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but all too often, students come to us for help with their research and the underlying issue is that they don’t fully understand what a dissertation (or thesis) actually is.
So, what is a dissertation?
At its simplest, a dissertation or thesis is a formal piece of research , reflecting the standard research process . But what is the standard research process, you ask? The research process involves 4 key steps:
- Ask a very specific, well-articulated question (s) (your research topic)
- See what other researchers have said about it (if they’ve already answered it)
- If they haven’t answered it adequately, undertake your own data collection and analysis in a scientifically rigorous fashion
- Answer your original question(s), based on your analysis findings
In short, the research process is simply about asking and answering questions in a systematic fashion . This probably sounds pretty obvious, but people often think they’ve done “research”, when in fact what they have done is:
- Started with a vague, poorly articulated question
- Not taken the time to see what research has already been done regarding the question
- Collected data and opinions that support their gut and undertaken a flimsy analysis
- Drawn a shaky conclusion, based on that analysis
If you want to see the perfect example of this in action, look out for the next Facebook post where someone claims they’ve done “research”… All too often, people consider reading a few blog posts to constitute research. Its no surprise then that what they end up with is an opinion piece, not research. Okay, okay – I’ll climb off my soapbox now.
The key takeaway here is that a dissertation (or thesis) is a formal piece of research, reflecting the research process. It’s not an opinion piece , nor a place to push your agenda or try to convince someone of your position. Writing a good dissertation involves asking a question and taking a systematic, rigorous approach to answering it.
If you understand this and are comfortable leaving your opinions or preconceived ideas at the door, you’re already off to a good start!
Step 2: Find a unique, valuable research topic
As we saw, the first step of the research process is to ask a specific, well-articulated question. In other words, you need to find a research topic that asks a specific question or set of questions (these are called research questions ). Sounds easy enough, right? All you’ve got to do is identify a question or two and you’ve got a winning research topic. Well, not quite…
A good dissertation or thesis topic has a few important attributes. Specifically, a solid research topic should be:
Let’s take a closer look at these:
Attribute #1: Clear
Your research topic needs to be crystal clear about what you’re planning to research, what you want to know, and within what context. There shouldn’t be any ambiguity or vagueness about what you’ll research.
Here’s an example of a clearly articulated research topic:
An analysis of consumer-based factors influencing organisational trust in British low-cost online equity brokerage firms.
As you can see in the example, its crystal clear what will be analysed (factors impacting organisational trust), amongst who (consumers) and in what context (British low-cost equity brokerage firms, based online).
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Attribute #2: Unique
Your research should be asking a question(s) that hasn’t been asked before, or that hasn’t been asked in a specific context (for example, in a specific country or industry).
For example, sticking organisational trust topic above, it’s quite likely that organisational trust factors in the UK have been investigated before, but the context (online low-cost equity brokerages) could make this research unique. Therefore, the context makes this research original.
One caveat when using context as the basis for originality – you need to have a good reason to suspect that your findings in this context might be different from the existing research – otherwise, there’s no reason to warrant researching it.
Attribute #3: Important
Simply asking a unique or original question is not enough – the question needs to create value. In other words, successfully answering your research questions should provide some value to the field of research or the industry. You can’t research something just to satisfy your curiosity. It needs to make some form of contribution either to research or industry.
For example, researching the factors influencing consumer trust would create value by enabling businesses to tailor their operations and marketing to leverage factors that promote trust. In other words, it would have a clear benefit to industry.
So, how do you go about finding a unique and valuable research topic? We explain that in detail in this video post – How To Find A Research Topic . Yeah, we’ve got you covered 😊
Step 3: Write a convincing research proposal
Once you’ve pinned down a high-quality research topic, the next step is to convince your university to let you research it. No matter how awesome you think your topic is, it still needs to get the rubber stamp before you can move forward with your research. The research proposal is the tool you’ll use for this job.
So, what’s in a research proposal?
The main “job” of a research proposal is to convince your university, advisor or committee that your research topic is worthy of approval. But convince them of what? Well, this varies from university to university, but generally, they want to see that:
- You have a clearly articulated, unique and important topic (this might sound familiar…)
- You’ve done some initial reading of the existing literature relevant to your topic (i.e. a literature review)
- You have a provisional plan in terms of how you will collect data and analyse it (i.e. a methodology)
At the proposal stage, it’s (generally) not expected that you’ve extensively reviewed the existing literature , but you will need to show that you’ve done enough reading to identify a clear gap for original (unique) research. Similarly, they generally don’t expect that you have a rock-solid research methodology mapped out, but you should have an idea of whether you’ll be undertaking qualitative or quantitative analysis , and how you’ll collect your data (we’ll discuss this in more detail later).
Long story short – don’t stress about having every detail of your research meticulously thought out at the proposal stage – this will develop as you progress through your research. However, you do need to show that you’ve “done your homework” and that your research is worthy of approval .
So, how do you go about crafting a high-quality, convincing proposal? We cover that in detail in this video post – How To Write A Top-Class Research Proposal . We’ve also got a video walkthrough of two proposal examples here .
Step 4: Craft a strong introduction chapter
Once your proposal’s been approved, its time to get writing your actual dissertation or thesis! The good news is that if you put the time into crafting a high-quality proposal, you’ve already got a head start on your first three chapters – introduction, literature review and methodology – as you can use your proposal as the basis for these.
Handy sidenote – our free dissertation & thesis template is a great way to speed up your dissertation writing journey.
What’s the introduction chapter all about?
The purpose of the introduction chapter is to set the scene for your research (dare I say, to introduce it…) so that the reader understands what you’ll be researching and why it’s important. In other words, it covers the same ground as the research proposal in that it justifies your research topic.
What goes into the introduction chapter?
This can vary slightly between universities and degrees, but generally, the introduction chapter will include the following:
- A brief background to the study, explaining the overall area of research
- A problem statement , explaining what the problem is with the current state of research (in other words, where the knowledge gap exists)
- Your research questions – in other words, the specific questions your study will seek to answer (based on the knowledge gap)
- The significance of your study – in other words, why it’s important and how its findings will be useful in the world
As you can see, this all about explaining the “what” and the “why” of your research (as opposed to the “how”). So, your introduction chapter is basically the salesman of your study, “selling” your research to the first-time reader and (hopefully) getting them interested to read more.
How do I write the introduction chapter, you ask? We cover that in detail in this post .
Step 5: Undertake an in-depth literature review
As I mentioned earlier, you’ll need to do some initial review of the literature in Steps 2 and 3 to find your research gap and craft a convincing research proposal – but that’s just scratching the surface. Once you reach the literature review stage of your dissertation or thesis, you need to dig a lot deeper into the existing research and write up a comprehensive literature review chapter.
What’s the literature review all about?
There are two main stages in the literature review process:
Literature Review Step 1: Reading up
The first stage is for you to deep dive into the existing literature (journal articles, textbook chapters, industry reports, etc) to gain an in-depth understanding of the current state of research regarding your topic. While you don’t need to read every single article, you do need to ensure that you cover all literature that is related to your core research questions, and create a comprehensive catalogue of that literature , which you’ll use in the next step.
Reading and digesting all the relevant literature is a time consuming and intellectually demanding process. Many students underestimate just how much work goes into this step, so make sure that you allocate a good amount of time for this when planning out your research. Thankfully, there are ways to fast track the process – be sure to check out this article covering how to read journal articles quickly .
Literature Review Step 2: Writing up
Once you’ve worked through the literature and digested it all, you’ll need to write up your literature review chapter. Many students make the mistake of thinking that the literature review chapter is simply a summary of what other researchers have said. While this is partly true, a literature review is much more than just a summary. To pull off a good literature review chapter, you’ll need to achieve at least 3 things:
- You need to synthesise the existing research , not just summarise it. In other words, you need to show how different pieces of theory fit together, what’s agreed on by researchers, what’s not.
- You need to highlight a research gap that your research is going to fill. In other words, you’ve got to outline the problem so that your research topic can provide a solution.
- You need to use the existing research to inform your methodology and approach to your own research design. For example, you might use questions or Likert scales from previous studies in your your own survey design .
As you can see, a good literature review is more than just a summary of the published research. It’s the foundation on which your own research is built, so it deserves a lot of love and attention. Take the time to craft a comprehensive literature review with a suitable structure .
But, how do I actually write the literature review chapter, you ask? We cover that in detail in this video post .
Step 6: Carry out your own research
Once you’ve completed your literature review and have a sound understanding of the existing research, its time to develop your own research (finally!). You’ll design this research specifically so that you can find the answers to your unique research question.
There are two steps here – designing your research strategy and executing on it:
1 – Design your research strategy
The first step is to design your research strategy and craft a methodology chapter . I won’t get into the technicalities of the methodology chapter here, but in simple terms, this chapter is about explaining the “how” of your research. If you recall, the introduction and literature review chapters discussed the “what” and the “why”, so it makes sense that the next point to cover is the “how” –that’s what the methodology chapter is all about.
In this section, you’ll need to make firm decisions about your research design. This includes things like:
- Your research philosophy (e.g. positivism or interpretivism )
- Your overall methodology (e.g. qualitative , quantitative or mixed methods)
- Your data collection strategy (e.g. interviews , focus groups, surveys)
- Your data analysis strategy (e.g. content analysis , correlation analysis, regression)
If these words have got your head spinning, don’t worry! We’ll explain these in plain language in other posts. It’s not essential that you understand the intricacies of research design (yet!). The key takeaway here is that you’ll need to make decisions about how you’ll design your own research, and you’ll need to describe (and justify) your decisions in your methodology chapter.
2 – Execute: Collect and analyse your data
Once you’ve worked out your research design, you’ll put it into action and start collecting your data. This might mean undertaking interviews, hosting an online survey or any other data collection method. Data collection can take quite a bit of time (especially if you host in-person interviews), so be sure to factor sufficient time into your project plan for this. Oftentimes, things don’t go 100% to plan (for example, you don’t get as many survey responses as you hoped for), so bake a little extra time into your budget here.
Once you’ve collected your data, you’ll need to do some data preparation before you can sink your teeth into the analysis. For example:
- If you carry out interviews or focus groups, you’ll need to transcribe your audio data to text (i.e. a Word document).
- If you collect quantitative survey data, you’ll need to clean up your data and get it into the right format for whichever analysis software you use (for example, SPSS, R or STATA).
Once you’ve completed your data prep, you’ll undertake your analysis, using the techniques that you described in your methodology. Depending on what you find in your analysis, you might also do some additional forms of analysis that you hadn’t planned for. For example, you might see something in the data that raises new questions or that requires clarification with further analysis.
The type(s) of analysis that you’ll use depend entirely on the nature of your research and your research questions. For example:
- If your research if exploratory in nature, you’ll often use qualitative analysis techniques .
- If your research is confirmatory in nature, you’ll often use quantitative analysis techniques
- If your research involves a mix of both, you might use a mixed methods approach
Again, if these words have got your head spinning, don’t worry! We’ll explain these concepts and techniques in other posts. The key takeaway is simply that there’s no “one size fits all” for research design and methodology – it all depends on your topic, your research questions and your data. So, don’t be surprised if your study colleagues take a completely different approach to yours.
Step 7: Present your findings
Once you’ve completed your analysis, it’s time to present your findings (finally!). In a dissertation or thesis, you’ll typically present your findings in two chapters – the results chapter and the discussion chapter .
What’s the difference between the results chapter and the discussion chapter?
While these two chapters are similar, the results chapter generally just presents the processed data neatly and clearly without interpretation, while the discussion chapter explains the story the data are telling – in other words, it provides your interpretation of the results.
For example, if you were researching the factors that influence consumer trust, you might have used a quantitative approach to identify the relationship between potential factors (e.g. perceived integrity and competence of the organisation) and consumer trust. In this case:
- Your results chapter would just present the results of the statistical tests. For example, correlation results or differences between groups. In other words, the processed numbers.
- Your discussion chapter would explain what the numbers mean in relation to your research question(s). For example, Factor 1 has a weak relationship with consumer trust, while Factor 2 has a strong relationship.
Depending on the university and degree, these two chapters (results and discussion) are sometimes merged into one , so be sure to check with your institution what their preference is. Regardless of the chapter structure, this section is about presenting the findings of your research in a clear, easy to understand fashion.
Importantly, your discussion here needs to link back to your research questions (which you outlined in the introduction or literature review chapter). In other words, it needs to answer the key questions you asked (or at least attempt to answer them).
For example, if we look at the sample research topic:
In this case, the discussion section would clearly outline which factors seem to have a noteworthy influence on organisational trust. By doing so, they are answering the overarching question and fulfilling the purpose of the research .
For more information about the results chapter , check out this post for qualitative studies and this post for quantitative studies .
Step 8: The Final Step Draw a conclusion and discuss the implications
Last but not least, you’ll need to wrap up your research with the conclusion chapter . In this chapter, you’ll bring your research full circle by highlighting the key findings of your study and explaining what the implications of these findings are.
What exactly are key findings? The key findings are those findings which directly relate to your original research questions and overall research objectives (which you discussed in your introduction chapter). The implications, on the other hand, explain what your findings mean for industry, or for research in your area.
Sticking with the consumer trust topic example, the conclusion might look something like this:
This study set out to identify which factors influence consumer-based trust in British low-cost online equity brokerage firms. The results suggest that the following factors have a large impact on consumer trust:
While the following factors have a very limited impact on consumer trust:
Notably, within the 25-30 age groups, Factors E had a noticeably larger impact, which may be explained by…
The findings having noteworthy implications for British low-cost online equity brokers. Specifically:
The large impact of Factors X and Y implies that brokers need to consider….
The limited impact of Factor E implies that brokers need to…
As you can see, the conclusion chapter is basically explaining the “what” (what your study found) and the “so what?” (what the findings mean for the industry or research). This brings the study full circle and closes off the document.
Let’s recap – how to write a dissertation or thesis
You’re still with me? Impressive! I know that this post was a long one, but hopefully you’ve learnt a thing or two about how to write a dissertation or thesis, and are now better equipped to start your own research.
To recap, the 8 steps to writing a quality dissertation (or thesis) are as follows:
- Understand what a dissertation (or thesis) is – a research project that follows the research process.
- Find a unique (original) and important research topic
- Craft a convincing dissertation or thesis research proposal
- Write a clear, compelling introduction chapter
- Undertake a thorough review of the existing research and write up a literature review
- Undertake your own research
- Present and interpret your findings
Once you’ve wrapped up the core chapters, all that’s typically left is the abstract , reference list and appendices. As always, be sure to check with your university if they have any additional requirements in terms of structure or content.
Psst… there’s more (for free)
This post is part of our dissertation mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project.
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Great to hear that – thanks for the feedback. Good luck writing your dissertation/thesis.
This is the most comprehensive explanation of how to write a dissertation. Many thanks for sharing it free of charge.
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This was straightforward. Thank you!
I can say that your explanations are simple and enlightening – understanding what you have done here is easy for me. Could you write more about the different types of research methods specific to the three methodologies: quan, qual and MM. I look forward to interacting with this website more in the future.
Thanks for the feedback and suggestions 🙂
Hello, your write ups is quite educative. However, l have challenges in going about my research questions which is below; *Building the enablers of organisational growth through effective governance and purposeful leadership.*
Just listening to the name of the dissertation makes the student nervous. As writing a top-quality dissertation is a difficult task as it is a lengthy topic, requires a lot of research and understanding and is usually around 10,000 to 15000 words. Sometimes due to studies, unbalanced workload or lack of research and writing skill students look for dissertation submission from professional writers.
Thank you 💕😊 very much. I was confused but your comprehensive explanation has cleared my doubts of ever presenting a good thesis. Thank you.
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Frequently asked questions
How long does it take to write a dissertation.
At the bachelor’s and master’s levels, the dissertation is usually the main focus of your final year. You might work on it (alongside other classes) for the entirety of the final year, or for the last six months. This includes formulating an idea, doing the research, and writing up.
A PhD thesis takes a longer time, as the thesis is the main focus of the degree. A PhD thesis might be being formulated and worked on for the whole four years of the degree program. The writing process alone can take around 18 months.
Frequently asked questions: Knowledge Base
Methodology refers to the overarching strategy and rationale of your research. Developing your methodology involves studying the research methods used in your field and the theories or principles that underpin them, in order to choose the approach that best matches your objectives.
Methods are the specific tools and procedures you use to collect and analyse data (e.g. interviews, experiments , surveys , statistical tests ).
In a dissertation or scientific paper, the methodology chapter or methods section comes after the introduction and before the results , discussion and conclusion .
Depending on the length and type of document, you might also include a literature review or theoretical framework before the methodology.
Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.
Quantitative methods allow you to test a hypothesis by systematically collecting and analysing data, while qualitative methods allow you to explore ideas and experiences in depth.
Reliability and validity are both about how well a method measures something:
- Reliability refers to the consistency of a measure (whether the results can be reproduced under the same conditions).
- Validity refers to the accuracy of a measure (whether the results really do represent what they are supposed to measure).
If you are doing experimental research , you also have to consider the internal and external validity of your experiment.
A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population. Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research.
For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.
Statistical sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population. There are various sampling methods you can use to ensure that your sample is representative of the population as a whole.
There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:
- To familiarise yourself with the current state of knowledge on your topic
- To ensure that you’re not just repeating what others have already done
- To identify gaps in knowledge and unresolved problems that your research can address
- To develop your theoretical framework and methodology
- To provide an overview of the key findings and debates on the topic
Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.
A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .
It is often written as part of a dissertation , thesis, research paper , or proposal .
The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .
Harvard referencing uses an author–date system. Sources are cited by the author’s last name and the publication year in brackets. Each Harvard in-text citation corresponds to an entry in the alphabetised reference list at the end of the paper.
Vancouver referencing uses a numerical system. Sources are cited by a number in parentheses or superscript. Each number corresponds to a full reference at the end of the paper.
A Harvard in-text citation should appear in brackets every time you quote, paraphrase, or refer to information from a source.
The citation can appear immediately after the quotation or paraphrase, or at the end of the sentence. If you’re quoting, place the citation outside of the quotation marks but before any other punctuation like a comma or full stop.
In Harvard referencing, up to three author names are included in an in-text citation or reference list entry. When there are four or more authors, include only the first, followed by ‘ et al. ’
A bibliography should always contain every source you cited in your text. Sometimes a bibliography also contains other sources that you used in your research, but did not cite in the text.
MHRA doesn’t specify a rule about this, so check with your supervisor to find out exactly what should be included in your bibliography.
Footnote numbers should appear in superscript (e.g. 11 ). You can use the ‘Insert footnote’ button in Word to do this automatically; it’s in the ‘References’ tab at the top.
Footnotes always appear after the quote or paraphrase they relate to. MHRA generally recommends placing footnote numbers at the end of the sentence, immediately after any closing punctuation, like this. 12
In situations where this might be awkward or misleading, such as a long sentence containing multiple quotations, footnotes can also be placed at the end of a clause mid-sentence, like this; 13 note that they still come after any punctuation.
When a source has two or three authors, name all of them in your MHRA references . When there are four or more, use only the first name, followed by ‘and others’:
Note that in the bibliography, only the author listed first has their name inverted. The names of additional authors and those of translators or editors are written normally.
A citation should appear wherever you use information or ideas from a source, whether by quoting or paraphrasing its content.
In Vancouver style , you have some flexibility about where the citation number appears in the sentence – usually directly after mentioning the author’s name is best, but simply placing it at the end of the sentence is an acceptable alternative, as long as it’s clear what it relates to.
In Vancouver style , when you refer to a source with multiple authors in your text, you should only name the first author followed by ‘et al.’. This applies even when there are only two authors.
In your reference list, include up to six authors. For sources with seven or more authors, list the first six followed by ‘et al.’.
The words ‘ dissertation ’ and ‘thesis’ both refer to a large written research project undertaken to complete a degree, but they are used differently depending on the country:
- In the UK, you write a dissertation at the end of a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and you write a thesis to complete a PhD.
- In the US, it’s the other way around: you may write a thesis at the end of a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and you write a dissertation to complete a PhD.
The main difference is in terms of scale – a dissertation is usually much longer than the other essays you complete during your degree.
Another key difference is that you are given much more independence when working on a dissertation. You choose your own dissertation topic , and you have to conduct the research and write the dissertation yourself (with some assistance from your supervisor).
Dissertation word counts vary widely across different fields, institutions, and levels of education:
- An undergraduate dissertation is typically 8,000–15,000 words
- A master’s dissertation is typically 12,000–50,000 words
- A PhD thesis is typically book-length: 70,000–100,000 words
However, none of these are strict guidelines – your word count may be lower or higher than the numbers stated here. Always check the guidelines provided by your university to determine how long your own dissertation should be.
References should be included in your text whenever you use words, ideas, or information from a source. A source can be anything from a book or journal article to a website or YouTube video.
If you don’t acknowledge your sources, you can get in trouble for plagiarism .
Your university should tell you which referencing style to follow. If you’re unsure, check with a supervisor. Commonly used styles include:
- Harvard referencing , the most commonly used style in UK universities.
- MHRA , used in humanities subjects.
- APA , used in the social sciences.
- Vancouver , used in biomedicine.
- OSCOLA , used in law.
Your university may have its own referencing style guide.
If you are allowed to choose which style to follow, we recommend Harvard referencing, as it is a straightforward and widely used style.
To avoid plagiarism , always include a reference when you use words, ideas or information from a source. This shows that you are not trying to pass the work of others off as your own.
You must also properly quote or paraphrase the source. If you’re not sure whether you’ve done this correctly, you can use the Scribbr Plagiarism Checker to find and correct any mistakes.
In Harvard style , when you quote directly from a source that includes page numbers, your in-text citation must include a page number. For example: (Smith, 2014, p. 33).
You can also include page numbers to point the reader towards a passage that you paraphrased . If you refer to the general ideas or findings of the source as a whole, you don’t need to include a page number.
When you want to use a quote but can’t access the original source, you can cite it indirectly. In the in-text citation , first mention the source you want to refer to, and then the source in which you found it. For example:
It’s advisable to avoid indirect citations wherever possible, because they suggest you don’t have full knowledge of the sources you’re citing. Only use an indirect citation if you can’t reasonably gain access to the original source.
In Harvard style referencing , to distinguish between two sources by the same author that were published in the same year, you add a different letter after the year for each source:
- (Smith, 2019a)
- (Smith, 2019b)
Add ‘a’ to the first one you cite, ‘b’ to the second, and so on. Do the same in your bibliography or reference list .
To create a hanging indent for your bibliography or reference list :
- Highlight all the entries
- Click on the arrow in the bottom-right corner of the ‘Paragraph’ tab in the top menu.
- In the pop-up window, under ‘Special’ in the ‘Indentation’ section, use the drop-down menu to select ‘Hanging’.
- Then close the window with ‘OK’.
Though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there is a difference in meaning:
- A reference list only includes sources cited in the text – every entry corresponds to an in-text citation .
- A bibliography also includes other sources which were consulted during the research but not cited.
It’s important to assess the reliability of information found online. Look for sources from established publications and institutions with expertise (e.g. peer-reviewed journals and government agencies).
The CRAAP test (currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, purpose) can aid you in assessing sources, as can our list of credible sources . You should generally avoid citing websites like Wikipedia that can be edited by anyone – instead, look for the original source of the information in the “References” section.
You can generally omit page numbers in your in-text citations of online sources which don’t have them. But when you quote or paraphrase a specific passage from a particularly long online source, it’s useful to find an alternate location marker.
For text-based sources, you can use paragraph numbers (e.g. ‘para. 4’) or headings (e.g. ‘under “Methodology”’). With video or audio sources, use a timestamp (e.g. ‘10:15’).
In the acknowledgements of your thesis or dissertation, you should first thank those who helped you academically or professionally, such as your supervisor, funders, and other academics.
Then you can include personal thanks to friends, family members, or anyone else who supported you during the process.
Yes, it’s important to thank your supervisor(s) in the acknowledgements section of your thesis or dissertation .
Even if you feel your supervisor did not contribute greatly to the final product, you still should acknowledge them, if only for a very brief thank you. If you do not include your supervisor, it may be seen as a snub.
The acknowledgements are generally included at the very beginning of your thesis or dissertation, directly after the title page and before the abstract .
In a thesis or dissertation, the acknowledgements should usually be no longer than one page. There is no minimum length.
You may acknowledge God in your thesis or dissertation acknowledgements , but be sure to follow academic convention by also thanking the relevant members of academia, as well as family, colleagues, and friends who helped you.
All level 1 and 2 headings should be included in your table of contents . That means the titles of your chapters and the main sections within them.
The contents should also include all appendices and the lists of tables and figures, if applicable, as well as your reference list .
Do not include the acknowledgements or abstract in the table of contents.
To automatically insert a table of contents in Microsoft Word, follow these steps:
- Apply heading styles throughout the document.
- In the references section in the ribbon, locate the Table of Contents group.
- Click the arrow next to the Table of Contents icon and select Custom Table of Contents.
- Select which levels of headings you would like to include in the table of contents.
Make sure to update your table of contents if you move text or change headings. To update, simply right click and select Update Field.
The table of contents in a thesis or dissertation always goes between your abstract and your introduction.
An abbreviation is a shortened version of an existing word, such as Dr for Doctor. In contrast, an acronym uses the first letter of each word to create a wholly new word, such as UNESCO (an acronym for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
Your dissertation sometimes contains a list of abbreviations .
As a rule of thumb, write the explanation in full the first time you use an acronym or abbreviation. You can then proceed with the shortened version. However, if the abbreviation is very common (like UK or PC), then you can just use the abbreviated version straight away.
Be sure to add each abbreviation in your list of abbreviations !
If you only used a few abbreviations in your thesis or dissertation, you don’t necessarily need to include a list of abbreviations .
If your abbreviations are numerous, or if you think they won’t be known to your audience, it’s never a bad idea to add one. They can also improve readability, minimising confusion about abbreviations unfamiliar to your reader.
A list of abbreviations is a list of all the abbreviations you used in your thesis or dissertation. It should appear at the beginning of your document, immediately after your table of contents . It should always be in alphabetical order.
Fishbone diagrams have a few different names that are used interchangeably, including herringbone diagram, cause-and-effect diagram, and Ishikawa diagram.
These are all ways to refer to the same thing– a problem-solving approach that uses a fish-shaped diagram to model possible root causes of problems and troubleshoot solutions.
Fishbone diagrams (also called herringbone diagrams, cause-and-effect diagrams, and Ishikawa diagrams) are most popular in fields of quality management. They are also commonly used in nursing and healthcare, or as a brainstorming technique for students.
Some synonyms and near synonyms of among include:
- In the company of
- In the middle of
- Surrounded by
Some synonyms and near synonyms of between include:
- In the space separating
- In the time separating
In spite of is a preposition used to mean ‘ regardless of ‘, ‘notwithstanding’, or ‘even though’.
It’s always used in a subordinate clause to contrast with the information given in the main clause of a sentence (e.g., ‘Amy continued to watch TV, in spite of the time’).
Despite is a preposition used to mean ‘ regardless of ‘, ‘notwithstanding’, or ‘even though’.
It’s used in a subordinate clause to contrast with information given in the main clause of a sentence (e.g., ‘Despite the stress, Joe loves his job’).
‘Log in’ is a phrasal verb meaning ‘connect to an electronic device, system, or app’. The preposition ‘to’ is often used directly after the verb; ‘in’ and ‘to’ should be written as two separate words (e.g., ‘ log in to the app to update privacy settings’).
‘Log into’ is sometimes used instead of ‘log in to’, but this is generally considered incorrect (as is ‘login to’).
Some synonyms and near synonyms of ensure include:
- Make certain
Some synonyms and near synonyms of assure include:
Rest assured is an expression meaning ‘you can be certain’ (e.g., ‘Rest assured, I will find your cat’). ‘Assured’ is the adjectival form of the verb assure , meaning ‘convince’ or ‘persuade’.
Some synonyms and near synonyms for council include:
There are numerous synonyms and near synonyms for the two meanings of counsel :
AI writing tools can be used to perform a variety of tasks.
Generative AI writing tools (like ChatGPT ) generate text based on human inputs and can be used for interactive learning, to provide feedback, or to generate research questions or outlines.
These tools can also be used to paraphrase or summarise text or to identify grammar and punctuation mistakes. Y ou can also use Scribbr’s free paraphrasing tool , summarising tool , and grammar checker , which are designed specifically for these purposes.
Using AI writing tools (like ChatGPT ) to write your essay is usually considered plagiarism and may result in penalisation, unless it is allowed by your university. Text generated by AI tools is based on existing texts and therefore cannot provide unique insights. Furthermore, these outputs sometimes contain factual inaccuracies or grammar mistakes.
However, AI writing tools can be used effectively as a source of feedback and inspiration for your writing (e.g., to generate research questions ). Other AI tools, like grammar checkers, can help identify and eliminate grammar and punctuation mistakes to enhance your writing.
The Scribbr Knowledge Base is a collection of free resources to help you succeed in academic research, writing, and citation. Every week, we publish helpful step-by-step guides, clear examples, simple templates, engaging videos, and more.
The Knowledge Base is for students at all levels. Whether you’re writing your first essay, working on your bachelor’s or master’s dissertation, or getting to grips with your PhD research, we’ve got you covered.
As well as the Knowledge Base, Scribbr provides many other tools and services to support you in academic writing and citation:
- Create your citations and manage your reference list with our free Reference Generators in APA and MLA style.
- Scan your paper for in-text citation errors and inconsistencies with our innovative APA Citation Checker .
- Avoid accidental plagiarism with our reliable Plagiarism Checker .
- Polish your writing and get feedback on structure and clarity with our Proofreading & Editing services .
Yes! We’re happy for educators to use our content, and we’ve even adapted some of our articles into ready-made lecture slides .
You are free to display, distribute, and adapt Scribbr materials in your classes or upload them in private learning environments like Blackboard. We only ask that you credit Scribbr for any content you use.
We’re always striving to improve the Knowledge Base. If you have an idea for a topic we should cover, or you notice a mistake in any of our articles, let us know by emailing [email protected] .
The consequences of plagiarism vary depending on the type of plagiarism and the context in which it occurs. For example, submitting a whole paper by someone else will have the most severe consequences, while accidental citation errors are considered less serious.
If you’re a student, then you might fail the course, be suspended or expelled, or be obligated to attend a workshop on plagiarism. It depends on whether it’s your first offence or you’ve done it before.
As an academic or professional, plagiarising seriously damages your reputation. You might also lose your research funding or your job, and you could even face legal consequences for copyright infringement.
Paraphrasing without crediting the original author is a form of plagiarism , because you’re presenting someone else’s ideas as if they were your own.
However, paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you correctly reference the source . This means including an in-text referencing and a full reference , formatted according to your required citation style (e.g., Harvard , Vancouver ).
As well as referencing your source, make sure that any paraphrased text is completely rewritten in your own words.
Accidental plagiarism is one of the most common examples of plagiarism . Perhaps you forgot to cite a source, or paraphrased something a bit too closely. Maybe you can’t remember where you got an idea from, and aren’t totally sure if it’s original or not.
These all count as plagiarism, even though you didn’t do it on purpose. When in doubt, make sure you’re citing your sources . Also consider running your work through a plagiarism checker tool prior to submission, which work by using advanced database software to scan for matches between your text and existing texts.
Scribbr’s Plagiarism Checker takes less than 10 minutes and can help you turn in your paper with confidence.
The accuracy depends on the plagiarism checker you use. Per our in-depth research , Scribbr is the most accurate plagiarism checker. Many free plagiarism checkers fail to detect all plagiarism or falsely flag text as plagiarism.
Plagiarism checkers work by using advanced database software to scan for matches between your text and existing texts. Their accuracy is determined by two factors: the algorithm (which recognises the plagiarism) and the size of the database (with which your document is compared).
To avoid plagiarism when summarising an article or other source, follow these two rules:
- Write the summary entirely in your own words by paraphrasing the author’s ideas.
- Reference the source with an in-text citation and a full reference so your reader can easily find the original text.
Plagiarism can be detected by your professor or readers if the tone, formatting, or style of your text is different in different parts of your paper, or if they’re familiar with the plagiarised source.
Many universities also use plagiarism detection software like Turnitin’s, which compares your text to a large database of other sources, flagging any similarities that come up.
It can be easier than you think to commit plagiarism by accident. Consider using a plagiarism checker prior to submitting your essay to ensure you haven’t missed any citations.
Some examples of plagiarism include:
- Copying and pasting a Wikipedia article into the body of an assignment
- Quoting a source without including a citation
- Not paraphrasing a source properly (e.g. maintaining wording too close to the original)
- Forgetting to cite the source of an idea
The most surefire way to avoid plagiarism is to always cite your sources . When in doubt, cite!
Global plagiarism means taking an entire work written by someone else and passing it off as your own. This can include getting someone else to write an essay or assignment for you, or submitting a text you found online as your own work.
Global plagiarism is one of the most serious types of plagiarism because it involves deliberately and directly lying about the authorship of a work. It can have severe consequences for students and professionals alike.
Verbatim plagiarism means copying text from a source and pasting it directly into your own document without giving proper credit.
If the structure and the majority of the words are the same as in the original source, then you are committing verbatim plagiarism. This is the case even if you delete a few words or replace them with synonyms.
If you want to use an author’s exact words, you need to quote the original source by putting the copied text in quotation marks and including an in-text citation .
Patchwork plagiarism , also called mosaic plagiarism, means copying phrases, passages, or ideas from various existing sources and combining them to create a new text. This includes slightly rephrasing some of the content, while keeping many of the same words and the same structure as the original.
While this type of plagiarism is more insidious than simply copying and pasting directly from a source, plagiarism checkers like Turnitin’s can still easily detect it.
To avoid plagiarism in any form, remember to reference your sources .
Yes, reusing your own work without citation is considered self-plagiarism . This can range from resubmitting an entire assignment to reusing passages or data from something you’ve handed in previously.
Self-plagiarism often has the same consequences as other types of plagiarism . If you want to reuse content you wrote in the past, make sure to check your university’s policy or consult your professor.
If you are reusing content or data you used in a previous assignment, make sure to cite yourself. You can cite yourself the same way you would cite any other source: simply follow the directions for the citation style you are using.
Keep in mind that reusing prior content can be considered self-plagiarism , so make sure you ask your instructor or consult your university’s handbook prior to doing so.
Most institutions have an internal database of previously submitted student assignments. Turnitin can check for self-plagiarism by comparing your paper against this database. If you’ve reused parts of an assignment you already submitted, it will flag any similarities as potential plagiarism.
Online plagiarism checkers don’t have access to your institution’s database, so they can’t detect self-plagiarism of unpublished work. If you’re worried about accidentally self-plagiarising, you can use Scribbr’s Self-Plagiarism Checker to upload your unpublished documents and check them for similarities.
Plagiarism has serious consequences and can be illegal in certain scenarios.
While most of the time plagiarism in an undergraduate setting is not illegal, plagiarism or self-plagiarism in a professional academic setting can lead to legal action, including copyright infringement and fraud. Many scholarly journals do not allow you to submit the same work to more than one journal, and if you do not credit a coauthor, you could be legally defrauding them.
Even if you aren’t breaking the law, plagiarism can seriously impact your academic career. While the exact consequences of plagiarism vary by institution and severity, common consequences include a lower grade, automatically failing a course, academic suspension or probation, and even expulsion.
Self-plagiarism means recycling work that you’ve previously published or submitted as an assignment. It’s considered academic dishonesty to present something as brand new when you’ve already gotten credit and perhaps feedback for it in the past.
If you want to refer to ideas or data from previous work, be sure to cite yourself.
Academic integrity means being honest, ethical, and thorough in your academic work. To maintain academic integrity, you should avoid misleading your readers about any part of your research and refrain from offences like plagiarism and contract cheating, which are examples of academic misconduct.
Academic dishonesty refers to deceitful or misleading behavior in an academic setting. Academic dishonesty can occur intentionally or unintentionally, and it varies in severity.
It can encompass paying for a pre-written essay, cheating on an exam, or committing plagiarism . It can also include helping others cheat, copying a friend’s homework answers, or even pretending to be sick to miss an exam.
Academic dishonesty doesn’t just occur in a classroom setting, but also in research and other academic-adjacent fields.
Consequences of academic dishonesty depend on the severity of the offence and your institution’s policy. They can range from a warning for a first offence to a failing grade in a course to expulsion from your university.
For those in certain fields, such as nursing, engineering, or lab sciences, not learning fundamentals properly can directly impact the health and safety of others. For those working in academia or research, academic dishonesty impacts your professional reputation, leading others to doubt your future work.
Academic dishonesty can be intentional or unintentional, ranging from something as simple as claiming to have read something you didn’t to copying your neighbour’s answers on an exam.
You can commit academic dishonesty with the best of intentions, such as helping a friend cheat on a paper. Severe academic dishonesty can include buying a pre-written essay or the answers to a multiple-choice test, or falsifying a medical emergency to avoid taking a final exam.
Plagiarism means presenting someone else’s work as your own without giving proper credit to the original author. In academic writing, plagiarism involves using words, ideas, or information from a source without including a citation .
Plagiarism can have serious consequences , even when it’s done accidentally. To avoid plagiarism, it’s important to keep track of your sources and cite them correctly.
Common knowledge does not need to be cited. However, you should be extra careful when deciding what counts as common knowledge.
Common knowledge encompasses information that the average educated reader would accept as true without needing the extra validation of a source or citation.
Common knowledge should be widely known, undisputed, and easily verified. When in doubt, always cite your sources.
Most online plagiarism checkers only have access to public databases, whose software doesn’t allow you to compare two documents for plagiarism.
However, in addition to our Plagiarism Checker , Scribbr also offers an Self-Plagiarism Checker . This is an add-on tool that lets you compare your paper with unpublished or private documents. This way you can rest assured that you haven’t unintentionally plagiarised or self-plagiarised .
Compare two sources for plagiarism
The research methods you use depend on the type of data you need to answer your research question .
- If you want to measure something or test a hypothesis , use quantitative methods . If you want to explore ideas, thoughts, and meanings, use qualitative methods .
- If you want to analyse a large amount of readily available data, use secondary data. If you want data specific to your purposes with control over how they are generated, collect primary data.
- If you want to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables , use experimental methods. If you want to understand the characteristics of a research subject, use descriptive methods.
Methodology refers to the overarching strategy and rationale of your research project . It involves studying the methods used in your field and the theories or principles behind them, in order to develop an approach that matches your objectives.
Methods are the specific tools and procedures you use to collect and analyse data (e.g. experiments, surveys , and statistical tests ).
In shorter scientific papers, where the aim is to report the findings of a specific study, you might simply describe what you did in a methods section .
In a longer or more complex research project, such as a thesis or dissertation , you will probably include a methodology section , where you explain your approach to answering the research questions and cite relevant sources to support your choice of methods.
In mixed methods research , you use both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods to answer your research question .
Data collection is the systematic process by which observations or measurements are gathered in research. It is used in many different contexts by academics, governments, businesses, and other organisations.
There are various approaches to qualitative data analysis , but they all share five steps in common:
- Prepare and organise your data.
- Review and explore your data.
- Develop a data coding system.
- Assign codes to the data.
- Identify recurring themes.
The specifics of each step depend on the focus of the analysis. Some common approaches include textual analysis , thematic analysis , and discourse analysis .
There are five common approaches to qualitative research :
- Grounded theory involves collecting data in order to develop new theories.
- Ethnography involves immersing yourself in a group or organisation to understand its culture.
- Narrative research involves interpreting stories to understand how people make sense of their experiences and perceptions.
- Phenomenological research involves investigating phenomena through people’s lived experiences.
- Action research links theory and practice in several cycles to drive innovative changes.
Hypothesis testing is a formal procedure for investigating our ideas about the world using statistics. It is used by scientists to test specific predictions, called hypotheses , by calculating how likely it is that a pattern or relationship between variables could have arisen by chance.
Operationalisation means turning abstract conceptual ideas into measurable observations.
For example, the concept of social anxiety isn’t directly observable, but it can be operationally defined in terms of self-rating scores, behavioural avoidance of crowded places, or physical anxiety symptoms in social situations.
Before collecting data , it’s important to consider how you will operationalise the variables that you want to measure.
Triangulation in research means using multiple datasets, methods, theories and/or investigators to address a research question. It’s a research strategy that can help you enhance the validity and credibility of your findings.
Triangulation is mainly used in qualitative research , but it’s also commonly applied in quantitative research . Mixed methods research always uses triangulation.
These are four of the most common mixed methods designs :
- Convergent parallel: Quantitative and qualitative data are collected at the same time and analysed separately. After both analyses are complete, compare your results to draw overall conclusions.
- Embedded: Quantitative and qualitative data are collected at the same time, but within a larger quantitative or qualitative design. One type of data is secondary to the other.
- Explanatory sequential: Quantitative data is collected and analysed first, followed by qualitative data. You can use this design if you think your qualitative data will explain and contextualise your quantitative findings.
- Exploratory sequential: Qualitative data is collected and analysed first, followed by quantitative data. You can use this design if you think the quantitative data will confirm or validate your qualitative findings.
An observational study could be a good fit for your research if your research question is based on things you observe. If you have ethical, logistical, or practical concerns that make an experimental design challenging, consider an observational study. Remember that in an observational study, it is critical that there be no interference or manipulation of the research subjects. Since it’s not an experiment, there are no control or treatment groups either.
The key difference between observational studies and experiments is that, done correctly, an observational study will never influence the responses or behaviours of participants. Experimental designs will have a treatment condition applied to at least a portion of participants.
Exploratory research explores the main aspects of a new or barely researched question.
Explanatory research explains the causes and effects of an already widely researched question.
Experimental designs are a set of procedures that you plan in order to examine the relationship between variables that interest you.
To design a successful experiment, first identify:
- A testable hypothesis
- One or more independent variables that you will manipulate
- One or more dependent variables that you will measure
When designing the experiment, first decide:
- How your variable(s) will be manipulated
- How you will control for any potential confounding or lurking variables
- How many subjects you will include
- How you will assign treatments to your subjects
There are four main types of triangulation :
- Data triangulation : Using data from different times, spaces, and people
- Investigator triangulation : Involving multiple researchers in collecting or analysing data
- Theory triangulation : Using varying theoretical perspectives in your research
- Methodological triangulation : Using different methodologies to approach the same topic
Triangulation can help:
- Reduce bias that comes from using a single method, theory, or investigator
- Enhance validity by approaching the same topic with different tools
- Establish credibility by giving you a complete picture of the research problem
But triangulation can also pose problems:
- It’s time-consuming and labour-intensive, often involving an interdisciplinary team.
- Your results may be inconsistent or even contradictory.
A confounding variable , also called a confounder or confounding factor, is a third variable in a study examining a potential cause-and-effect relationship.
A confounding variable is related to both the supposed cause and the supposed effect of the study. It can be difficult to separate the true effect of the independent variable from the effect of the confounding variable.
In your research design , it’s important to identify potential confounding variables and plan how you will reduce their impact.
In a between-subjects design , every participant experiences only one condition, and researchers assess group differences between participants in various conditions.
In a within-subjects design , each participant experiences all conditions, and researchers test the same participants repeatedly for differences between conditions.
The word ‘between’ means that you’re comparing different conditions between groups, while the word ‘within’ means you’re comparing different conditions within the same group.
A quasi-experiment is a type of research design that attempts to establish a cause-and-effect relationship. The main difference between this and a true experiment is that the groups are not randomly assigned.
In experimental research, random assignment is a way of placing participants from your sample into different groups using randomisation. With this method, every member of the sample has a known or equal chance of being placed in a control group or an experimental group.
Quasi-experimental design is most useful in situations where it would be unethical or impractical to run a true experiment .
Quasi-experiments have lower internal validity than true experiments, but they often have higher external validity as they can use real-world interventions instead of artificial laboratory settings.
Within-subjects designs have many potential threats to internal validity , but they are also very statistically powerful .
- Only requires small samples
- Statistically powerful
- Removes the effects of individual differences on the outcomes
- Internal validity threats reduce the likelihood of establishing a direct relationship between variables
- Time-related effects, such as growth, can influence the outcomes
- Carryover effects mean that the specific order of different treatments affect the outcomes
Yes. Between-subjects and within-subjects designs can be combined in a single study when you have two or more independent variables (a factorial design). In a mixed factorial design, one variable is altered between subjects and another is altered within subjects.
In a factorial design, multiple independent variables are tested.
If you test two variables, each level of one independent variable is combined with each level of the other independent variable to create different conditions.
While a between-subjects design has fewer threats to internal validity , it also requires more participants for high statistical power than a within-subjects design .
- Prevents carryover effects of learning and fatigue.
- Shorter study duration.
- Needs larger samples for high power.
- Uses more resources to recruit participants, administer sessions, cover costs, etc.
- Individual differences may be an alternative explanation for results.
Samples are used to make inferences about populations . Samples are easier to collect data from because they are practical, cost-effective, convenient, and manageable.
Probability sampling means that every member of the target population has a known chance of being included in the sample.
Probability sampling methods include simple random sampling , systematic sampling , stratified sampling , and cluster sampling .
In non-probability sampling , the sample is selected based on non-random criteria, and not every member of the population has a chance of being included.
Common non-probability sampling methods include convenience sampling , voluntary response sampling, purposive sampling , snowball sampling , and quota sampling .
In multistage sampling , or multistage cluster sampling, you draw a sample from a population using smaller and smaller groups at each stage.
This method is often used to collect data from a large, geographically spread group of people in national surveys, for example. You take advantage of hierarchical groupings (e.g., from county to city to neighbourhood) to create a sample that’s less expensive and time-consuming to collect data from.
Sampling bias occurs when some members of a population are systematically more likely to be selected in a sample than others.
Simple random sampling is a type of probability sampling in which the researcher randomly selects a subset of participants from a population . Each member of the population has an equal chance of being selected. Data are then collected from as large a percentage as possible of this random subset.
The American Community Survey is an example of simple random sampling . In order to collect detailed data on the population of the US, the Census Bureau officials randomly select 3.5 million households per year and use a variety of methods to convince them to fill out the survey.
If properly implemented, simple random sampling is usually the best sampling method for ensuring both internal and external validity . However, it can sometimes be impractical and expensive to implement, depending on the size of the population to be studied,
If you have a list of every member of the population and the ability to reach whichever members are selected, you can use simple random sampling.
Cluster sampling is more time- and cost-efficient than other probability sampling methods , particularly when it comes to large samples spread across a wide geographical area.
However, it provides less statistical certainty than other methods, such as simple random sampling , because it is difficult to ensure that your clusters properly represent the population as a whole.
There are three types of cluster sampling : single-stage, double-stage and multi-stage clustering. In all three types, you first divide the population into clusters, then randomly select clusters for use in your sample.
- In single-stage sampling , you collect data from every unit within the selected clusters.
- In double-stage sampling , you select a random sample of units from within the clusters.
- In multi-stage sampling , you repeat the procedure of randomly sampling elements from within the clusters until you have reached a manageable sample.
Cluster sampling is a probability sampling method in which you divide a population into clusters, such as districts or schools, and then randomly select some of these clusters as your sample.
The clusters should ideally each be mini-representations of the population as a whole.
In multistage sampling , you can use probability or non-probability sampling methods.
For a probability sample, you have to probability sampling at every stage. You can mix it up by using simple random sampling , systematic sampling , or stratified sampling to select units at different stages, depending on what is applicable and relevant to your study.
Multistage sampling can simplify data collection when you have large, geographically spread samples, and you can obtain a probability sample without a complete sampling frame.
But multistage sampling may not lead to a representative sample, and larger samples are needed for multistage samples to achieve the statistical properties of simple random samples .
In stratified sampling , researchers divide subjects into subgroups called strata based on characteristics that they share (e.g., race, gender, educational attainment).
Once divided, each subgroup is randomly sampled using another probability sampling method .
You should use stratified sampling when your sample can be divided into mutually exclusive and exhaustive subgroups that you believe will take on different mean values for the variable that you’re studying.
Using stratified sampling will allow you to obtain more precise (with lower variance ) statistical estimates of whatever you are trying to measure.
For example, say you want to investigate how income differs based on educational attainment, but you know that this relationship can vary based on race. Using stratified sampling, you can ensure you obtain a large enough sample from each racial group, allowing you to draw more precise conclusions.
Yes, you can create a stratified sample using multiple characteristics, but you must ensure that every participant in your study belongs to one and only one subgroup. In this case, you multiply the numbers of subgroups for each characteristic to get the total number of groups.
For example, if you were stratifying by location with three subgroups (urban, rural, or suburban) and marital status with five subgroups (single, divorced, widowed, married, or partnered), you would have 3 × 5 = 15 subgroups.
There are three key steps in systematic sampling :
- Define and list your population , ensuring that it is not ordered in a cyclical or periodic order.
- Decide on your sample size and calculate your interval, k , by dividing your population by your target sample size.
- Choose every k th member of the population as your sample.
Systematic sampling is a probability sampling method where researchers select members of the population at a regular interval – for example, by selecting every 15th person on a list of the population. If the population is in a random order, this can imitate the benefits of simple random sampling .
Populations are used when a research question requires data from every member of the population. This is usually only feasible when the population is small and easily accessible.
A statistic refers to measures about the sample , while a parameter refers to measures about the population .
A sampling error is the difference between a population parameter and a sample statistic .
There are eight threats to internal validity : history, maturation, instrumentation, testing, selection bias , regression to the mean, social interaction, and attrition .
Internal validity is the extent to which you can be confident that a cause-and-effect relationship established in a study cannot be explained by other factors.
Attrition bias is a threat to internal validity . In experiments, differential rates of attrition between treatment and control groups can skew results.
This bias can affect the relationship between your independent and dependent variables . It can make variables appear to be correlated when they are not, or vice versa.
The external validity of a study is the extent to which you can generalise your findings to different groups of people, situations, and measures.
The two types of external validity are population validity (whether you can generalise to other groups of people) and ecological validity (whether you can generalise to other situations and settings).
There are seven threats to external validity : selection bias , history, experimenter effect, Hawthorne effect , testing effect, aptitude-treatment, and situation effect.
Attrition bias can skew your sample so that your final sample differs significantly from your original sample. Your sample is biased because some groups from your population are underrepresented.
With a biased final sample, you may not be able to generalise your findings to the original population that you sampled from, so your external validity is compromised.
Construct validity is about how well a test measures the concept it was designed to evaluate. It’s one of four types of measurement validity , which includes construct validity, face validity , and criterion validity.
There are two subtypes of construct validity.
- Convergent validity : The extent to which your measure corresponds to measures of related constructs
- Discriminant validity: The extent to which your measure is unrelated or negatively related to measures of distinct constructs
When designing or evaluating a measure, construct validity helps you ensure you’re actually measuring the construct you’re interested in. If you don’t have construct validity, you may inadvertently measure unrelated or distinct constructs and lose precision in your research.
Construct validity is often considered the overarching type of measurement validity , because it covers all of the other types. You need to have face validity , content validity, and criterion validity to achieve construct validity.
Statistical analyses are often applied to test validity with data from your measures. You test convergent validity and discriminant validity with correlations to see if results from your test are positively or negatively related to those of other established tests.
You can also use regression analyses to assess whether your measure is actually predictive of outcomes that you expect it to predict theoretically. A regression analysis that supports your expectations strengthens your claim of construct validity .
Face validity is about whether a test appears to measure what it’s supposed to measure. This type of validity is concerned with whether a measure seems relevant and appropriate for what it’s assessing only on the surface.
Face validity is important because it’s a simple first step to measuring the overall validity of a test or technique. It’s a relatively intuitive, quick, and easy way to start checking whether a new measure seems useful at first glance.
Good face validity means that anyone who reviews your measure says that it seems to be measuring what it’s supposed to. With poor face validity, someone reviewing your measure may be left confused about what you’re measuring and why you’re using this method.
It’s often best to ask a variety of people to review your measurements. You can ask experts, such as other researchers, or laypeople, such as potential participants, to judge the face validity of tests.
While experts have a deep understanding of research methods , the people you’re studying can provide you with valuable insights you may have missed otherwise.
There are many different types of inductive reasoning that people use formally or informally.
Here are a few common types:
- Inductive generalisation : You use observations about a sample to come to a conclusion about the population it came from.
- Statistical generalisation: You use specific numbers about samples to make statements about populations.
- Causal reasoning: You make cause-and-effect links between different things.
- Sign reasoning: You make a conclusion about a correlational relationship between different things.
- Analogical reasoning: You make a conclusion about something based on its similarities to something else.
Inductive reasoning is a bottom-up approach, while deductive reasoning is top-down.
Inductive reasoning takes you from the specific to the general, while in deductive reasoning, you make inferences by going from general premises to specific conclusions.
In inductive research , you start by making observations or gathering data. Then, you take a broad scan of your data and search for patterns. Finally, you make general conclusions that you might incorporate into theories.
Inductive reasoning is a method of drawing conclusions by going from the specific to the general. It’s usually contrasted with deductive reasoning, where you proceed from general information to specific conclusions.
Inductive reasoning is also called inductive logic or bottom-up reasoning.
Deductive reasoning is a logical approach where you progress from general ideas to specific conclusions. It’s often contrasted with inductive reasoning , where you start with specific observations and form general conclusions.
Deductive reasoning is also called deductive logic.
Deductive reasoning is commonly used in scientific research, and it’s especially associated with quantitative research .
In research, you might have come across something called the hypothetico-deductive method . It’s the scientific method of testing hypotheses to check whether your predictions are substantiated by real-world data.
A dependent variable is what changes as a result of the independent variable manipulation in experiments . It’s what you’re interested in measuring, and it ‘depends’ on your independent variable.
In statistics, dependent variables are also called:
- Response variables (they respond to a change in another variable)
- Outcome variables (they represent the outcome you want to measure)
- Left-hand-side variables (they appear on the left-hand side of a regression equation)
An independent variable is the variable you manipulate, control, or vary in an experimental study to explore its effects. It’s called ‘independent’ because it’s not influenced by any other variables in the study.
Independent variables are also called:
- Explanatory variables (they explain an event or outcome)
- Predictor variables (they can be used to predict the value of a dependent variable)
- Right-hand-side variables (they appear on the right-hand side of a regression equation)
A correlation is usually tested for two variables at a time, but you can test correlations between three or more variables.
On graphs, the explanatory variable is conventionally placed on the x -axis, while the response variable is placed on the y -axis.
- If you have quantitative variables , use a scatterplot or a line graph.
- If your response variable is categorical, use a scatterplot or a line graph.
- If your explanatory variable is categorical, use a bar graph.
The term ‘ explanatory variable ‘ is sometimes preferred over ‘ independent variable ‘ because, in real-world contexts, independent variables are often influenced by other variables. This means they aren’t totally independent.
Multiple independent variables may also be correlated with each other, so ‘explanatory variables’ is a more appropriate term.
The difference between explanatory and response variables is simple:
- An explanatory variable is the expected cause, and it explains the results.
- A response variable is the expected effect, and it responds to other variables.
There are 4 main types of extraneous variables :
- Demand characteristics : Environmental cues that encourage participants to conform to researchers’ expectations
- Experimenter effects : Unintentional actions by researchers that influence study outcomes
- Situational variables : Eenvironmental variables that alter participants’ behaviours
- Participant variables : Any characteristic or aspect of a participant’s background that could affect study results
An extraneous variable is any variable that you’re not investigating that can potentially affect the dependent variable of your research study.
A confounding variable is a type of extraneous variable that not only affects the dependent variable, but is also related to the independent variable.
‘Controlling for a variable’ means measuring extraneous variables and accounting for them statistically to remove their effects on other variables.
Researchers often model control variable data along with independent and dependent variable data in regression analyses and ANCOVAs . That way, you can isolate the control variable’s effects from the relationship between the variables of interest.
Control variables help you establish a correlational or causal relationship between variables by enhancing internal validity .
If you don’t control relevant extraneous variables , they may influence the outcomes of your study, and you may not be able to demonstrate that your results are really an effect of your independent variable .
A control variable is any variable that’s held constant in a research study. It’s not a variable of interest in the study, but it’s controlled because it could influence the outcomes.
In statistics, ordinal and nominal variables are both considered categorical variables .
Even though ordinal data can sometimes be numerical, not all mathematical operations can be performed on them.
In scientific research, concepts are the abstract ideas or phenomena that are being studied (e.g., educational achievement). Variables are properties or characteristics of the concept (e.g., performance at school), while indicators are ways of measuring or quantifying variables (e.g., yearly grade reports).
The process of turning abstract concepts into measurable variables and indicators is called operationalisation .
There are several methods you can use to decrease the impact of confounding variables on your research: restriction, matching, statistical control, and randomisation.
In restriction , you restrict your sample by only including certain subjects that have the same values of potential confounding variables.
In matching , you match each of the subjects in your treatment group with a counterpart in the comparison group. The matched subjects have the same values on any potential confounding variables, and only differ in the independent variable .
In statistical control , you include potential confounders as variables in your regression .
In randomisation , you randomly assign the treatment (or independent variable) in your study to a sufficiently large number of subjects, which allows you to control for all potential confounding variables.
A confounding variable is closely related to both the independent and dependent variables in a study. An independent variable represents the supposed cause , while the dependent variable is the supposed effect . A confounding variable is a third variable that influences both the independent and dependent variables.
Failing to account for confounding variables can cause you to wrongly estimate the relationship between your independent and dependent variables.
To ensure the internal validity of your research, you must consider the impact of confounding variables. If you fail to account for them, you might over- or underestimate the causal relationship between your independent and dependent variables , or even find a causal relationship where none exists.
Yes, but including more than one of either type requires multiple research questions .
For example, if you are interested in the effect of a diet on health, you can use multiple measures of health: blood sugar, blood pressure, weight, pulse, and many more. Each of these is its own dependent variable with its own research question.
You could also choose to look at the effect of exercise levels as well as diet, or even the additional effect of the two combined. Each of these is a separate independent variable .
To ensure the internal validity of an experiment , you should only change one independent variable at a time.
No. The value of a dependent variable depends on an independent variable, so a variable cannot be both independent and dependent at the same time. It must be either the cause or the effect, not both.
You want to find out how blood sugar levels are affected by drinking diet cola and regular cola, so you conduct an experiment .
- The type of cola – diet or regular – is the independent variable .
- The level of blood sugar that you measure is the dependent variable – it changes depending on the type of cola.
Determining cause and effect is one of the most important parts of scientific research. It’s essential to know which is the cause – the independent variable – and which is the effect – the dependent variable.
Quantitative variables are any variables where the data represent amounts (e.g. height, weight, or age).
Categorical variables are any variables where the data represent groups. This includes rankings (e.g. finishing places in a race), classifications (e.g. brands of cereal), and binary outcomes (e.g. coin flips).
You need to know what type of variables you are working with to choose the right statistical test for your data and interpret your results .
Discrete and continuous variables are two types of quantitative variables :
- Discrete variables represent counts (e.g., the number of objects in a collection).
- Continuous variables represent measurable amounts (e.g., water volume or weight).
You can think of independent and dependent variables in terms of cause and effect: an independent variable is the variable you think is the cause , while a dependent variable is the effect .
In an experiment, you manipulate the independent variable and measure the outcome in the dependent variable. For example, in an experiment about the effect of nutrients on crop growth:
- The independent variable is the amount of nutrients added to the crop field.
- The dependent variable is the biomass of the crops at harvest time.
Defining your variables, and deciding how you will manipulate and measure them, is an important part of experimental design .
Including mediators and moderators in your research helps you go beyond studying a simple relationship between two variables for a fuller picture of the real world. They are important to consider when studying complex correlational or causal relationships.
Mediators are part of the causal pathway of an effect, and they tell you how or why an effect takes place. Moderators usually help you judge the external validity of your study by identifying the limitations of when the relationship between variables holds.
If something is a mediating variable :
- It’s caused by the independent variable
- It influences the dependent variable
- When it’s taken into account, the statistical correlation between the independent and dependent variables is higher than when it isn’t considered
A confounder is a third variable that affects variables of interest and makes them seem related when they are not. In contrast, a mediator is the mechanism of a relationship between two variables: it explains the process by which they are related.
A mediator variable explains the process through which two variables are related, while a moderator variable affects the strength and direction of that relationship.
When conducting research, collecting original data has significant advantages:
- You can tailor data collection to your specific research aims (e.g., understanding the needs of your consumers or user testing your website).
- You can control and standardise the process for high reliability and validity (e.g., choosing appropriate measurements and sampling methods ).
However, there are also some drawbacks: data collection can be time-consuming, labour-intensive, and expensive. In some cases, it’s more efficient to use secondary data that has already been collected by someone else, but the data might be less reliable.
A structured interview is a data collection method that relies on asking questions in a set order to collect data on a topic. They are often quantitative in nature. Structured interviews are best used when:
- You already have a very clear understanding of your topic. Perhaps significant research has already been conducted, or you have done some prior research yourself, but you already possess a baseline for designing strong structured questions.
- You are constrained in terms of time or resources and need to analyse your data quickly and efficiently
- Your research question depends on strong parity between participants, with environmental conditions held constant
More flexible interview options include semi-structured interviews , unstructured interviews , and focus groups .
The interviewer effect is a type of bias that emerges when a characteristic of an interviewer (race, age, gender identity, etc.) influences the responses given by the interviewee.
There is a risk of an interviewer effect in all types of interviews , but it can be mitigated by writing really high-quality interview questions.
A semi-structured interview is a blend of structured and unstructured types of interviews. Semi-structured interviews are best used when:
- You have prior interview experience. Spontaneous questions are deceptively challenging, and it’s easy to accidentally ask a leading question or make a participant uncomfortable.
- Your research question is exploratory in nature. Participant answers can guide future research questions and help you develop a more robust knowledge base for future research.
An unstructured interview is the most flexible type of interview, but it is not always the best fit for your research topic.
Unstructured interviews are best used when:
- You are an experienced interviewer and have a very strong background in your research topic, since it is challenging to ask spontaneous, colloquial questions
- Your research question is exploratory in nature. While you may have developed hypotheses, you are open to discovering new or shifting viewpoints through the interview process.
- You are seeking descriptive data, and are ready to ask questions that will deepen and contextualise your initial thoughts and hypotheses
- Your research depends on forming connections with your participants and making them feel comfortable revealing deeper emotions, lived experiences, or thoughts
The four most common types of interviews are:
- Structured interviews : The questions are predetermined in both topic and order.
- Semi-structured interviews : A few questions are predetermined, but other questions aren’t planned.
- Unstructured interviews : None of the questions are predetermined.
- Focus group interviews : The questions are presented to a group instead of one individual.
A focus group is a research method that brings together a small group of people to answer questions in a moderated setting. The group is chosen due to predefined demographic traits, and the questions are designed to shed light on a topic of interest. It is one of four types of interviews .
Social desirability bias is the tendency for interview participants to give responses that will be viewed favourably by the interviewer or other participants. It occurs in all types of interviews and surveys , but is most common in semi-structured interviews , unstructured interviews , and focus groups .
Social desirability bias can be mitigated by ensuring participants feel at ease and comfortable sharing their views. Make sure to pay attention to your own body language and any physical or verbal cues, such as nodding or widening your eyes.
This type of bias in research can also occur in observations if the participants know they’re being observed. They might alter their behaviour accordingly.
As a rule of thumb, questions related to thoughts, beliefs, and feelings work well in focus groups . Take your time formulating strong questions, paying special attention to phrasing. Be careful to avoid leading questions , which can bias your responses.
Overall, your focus group questions should be:
- Open-ended and flexible
- Impossible to answer with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ (questions that start with ‘why’ or ‘how’ are often best)
- Unambiguous, getting straight to the point while still stimulating discussion
- Unbiased and neutral
The third variable and directionality problems are two main reasons why correlation isn’t causation .
The third variable problem means that a confounding variable affects both variables to make them seem causally related when they are not.
The directionality problem is when two variables correlate and might actually have a causal relationship, but it’s impossible to conclude which variable causes changes in the other.
Controlled experiments establish causality, whereas correlational studies only show associations between variables.
- In an experimental design , you manipulate an independent variable and measure its effect on a dependent variable. Other variables are controlled so they can’t impact the results.
- In a correlational design , you measure variables without manipulating any of them. You can test whether your variables change together, but you can’t be sure that one variable caused a change in another.
In general, correlational research is high in external validity while experimental research is high in internal validity .
A correlation coefficient is a single number that describes the strength and direction of the relationship between your variables.
Different types of correlation coefficients might be appropriate for your data based on their levels of measurement and distributions . The Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient (Pearson’s r ) is commonly used to assess a linear relationship between two quantitative variables.
A correlational research design investigates relationships between two variables (or more) without the researcher controlling or manipulating any of them. It’s a non-experimental type of quantitative research .
A correlation reflects the strength and/or direction of the association between two or more variables.
- A positive correlation means that both variables change in the same direction.
- A negative correlation means that the variables change in opposite directions.
- A zero correlation means there’s no relationship between the variables.
Longitudinal studies can last anywhere from weeks to decades, although they tend to be at least a year long.
The 1970 British Cohort Study , which has collected data on the lives of 17,000 Brits since their births in 1970, is one well-known example of a longitudinal study .
Longitudinal studies are better to establish the correct sequence of events, identify changes over time, and provide insight into cause-and-effect relationships, but they also tend to be more expensive and time-consuming than other types of studies.
Longitudinal studies and cross-sectional studies are two different types of research design . In a cross-sectional study you collect data from a population at a specific point in time; in a longitudinal study you repeatedly collect data from the same sample over an extended period of time.
Cross-sectional studies cannot establish a cause-and-effect relationship or analyse behaviour over a period of time. To investigate cause and effect, you need to do a longitudinal study or an experimental study .
Cross-sectional studies are less expensive and time-consuming than many other types of study. They can provide useful insights into a population’s characteristics and identify correlations for further research.
Sometimes only cross-sectional data are available for analysis; other times your research question may only require a cross-sectional study to answer it.
A hypothesis states your predictions about what your research will find. It is a tentative answer to your research question that has not yet been tested. For some research projects, you might have to write several hypotheses that address different aspects of your research question.
A hypothesis is not just a guess. It should be based on existing theories and knowledge. It also has to be testable, which means you can support or refute it through scientific research methods (such as experiments, observations, and statistical analysis of data).
A research hypothesis is your proposed answer to your research question. The research hypothesis usually includes an explanation (‘ x affects y because …’).
A statistical hypothesis, on the other hand, is a mathematical statement about a population parameter. Statistical hypotheses always come in pairs: the null and alternative hypotheses. In a well-designed study , the statistical hypotheses correspond logically to the research hypothesis.
Individual Likert-type questions are generally considered ordinal data , because the items have clear rank order, but don’t have an even distribution.
Overall Likert scale scores are sometimes treated as interval data. These scores are considered to have directionality and even spacing between them.
The type of data determines what statistical tests you should use to analyse your data.
A Likert scale is a rating scale that quantitatively assesses opinions, attitudes, or behaviours. It is made up of four or more questions that measure a single attitude or trait when response scores are combined.
To use a Likert scale in a survey , you present participants with Likert-type questions or statements, and a continuum of items, usually with five or seven possible responses, to capture their degree of agreement.
A questionnaire is a data collection tool or instrument, while a survey is an overarching research method that involves collecting and analysing data from people using questionnaires.
A true experiment (aka a controlled experiment) always includes at least one control group that doesn’t receive the experimental treatment.
However, some experiments use a within-subjects design to test treatments without a control group. In these designs, you usually compare one group’s outcomes before and after a treatment (instead of comparing outcomes between different groups).
For strong internal validity , it’s usually best to include a control group if possible. Without a control group, it’s harder to be certain that the outcome was caused by the experimental treatment and not by other variables.
An experimental group, also known as a treatment group, receives the treatment whose effect researchers wish to study, whereas a control group does not. They should be identical in all other ways.
In a controlled experiment , all extraneous variables are held constant so that they can’t influence the results. Controlled experiments require:
- A control group that receives a standard treatment, a fake treatment, or no treatment
- Random assignment of participants to ensure the groups are equivalent
Depending on your study topic, there are various other methods of controlling variables .
Questionnaires can be self-administered or researcher-administered.
Self-administered questionnaires can be delivered online or in paper-and-pen formats, in person or by post. All questions are standardised so that all respondents receive the same questions with identical wording.
Researcher-administered questionnaires are interviews that take place by phone, in person, or online between researchers and respondents. You can gain deeper insights by clarifying questions for respondents or asking follow-up questions.
You can organise the questions logically, with a clear progression from simple to complex, or randomly between respondents. A logical flow helps respondents process the questionnaire easier and quicker, but it may lead to bias. Randomisation can minimise the bias from order effects.
Closed-ended, or restricted-choice, questions offer respondents a fixed set of choices to select from. These questions are easier to answer quickly.
Open-ended or long-form questions allow respondents to answer in their own words. Because there are no restrictions on their choices, respondents can answer in ways that researchers may not have otherwise considered.
Naturalistic observation is a qualitative research method where you record the behaviours of your research subjects in real-world settings. You avoid interfering or influencing anything in a naturalistic observation.
You can think of naturalistic observation as ‘people watching’ with a purpose.
Naturalistic observation is a valuable tool because of its flexibility, external validity , and suitability for topics that can’t be studied in a lab setting.
The downsides of naturalistic observation include its lack of scientific control , ethical considerations , and potential for bias from observers and subjects.
You can use several tactics to minimise observer bias .
- Use masking (blinding) to hide the purpose of your study from all observers.
- Triangulate your data with different data collection methods or sources.
- Use multiple observers and ensure inter-rater reliability.
- Train your observers to make sure data is consistently recorded between them.
- Standardise your observation procedures to make sure they are structured and clear.
The observer-expectancy effect occurs when researchers influence the results of their own study through interactions with participants.
Researchers’ own beliefs and expectations about the study results may unintentionally influence participants through demand characteristics .
Observer bias occurs when a researcher’s expectations, opinions, or prejudices influence what they perceive or record in a study. It usually affects studies when observers are aware of the research aims or hypotheses. This type of research bias is also called detection bias or ascertainment bias .
Data cleaning is necessary for valid and appropriate analyses. Dirty data contain inconsistencies or errors , but cleaning your data helps you minimise or resolve these.
Without data cleaning, you could end up with a Type I or II error in your conclusion. These types of erroneous conclusions can be practically significant with important consequences, because they lead to misplaced investments or missed opportunities.
Data cleaning involves spotting and resolving potential data inconsistencies or errors to improve your data quality. An error is any value (e.g., recorded weight) that doesn’t reflect the true value (e.g., actual weight) of something that’s being measured.
In this process, you review, analyse, detect, modify, or remove ‘dirty’ data to make your dataset ‘clean’. Data cleaning is also called data cleansing or data scrubbing.
Data cleaning takes place between data collection and data analyses. But you can use some methods even before collecting data.
For clean data, you should start by designing measures that collect valid data. Data validation at the time of data entry or collection helps you minimize the amount of data cleaning you’ll need to do.
After data collection, you can use data standardisation and data transformation to clean your data. You’ll also deal with any missing values, outliers, and duplicate values.
Clean data are valid, accurate, complete, consistent, unique, and uniform. Dirty data include inconsistencies and errors.
Dirty data can come from any part of the research process, including poor research design , inappropriate measurement materials, or flawed data entry.
Random assignment is used in experiments with a between-groups or independent measures design. In this research design, there’s usually a control group and one or more experimental groups. Random assignment helps ensure that the groups are comparable.
In general, you should always use random assignment in this type of experimental design when it is ethically possible and makes sense for your study topic.
Random selection, or random sampling , is a way of selecting members of a population for your study’s sample.
In contrast, random assignment is a way of sorting the sample into control and experimental groups.
Random sampling enhances the external validity or generalisability of your results, while random assignment improves the internal validity of your study.
To implement random assignment , assign a unique number to every member of your study’s sample .
Then, you can use a random number generator or a lottery method to randomly assign each number to a control or experimental group. You can also do so manually, by flipping a coin or rolling a die to randomly assign participants to groups.
Exploratory research is often used when the issue you’re studying is new or when the data collection process is challenging for some reason.
You can use exploratory research if you have a general idea or a specific question that you want to study but there is no preexisting knowledge or paradigm with which to study it.
Exploratory research is a methodology approach that explores research questions that have not previously been studied in depth. It is often used when the issue you’re studying is new, or the data collection process is challenging in some way.
Explanatory research is used to investigate how or why a phenomenon occurs. Therefore, this type of research is often one of the first stages in the research process , serving as a jumping-off point for future research.
Explanatory research is a research method used to investigate how or why something occurs when only a small amount of information is available pertaining to that topic. It can help you increase your understanding of a given topic.
Blinding means hiding who is assigned to the treatment group and who is assigned to the control group in an experiment .
Blinding is important to reduce bias (e.g., observer bias , demand characteristics ) and ensure a study’s internal validity .
If participants know whether they are in a control or treatment group , they may adjust their behaviour in ways that affect the outcome that researchers are trying to measure. If the people administering the treatment are aware of group assignment, they may treat participants differently and thus directly or indirectly influence the final results.
- In a single-blind study , only the participants are blinded.
- In a double-blind study , both participants and experimenters are blinded.
- In a triple-blind study , the assignment is hidden not only from participants and experimenters, but also from the researchers analysing the data.
Many academic fields use peer review , largely to determine whether a manuscript is suitable for publication. Peer review enhances the credibility of the published manuscript.
However, peer review is also common in non-academic settings. The United Nations, the European Union, and many individual nations use peer review to evaluate grant applications. It is also widely used in medical and health-related fields as a teaching or quality-of-care measure.
Peer assessment is often used in the classroom as a pedagogical tool. Both receiving feedback and providing it are thought to enhance the learning process, helping students think critically and collaboratively.
Peer review can stop obviously problematic, falsified, or otherwise untrustworthy research from being published. It also represents an excellent opportunity to get feedback from renowned experts in your field.
It acts as a first defence, helping you ensure your argument is clear and that there are no gaps, vague terms, or unanswered questions for readers who weren’t involved in the research process.
Peer-reviewed articles are considered a highly credible source due to this stringent process they go through before publication.
In general, the peer review process follows the following steps:
- First, the author submits the manuscript to the editor.
- Reject the manuscript and send it back to author, or
- Send it onward to the selected peer reviewer(s)
- Next, the peer review process occurs. The reviewer provides feedback, addressing any major or minor issues with the manuscript, and gives their advice regarding what edits should be made.
- Lastly, the edited manuscript is sent back to the author. They input the edits, and resubmit it to the editor for publication.
Peer review is a process of evaluating submissions to an academic journal. Utilising rigorous criteria, a panel of reviewers in the same subject area decide whether to accept each submission for publication.
For this reason, academic journals are often considered among the most credible sources you can use in a research project – provided that the journal itself is trustworthy and well regarded.
Anonymity means you don’t know who the participants are, while confidentiality means you know who they are but remove identifying information from your research report. Both are important ethical considerations .
You can only guarantee anonymity by not collecting any personally identifying information – for example, names, phone numbers, email addresses, IP addresses, physical characteristics, photos, or videos.
You can keep data confidential by using aggregate information in your research report, so that you only refer to groups of participants rather than individuals.
Research misconduct means making up or falsifying data, manipulating data analyses, or misrepresenting results in research reports. It’s a form of academic fraud.
These actions are committed intentionally and can have serious consequences; research misconduct is not a simple mistake or a point of disagreement but a serious ethical failure.
Research ethics matter for scientific integrity, human rights and dignity, and collaboration between science and society. These principles make sure that participation in studies is voluntary, informed, and safe.
Ethical considerations in research are a set of principles that guide your research designs and practices. These principles include voluntary participation, informed consent, anonymity, confidentiality, potential for harm, and results communication.
Scientists and researchers must always adhere to a certain code of conduct when collecting data from others .
These considerations protect the rights of research participants, enhance research validity , and maintain scientific integrity.
A systematic review is secondary research because it uses existing research. You don’t collect new data yourself.
The two main types of social desirability bias are:
- Self-deceptive enhancement (self-deception): The tendency to see oneself in a favorable light without realizing it.
- Impression managemen t (other-deception): The tendency to inflate one’s abilities or achievement in order to make a good impression on other people.
Demand characteristics are aspects of experiments that may give away the research objective to participants. Social desirability bias occurs when participants automatically try to respond in ways that make them seem likeable in a study, even if it means misrepresenting how they truly feel.
Participants may use demand characteristics to infer social norms or experimenter expectancies and act in socially desirable ways, so you should try to control for demand characteristics wherever possible.
Response bias refers to conditions or factors that take place during the process of responding to surveys, affecting the responses. One type of response bias is social desirability bias .
When your population is large in size, geographically dispersed, or difficult to contact, it’s necessary to use a sampling method .
This allows you to gather information from a smaller part of the population, i.e. the sample, and make accurate statements by using statistical analysis. A few sampling methods include simple random sampling , convenience sampling , and snowball sampling .
Stratified and cluster sampling may look similar, but bear in mind that groups created in cluster sampling are heterogeneous , so the individual characteristics in the cluster vary. In contrast, groups created in stratified sampling are homogeneous , as units share characteristics.
Relatedly, in cluster sampling you randomly select entire groups and include all units of each group in your sample. However, in stratified sampling, you select some units of all groups and include them in your sample. In this way, both methods can ensure that your sample is representative of the target population .
A sampling frame is a list of every member in the entire population . It is important that the sampling frame is as complete as possible, so that your sample accurately reflects your population.
Convenience sampling and quota sampling are both non-probability sampling methods. They both use non-random criteria like availability, geographical proximity, or expert knowledge to recruit study participants.
However, in convenience sampling, you continue to sample units or cases until you reach the required sample size.
In quota sampling, you first need to divide your population of interest into subgroups (strata) and estimate their proportions (quota) in the population. Then you can start your data collection , using convenience sampling to recruit participants, until the proportions in each subgroup coincide with the estimated proportions in the population.
Random sampling or probability sampling is based on random selection. This means that each unit has an equal chance (i.e., equal probability) of being included in the sample.
On the other hand, convenience sampling involves stopping people at random, which means that not everyone has an equal chance of being selected depending on the place, time, or day you are collecting your data.
Stratified sampling and quota sampling both involve dividing the population into subgroups and selecting units from each subgroup. The purpose in both cases is to select a representative sample and/or to allow comparisons between subgroups.
The main difference is that in stratified sampling, you draw a random sample from each subgroup ( probability sampling ). In quota sampling you select a predetermined number or proportion of units, in a non-random manner ( non-probability sampling ).
Snowball sampling is best used in the following cases:
- If there is no sampling frame available (e.g., people with a rare disease)
- If the population of interest is hard to access or locate (e.g., people experiencing homelessness)
- If the research focuses on a sensitive topic (e.g., extra-marital affairs)
Snowball sampling relies on the use of referrals. Here, the researcher recruits one or more initial participants, who then recruit the next ones.
Participants share similar characteristics and/or know each other. Because of this, not every member of the population has an equal chance of being included in the sample, giving rise to sampling bias .
Snowball sampling is a non-probability sampling method , where there is not an equal chance for every member of the population to be included in the sample .
This means that you cannot use inferential statistics and make generalisations – often the goal of quantitative research . As such, a snowball sample is not representative of the target population, and is usually a better fit for qualitative research .
Snowball sampling is a non-probability sampling method . Unlike probability sampling (which involves some form of random selection ), the initial individuals selected to be studied are the ones who recruit new participants.
Because not every member of the target population has an equal chance of being recruited into the sample, selection in snowball sampling is non-random.
Reproducibility and replicability are related terms.
- Reproducing research entails reanalysing the existing data in the same manner.
- Replicating (or repeating ) the research entails reconducting the entire analysis, including the collection of new data .
- A successful reproduction shows that the data analyses were conducted in a fair and honest manner.
- A successful replication shows that the reliability of the results is high.
The reproducibility and replicability of a study can be ensured by writing a transparent, detailed method section and using clear, unambiguous language.
Convergent validity and discriminant validity are both subtypes of construct validity . Together, they help you evaluate whether a test measures the concept it was designed to measure.
- Convergent validity indicates whether a test that is designed to measure a particular construct correlates with other tests that assess the same or similar construct.
- Discriminant validity indicates whether two tests that should not be highly related to each other are indeed not related
You need to assess both in order to demonstrate construct validity. Neither one alone is sufficient for establishing construct validity.
Construct validity has convergent and discriminant subtypes. They assist determine if a test measures the intended notion.
Content validity shows you how accurately a test or other measurement method taps into the various aspects of the specific construct you are researching.
In other words, it helps you answer the question: “does the test measure all aspects of the construct I want to measure?” If it does, then the test has high content validity.
The higher the content validity, the more accurate the measurement of the construct.
If the test fails to include parts of the construct, or irrelevant parts are included, the validity of the instrument is threatened, which brings your results into question.
Construct validity refers to how well a test measures the concept (or construct) it was designed to measure. Assessing construct validity is especially important when you’re researching concepts that can’t be quantified and/or are intangible, like introversion. To ensure construct validity your test should be based on known indicators of introversion ( operationalisation ).
On the other hand, content validity assesses how well the test represents all aspects of the construct. If some aspects are missing or irrelevant parts are included, the test has low content validity.
Face validity and content validity are similar in that they both evaluate how suitable the content of a test is. The difference is that face validity is subjective, and assesses content at surface level.
When a test has strong face validity, anyone would agree that the test’s questions appear to measure what they are intended to measure.
For example, looking at a 4th grade math test consisting of problems in which students have to add and multiply, most people would agree that it has strong face validity (i.e., it looks like a math test).
On the other hand, content validity evaluates how well a test represents all the aspects of a topic. Assessing content validity is more systematic and relies on expert evaluation. of each question, analysing whether each one covers the aspects that the test was designed to cover.
A 4th grade math test would have high content validity if it covered all the skills taught in that grade. Experts(in this case, math teachers), would have to evaluate the content validity by comparing the test to the learning objectives.
- Discriminant validity indicates whether two tests that should not be highly related to each other are indeed not related. This type of validity is also called divergent validity .
Criterion validity and construct validity are both types of measurement validity . In other words, they both show you how accurately a method measures something.
While construct validity is the degree to which a test or other measurement method measures what it claims to measure, criterion validity is the degree to which a test can predictively (in the future) or concurrently (in the present) measure something.
Construct validity is often considered the overarching type of measurement validity . You need to have face validity , content validity , and criterion validity in order to achieve construct validity.
Attrition refers to participants leaving a study. It always happens to some extent – for example, in randomised control trials for medical research.
Differential attrition occurs when attrition or dropout rates differ systematically between the intervention and the control group . As a result, the characteristics of the participants who drop out differ from the characteristics of those who stay in the study. Because of this, study results may be biased .
Criterion validity evaluates how well a test measures the outcome it was designed to measure. An outcome can be, for example, the onset of a disease.
Criterion validity consists of two subtypes depending on the time at which the two measures (the criterion and your test) are obtained:
- Concurrent validity is a validation strategy where the the scores of a test and the criterion are obtained at the same time
- Predictive validity is a validation strategy where the criterion variables are measured after the scores of the test
Validity tells you how accurately a method measures what it was designed to measure. There are 4 main types of validity :
- Construct validity : Does the test measure the construct it was designed to measure?
- Face validity : Does the test appear to be suitable for its objectives ?
- Content validity : Does the test cover all relevant parts of the construct it aims to measure.
- Criterion validity : Do the results accurately measure the concrete outcome they are designed to measure?
Convergent validity shows how much a measure of one construct aligns with other measures of the same or related constructs .
On the other hand, concurrent validity is about how a measure matches up to some known criterion or gold standard, which can be another measure.
Although both types of validity are established by calculating the association or correlation between a test score and another variable , they represent distinct validation methods.
The purpose of theory-testing mode is to find evidence in order to disprove, refine, or support a theory. As such, generalisability is not the aim of theory-testing mode.
Due to this, the priority of researchers in theory-testing mode is to eliminate alternative causes for relationships between variables . In other words, they prioritise internal validity over external validity , including ecological validity .
Inclusion and exclusion criteria are typically presented and discussed in the methodology section of your thesis or dissertation .
Inclusion and exclusion criteria are predominantly used in non-probability sampling . In purposive sampling and snowball sampling , restrictions apply as to who can be included in the sample .
Scope of research is determined at the beginning of your research process , prior to the data collection stage. Sometimes called “scope of study,” your scope delineates what will and will not be covered in your project. It helps you focus your work and your time, ensuring that you’ll be able to achieve your goals and outcomes.
Defining a scope can be very useful in any research project, from a research proposal to a thesis or dissertation . A scope is needed for all types of research: quantitative , qualitative , and mixed methods .
To define your scope of research, consider the following:
- Budget constraints or any specifics of grant funding
- Your proposed timeline and duration
- Specifics about your population of study, your proposed sample size , and the research methodology you’ll pursue
- Any inclusion and exclusion criteria
- Any anticipated control , extraneous , or confounding variables that could bias your research if not accounted for properly.
To make quantitative observations , you need to use instruments that are capable of measuring the quantity you want to observe. For example, you might use a ruler to measure the length of an object or a thermometer to measure its temperature.
Quantitative observations involve measuring or counting something and expressing the result in numerical form, while qualitative observations involve describing something in non-numerical terms, such as its appearance, texture, or color.
The Scribbr Reference Generator is developed using the open-source Citation Style Language (CSL) project and Frank Bennett’s citeproc-js . It’s the same technology used by dozens of other popular citation tools, including Mendeley and Zotero.
You can find all the citation styles and locales used in the Scribbr Reference Generator in our publicly accessible repository on Github .
To paraphrase effectively, don’t just take the original sentence and swap out some of the words for synonyms. Instead, try:
- Reformulating the sentence (e.g., change active to passive , or start from a different point)
- Combining information from multiple sentences into one
- Leaving out information from the original that isn’t relevant to your point
- Using synonyms where they don’t distort the meaning
The main point is to ensure you don’t just copy the structure of the original text, but instead reformulate the idea in your own words.
Plagiarism means using someone else’s words or ideas and passing them off as your own. Paraphrasing means putting someone else’s ideas into your own words.
So when does paraphrasing count as plagiarism?
- Paraphrasing is plagiarism if you don’t properly credit the original author.
- Paraphrasing is plagiarism if your text is too close to the original wording (even if you cite the source). If you directly copy a sentence or phrase, you should quote it instead.
- Paraphrasing is not plagiarism if you put the author’s ideas completely into your own words and properly reference the source .
To present information from other sources in academic writing , it’s best to paraphrase in most cases. This shows that you’ve understood the ideas you’re discussing and incorporates them into your text smoothly.
It’s appropriate to quote when:
- Changing the phrasing would distort the meaning of the original text
- You want to discuss the author’s language choices (e.g., in literary analysis )
- You’re presenting a precise definition
- You’re looking in depth at a specific claim
A quote is an exact copy of someone else’s words, usually enclosed in quotation marks and credited to the original author or speaker.
Every time you quote a source , you must include a correctly formatted in-text citation . This looks slightly different depending on the citation style .
For example, a direct quote in APA is cited like this: ‘This is a quote’ (Streefkerk, 2020, p. 5).
Every in-text citation should also correspond to a full reference at the end of your paper.
In scientific subjects, the information itself is more important than how it was expressed, so quoting should generally be kept to a minimum. In the arts and humanities, however, well-chosen quotes are often essential to a good paper.
In social sciences, it varies. If your research is mainly quantitative , you won’t include many quotes, but if it’s more qualitative , you may need to quote from the data you collected .
As a general guideline, quotes should take up no more than 5–10% of your paper. If in doubt, check with your instructor or supervisor how much quoting is appropriate in your field.
If you’re quoting from a text that paraphrases or summarises other sources and cites them in parentheses , APA recommends retaining the citations as part of the quote:
- Smith states that ‘the literature on this topic (Jones, 2015; Sill, 2019; Paulson, 2020) shows no clear consensus’ (Smith, 2019, p. 4).
Footnote or endnote numbers that appear within quoted text should be omitted.
If you want to cite an indirect source (one you’ve only seen quoted in another source), either locate the original source or use the phrase ‘as cited in’ in your citation.
A block quote is a long quote formatted as a separate ‘block’ of text. Instead of using quotation marks , you place the quote on a new line, and indent the entire quote to mark it apart from your own words.
APA uses block quotes for quotes that are 40 words or longer.
A credible source should pass the CRAAP test and follow these guidelines:
- The information should be up to date and current.
- The author and publication should be a trusted authority on the subject you are researching.
- The sources the author cited should be easy to find, clear, and unbiased.
- For a web source, the URL and layout should signify that it is trustworthy.
Common examples of primary sources include interview transcripts , photographs, novels, paintings, films, historical documents, and official statistics.
Anything you directly analyze or use as first-hand evidence can be a primary source, including qualitative or quantitative data that you collected yourself.
Common examples of secondary sources include academic books, journal articles , reviews, essays , and textbooks.
Anything that summarizes, evaluates or interprets primary sources can be a secondary source. If a source gives you an overview of background information or presents another researcher’s ideas on your topic, it is probably a secondary source.
To determine if a source is primary or secondary, ask yourself:
- Was the source created by someone directly involved in the events you’re studying (primary), or by another researcher (secondary)?
- Does the source provide original information (primary), or does it summarize information from other sources (secondary)?
- Are you directly analyzing the source itself (primary), or only using it for background information (secondary)?
Some types of sources are nearly always primary: works of art and literature, raw statistical data, official documents and records, and personal communications (e.g. letters, interviews ). If you use one of these in your research, it is probably a primary source.
Primary sources are often considered the most credible in terms of providing evidence for your argument, as they give you direct evidence of what you are researching. However, it’s up to you to ensure the information they provide is reliable and accurate.
Always make sure to properly cite your sources to avoid plagiarism .
A fictional movie is usually a primary source. A documentary can be either primary or secondary depending on the context.
If you are directly analysing some aspect of the movie itself – for example, the cinematography, narrative techniques, or social context – the movie is a primary source.
If you use the movie for background information or analysis about your topic – for example, to learn about a historical event or a scientific discovery – the movie is a secondary source.
Whether it’s primary or secondary, always properly cite the movie in the citation style you are using. Learn how to create an MLA movie citation or an APA movie citation .
Articles in newspapers and magazines can be primary or secondary depending on the focus of your research.
In historical studies, old articles are used as primary sources that give direct evidence about the time period. In social and communication studies, articles are used as primary sources to analyse language and social relations (for example, by conducting content analysis or discourse analysis ).
If you are not analysing the article itself, but only using it for background information or facts about your topic, then the article is a secondary source.
In academic writing , there are three main situations where quoting is the best choice:
- To analyse the author’s language (e.g., in a literary analysis essay )
- To give evidence from primary sources
- To accurately present a precise definition or argument
Don’t overuse quotes; your own voice should be dominant. If you just want to provide information from a source, it’s usually better to paraphrase or summarise .
Your list of tables and figures should go directly after your table of contents in your thesis or dissertation.
Lists of figures and tables are often not required, and they aren’t particularly common. They specifically aren’t required for APA Style, though you should be careful to follow their other guidelines for figures and tables .
If you have many figures and tables in your thesis or dissertation, include one may help you stay organised. Your educational institution may require them, so be sure to check their guidelines.
Copyright information can usually be found wherever the table or figure was published. For example, for a diagram in a journal article , look on the journal’s website or the database where you found the article. Images found on sites like Flickr are listed with clear copyright information.
If you find that permission is required to reproduce the material, be sure to contact the author or publisher and ask for it.
A list of figures and tables compiles all of the figures and tables that you used in your thesis or dissertation and displays them with the page number where they can be found.
APA doesn’t require you to include a list of tables or a list of figures . However, it is advisable to do so if your text is long enough to feature a table of contents and it includes a lot of tables and/or figures .
A list of tables and list of figures appear (in that order) after your table of contents, and are presented in a similar way.
A glossary is a collection of words pertaining to a specific topic. In your thesis or dissertation, it’s a list of all terms you used that may not immediately be obvious to your reader. Your glossary only needs to include terms that your reader may not be familiar with, and is intended to enhance their understanding of your work.
Definitional terms often fall into the category of common knowledge , meaning that they don’t necessarily have to be cited. This guidance can apply to your thesis or dissertation glossary as well.
However, if you’d prefer to cite your sources , you can follow guidance for citing dictionary entries in MLA or APA style for your glossary.
A glossary is a collection of words pertaining to a specific topic. In your thesis or dissertation, it’s a list of all terms you used that may not immediately be obvious to your reader. In contrast, an index is a list of the contents of your work organised by page number.
Glossaries are not mandatory, but if you use a lot of technical or field-specific terms, it may improve readability to add one to your thesis or dissertation. Your educational institution may also require them, so be sure to check their specific guidelines.
A glossary is a collection of words pertaining to a specific topic. In your thesis or dissertation, it’s a list of all terms you used that may not immediately be obvious to your reader. In contrast, dictionaries are more general collections of words.
The title page of your thesis or dissertation should include your name, department, institution, degree program, and submission date.
The title page of your thesis or dissertation goes first, before all other content or lists that you may choose to include.
Usually, no title page is needed in an MLA paper . A header is generally included at the top of the first page instead. The exceptions are when:
- Your instructor requires one, or
- Your paper is a group project
In those cases, you should use a title page instead of a header, listing the same information but on a separate page.
When you mention different chapters within your text, it’s considered best to use Roman numerals for most citation styles. However, the most important thing here is to remain consistent whenever using numbers in your dissertation .
A thesis or dissertation outline is one of the most critical first steps in your writing process. It helps you to lay out and organise your ideas and can provide you with a roadmap for deciding what kind of research you’d like to undertake.
Generally, an outline contains information on the different sections included in your thesis or dissertation, such as:
- Your anticipated title
- Your abstract
- Your chapters (sometimes subdivided into further topics like literature review, research methods, avenues for future research, etc.)
While a theoretical framework describes the theoretical underpinnings of your work based on existing research, a conceptual framework allows you to draw your own conclusions, mapping out the variables you may use in your study and the interplay between them.
A literature review and a theoretical framework are not the same thing and cannot be used interchangeably. While a theoretical framework describes the theoretical underpinnings of your work, a literature review critically evaluates existing research relating to your topic. You’ll likely need both in your dissertation .
A theoretical framework can sometimes be integrated into a literature review chapter , but it can also be included as its own chapter or section in your dissertation . As a rule of thumb, if your research involves dealing with a lot of complex theories, it’s a good idea to include a separate theoretical framework chapter.
An abstract is a concise summary of an academic text (such as a journal article or dissertation ). It serves two main purposes:
- To help potential readers determine the relevance of your paper for their own research.
- To communicate your key findings to those who don’t have time to read the whole paper.
Abstracts are often indexed along with keywords on academic databases, so they make your work more easily findable. Since the abstract is the first thing any reader sees, it’s important that it clearly and accurately summarises the contents of your paper.
The abstract is the very last thing you write. You should only write it after your research is complete, so that you can accurately summarize the entirety of your thesis or paper.
Avoid citing sources in your abstract . There are two reasons for this:
- The abstract should focus on your original research, not on the work of others.
- The abstract should be self-contained and fully understandable without reference to other sources.
There are some circumstances where you might need to mention other sources in an abstract: for example, if your research responds directly to another study or focuses on the work of a single theorist. In general, though, don’t include citations unless absolutely necessary.
The abstract appears on its own page, after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .
Results are usually written in the past tense , because they are describing the outcome of completed actions.
The results chapter or section simply and objectively reports what you found, without speculating on why you found these results. The discussion interprets the meaning of the results, puts them in context, and explains why they matter.
In qualitative research , results and discussion are sometimes combined. But in quantitative research , it’s considered important to separate the objective results from your interpretation of them.
Formulating a main research question can be a difficult task. Overall, your question should contribute to solving the problem that you have defined in your problem statement .
However, it should also fulfill criteria in three main areas:
- Feasibility and specificity
- Relevance and originality
The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.
A noun is a word that represents a person, thing, concept, or place (e.g., ‘John’, ‘house’, ‘affinity’, ‘river’). Most sentences contain at least one noun or pronoun .
Nouns are often, but not always, preceded by an article (‘the’, ‘a’, or ‘an’) and/or another determiner such as an adjective.
There are many ways to categorize nouns into various types, and the same noun can fall into multiple categories or even change types depending on context.
Some of the main types of nouns are:
- Common nouns and proper nouns
- Countable and uncountable nouns
- Concrete and abstract nouns
- Collective nouns
- Possessive nouns
- Attributive nouns
- Appositive nouns
- Generic nouns
Pronouns are words like ‘I’, ‘she’, and ‘they’ that are used in a similar way to nouns . They stand in for a noun that has already been mentioned or refer to yourself and other people.
Pronouns can function just like nouns as the head of a noun phrase and as the subject or object of a verb. However, pronouns change their forms (e.g., from ‘I’ to ‘me’) depending on the grammatical context they’re used in, whereas nouns usually don’t.
Common nouns are words for types of things, people, and places, such as ‘dog’, ‘professor’, and ‘city’. They are not capitalised and are typically used in combination with articles and other determiners.
Proper nouns are words for specific things, people, and places, such as ‘Max’, ‘Dr Prakash’, and ‘London’. They are always capitalised and usually aren’t combined with articles and other determiners.
A proper adjective is an adjective that was derived from a proper noun and is therefore capitalised .
Proper adjectives include words for nationalities, languages, and ethnicities (e.g., ‘Japanese’, ‘Inuit’, ‘French’) and words derived from people’s names (e.g., ‘Bayesian’, ‘Orwellian’).
The names of seasons (e.g., ‘spring’) are treated as common nouns in English and therefore not capitalised . People often assume they are proper nouns, but this is an error.
The names of days and months, however, are capitalised since they’re treated as proper nouns in English (e.g., ‘Wednesday’, ‘January’).
No, as a general rule, academic concepts, disciplines, theories, models, etc. are treated as common nouns , not proper nouns , and therefore not capitalised . For example, ‘five-factor model of personality’ or ‘analytic philosophy’.
However, proper nouns that appear within the name of an academic concept (such as the name of the inventor) are capitalised as usual. For example, ‘Darwin’s theory of evolution’ or ‘ Student’s t table ‘.
Collective nouns are most commonly treated as singular (e.g., ‘the herd is grazing’), but usage differs between US and UK English :
- In US English, it’s standard to treat all collective nouns as singular, even when they are plural in appearance (e.g., ‘The Rolling Stones is …’). Using the plural form is usually seen as incorrect.
- In UK English, collective nouns can be treated as singular or plural depending on context. It’s quite common to use the plural form, especially when the noun looks plural (e.g., ‘The Rolling Stones are …’).
The plural of “crisis” is “crises”. It’s a loanword from Latin and retains its original Latin plural noun form (similar to “analyses” and “bases”). It’s wrong to write “crisises”.
For example, you might write “Several crises destabilized the regime.”
Normally, the plural of “fish” is the same as the singular: “fish”. It’s one of a group of irregular plural nouns in English that are identical to the corresponding singular nouns (e.g., “moose”, “sheep”). For example, you might write “The fish scatter as the shark approaches.”
If you’re referring to several species of fish, though, the regular plural “fishes” is often used instead. For example, “The aquarium contains many different fishes , including trout and carp.”
The correct plural of “octopus” is “octopuses”.
People often write “octopi” instead because they assume that the plural noun is formed in the same way as Latin loanwords such as “fungus/fungi”. But “octopus” actually comes from Greek, where its original plural is “octopodes”. In English, it instead has the regular plural form “octopuses”.
For example, you might write “There are four octopuses in the aquarium.”
The plural of “moose” is the same as the singular: “moose”. It’s one of a group of plural nouns in English that are identical to the corresponding singular nouns. So it’s wrong to write “mooses”.
For example, you might write “There are several moose in the forest.”
Bias in research affects the validity and reliability of your findings, leading to false conclusions and a misinterpretation of the truth. This can have serious implications in areas like medical research where, for example, a new form of treatment may be evaluated.
Observer bias occurs when the researcher’s assumptions, views, or preconceptions influence what they see and record in a study, while actor–observer bias refers to situations where respondents attribute internal factors (e.g., bad character) to justify other’s behaviour and external factors (difficult circumstances) to justify the same behaviour in themselves.
Response bias is a general term used to describe a number of different conditions or factors that cue respondents to provide inaccurate or false answers during surveys or interviews . These factors range from the interviewer’s perceived social position or appearance to the the phrasing of questions in surveys.
Nonresponse bias occurs when the people who complete a survey are different from those who did not, in ways that are relevant to the research topic. Nonresponse can happen either because people are not willing or not able to participate.
In research, demand characteristics are cues that might indicate the aim of a study to participants. These cues can lead to participants changing their behaviors or responses based on what they think the research is about.
Demand characteristics are common problems in psychology experiments and other social science studies because they can bias your research findings.
Demand characteristics are a type of extraneous variable that can affect the outcomes of the study. They can invalidate studies by providing an alternative explanation for the results.
These cues may nudge participants to consciously or unconsciously change their responses, and they pose a threat to both internal and external validity . You can’t be sure that your independent variable manipulation worked, or that your findings can be applied to other people or settings.
You can control demand characteristics by taking a few precautions in your research design and materials.
Use these measures:
- Deception: Hide the purpose of the study from participants
- Between-groups design : Give each participant only one independent variable treatment
- Double-blind design : Conceal the assignment of groups from participants and yourself
- Implicit measures: Use indirect or hidden measurements for your variables
Some attrition is normal and to be expected in research. However, the type of attrition is important because systematic research bias can distort your findings. Attrition bias can lead to inaccurate results because it affects internal and/or external validity .
To avoid attrition bias , applying some of these measures can help you reduce participant dropout (attrition) by making it easy and appealing for participants to stay.
- Provide compensation (e.g., cash or gift cards) for attending every session
- Minimise the number of follow-ups as much as possible
- Make all follow-ups brief, flexible, and convenient for participants
- Send participants routine reminders to schedule follow-ups
- Recruit more participants than you need for your sample (oversample)
- Maintain detailed contact information so you can get in touch with participants even if they move
If you have a small amount of attrition bias , you can use a few statistical methods to try to make up for this research bias .
Multiple imputation involves using simulations to replace the missing data with likely values. Alternatively, you can use sample weighting to make up for the uneven balance of participants in your sample.
Placebos are used in medical research for new medication or therapies, called clinical trials. In these trials some people are given a placebo, while others are given the new medication being tested.
The purpose is to determine how effective the new medication is: if it benefits people beyond a predefined threshold as compared to the placebo, it’s considered effective.
Although there is no definite answer to what causes the placebo effect , researchers propose a number of explanations such as the power of suggestion, doctor-patient interaction, classical conditioning, etc.
Belief bias and confirmation bias are both types of cognitive bias that impact our judgment and decision-making.
Confirmation bias relates to how we perceive and judge evidence. We tend to seek out and prefer information that supports our preexisting beliefs, ignoring any information that contradicts those beliefs.
Belief bias describes the tendency to judge an argument based on how plausible the conclusion seems to us, rather than how much evidence is provided to support it during the course of the argument.
Positivity bias is phenomenon that occurs when a person judges individual members of a group positively, even when they have negative impressions or judgments of the group as a whole. Positivity bias is closely related to optimism bias , or the e xpectation that things will work out well, even if rationality suggests that problems are inevitable in life.
Perception bias is a problem because it prevents us from seeing situations or people objectively. Rather, our expectations, beliefs, or emotions interfere with how we interpret reality. This, in turn, can cause us to misjudge ourselves or others. For example, our prejudices can interfere with whether we perceive people’s faces as friendly or unfriendly.
There are many ways to categorize adjectives into various types. An adjective can fall into one or more of these categories depending on how it is used.
Some of the main types of adjectives are:
- Attributive adjectives
- Predicative adjectives
- Comparative adjectives
- Superlative adjectives
- Coordinate adjectives
- Appositive adjectives
- Compound adjectives
- Participial adjectives
- Proper adjectives
- Denominal adjectives
- Nominal adjectives
Cardinal numbers (e.g., one, two, three) can be placed before a noun to indicate quantity (e.g., one apple). While these are sometimes referred to as ‘numeral adjectives ‘, they are more accurately categorised as determiners or quantifiers.
Proper adjectives are adjectives formed from a proper noun (i.e., the name of a specific person, place, or thing) that are used to indicate origin. Like proper nouns, proper adjectives are always capitalised (e.g., Newtonian, Marxian, African).
The cost of proofreading depends on the type and length of text, the turnaround time, and the level of services required. Most proofreading companies charge per word or page, while freelancers sometimes charge an hourly rate.
For proofreading alone, which involves only basic corrections of typos and formatting mistakes, you might pay as little as £0.01 per word, but in many cases, your text will also require some level of editing , which costs slightly more.
It’s often possible to purchase combined proofreading and editing services and calculate the price in advance based on your requirements.
Then and than are two commonly confused words . In the context of ‘better than’, you use ‘than’ with an ‘a’.
- Julie is better than Jesse.
- I’d rather spend my time with you than with him.
- I understand Eoghan’s point of view better than Claudia’s.
Use to and used to are commonly confused words . In the case of ‘used to do’, the latter (with ‘d’) is correct, since you’re describing an action or state in the past.
- I used to do laundry once a week.
- They used to do each other’s hair.
- We used to do the dishes every day .
There are numerous synonyms and near synonyms for the various meanings of “ favour ”:
There are numerous synonyms and near synonyms for the two meanings of “ favoured ”:
No one (two words) is an indefinite pronoun meaning ‘nobody’. People sometimes mistakenly write ‘noone’, but this is incorrect and should be avoided. ‘No-one’, with a hyphen, is also acceptable in UK English .
Nobody and no one are both indefinite pronouns meaning ‘no person’. They can be used interchangeably (e.g., ‘nobody is home’ means the same as ‘no one is home’).
Some synonyms and near synonyms of every time include:
- Without exception
‘Everytime’ is sometimes used to mean ‘each time’ or ‘whenever’. However, this is incorrect and should be avoided. The correct phrase is every time (two words).
Yes, the conjunction because is a compound word , but one with a long history. It originates in Middle English from the preposition “bi” (“by”) and the noun “cause”. Over time, the open compound “bi cause” became the closed compound “because”, which we use today.
Though it’s spelled this way now, the verb “be” is not one of the words that makes up “because”.
Yes, today is a compound word , but a very old one. It wasn’t originally formed from the preposition “to” and the noun “day”; rather, it originates from their Old English equivalents, “tō” and “dæġe”.
In the past, it was sometimes written as a hyphenated compound: “to-day”. But the hyphen is no longer included; it’s always “today” now (“to day” is also wrong).
Pathetic fallacy and appeal to pathos sound similar but they refer to entirely different things.
- Pathetic fallacy is a figure of speech, at least in most contexts, and not a reasoning error. It refers to the attribution of human emotions to something non-human in novels or poems.
- Appeal to pathos , on the other hand, is a logical fallacy in which the speaker or author takes advantage of emotions, like fear or love for one’s family, to convince their audience instead of using rational arguments.
In other words, pathetic fallacy and appeal to pathos both relate to pathos or emotion but to a different end.
IEEE citation format is defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and used in their publications.
It’s also a widely used citation style for students in technical fields like electrical and electronic engineering, computer science, telecommunications, and computer engineering.
An IEEE in-text citation consists of a number in brackets at the relevant point in the text, which points the reader to the right entry in the numbered reference list at the end of the paper. For example, ‘Smith  states that …’
A location marker such as a page number is also included within the brackets when needed: ‘Smith [1, p. 13] argues …’
The IEEE reference page consists of a list of references numbered in the order they were cited in the text. The title ‘References’ appears in bold at the top, either left-aligned or centered.
The numbers appear in square brackets on the left-hand side of the page. The reference entries are indented consistently to separate them from the numbers. Entries are single-spaced, with a normal paragraph break between them.
If you cite the same source more than once in your writing, use the same number for all of the IEEE in-text citations for that source, and only include it on the IEEE reference page once. The source is numbered based on the first time you cite it.
For example, the fourth source you cite in your paper is numbered . If you cite it again later, you still cite it as . You can cite different parts of the source each time by adding page numbers [4, p. 15].
A verb is a word that indicates a physical action (e.g., ‘drive’), a mental action (e.g., ‘think’) or a state of being (e.g., ‘exist’). Every sentence contains a verb.
Verbs are almost always used along with a noun or pronoun to describe what the noun or pronoun is doing.
There are many ways to categorize verbs into various types. A verb can fall into one or more of these categories depending on how it is used.
Some of the main types of verbs are:
- Regular verbs
- Irregular verbs
- Transitive verbs
- Intransitive verbs
- Dynamic verbs
- Stative verbs
- Linking verbs
- Auxiliary verbs
- Modal verbs
- Phrasal verbs
Regular verbs are verbs whose simple past and past participle are formed by adding the suffix ‘-ed’ (e.g., ‘walked’).
Irregular verbs are verbs that form their simple past and past participles in some way other than by adding the suffix ‘-ed’ (e.g., ‘sat’).
The indefinite articles a and an are used to refer to a general or unspecified version of a noun (e.g., a house). Which indefinite article you use depends on the pronunciation of the word that follows it.
- A is used for words that begin with a consonant sound (e.g., a bear).
- An is used for words that begin with a vowel sound (e.g., an eagle).
Indefinite articles can only be used with singular countable nouns . Like definite articles, they are a type of determiner .
Editing and proofreading are different steps in the process of revising a text.
Editing comes first, and can involve major changes to content, structure and language. The first stages of editing are often done by authors themselves, while a professional editor makes the final improvements to grammar and style (for example, by improving sentence structure and word choice ).
Proofreading is the final stage of checking a text before it is published or shared. It focuses on correcting minor errors and inconsistencies (for example, in punctuation and capitalization ). Proofreaders often also check for formatting issues, especially in print publishing.
Whether you’re publishing a blog, submitting a research paper , or even just writing an important email, there are a few techniques you can use to make sure it’s error-free:
- Take a break : Set your work aside for at least a few hours so that you can look at it with fresh eyes.
- Proofread a printout : Staring at a screen for too long can cause fatigue – sit down with a pen and paper to check the final version.
- Use digital shortcuts : Take note of any recurring mistakes (for example, misspelling a particular word, switching between US and UK English , or inconsistently capitalizing a term), and use Find and Replace to fix it throughout the document.
If you want to be confident that an important text is error-free, it might be worth choosing a professional proofreading service instead.
There are many different routes to becoming a professional proofreader or editor. The necessary qualifications depend on the field – to be an academic or scientific proofreader, for example, you will need at least a university degree in a relevant subject.
For most proofreading jobs, experience and demonstrated skills are more important than specific qualifications. Often your skills will be tested as part of the application process.
To learn practical proofreading skills, you can choose to take a course with a professional organisation such as the Society for Editors and Proofreaders . Alternatively, you can apply to companies that offer specialised on-the-job training programmes, such as the Scribbr Academy .
Though they’re pronounced the same, there’s a big difference in meaning between its and it’s .
- ‘The cat ate its food’.
- ‘It’s almost Christmas’.
Its and it’s are often confused, but its (without apostrophe) is the possessive form of ‘it’ (e.g., its tail, its argument, its wing). You use ‘its’ instead of ‘his’ and ‘her’ for neuter, inanimate nouns.
Then and than are two commonly confused words with different meanings and grammatical roles.
- Then (pronounced with a short ‘e’ sound) refers to time. It’s often an adverb , but it can also be used as a noun meaning ‘that time’ and as an adjective referring to a previous status.
- Than (pronounced with a short ‘a’ sound) is used for comparisons. Grammatically, it usually functions as a conjunction , but sometimes it’s a preposition .
Use to and used to are commonly confused words . In the case of ‘used to be’, the latter (with ‘d’) is correct, since you’re describing an action or state in the past.
- I used to be the new coworker.
- There used to be 4 cookies left.
- We used to walk to school every day .
A grammar checker is a tool designed to automatically check your text for spelling errors, grammatical issues, punctuation mistakes , and problems with sentence structure . You can check out our analysis of the best free grammar checkers to learn more.
A paraphrasing tool edits your text more actively, changing things whether they were grammatically incorrect or not. It can paraphrase your sentences to make them more concise and readable or for other purposes. You can check out our analysis of the best free paraphrasing tools to learn more.
Some tools available online combine both functions. Others, such as QuillBot , have separate grammar checker and paraphrasing tools. Be aware of what exactly the tool you’re using does to avoid introducing unwanted changes.
Good grammar is the key to expressing yourself clearly and fluently, especially in professional communication and academic writing . Word processors, browsers, and email programs typically have built-in grammar checkers, but they’re quite limited in the kinds of problems they can fix.
If you want to go beyond detecting basic spelling errors, there are many online grammar checkers with more advanced functionality. They can often detect issues with punctuation , word choice, and sentence structure that more basic tools would miss.
Not all of these tools are reliable, though. You can check out our research into the best free grammar checkers to explore the options.
Our research indicates that the best free grammar checker available online is the QuillBot grammar checker .
We tested 10 of the most popular checkers with the same sample text (containing 20 grammatical errors) and found that QuillBot easily outperformed the competition, scoring 18 out of 20, a drastic improvement over the second-place score of 13 out of 20.
It even appeared to outperform the premium versions of other grammar checkers, despite being entirely free.
A teacher’s aide is a person who assists in teaching classes but is not a qualified teacher. Aide is a noun meaning ‘assistant’, so it will always refer to a person.
‘Teacher’s aid’ is incorrect.
A visual aid is an instructional device (e.g., a photo, a chart) that appeals to vision to help you understand written or spoken information. Aid is often placed after an attributive noun or adjective (like ‘visual’) that describes the type of help provided.
‘Visual aide’ is incorrect.
A job aid is an instructional tool (e.g., a checklist, a cheat sheet) that helps you work efficiently. Aid is a noun meaning ‘assistance’. It’s often placed after an adjective or attributive noun (like ‘job’) that describes the specific type of help provided.
‘Job aide’ is incorrect.
There are numerous synonyms for the various meanings of truly :
Yours truly is a phrase used at the end of a formal letter or email. It can also be used (typically in a humorous way) as a pronoun to refer to oneself (e.g., ‘The dinner was cooked by yours truly ‘). The latter usage should be avoided in formal writing.
It’s formed by combining the second-person possessive pronoun ‘yours’ with the adverb ‘ truly ‘.
Pathetic fallacy is not a logical fallacy . It is a literary device or figure of speech that often occurs in literature when a writer attributes human emotions to things that aren’t human, such as objects, the weather, or animals.
Pathetic fallacy is used to reflect a character’s emotions. For example, if a character has lost a loved one, they may hear “mournful” birdsong.
A pathetic fallacy can be a short phrase or a whole sentence and is often used in novels and poetry. Pathetic fallacies serve multiple purposes, such as:
- Conveying the emotional state of the characters or the narrator
- Creating an atmosphere or set the mood of a scene
- Foreshadowing events to come
- Giving texture and vividness to a piece of writing
- Communicating emotion to the reader in a subtle way, by describing the external world.
- Bringing inanimate objects to life so that they seem more relatable.
AMA citation format is a citation style designed by the American Medical Association. It’s frequently used in the field of medicine.
You may be told to use AMA style for your student papers. You will also have to follow this style if you’re submitting a paper to a journal published by the AMA.
An AMA in-text citation consists of the number of the relevant reference on your AMA reference page , written in superscript 1 at the point in the text where the source is used.
It may also include the page number or range of the relevant material in the source (e.g., the part you quoted 2(p46) ). Multiple sources can be cited at one point, presented as a range or list (with no spaces 3,5–9 ).
An AMA reference usually includes the author’s last name and initials, the title of the source, information about the publisher or the publication it’s contained in, and the publication date. The specific details included, and the formatting, depend on the source type.
References in AMA style are presented in numerical order (numbered by the order in which they were first cited in the text) on your reference page. A source that’s cited repeatedly in the text still only appears once on the reference page.
An AMA in-text citation just consists of the number of the relevant entry on your AMA reference page , written in superscript at the point in the text where the source is referred to.
You don’t need to mention the author of the source in your sentence, but you can do so if you want. It’s not an official part of the citation, but it can be useful as part of a signal phrase introducing the source.
On your AMA reference page , author names are written with the last name first, followed by the initial(s) of their first name and middle name if mentioned.
There’s a space between the last name and the initials, but no space or punctuation between the initials themselves. The names of multiple authors are separated by commas , and the whole list ends in a period, e.g., ‘Andreessen F, Smith PW, Gonzalez E’.
The names of up to six authors should be listed for each source on your AMA reference page , separated by commas . For a source with seven or more authors, you should list the first three followed by ‘ et al’ : ‘Isidore, Gilbert, Gunvor, et al’.
In the text, mentioning author names is optional (as they aren’t an official part of AMA in-text citations ). If you do mention them, though, you should use the first author’s name followed by ‘et al’ when there are three or more : ‘Isidore et al argue that …’
Note that according to AMA’s rather minimalistic punctuation guidelines, there’s no period after ‘et al’ unless it appears at the end of a sentence. This is different from most other styles, where there is normally a period.
Yes, you should normally include an access date in an AMA website citation (or when citing any source with a URL). This is because webpages can change their content over time, so it’s useful for the reader to know when you accessed the page.
When a publication or update date is provided on the page, you should include it in addition to the access date. The access date appears second in this case, e.g., ‘Published June 19, 2021. Accessed August 29, 2022.’
Don’t include an access date when citing a source with a DOI (such as in an AMA journal article citation ).
Some variables have fixed levels. For example, gender and ethnicity are always nominal level data because they cannot be ranked.
However, for other variables, you can choose the level of measurement . For example, income is a variable that can be recorded on an ordinal or a ratio scale:
- At an ordinal level , you could create 5 income groupings and code the incomes that fall within them from 1–5.
- At a ratio level , you would record exact numbers for income.
If you have a choice, the ratio level is always preferable because you can analyse data in more ways. The higher the level of measurement, the more precise your data is.
The level at which you measure a variable determines how you can analyse your data.
Depending on the level of measurement , you can perform different descriptive statistics to get an overall summary of your data and inferential statistics to see if your results support or refute your hypothesis .
Levels of measurement tell you how precisely variables are recorded. There are 4 levels of measurement, which can be ranked from low to high:
- Nominal : the data can only be categorised.
- Ordinal : the data can be categorised and ranked.
- Interval : the data can be categorised and ranked, and evenly spaced.
- Ratio : the data can be categorised, ranked, evenly spaced and has a natural zero.
Statistical analysis is the main method for analyzing quantitative research data . It uses probabilities and models to test predictions about a population from sample data.
The null hypothesis is often abbreviated as H 0 . When the null hypothesis is written using mathematical symbols, it always includes an equality symbol (usually =, but sometimes ≥ or ≤).
The alternative hypothesis is often abbreviated as H a or H 1 . When the alternative hypothesis is written using mathematical symbols, it always includes an inequality symbol (usually ≠, but sometimes < or >).
As the degrees of freedom increase, Student’s t distribution becomes less leptokurtic , meaning that the probability of extreme values decreases. The distribution becomes more and more similar to a standard normal distribution .
When there are only one or two degrees of freedom , the chi-square distribution is shaped like a backwards ‘J’. When there are three or more degrees of freedom, the distribution is shaped like a right-skewed hump. As the degrees of freedom increase, the hump becomes less right-skewed and the peak of the hump moves to the right. The distribution becomes more and more similar to a normal distribution .
‘Looking forward in hearing from you’ is an incorrect version of the phrase looking forward to hearing from you . The phrasal verb ‘looking forward to’ always needs the preposition ‘to’, not ‘in’.
- I am looking forward in hearing from you.
- I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Some synonyms and near synonyms for the expression looking forward to hearing from you include:
- Eagerly awaiting your response
- Hoping to hear from you soon
- It would be great to hear back from you
- Thanks in advance for your reply
People sometimes mistakenly write ‘looking forward to hear from you’, but this is incorrect. The correct phrase is looking forward to hearing from you .
The phrasal verb ‘look forward to’ is always followed by a direct object, the thing you’re looking forward to. As the direct object has to be a noun phrase , it should be the gerund ‘hearing’, not the verb ‘hear’.
- I’m looking forward to hear from you soon.
- I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Traditionally, the sign-off Yours sincerely is used in an email message or letter when you are writing to someone you have interacted with before, not a complete stranger.
Yours faithfully is used instead when you are writing to someone you have had no previous correspondence with, especially if you greeted them as ‘ Dear Sir or Madam ’.
Just checking in is a standard phrase used to start an email (or other message) that’s intended to ask someone for a response or follow-up action in a friendly, informal way. However, it’s a cliché opening that can come across as passive-aggressive, so we recommend avoiding it in favor of a more direct opening like “We previously discussed …”
In a more personal context, you might encounter “just checking in” as part of a longer phrase such as “I’m just checking in to see how you’re doing”. In this case, it’s not asking the other person to do anything but rather asking about their well-being (emotional or physical) in a friendly way.
“Earliest convenience” is part of the phrase at your earliest convenience , meaning “as soon as you can”.
It’s typically used to end an email in a formal context by asking the recipient to do something when it’s convenient for them to do so.
ASAP is an abbreviation of the phrase “as soon as possible”.
It’s typically used to indicate a sense of urgency in highly informal contexts (e.g., “Let me know ASAP if you need me to drive you to the airport”).
“ASAP” should be avoided in more formal correspondence. Instead, use an alternative like at your earliest convenience .
Some synonyms and near synonyms of the verb compose (meaning “to make up”) are:
People increasingly use “comprise” as a synonym of “compose.” However, this is normally still seen as a mistake, and we recommend avoiding it in your academic writing . “Comprise” traditionally means “to be made up of,” not “to make up.”
Some synonyms and near synonyms of the verb comprise are:
- Be composed of
- Be made up of
People increasingly use “comprise” interchangeably with “compose,” meaning that they consider words like “compose,” “constitute,” and “form” to be synonymous with “comprise.” However, this is still normally regarded as an error, and we advise against using these words interchangeably in academic writing .
A fallacy is a mistaken belief, particularly one based on unsound arguments or one that lacks the evidence to support it. Common types of fallacy that may compromise the quality of your research are:
- Correlation/causation fallacy: Claiming that two events that occur together have a cause-and-effect relationship even though this can’t be proven
- Ecological fallacy : Making inferences about the nature of individuals based on aggregate data for the group
- The sunk cost fallacy : Following through on a project or decision because we have already invested time, effort, or money into it, even if the current costs outweigh the benefits
- The base-rate fallacy : Ignoring base-rate or statistically significant information, such as sample size or the relative frequency of an event, in favor of less relevant information e.g., pertaining to a single case, or a small number of cases
- The planning fallacy : Underestimating the time needed to complete a future task, even when we know that similar tasks in the past have taken longer than planned
The planning fallacy refers to people’s tendency to underestimate the resources needed to complete a future task, despite knowing that previous tasks have also taken longer than planned.
For example, people generally tend to underestimate the cost and time needed for construction projects. The planning fallacy occurs due to people’s tendency to overestimate the chances that positive events, such as a shortened timeline, will happen to them. This phenomenon is called optimism bias or positivity bias.
Although both red herring fallacy and straw man fallacy are logical fallacies or reasoning errors, they denote different attempts to “win” an argument. More specifically:
- A red herring fallacy refers to an attempt to change the subject and divert attention from the original issue. In other words, a seemingly solid but ultimately irrelevant argument is introduced into the discussion, either on purpose or by mistake.
- A straw man argument involves the deliberate distortion of another person’s argument. By oversimplifying or exaggerating it, the other party creates an easy-to-refute argument and then attacks it.
The red herring fallacy is a problem because it is flawed reasoning. It is a distraction device that causes people to become sidetracked from the main issue and draw wrong conclusions.
Although a red herring may have some kernel of truth, it is used as a distraction to keep our eyes on a different matter. As a result, it can cause us to accept and spread misleading information.
The sunk cost fallacy and escalation of commitment (or commitment bias ) are two closely related terms. However, there is a slight difference between them:
- Escalation of commitment (aka commitment bias ) is the tendency to be consistent with what we have already done or said we will do in the past, especially if we did so in public. In other words, it is an attempt to save face and appear consistent.
- Sunk cost fallacy is the tendency to stick with a decision or a plan even when it’s failing. Because we have already invested valuable time, money, or energy, quitting feels like these resources were wasted.
In other words, escalating commitment is a manifestation of the sunk cost fallacy: an irrational escalation of commitment frequently occurs when people refuse to accept that the resources they’ve already invested cannot be recovered. Instead, they insist on more spending to justify the initial investment (and the incurred losses).
When you are faced with a straw man argument , the best way to respond is to draw attention to the fallacy and ask your discussion partner to show how your original statement and their distorted version are the same. Since these are different, your partner will either have to admit that their argument is invalid or try to justify it by using more flawed reasoning, which you can then attack.
The straw man argument is a problem because it occurs when we fail to take an opposing point of view seriously. Instead, we intentionally misrepresent our opponent’s ideas and avoid genuinely engaging with them. Due to this, resorting to straw man fallacy lowers the standard of constructive debate.
A straw man argument is a distorted (and weaker) version of another person’s argument that can easily be refuted (e.g., when a teacher proposes that the class spend more time on math exercises, a parent complains that the teacher doesn’t care about reading and writing).
This is a straw man argument because it misrepresents the teacher’s position, which didn’t mention anything about cutting down on reading and writing. The straw man argument is also known as the straw man fallacy .
A slippery slope argument is not always a fallacy.
- When someone claims adopting a certain policy or taking a certain action will automatically lead to a series of other policies or actions also being taken, this is a slippery slope argument.
- If they don’t show a causal connection between the advocated policy and the consequent policies, then they commit a slippery slope fallacy .
There are a number of ways you can deal with slippery slope arguments especially when you suspect these are fallacious:
- Slippery slope arguments take advantage of the gray area between an initial action or decision and the possible next steps that might lead to the undesirable outcome. You can point out these missing steps and ask your partner to indicate what evidence exists to support the claimed relationship between two or more events.
- Ask yourself if each link in the chain of events or action is valid. Every proposition has to be true for the overall argument to work, so even if one link is irrational or not supported by evidence, then the argument collapses.
- Sometimes people commit a slippery slope fallacy unintentionally. In these instances, use an example that demonstrates the problem with slippery slope arguments in general (e.g., by using statements to reach a conclusion that is not necessarily relevant to the initial statement). By attacking the concept of slippery slope arguments you can show that they are often fallacious.
People sometimes confuse cognitive bias and logical fallacies because they both relate to flawed thinking. However, they are not the same:
- Cognitive bias is the tendency to make decisions or take action in an illogical way because of our values, memory, socialization, and other personal attributes. In other words, it refers to a fixed pattern of thinking rooted in the way our brain works.
- Logical fallacies relate to how we make claims and construct our arguments in the moment. They are statements that sound convincing at first but can be disproven through logical reasoning.
In other words, cognitive bias refers to an ongoing predisposition, while logical fallacy refers to mistakes of reasoning that occur in the moment.
An appeal to ignorance (ignorance here meaning lack of evidence) is a type of informal logical fallacy .
It asserts that something must be true because it hasn’t been proven false—or that something must be false because it has not yet been proven true.
For example, “unicorns exist because there is no evidence that they don’t.” The appeal to ignorance is also called the burden of proof fallacy .
An ad hominem (Latin for “to the person”) is a type of informal logical fallacy . Instead of arguing against a person’s position, an ad hominem argument attacks the person’s character or actions in an effort to discredit them.
This rhetorical strategy is fallacious because a person’s character, motive, education, or other personal trait is logically irrelevant to whether their argument is true or false.
Name-calling is common in ad hominem fallacy (e.g., “environmental activists are ineffective because they’re all lazy tree-huggers”).
Ad hominem is a persuasive technique where someone tries to undermine the opponent’s argument by personally attacking them.
In this way, one can redirect the discussion away from the main topic and to the opponent’s personality without engaging with their viewpoint. When the opponent’s personality is irrelevant to the discussion, we call it an ad hominem fallacy .
Ad hominem tu quoque (‘you too”) is an attempt to rebut a claim by attacking its proponent on the grounds that they uphold a double standard or that they don’t practice what they preach. For example, someone is telling you that you should drive slowly otherwise you’ll get a speeding ticket one of these days, and you reply “but you used to get them all the time!”
Argumentum ad hominem means “argument to the person” in Latin and it is commonly referred to as ad hominem argument or personal attack. Ad hominem arguments are used in debates to refute an argument by attacking the character of the person making it, instead of the logic or premise of the argument itself.
The opposite of the hasty generalization fallacy is called slothful induction fallacy or appeal to coincidence .
It is the tendency to deny a conclusion even though there is sufficient evidence that supports it. Slothful induction occurs due to our natural tendency to dismiss events or facts that do not align with our personal biases and expectations. For example, a researcher may try to explain away unexpected results by claiming it is just a coincidence.
To avoid a hasty generalization fallacy we need to ensure that the conclusions drawn are well-supported by the appropriate evidence. More specifically:
- In statistics , if we want to draw inferences about an entire population, we need to make sure that the sample is random and representative of the population . We can achieve that by using a probability sampling method , like simple random sampling or stratified sampling .
- In academic writing , use precise language and measured phases. Try to avoid making absolute claims, cite specific instances and examples without applying the findings to a larger group.
- As readers, we need to ask ourselves “does the writer demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the situation or phenomenon that would allow them to make a generalization?”
The hasty generalization fallacy and the anecdotal evidence fallacy are similar in that they both result in conclusions drawn from insufficient evidence. However, there is a difference between the two:
- The hasty generalization fallacy involves genuinely considering an example or case (i.e., the evidence comes first and then an incorrect conclusion is drawn from this).
- The anecdotal evidence fallacy (also known as “cherry-picking” ) is knowing in advance what conclusion we want to support, and then selecting the story (or a few stories) that support it. By overemphasizing anecdotal evidence that fits well with the point we are trying to make, we overlook evidence that would undermine our argument.
Although many sources use circular reasoning fallacy and begging the question interchangeably, others point out that there is a subtle difference between the two:
- Begging the question fallacy occurs when you assume that an argument is true in order to justify a conclusion. If something begs the question, what you are actually asking is, “Is the premise of that argument actually true?” For example, the statement “Snakes make great pets. That’s why we should get a snake” begs the question “are snakes really great pets?”
- Circular reasoning fallacy on the other hand, occurs when the evidence used to support a claim is just a repetition of the claim itself. For example, “People have free will because they can choose what to do.”
In other words, we could say begging the question is a form of circular reasoning.
Circular reasoning fallacy uses circular reasoning to support an argument. More specifically, the evidence used to support a claim is just a repetition of the claim itself. For example: “The President of the United States is a good leader (claim), because they are the leader of this country (supporting evidence)”.
An example of a non sequitur is the following statement:
“Giving up nuclear weapons weakened the United States’ military. Giving up nuclear weapons also weakened China. For this reason, it is wrong to try to outlaw firearms in the United States today.”
Clearly there is a step missing in this line of reasoning and the conclusion does not follow from the premise, resulting in a non sequitur fallacy .
The difference between the post hoc fallacy and the non sequitur fallacy is that post hoc fallacy infers a causal connection between two events where none exists, whereas the non sequitur fallacy infers a conclusion that lacks a logical connection to the premise.
In other words, a post hoc fallacy occurs when there is a lack of a cause-and-effect relationship, while a non sequitur fallacy occurs when there is a lack of logical connection.
An example of post hoc fallacy is the following line of reasoning:
“Yesterday I had ice cream, and today I have a terrible stomachache. I’m sure the ice cream caused this.”
Although it is possible that the ice cream had something to do with the stomachache, there is no proof to justify the conclusion other than the order of events. Therefore, this line of reasoning is fallacious.
Post hoc fallacy and hasty generalisation fallacy are similar in that they both involve jumping to conclusions. However, there is a difference between the two:
- Post hoc fallacy is assuming a cause and effect relationship between two events, simply because one happened after the other.
- Hasty generalisation fallacy is drawing a general conclusion from a small sample or little evidence.
In other words, post hoc fallacy involves a leap to a causal claim; hasty generalisation fallacy involves a leap to a general proposition.
The fallacy of composition is similar to and can be confused with the hasty generalization fallacy . However, there is a difference between the two:
- The fallacy of composition involves drawing an inference about the characteristics of a whole or group based on the characteristics of its individual members.
- The hasty generalization fallacy involves drawing an inference about a population or class of things on the basis of few atypical instances or a small sample of that population or thing.
In other words, the fallacy of composition is using an unwarranted assumption that we can infer something about a whole based on the characteristics of its parts, while the hasty generalization fallacy is using insufficient evidence to draw a conclusion.
The opposite of the fallacy of composition is the fallacy of division . In the fallacy of division, the assumption is that a characteristic which applies to a whole or a group must necessarily apply to the parts or individual members. For example, “Australians travel a lot. Gary is Australian, so he must travel a lot.”
Base rate fallacy can be avoided by following these steps:
- Avoid making an important decision in haste. When we are under pressure, we are more likely to resort to cognitive shortcuts like the availability heuristic and the representativeness heuristic . Due to this, we are more likely to factor in only current and vivid information, and ignore the actual probability of something happening (i.e., base rate).
- Take a long-term view on the decision or question at hand. Look for relevant statistical data, which can reveal long-term trends and give you the full picture.
- Talk to experts like professionals. They are more aware of probabilities related to specific decisions.
Suppose there is a population consisting of 90% psychologists and 10% engineers. Given that you know someone enjoyed physics at school, you may conclude that they are an engineer rather than a psychologist, even though you know that this person comes from a population consisting of far more psychologists than engineers.
When we ignore the rate of occurrence of some trait in a population (the base-rate information) we commit base rate fallacy .
Cost-benefit fallacy is a common error that occurs when allocating sources in project management. It is the fallacy of assuming that cost-benefit estimates are more or less accurate, when in fact they are highly inaccurate and biased. This means that cost-benefit analyses can be useful, but only after the cost-benefit fallacy has been acknowledged and corrected for. Cost-benefit fallacy is a type of base rate fallacy .
In advertising, the fallacy of equivocation is often used to create a pun. For example, a billboard company might advertise their billboards using a line like: “Looking for a sign? This is it!” The word sign has a literal meaning as billboard and a figurative one as a sign from God, the universe, etc.
Equivocation is a fallacy because it is a form of argumentation that is both misleading and logically unsound. When the meaning of a word or phrase shifts in the course of an argument, it causes confusion and also implies that the conclusion (which may be true) does not follow from the premise.
The fallacy of equivocation is an informal logical fallacy, meaning that the error lies in the content of the argument instead of the structure.
Fallacies of relevance are a group of fallacies that occur in arguments when the premises are logically irrelevant to the conclusion. Although at first there seems to be a connection between the premise and the conclusion, in reality fallacies of relevance use unrelated forms of appeal.
For example, the genetic fallacy makes an appeal to the source or origin of the claim in an attempt to assert or refute something.
The ad hominem fallacy and the genetic fallacy are closely related in that they are both fallacies of relevance. In other words, they both involve arguments that use evidence or examples that are not logically related to the argument at hand. However, there is a difference between the two:
- In the ad hominem fallacy , the goal is to discredit the argument by discrediting the person currently making the argument.
- In the genetic fallacy , the goal is to discredit the argument by discrediting the history or origin (i.e., genesis) of an argument.
False dilemma fallacy is also known as false dichotomy, false binary, and “either-or” fallacy. It is the fallacy of presenting only two choices, outcomes, or sides to an argument as the only possibilities, when more are available.
The false dilemma fallacy works in two ways:
- By presenting only two options as if these were the only ones available
- By presenting two options as mutually exclusive (i.e., only one option can be selected or can be true at a time)
In both cases, by using the false dilemma fallacy, one conceals alternative choices and doesn’t allow others to consider the full range of options. This is usually achieved through an“either-or” construction and polarised, divisive language (“you are either a friend or an enemy”).
The best way to avoid a false dilemma fallacy is to pause and reflect on two points:
- Are the options presented truly the only ones available ? It could be that another option has been deliberately omitted.
- Are the options mentioned mutually exclusive ? Perhaps all of the available options can be selected (or be true) at the same time, which shows that they aren’t mutually exclusive. Proving this is called “escaping between the horns of the dilemma.”
Begging the question fallacy is an argument in which you assume what you are trying to prove. In other words, your position and the justification of that position are the same, only slightly rephrased.
For example: “All freshmen should attend college orientation, because all college students should go to such an orientation.”
The complex question fallacy and begging the question fallacy are similar in that they are both based on assumptions. However, there is a difference between them:
- A complex question fallacy occurs when someone asks a question that presupposes the answer to another question that has not been established or accepted by the other person. For example, asking someone “Have you stopped cheating on tests?”, unless it has previously been established that the person is indeed cheating on tests, is a fallacy.
- Begging the question fallacy occurs when we assume the very thing as a premise that we’re trying to prove in our conclusion. In other words, the conclusion is used to support the premises, and the premises prove the validity of the conclusion. For example: “God exists because the Bible says so, and the Bible is true because it is the word of God.”
In other words, begging the question is about drawing a conclusion based on an assumption, while a complex question involves asking a question that presupposes the answer to a prior question.
“ No true Scotsman ” arguments aren’t always fallacious. When there is a generally accepted definition of who or what constitutes a group, it’s reasonable to use statements in the form of “no true Scotsman”.
For example, the statement that “no true pacifist would volunteer for military service” is not fallacious, since a pacifist is, by definition, someone who opposes war or violence as a means of settling disputes.
No true Scotsman arguments are fallacious because instead of logically refuting the counterexample, they simply assert that it doesn’t count. In other words, the counterexample is rejected for psychological, but not logical, reasons.
The appeal to purity or no true Scotsman fallacy is an attempt to defend a generalisation about a group from a counterexample by shifting the definition of the group in the middle of the argument. In this way, one can exclude the counterexample as not being “true”, “genuine”, or “pure” enough to be considered as part of the group in question.
To identify an appeal to authority fallacy , you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the authority cited really a qualified expert in this particular area under discussion? For example, someone who has formal education or years of experience can be an expert.
- Do experts disagree on this particular subject? If that is the case, then for almost any claim supported by one expert there will be a counterclaim that is supported by another expert. If there is no consensus, an appeal to authority is fallacious.
- Is the authority in question biased? If you suspect that an expert’s prejudice and bias could have influenced their views, then the expert is not reliable and an argument citing this expert will be fallacious.To identify an appeal to authority fallacy, you ask yourself whether the authority cited is a qualified expert in the particular area under discussion.
Appeal to authority is a fallacy when those who use it do not provide any justification to support their argument. Instead they cite someone famous who agrees with their viewpoint, but is not qualified to make reliable claims on the subject.
Appeal to authority fallacy is often convincing because of the effect authority figures have on us. When someone cites a famous person, a well-known scientist, a politician, etc. people tend to be distracted and often fail to critically examine whether the authority figure is indeed an expert in the area under discussion.
The ad populum fallacy is common in politics. One example is the following viewpoint: “The majority of our countrymen think we should have military operations overseas; therefore, it’s the right thing to do.”
This line of reasoning is fallacious, because popular acceptance of a belief or position does not amount to a justification of that belief. In other words, following the prevailing opinion without examining the underlying reasons is irrational.
The ad populum fallacy plays on our innate desire to fit in (known as “bandwagon effect”). If many people believe something, our common sense tells us that it must be true and we tend to accept it. However, in logic, the popularity of a proposition cannot serve as evidence of its truthfulness.
Ad populum (or appeal to popularity) fallacy and appeal to authority fallacy are similar in that they both conflate the validity of a belief with its popular acceptance among a specific group. However there is a key difference between the two:
- An ad populum fallacy tries to persuade others by claiming that something is true or right because a lot of people think so.
- An appeal to authority fallacy tries to persuade by claiming a group of experts believe something is true or right, therefore it must be so.
To identify a false cause fallacy , you need to carefully analyse the argument:
- When someone claims that one event directly causes another, ask if there is sufficient evidence to establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
- Ask if the claim is based merely on the chronological order or co-occurrence of the two events.
- Consider alternative possible explanations (are there other factors at play that could influence the outcome?).
By carefully analysing the reasoning, considering alternative explanations, and examining the evidence provided, you can identify a false cause fallacy and discern whether a causal claim is valid or flawed.
False cause fallacy examples include:
- Believing that wearing your lucky jersey will help your team win
- Thinking that everytime you wash your car, it rains
- Claiming that playing video games causes violent behavior
In each of these examples, we falsely assume that one event causes another without any proof.
The planning fallacy and procrastination are not the same thing. Although they both relate to time and task management, they describe different challenges:
- The planning fallacy describes our inability to correctly estimate how long a future task will take, mainly due to optimism bias and a strong focus on the best-case scenario.
- Procrastination refers to postponing a task, usually by focusing on less urgent or more enjoyable activities. This is due to psychological reasons, like fear of failure.
In other words, the planning fallacy refers to inaccurate predictions about the time we need to finish a task, while procrastination is a deliberate delay due to psychological factors.
A real-life example of the planning fallacy is the construction of the Sydney Opera House in Australia. When construction began in the late 1950s, it was initially estimated that it would be completed in four years at a cost of around $7 million.
Because the government wanted the construction to start before political opposition would stop it and while public opinion was still favorable, a number of design issues had not been carefully studied in advance. Due to this, several problems appeared immediately after the project commenced.
The construction process eventually stretched over 14 years, with the Opera House being completed in 1973 at a cost of over $100 million, significantly exceeding the initial estimates.
An example of appeal to pity fallacy is the following appeal by a student to their professor:
“Professor, please consider raising my grade. I had a terrible semester: my car broke down, my laptop got stolen, and my cat got sick.”
While these circumstances may be unfortunate, they are not directly related to the student’s academic performance.
While both the appeal to pity fallacy and red herring fallacy can serve as a distraction from the original discussion topic, they are distinct fallacies. More specifically:
- Appeal to pity fallacy attempts to evoke feelings of sympathy, pity, or guilt in an audience, so that they accept the speaker’s conclusion as truthful.
- Red herring fallacy attempts to introduce an irrelevant piece of information that diverts the audience’s attention to a different topic.
Both fallacies can be used as a tool of deception. However, they operate differently and serve distinct purposes in arguments.
Argumentum ad misericordiam (Latin for “argument from pity or misery”) is another name for appeal to pity fallacy . It occurs when someone evokes sympathy or guilt in an attempt to gain support for their claim, without providing any logical reasons to support the claim itself. Appeal to pity is a deceptive tactic of argumentation, playing on people’s emotions to sway their opinion.
Yes, it’s quite common to start a sentence with a preposition, and there’s no reason not to do so.
For example, the sentence “ To many, she was a hero” is perfectly grammatical. It could also be rephrased as “She was a hero to many”, but there’s no particular reason to do so. Both versions are fine.
Some people argue that you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition , but that “rule” can also be ignored, since it’s not supported by serious language authorities.
Yes, it’s fine to end a sentence with a preposition . The “rule” against doing so is overwhelmingly rejected by modern style guides and language authorities and is based on the rules of Latin grammar, not English.
Trying to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition often results in very unnatural phrasings. For example, turning “He knows what he’s talking about ” into “He knows about what he’s talking” or “He knows that about which he’s talking” is definitely not an improvement.
No, ChatGPT is not a credible source of factual information and can’t be cited for this purpose in academic writing . While it tries to provide accurate answers, it often gets things wrong because its responses are based on patterns, not facts and data.
Specifically, the CRAAP test for evaluating sources includes five criteria: currency , relevance , authority , accuracy , and purpose . ChatGPT fails to meet at least three of them:
- Currency: The dataset that ChatGPT was trained on only extends to 2021, making it slightly outdated.
- Authority: It’s just a language model and is not considered a trustworthy source of factual information.
- Accuracy: It bases its responses on patterns rather than evidence and is unable to cite its sources .
So you shouldn’t cite ChatGPT as a trustworthy source for a factual claim. You might still cite ChatGPT for other reasons – for example, if you’re writing a paper about AI language models, ChatGPT responses are a relevant primary source .
ChatGPT is an AI language model that was trained on a large body of text from a variety of sources (e.g., Wikipedia, books, news articles, scientific journals). The dataset only went up to 2021, meaning that it lacks information on more recent events.
It’s also important to understand that ChatGPT doesn’t access a database of facts to answer your questions. Instead, its responses are based on patterns that it saw in the training data.
So ChatGPT is not always trustworthy . It can usually answer general knowledge questions accurately, but it can easily give misleading answers on more specialist topics.
Another consequence of this way of generating responses is that ChatGPT usually can’t cite its sources accurately. It doesn’t really know what source it’s basing any specific claim on. It’s best to check any information you get from it against a credible source .
No, it is not possible to cite your sources with ChatGPT . You can ask it to create citations, but it isn’t designed for this task and tends to make up sources that don’t exist or present information in the wrong format. ChatGPT also cannot add citations to direct quotes in your text.
Instead, use a tool designed for this purpose, like the Scribbr Citation Generator .
But you can use ChatGPT for assignments in other ways, to provide inspiration, feedback, and general writing advice.
GPT stands for “generative pre-trained transformer”, which is a type of large language model: a neural network trained on a very large amount of text to produce convincing, human-like language outputs. The Chat part of the name just means “chat”: ChatGPT is a chatbot that you interact with by typing in text.
The technology behind ChatGPT is GPT-3.5 (in the free version) or GPT-4 (in the premium version). These are the names for the specific versions of the GPT model. GPT-4 is currently the most advanced model that OpenAI has created. It’s also the model used in Bing’s chatbot feature.
ChatGPT was created by OpenAI, an AI research company. It started as a nonprofit company in 2015 but became for-profit in 2019. Its CEO is Sam Altman, who also co-founded the company. OpenAI released ChatGPT as a free “research preview” in November 2022. Currently, it’s still available for free, although a more advanced premium version is available if you pay for it.
OpenAI is also known for developing DALL-E, an AI image generator that runs on similar technology to ChatGPT.
ChatGPT is owned by OpenAI, the company that developed and released it. OpenAI is a company dedicated to AI research. It started as a nonprofit company in 2015 but transitioned to for-profit in 2019. Its current CEO is Sam Altman, who also co-founded the company.
Be cautious about how you use ChatGPT content in an academic context. University policies on AI writing are still developing, so even if you “own” the content, you’re often not allowed to submit it as your own work according to your university or to publish it in a journal.
ChatGPT is a chatbot based on a large language model (LLM). These models are trained on huge datasets consisting of hundreds of billions of words of text, based on which the model learns to effectively predict natural responses to the prompts you enter.
ChatGPT was also refined through a process called reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF), which involves “rewarding” the model for providing useful answers and discouraging inappropriate answers – encouraging it to make fewer mistakes.
Essentially, ChatGPT’s answers are based on predicting the most likely responses to your inputs based on its training data, with a reward system on top of this to incentivise it to give you the most helpful answers possible. It’s a bit like an incredibly advanced version of predictive text. This is also one of ChatGPT’s limitations : because its answers are based on probabilities, they’re not always trustworthy .
OpenAI may store ChatGPT conversations for the purposes of future training. Additionally, these conversations may be monitored by human AI trainers.
Users can choose not to have their chat history saved. Unsaved chats are not used to train future models and are permanently deleted from ChatGPT’s system after 30 days.
The official ChatGPT app is currently only available on iOS devices. If you don’t have an iOS device, only use the official OpenAI website to access the tool. This helps to eliminate the potential risk of downloading fraudulent or malicious software.
ChatGPT conversations are generally used to train future models and to resolve issues/bugs. These chats may be monitored by human AI trainers.
However, users can opt out of having their conversations used for training. In these instances, chats are monitored only for potential abuse.
Yes, using ChatGPT as a conversation partner is a great way to practice a language in an interactive way.
Try using a prompt like this one:
“Please be my Spanish conversation partner. Only speak to me in Spanish. Keep your answers short (maximum 50 words). Ask me questions. Let’s start the conversation with the following topic: [conversation topic].”
Yes, there are a variety of ways to use ChatGPT for language learning , including treating it as a conversation partner, asking it for translations, and using it to generate a curriculum or practice exercises.
AI detectors aim to identify the presence of AI-generated text (e.g., from ChatGPT ) in a piece of writing, but they can’t do so with complete accuracy. In our comparison of the best AI detectors , we found that the 10 tools we tested had an average accuracy of 60%. The best free tool had 68% accuracy, the best premium tool 84%.
Because of how AI detectors work , they can never guarantee 100% accuracy, and there is always at least a small risk of false positives (human text being marked as AI-generated). Therefore, these tools should not be relied upon to provide absolute proof that a text is or isn’t AI-generated. Rather, they can provide a good indication in combination with other evidence.
Tools called AI detectors are designed to label text as AI-generated or human. AI detectors work by looking for specific characteristics in the text, such as a low level of randomness in word choice and sentence length. These characteristics are typical of AI writing, allowing the detector to make a good guess at when text is AI-generated.
But these tools can’t guarantee 100% accuracy. Check out our comparison of the best AI detectors to learn more.
You can also manually watch for clues that a text is AI-generated – for example, a very different style from the writer’s usual voice or a generic, overly polite tone.
Our research into the best summary generators (aka summarisers or summarising tools) found that the best summariser available in 2023 is the one offered by QuillBot.
While many summarisers just pick out some sentences from the text, QuillBot generates original summaries that are creative, clear, accurate, and concise. It can summarise texts of up to 1,200 words for free, or up to 6,000 with a premium subscription.
Try the QuillBot summarizer for free
Deep learning requires a large dataset (e.g., images or text) to learn from. The more diverse and representative the data, the better the model will learn to recognise objects or make predictions. Only when the training data is sufficiently varied can the model make accurate predictions or recognise objects from new data.
Deep learning models can be biased in their predictions if the training data consist of biased information. For example, if a deep learning model used for screening job applicants has been trained with a dataset consisting primarily of white male applicants, it will consistently favour this specific population over others.
A good ChatGPT prompt (i.e., one that will get you the kinds of responses you want):
- Gives the tool a role to explain what type of answer you expect from it
- Is precisely formulated and gives enough context
- Is free from bias
- Has been tested and improved by experimenting with the tool
ChatGPT prompts are the textual inputs (e.g., questions, instructions) that you enter into ChatGPT to get responses.
ChatGPT predicts an appropriate response to the prompt you entered. In general, a more specific and carefully worded prompt will get you better responses.
Yes, ChatGPT is currently available for free. You have to sign up for a free account to use the tool, and you should be aware that your data may be collected to train future versions of the model.
To sign up and use the tool for free, go to this page and click “Sign up”. You can do so with your email or with a Google account.
A premium version of the tool called ChatGPT Plus is available as a monthly subscription. It currently costs £16 and gets you access to features like GPT-4 (a more advanced version of the language model). But it’s optional: you can use the tool completely free if you’re not interested in the extra features.
You can access ChatGPT by signing up for a free account:
- Follow this link to the ChatGPT website.
- Click on “Sign up” and fill in the necessary details (or use your Google account). It’s free to sign up and use the tool.
- Type a prompt into the chat box to get started!
A ChatGPT app is also available for iOS, and an Android app is planned for the future. The app works similarly to the website, and you log in with the same account for both.
However, publishing ChatGPT outputs may have legal implications , such as copyright infringement.
Users should be aware of such issues and use ChatGPT outputs as a source of inspiration instead.
However, users should be aware of the potential legal implications of publishing ChatGPT outputs. ChatGPT responses are not always unique: different users may receive the same response.
Furthermore, ChatGPT outputs may contain copyrighted material. Users may be liable if they reproduce such material.
ChatGPT can sometimes reproduce biases from its training data , since it draws on the text it has “seen” to create plausible responses to your prompts.
For example, users have shown that it sometimes makes sexist assumptions such as that a doctor mentioned in a prompt must be a man rather than a woman. Some have also pointed out political bias in terms of which political figures the tool is willing to write positively or negatively about and which requests it refuses.
The tool is unlikely to be consistently biased toward a particular perspective or against a particular group. Rather, its responses are based on its training data and on the way you phrase your ChatGPT prompts . It’s sensitive to phrasing, so asking it the same question in different ways will result in quite different answers.
Information extraction refers to the process of starting from unstructured sources (e.g., text documents written in ordinary English) and automatically extracting structured information (i.e., data in a clearly defined format that’s easily understood by computers). It’s an important concept in natural language processing (NLP) .
For example, you might think of using news articles full of celebrity gossip to automatically create a database of the relationships between the celebrities mentioned (e.g., married, dating, divorced, feuding). You would end up with data in a structured format, something like MarriageBetween(celebrity 1 ,celebrity 2 ,date) .
The challenge involves developing systems that can “understand” the text well enough to extract this kind of data from it.
Knowledge representation and reasoning (KRR) is the study of how to represent information about the world in a form that can be used by a computer system to solve and reason about complex problems. It is an important field of artificial intelligence (AI) research.
An example of a KRR application is a semantic network, a way of grouping words or concepts by how closely related they are and formally defining the relationships between them so that a machine can “understand” language in something like the way people do.
A related concept is information extraction , concerned with how to get structured information from unstructured sources.
Yes, you can use ChatGPT to summarise text . This can help you understand complex information more easily, summarise the central argument of your own paper, or clarify your research question.
You can also use Scribbr’s free text summariser , which is designed specifically for this purpose.
Yes, you can use ChatGPT to paraphrase text to help you express your ideas more clearly, explore different ways of phrasing your arguments, and avoid repetition.
However, it’s not specifically designed for this purpose. We recommend using a specialised tool like Scribbr’s free paraphrasing tool , which will provide a smoother user experience.
Yes, you use ChatGPT to help write your college essay by having it generate feedback on certain aspects of your work (consistency of tone, clarity of structure, etc.).
However, ChatGPT is not able to adequately judge qualities like vulnerability and authenticity. For this reason, it’s important to also ask for feedback from people who have experience with college essays and who know you well. Alternatively, you can get advice using Scribbr’s essay editing service .
No, having ChatGPT write your college essay can negatively impact your application in numerous ways. ChatGPT outputs are unoriginal and lack personal insight.
Furthermore, Passing off AI-generated text as your own work is considered academically dishonest . AI detectors may be used to detect this offense, and it’s highly unlikely that any university will accept you if you are caught submitting an AI-generated admission essay.
However, you can use ChatGPT to help write your college essay during the preparation and revision stages (e.g., for brainstorming ideas and generating feedback).
ChatGPT and other AI writing tools can have unethical uses. These include:
- Reproducing biases and false information
- Using ChatGPT to cheat in academic contexts
- Violating the privacy of others by inputting personal information
However, when used correctly, AI writing tools can be helpful resources for improving your academic writing and research skills. Some ways to use ChatGPT ethically include:
- Following your institution’s guidelines
- Critically evaluating outputs
- Being transparent about how you used the tool
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When you place an order, you can specify your field of study and we’ll match you with an editor who has familiarity with this area.
However, our editors are language specialists, not academic experts in your field. Your editor’s job is not to comment on the content of your dissertation, but to improve your language and help you express your ideas as clearly and fluently as possible.
This means that your editor will understand your text well enough to give feedback on its clarity, logic and structure, but not on the accuracy or originality of its content.
Good academic writing should be understandable to a non-expert reader, and we believe that academic editing is a discipline in itself. The research, ideas and arguments are all yours – we’re here to make sure they shine!
After your document has been edited, you will receive an email with a link to download the document.
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It is also possible to accept all changes at once. However, we strongly advise you not to do so for the following reasons:
- You can learn a lot by looking at the mistakes you made.
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What this handout is about.
This handout suggests strategies for developing healthy writing habits during your dissertation journey. These habits can help you maintain your writing momentum, overcome anxiety and procrastination, and foster wellbeing during one of the most challenging times in graduate school.
Tackling a giant project
Because dissertations are, of course, big projects, it’s no surprise that planning, writing, and revising one can pose some challenges! It can help to think of your dissertation as an expanded version of a long essay: at the end of the day, it is simply another piece of writing. You’ve written your way this far into your degree, so you’ve got the skills! You’ll develop a great deal of expertise on your topic, but you may still be a novice with this genre and writing at this length. Remember to give yourself some grace throughout the project. As you begin, it’s helpful to consider two overarching strategies throughout the process.
First, take stock of how you learn and your own writing processes. What strategies have worked and have not worked for you? Why? What kind of learner and writer are you? Capitalize on what’s working and experiment with new strategies when something’s not working. Keep in mind that trying out new strategies can take some trial-and-error, and it’s okay if a new strategy that you try doesn’t work for you. Consider why it may not have been the best for you, and use that reflection to consider other strategies that might be helpful to you.
Second, break the project into manageable chunks. At every stage of the process, try to identify specific tasks, set small, feasible goals, and have clear, concrete strategies for achieving each goal. Small victories can help you establish and maintain the momentum you need to keep yourself going.
Below, we discuss some possible strategies to keep you moving forward in the dissertation process.
Pre-dissertation planning strategies
Get familiar with the Graduate School’s Thesis and Dissertation Resources .
Learn how to use a citation-manager and a synthesis matrix to keep track of all of your source information.
Skim other dissertations from your department, program, and advisor. Enlist the help of a librarian or ask your advisor for a list of recent graduates whose work you can look up. Seeing what other people have done to earn their PhD can make the project much less abstract and daunting. A concrete sense of expectations will help you envision and plan. When you know what you’ll be doing, try to find a dissertation from your department that is similar enough that you can use it as a reference model when you run into concerns about formatting, structure, level of detail, etc.
Think carefully about your committee . Ideally, you’ll be able to select a group of people who work well with you and with each other. Consult with your advisor about who might be good collaborators for your project and who might not be the best fit. Consider what classes you’ve taken and how you “vibe” with those professors or those you’ve met outside of class. Try to learn what you can about how they’ve worked with other students. Ask about feedback style, turnaround time, level of involvement, etc., and imagine how that would work for you.
Sketch out a sensible drafting order for your project. Be open to writing chapters in “the wrong order” if it makes sense to start somewhere other than the beginning. You could begin with the section that seems easiest for you to write to gain momentum.
Design a productivity alliance with your advisor . Talk with them about potential projects and a reasonable timeline. Discuss how you’ll work together to keep your work moving forward. You might discuss having a standing meeting to discuss ideas or drafts or issues (bi-weekly? monthly?), your advisor’s preferences for drafts (rough? polished?), your preferences for what you’d like feedback on (early or late drafts?), reasonable turnaround time for feedback (a week? two?), and anything else you can think of to enter the collaboration mindfully.
Design a productivity alliance with your colleagues . Dissertation writing can be lonely, but writing with friends, meeting for updates over your beverage of choice, and scheduling non-working social times can help you maintain healthy energy. See our tips on accountability strategies for ideas to support each other.
Write when you’re most productive. When do you have the most energy? Focus? Creativity? When are you most able to concentrate, either because of your body rhythms or because there are fewer demands on your time? Once you determine the hours that are most productive for you (you may need to experiment at first), try to schedule those hours for dissertation work. See the collection of time management tools and planning calendars on the Learning Center’s Tips & Tools page to help you think through the possibilities. If at all possible, plan your work schedule, errands and chores so that you reserve your productive hours for the dissertation.
Put your writing time firmly on your calendar . Guard your writing time diligently. You’ll probably be invited to do other things during your productive writing times, but do your absolute best to say no and to offer alternatives. No one would hold it against you if you said no because you’re teaching a class at that time—and you wouldn’t feel guilty about saying no. Cultivating the same hard, guilt-free boundaries around your writing time will allow you preserve the time you need to get this thing done!
Develop habits that foster balance . You’ll have to work very hard to get this dissertation finished, but you can do that without sacrificing your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Think about how you can structure your work hours most efficiently so that you have time for a healthy non-work life. It can be something as small as limiting the time you spend chatting with fellow students to a few minutes instead of treating the office or lab as a space for extensive socializing. Also see above for protecting your time.
Write in spaces where you can be productive. Figure out where you work well and plan to be there during your dissertation work hours. Do you get more done on campus or at home? Do you prefer quiet and solitude, like in a library carrel? Do you prefer the buzz of background noise, like in a coffee shop? Are you aware of the UNC Libraries’ list of places to study ? If you get “stuck,” don’t be afraid to try a change of scenery. The variety may be just enough to get your brain going again.
Work where you feel comfortable . Wherever you work, make sure you have whatever lighting, furniture, and accessories you need to keep your posture and health in good order. The University Health and Safety office offers guidelines for healthy computer work . You’re more likely to spend time working in a space that doesn’t physically hurt you. Also consider how you could make your work space as inviting as possible. Some people find that it helps to have pictures of family and friends on their desk—sort of a silent “cheering section.” Some people work well with neutral colors around them, and others prefer bright colors that perk up the space. Some people like to put inspirational quotations in their workspace or encouraging notes from friends and family. You might try reconfiguring your work space to find a décor that helps you be productive.
Elicit helpful feedback from various people at various stages . You might be tempted to keep your writing to yourself until you think it’s brilliant, but you can lower the stakes tremendously if you make eliciting feedback a regular part of your writing process. Your friends can feel like a safer audience for ideas or drafts in their early stages. Someone outside your department may provide interesting perspectives from their discipline that spark your own thinking. See this handout on getting feedback for productive moments for feedback, the value of different kinds of feedback providers, and strategies for eliciting what’s most helpful to you. Make this a recurring part of your writing process. Schedule it to help you hit deadlines.
Change the writing task . When you don’t feel like writing, you can do something different or you can do something differently. Make a list of all the little things you need to do for a given section of the dissertation, no matter how small. Choose a task based on your energy level. Work on Grad School requirements: reformat margins, work on bibliography, and all that. Work on your acknowledgements. Remember all the people who have helped you and the great ideas they’ve helped you develop. You may feel more like working afterward. Write a part of your dissertation as a letter or email to a good friend who would care. Sometimes setting aside the academic prose and just writing it to a buddy can be liberating and help you get the ideas out there. You can make it sound smart later. Free-write about why you’re stuck, and perhaps even about how sick and tired you are of your dissertation/advisor/committee/etc. Venting can sometimes get you past the emotions of writer’s block and move you toward creative solutions. Open a separate document and write your thoughts on various things you’ve read. These may or may note be coherent, connected ideas, and they may or may not make it into your dissertation. They’re just notes that allow you to think things through and/or note what you want to revisit later, so it’s perfectly fine to have mistakes, weird organization, etc. Just let your mind wander on paper.
Develop habits that foster productivity and may help you develop a productive writing model for post-dissertation writing . Since dissertations are very long projects, cultivating habits that will help support your work is important. You might check out Helen Sword’s work on behavioral, artisanal, social, and emotional habits to help you get a sense of where you are in your current habits. You might try developing “rituals” of work that could help you get more done. Lighting incense, brewing a pot of a particular kind of tea, pulling out a favorite pen, and other ritualistic behaviors can signal your brain that “it is time to get down to business.” You can critically think about your work methods—not only about what you like to do, but also what actually helps you be productive. You may LOVE to listen to your favorite band while you write, for example, but if you wind up playing air guitar half the time instead of writing, it isn’t a habit worth keeping.
The point is, figure out what works for you and try to do it consistently. Your productive habits will reinforce themselves over time. If you find yourself in a situation, however, that doesn’t match your preferences, don’t let it stop you from working on your dissertation. Try to be flexible and open to experimenting. You might find some new favorites!
Schedule a regular activity with other people that involves your dissertation. Set up a coworking date with your accountability buddies so you can sit and write together. Organize a chapter swap. Make regular appointments with your advisor. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that you’ll feel good about showing up for–and will make you feel good about showing up for others.
Try writing in sprints . Many writers have discovered that the “Pomodoro technique” (writing for 25 minutes and taking a 5 minute break) boosts their productivity by helping them set small writing goals, focus intently for short periods, and give their brains frequent rests. See how one dissertation writer describes it in this blog post on the Pomodoro technique .
Quit while you’re ahead . Sometimes it helps to stop for the day when you’re on a roll. If you’ve got a great idea that you’re developing and you know where you want to go next, write “Next, I want to introduce x, y, and z and explain how they’re related—they all have the same characteristics of 1 and 2, and that clinches my theory of Q.” Then save the file and turn off the computer, or put down the notepad. When you come back tomorrow, you will already know what to say next–and all that will be left is to say it. Hopefully, the momentum will carry you forward.
Write your dissertation in single-space . When you need a boost, double space it and be impressed with how many pages you’ve written.
Set feasible goals–and celebrate the achievements! Setting and achieving smaller, more reasonable goals ( SMART goals ) gives you success, and that success can motivate you to focus on the next small step…and the next one.
Give yourself rewards along the way . When you meet a writing goal, reward yourself with something you normally wouldn’t have or do–this can be anything that will make you feel good about your accomplishment.
Make the act of writing be its own reward . For example, if you love a particular coffee drink from your favorite shop, save it as a special drink to enjoy during your writing time.
Try giving yourself “pre-wards” —positive experiences that help you feel refreshed and recharged for the next time you write. You don’t have to “earn” these with prior work, but you do have to commit to doing the work afterward.
Commit to doing something you don’t want to do if you don’t achieve your goal. Some people find themselves motivated to work harder when there’s a negative incentive. What would you most like to avoid? Watching a movie you hate? Donating to a cause you don’t support? Whatever it is, how can you ensure enforcement? Who can help you stay accountable?
Build your confidence . It is not uncommon to feel “imposter phenomenon” during the course of writing your dissertation. If you start to feel this way, it can help to take a few minutes to remember every success you’ve had along the way. You’ve earned your place, and people have confidence in you for good reasons. It’s also helpful to remember that every one of the brilliant people around you is experiencing the same lack of confidence because you’re all in a new context with new tasks and new expectations. You’re not supposed to have it all figured out. You’re supposed to have uncertainties and questions and things to learn. Remember that they wouldn’t have accepted you to the program if they weren’t confident that you’d succeed. See our self-scripting handout for strategies to turn these affirmations into a self-script that you repeat whenever you’re experiencing doubts or other negative thoughts. You can do it!
Appreciate your successes . Not meeting a goal isn’t a failure–and it certainly doesn’t make you a failure. It’s an opportunity to figure out why you didn’t meet the goal. It might simply be that the goal wasn’t achievable in the first place. See the SMART goal handout and think through what you can adjust. Even if you meant to write 1500 words, focus on the success of writing 250 or 500 words that you didn’t have before.
Remember your “why.” There are a whole host of reasons why someone might decide to pursue a PhD, both personally and professionally. Reflecting on what is motivating to you can rekindle your sense of purpose and direction.
Get outside support . Sometimes it can be really helpful to get an outside perspective on your work and anxieties as a way of grounding yourself. Participating in groups like the Dissertation Support group through CAPS and the Dissertation Boot Camp can help you see that you’re not alone in the challenges. You might also choose to form your own writing support group with colleagues inside or outside your department.
Understand and manage your procrastination . When you’re writing a long dissertation, it can be easy to procrastinate! For instance, you might put off writing because the house “isn’t clean enough” or because you’re not in the right “space” (mentally or physically) to write, so you put off writing until the house is cleaned and everything is in its right place. You may have other ways of procrastinating. It can be helpful to be self-aware of when you’re procrastinating and to consider why you are procrastinating. It may be that you’re anxious about writing the perfect draft, for example, in which case you might consider: how can I focus on writing something that just makes progress as opposed to being “perfect”? There are lots of different ways of managing procrastination; one way is to make a schedule of all the things you already have to do (when you absolutely can’t write) to help you visualize those chunks of time when you can. See this handout on procrastination for more strategies and tools for managing procrastination.
Your topic, your advisor, and your committee: Making them work for you
By the time you’ve reached this stage, you have probably already defended a dissertation proposal, chosen an advisor, and begun working with a committee. Sometimes, however, those three elements can prove to be major external sources of frustration. So how can you manage them to help yourself be as productive as possible?
Managing your topic
Remember that your topic is not carved in stone . The research and writing plan suggested in your dissertation proposal was your best vision of the project at that time, but topics evolve as the research and writing progress. You might need to tweak your research question a bit to reduce or adjust the scope, you might pare down certain parts of the project or add others. You can discuss your thoughts on these adjustments with your advisor at your check ins.
Think about variables that could be cut down and how changes would affect the length, depth, breadth, and scholarly value of your study. Could you cut one or two experiments, case studies, regions, years, theorists, or chapters and still make a valuable contribution or, even more simply, just finish?
Talk to your advisor about any changes you might make . They may be quite sympathetic to your desire to shorten an unwieldy project and may offer suggestions.
Look at other dissertations from your department to get a sense of what the chapters should look like. Reverse-outline a few chapters so you can see if there’s a pattern of typical components and how information is sequenced. These can serve as models for your own dissertation. See this video on reverse outlining to see the technique.
Managing your advisor
Embrace your evolving status . At this stage in your graduate career, you should expect to assume some independence. By the time you finish your project, you will know more about your subject than your committee does. The student/teacher relationship you have with your advisor will necessarily change as you take this big step toward becoming their colleague.
Revisit the alliance . If the interaction with your advisor isn’t matching the original agreement or the original plan isn’t working as well as it could, schedule a conversation to revisit and redesign your working relationship in a way that could work for both of you.
Be specific in your feedback requests . Tell your advisor what kind of feedback would be most helpful to you. Sometimes an advisor can be giving unhelpful or discouraging feedback without realizing it. They might make extensive sentence-level edits when you really need conceptual feedback, or vice-versa, if you only ask generally for feedback. Letting your advisor know, very specifically, what kinds of responses will be helpful to you at different stages of the writing process can help your advisor know how to help you.
Don’t hide . Advisors can be most helpful if they know what you are working on, what problems you are experiencing, and what progress you have made. If you haven’t made the progress you were hoping for, it only makes it worse if you avoid talking to them. You rob yourself of their expertise and support, and you might start a spiral of guilt, shame, and avoidance. Even if it’s difficult, it may be better to be candid about your struggles.
Talk to other students who have the same advisor . You may find that they have developed strategies for working with your advisor that could help you communicate more effectively with them.
If you have recurring problems communicating with your advisor , you can make a change. You could change advisors completely, but a less dramatic option might be to find another committee member who might be willing to serve as a “secondary advisor” and give you the kinds of feedback and support that you may need.
Managing your committee
Design the alliance . Talk with your committee members about how much they’d like to be involved in your writing process, whether they’d like to see chapter drafts or the complete draft, how frequently they’d like to meet (or not), etc. Your advisor can guide you on how committees usually work, but think carefully about how you’d like the relationship to function too.
Keep in regular contact with your committee , even if they don’t want to see your work until it has been approved by your advisor. Let them know about fellowships you receive, fruitful research excursions, the directions your thinking is taking, and the plans you have for completion. In short, keep them aware that you are working hard and making progress. Also, look for other ways to get facetime with your committee even if it’s not a one-on-one meeting. Things like speaking with them at department events, going to colloquiums or other events they organize and/or attend regularly can help you develop a relationship that could lead to other introductions and collaborations as your career progresses.
Share your struggles . Too often, we only talk to our professors when we’re making progress and hide from them the rest of the time. If you share your frustrations or setbacks with a knowledgeable committee member, they might offer some very helpful suggestions for overcoming the obstacles you face—after all, your committee members have all written major research projects before, and they have probably solved similar problems in their own work.
Stay true to yourself . Sometimes, you just don’t entirely gel with your committee, but that’s okay. It’s important not to get too hung up on how your committee does (or doesn’t) relate to you. Keep your eye on the finish line and keep moving forward.
Graduate School Diversity Initiatives : Groups and events to support the success of students identifying with an affinity group.
Graduate School Career Well : Extensive professional development resources related to writing, research, networking, job search, etc.
CAPS Therapy Groups : CAPS offers a variety of support groups, including a dissertation support group.
Advice on Research and Writing : Lots of links on writing, public speaking, dissertation management, burnout, and more.
How to be a Good Graduate Student: Marie DesJardins’ essay talks about several phases of the graduate experience, including the dissertation. She discusses some helpful hints for staying motivated and doing consistent work.
Preparing Future Faculty : This page, a joint project of the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the Council of Graduate Schools, and the Pew Charitable Trusts, explains the Preparing Future Faculty Programs and includes links and suggestions that may help graduate students and their advisors think constructively about the process of graduate education as a step toward faculty responsibilities.
Dissertation Tips : Kjell Erik Rudestam, Ph.D. and Rae Newton, Ph.D., authors of Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process.
The ABD Survival Guide Newsletter : Information about the ABD Survival Guide newsletter (which is free) and other services from E-Coach (many of which are not free).
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How Long Does it Take to Write a Dissertation?
Published by steve tippins on july 11, 2019 july 11, 2019.
Last Updated on: 30th August 2022, 04:34 am
How long does it take to write a dissertation? The most accurate (and least helpful) answer is, it depends. Since that’s probably not the answer you’re looking for, I’ll use the rest of the article to address the realities of how long it takes to write a dissertation.
How Long Does It Take to Write a Dissertation?
Based on my experience, writing your dissertation should take somewhere between 13-20 months. These are average numbers based upon the scores of doctoral students that I have worked with over the years, and they generally hold true.
I have seen people take less time and more time, but I believe that with concerted effort, the 13-20 month timeframe is reasonable.
“Based on my experience, writing your dissertation should take somewhere between 13-20 months.”
Once you hit the dissertation stage, some schools require a minimum number of hours in the dissertation area before you can graduate. Many schools require the equivalent of one year of dissertation credits to graduate.
So, even if you can finish your dissertation in three months, you will still have to pay for nine more months of dissertation credits before you can graduate. However, unless research and writing is your superpower, I wouldn’t worry about having to pay extra tuition.
But this requirement does offer some insight into how long it takes to write a dissertation. Based on this requirement, it’s reasonable to expect that writing your dissertation will take a year of more. This is consistent with my experience.
However, this timeframe is based on several assumptions. First, I am assuming that you are continually working towards finishing your dissertation. This means that no family emergencies, funding conundrums, or work issues get in the way of completing. Second, there are no major changes in your dissertation committee. Third, you will have access to the data that you need.
Assuming these assumptions hold true, this article should give you a general idea of how long it might take to write your dissertation.
How Long Does it Take to Write A Dissertation? Stage-By-Stage
Let’s break down each stage of the dissertation writing process and how long it takes.
This is the hardest one to judge, as this is where you lay the groundwork for the rest of your dissertation and get buy-in from committee members. Normally this takes from 3-6 months. Not all of this is writing time, though–much of it is spent refining your topic and your approach.
Why does this stage take so long? For many people, starting to express themselves using an academic voice can take time. This can hold up the review process as your committee members ask for writing-related revisions before they even get to evaluating the content. Don’t worry, once you learn the academic language things will start to flow more easily.
One common mistake students make is lack of specificity, both in their writing in general and in their topic focus.
Proposal (Chapters 1-3)
Chapter 1 is often an expansion of your Prospectus. However, you’ll be expected to develop your ideas more and have even more specificity on things like your research question and methodology, so don’t underestimate how long this chapter will take.
Chapter 2 can take some time as you will be digging deep into the literature but I think this can be done in 3-4 months. One caution, some people, and committees, like to start with Chapter 2 so that you are immersed in the literature before completing Chapters 1 and 3. Regardless of where you start, 3-4 months is a good estimate.
Chapter 3 requires an in-depth explanation of your methodology. I suggest working closely with your Chair on this one to avoid multiple submissions and revisions. Get clear on your methodology and make sure you and your chair are on the same page before you write, and continue to check in with your chair, if possible, throughout the process.
While this step can be full of details and require several iterations it seems that allowing 2 months is sufficient. Most schools have an IRB form that must be submitted. To save time you can usually start filling out the form while your committee is reviewing your Proposal.
This step varies a great deal. If you are using readily available secondary data this can take a week but if you are interviewing hard to get individuals or have trouble finding a sufficient number of people for your sample this can take 4 months or more. I think 1-4 months should be appropriate
Chapters 4 and 5
These two chapters are the easiest to write as in Chapter 4 you are reporting your results and in Chapter 5 you explain what the results mean. I believe that these two chapters can be written in 2 months.
Defense and Completion
You will need to defend your dissertation and then go through all of the university requirements to finalize the completion of your dissertation. I would allow 2 months for this process.
Variables That Affect How Long It Takes to Write A Dissertation
When students say something like, “I’m going to finish my dissertation in three months,” they likely aren’t considering all of the variables besides the actual writing. Even if you’re a fast writer, you’ll have to wait on your committee’s comments,
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Many schools have response times for committee members. This is important when looking at how long it takes to finish a dissertation. For example, it you have two committee members and they each get up to 2 weeks for a review, it can take up to a month to get a document reviewed, each time you submit. So, plan for these periods of time when thinking about how long that it will take you.
How long it takes to write your dissertation also depends on your ability to address your committee’s comments thoroughly. It’s not uncommon for a committee member to send a draft back several times, even if their comments were addressed adequately, because they notice new issues each time they read it. Save yourself considerable time by making sure you address their comments fully, thus avoiding unnecessary time waiting to hear the same feedback.
This is the biggest variable in the dissertation model. How dedicated are you to the process? How much actual time do you have? How many outside interests/requirements do you have? Are you easily distracted? How clean does your workspace need to be? (This may seem like a strange thing to discuss, but many people need to work in a clean space and can get very interested in cleaning if they have to write). Are you in a full-time program or in a part time program? Are you holding down a job? Do you have children?
All of these things will affect how much time you have to put into writing–or rather, how disciplined you need to be about making time to write.
One of the things that can influence how long it takes to write your dissertation is your committee. Choose your committee wisely. If you work under the assumption that the only good dissertation is a done dissertation, then you want a committee that will be helpful and not trying to prove themselves on your back. When you find a Chair that you can work with ask her/him which of their colleagues they work well with (it’s also worth finding out who they don’t work well with).
Find out how they like to receive material to review. Some members like to see pieces of chapters and some like to see completed documents. Once you know their preferences, you can efficiently submit what they want when they want it.
How Long Does it Take to Write a Dissertation? Summary
Barring unforeseen events, the normal time range for finishing a dissertation seems to be 13-19 months, which can be rounded to one to one and a half years. If you are proactive and efficient, you can usually be at the shorter end of the time range.
That means using downtime to do things like changing the tense of your approved Proposal from future tense to past tense and completing things like you Abstract and Acknowledgement sections before final approval.
I hope that you can be efficient in this process and finish as quickly as possible. Remember, “the only good dissertation is a done dissertation.”
On that note, I offer coaching services to help students through the dissertation writing process, as well as editing services for those who need help with their writing.
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Steve Tippins, PhD, has thrived in academia for over thirty years. He continues to love teaching in addition to coaching recent PhD graduates as well as students writing their dissertations. Learn more about his dissertation coaching and career coaching services. Book a Free Consultation with Steve Tippins
What makes a good research question.
Creating a good research question is vital to successfully completing your dissertation. Here are some tips that will help you formulate a good research question. What Makes a Good Research Question? These are the three Read more…
When it comes to writing a dissertation, one of the most fraught questions asked by graduate students is about dissertation structure. A dissertation is the lengthiest writing project that many graduate students ever undertake, and Read more…
Choosing a Dissertation Chair
Choosing your dissertation chair is one of the most important decisions that you’ll make in graduate school. Your dissertation chair will in many ways shape your experience as you undergo the most rigorous intellectual challenge Read more…
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How to Write a Dissertation in Ten Days or Less
Published by Owen Ingram at January 27th, 2023 , Revised On October 9, 2023
Can you Complete your Dissertation in Ten Days?
Most students struggle at some point with deadlines, and we regularly get asked questions such as ‘Can you write a dissertation in a month?’ and ‘Can you write a dissertation in three days?’ We do not judge why you are in this situation, we’re here to help you get your dissertation done. The answer to the questions is yes. But of course, the less time you have, the more pressure you are under.
How Long Does it Take to Write a 10,000-word Dissertation?
This is a common question, as is “How long does it take to write a 7,000-word dissertation?” There is no figure in hours or days that answers this; it differs for everyone. “Is it possible to write a 10,000-word dissertation in two days?” Well, yes. But you will only find out if you can do it when the two days are up. You need to get started immediately, follow our advice and use our dissertation guides . But we are not claiming it’s easy.
Can I Complete my Dissertation in 3 Days? How Fast do I Need to Write?
If you have to produce 10,000 words in ten days, you have to average 1,000 a day. If you have two days, then 5,000 per day and if you work on it for 12 hours each of those days, you need to turn out 417 words per hour. A tall order, but it can be done. Do not let panic or pressure overwhelm you; and remember, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for help . You can stop asking your friends ‘How quickly can you write a dissertation?’ You are going to show them how quickly.
Can I Really Produce 10,000 Words in a Week?
How long d oes it take to write a 10k word dissertation? To give you some perspective, most people speak this many words in a day with no effort. You probably have more than enough words in your notes. It will make a big difference if you have your research project results analysis done already. If this is the case, you ‘only’ need to write them up. If you already made a good start but you are having trouble progressing, maybe you just need to focus on writing up your findings or certain chapters or areas.
You might think your notes are messy and disorganised or that they lack the right academic sound. Regardless, do not think of this task as producing all 10,000 words, rather, it is laying out your notes, organising them, and giving them a more formal, academic tone.
Can you Write a Dissertation in a Day?
Can you write a dissertation in a day? This is surely the most demanding academic writing challenge. It means 100% focus and work: Type up your notes, ensuring they have an academic/formal tone to them. Keep going, section by section and as it grows, you will start to see your dissertation appear.
Preparing to Write your Dissertation Fast
Prepare to start work.
You know your subject well, and you have probably written many essays on it by now. The main difference is that this assignment is longer. So, let’s get started. You need to prepare well; normal life can be suspended for the time you will spend working. The first preparations to make concern you and where you are going to work.
Distractions and Interruptions
Turn off your phone and avoid TV. If you are really serious, you will really do it. When you procrastinate or allow yourself to be distracted, what do you do? Gaming? Staring out of the window? Baking? Make these things difficult or impossible to do. Be aware of something called productive procrastination. This is when you do something productive but it’s not what you are meant to be doing. Do not mistake activity for productivity. When you find yourself vacuuming around your desk, snap out of it.
I’m Writing my Dissertation all Week. Quiet, Please
Some people can work with music playing, and some need silence. Listening to words, whether sung or spoken, can distract you when producing text. If there is something that will help you, such as instrumental music, use it. Make sure everyone knows what you are doing and ask them to leave you alone (except for bringing you food and drinks). Can someone else handle your duties and obligations for a while?
Create a Work Area
Set up a workplace and de-clutter it. Remove irrelevant books and anything you can fiddle with. Gather all your materials: this means textbooks, notes on paper and in digital form. Your research is likely over, but you will need everything to hand.
Give all materials specific places and keep them there. As you use them, you will remember where they are. Putting them down in different places will mean time lost looking for them, which will add frustration to the work.
Do All of your Legwork Before Starting
Getting up and walking away from the desk unnecessarily uses time you do not have. Do not let shopping trips interrupt your work. If you do not have enough food and supplies in before starting, get them first. Certain foods/snacks can help get you through, maybe you can suspend your usual health regime for a while. You need to feel comfortable in this. But do not overdo the caffeine or sugar .
Make a Work Schedule
Look ahead at your available time and make a schedule. If you work 21 hours on the first day, you might find yourself burnt out the next day. Sleep when you have to, work when you feel good. How long can you realistically work each day? Be careful not to create an unrealistic schedule, you will not keep up to it and will become demoralised. Remember that writing the dissertation is only 1% of your entire course; it is acceptable to get help at this late stage.
Where to Start
Start here – write an outline.
As well as a work schedule, you need a dissertation structure . You may be tempted to think that making an outline for your dissertation is extra work, that it would be quicker to just start writing. That would be like going on a driving tour to every European country with no plan. Without regular destinations, you will drift about aimlessly.
You can save time by focussing only on the main parts of the dissertation. If you run out of time, it will be better if the parts not completed are the less significant ones, although ideally nothing should be left unfinished. This is an exercise in prioritisation: Write the most valuable, points-scoring parts first.
Sacrifices May be Necessary
With a tight time limit, you might have to make sacrifices. People with the luxury of time will spend a day or more on just the table of contents or references section . You might not have this option. The focus has to be on the rapid production of text and its quality; things like detailed formatting and page layout will be secondary.
Prioritising your Order of Work
In the detailed plan below, skip the greyed-out parts to start with. You can use this to create an outline by adding a note under each part of the different sections stating what you are going to include there. This is where the job starts to appear less daunting; 10,000 now becomes 2,000 for this section, 1,000 for that section… The mountain becomes a set of smaller hills. And the introduction section can be written after the body, it is easier and quicker that way.
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Writing the Dissertation Body
When you have an outline, you need to put some meat on those bones and build a body. Working from start to finish may be best (skipping the introduction), but the order you work in is your choice. If your notes are not in order, a quick way to identify notes that apply to the different sections is to mark them with different coloured highlighters as in the table above. This will draw your eyes to the relevant notes quickly. You can do this on your computer screen by highlighting similarly.
After the main body, the introduction is next. This will be easier to write because all the information will be fresh in your mind. What next? The appendices or the parts at the front? This should be your decision based on remaining time.
Good Practices for Writing your Dissertation
Ignore spelling and grammar.
Do not pay attention to spelling, grammar, and language rules at this stage. Attending to spelling and grammatical details as you work will distract you and spoil your flow. Spelling and grammatical mistakes do not matter in a work in progress. You can turn checking functions off until you reach the editing and proofreading stage. Concentrate only on writing up your notes, do not switch between tasks.
Attend to One Part of the Dissertation at a Time
Constantly switching between research, writing, and tidying up the reference section is inefficient. Each time you switch, your mind needs time to catch up then settle into that activity. By focussing, we mean you should do all the analysis in one session until it is finished, all the writing of major sections in another, and sorting out the reference section can be done in one sitting. Less switching saves time and usually turns out a better job.
Take Regular Short Breaks
Save and Back up Routinely
When you leave the desk, click to save your work. Also do this after any burst of writing, and at regular intervals. Back up your work on another drive too. This is one of the most important things you will write. Treat it as the valuable document that it is.
For when you resume work, make sure you know where you left off, highlight it if that helps. When you come back to your work the next day, sometimes you can’t remember where you were; it can be difficult to resume the same line of thought. A habit of Ernest Hemingway was to leave an unfinished sentence to come back to so that he could…
Have a Strict but Simple Method of Noting Sources
Every time you quote or paraphrase something, note the source. Use a simple referencing technique while writing that does not demand much time. One such method is for the first in-text reference, just put (1) after the quote, use (2) for the second and so on. Start a list of sources that correspond to each number. You could highlight the numbers in a specific colour so you can attend to them later and not miss any. Missing just one reference, even accidentally, will still count as plagiarism . Before you start, be absolutely clear whether you are including a reference list or bibliography . Completing your list according to the required style ( Harvard , Chicago, etc.) can be done in one session.
Get a Qualified Appraisal of your Work
You will need someone to read your finished work. Having it read by someone unfamiliar with the subject and the structure of dissertations will be unproductive. Ideally it should be someone who understands the topic. And these days that person need not be physically present; you can email your draft to someone to get an opinion on changes & improvements .
Writing your Dissertation in Days
We are not going to sugar-coat the task of producing a dissertation in days rather than months and weeks. It is not easy, and regardless of what caused you to have such a short time remaining, it puts all your work in jeopardy. When someone asks us “Can I complete my dissertation in three days?” we have to answer yes, you can, but… It depends on the individual, how much work you have done so far, your personal circumstances, your other obligations, how much of those three days can you dedicate to the task.
How to Write a Dissertation Fast Checklist
Frequently asked questions, can i write my dissertation in under a week.
The short answer is yes but there are several factors to consider that may help or hinder you. Few people have the support around them to allow them to drop all commitments and focus on just one task. Also, few people will have taken on such a large a task in such a short time before, and might become overwhelmed.
The dissertation is where your study course culminates; all the time, effort, and expense you have invested should come to fruition here. This might not be a good time for maybe I can do it . Maybe you can make it to the bank before it closes. No? Oh, well, you can go tomorrow. Maybe I can write 10,000 words in a week. If the answer is no, the consequences are more serious.
This guide and all the other dissertation guides on this site are here to help you with every aspect of dissertation writing. You can also contact us directly through the chat box or Whatsapp.
I have to write my dissertation in three days. Where do I start?
Start by getting organised. Gather all the materials you need, create a work area, get rid of distractions, and if possible, delegate any obligations or chores to someone else for the duration. Then read this guide from the start. If you need further help when you are deep into the writing, just ask us. We exist just for this purpose. Our team and expert writers have handled almost every kind of dissertation emergency.
Can I do my research, analysis, and write my dissertation in ten days?
The more time you have, the better. But carrying out the research and analysis in such a short time will be very demanding. It can be done though; our team can do this in under a week. You would need a great level of support around you and an impressive level of determination and focus. If you supply the determination, we can provide the support .
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How Long Does It Take to Write an Education Dissertation? Guide to Sharing Research Findings
Writing a dissertation is the culmination of a doctoral education program . It is an exacting task, calling for dedication and perseverance, especially when you experience time constraints due to work or family obligations. Gaining a clear understanding of how long it takes to write an education dissertation and carefully planning your dissertation process—from carving out time in your busy daily schedule to setting achievement milestones to keep a steady pace—are crucial steps to earning a doctoral degree.
It takes longer than a year for most PhD students to complete a first draft of a dissertation. Students typically spend one to two years conducting research and reviewing literature while they complete doctoral courses before tackling a dissertation draft. The writing process typically takes a year or two beyond that. It can take five or more years for PhD students who get stuck in research phases, experience writer’s block, or have a high level of distractions or time constraints. The average time for students to complete all requirements for a doctorate in the US is nearly six years, according to U.S. News & World Report .
The Education Dissertation Timeline
About how long will the dissertation process take? Many factors can influence the dissertation timeline length, such as:
- Job status : Doctoral students working in full- or part-time positions will need to be diligent about dedicating time to their dissertation work.
- Academic support : PhD students with strong support from faculty members, mentors, and peers are likely to find greater success in keeping the dissertation process on track.
- Topic selection : An initial dissertation topic’s success can keep a timeline on track. When doctoral students change a dissertation’s focus midstream, it typically adds extra research time.
- Time management : Writing a dissertation takes careful planning and scheduling. When students stick to their schedules and work efficiently, they’re more likely to complete their dissertations sooner.
The Dissertation Process
Before doctoral students can submit a dissertation proposal, they must complete all of their doctorate-level coursework and pass their comprehensive exams. This designates them as doctoral candidates. However, just because a student hasn’t achieved candidate status does not mean they can’t or shouldn’t start the dissertation process. On the contrary, students are expected to identify their dissertation topic and start preparing for the proposal while they are engaged in graduate coursework.
Many of the classes offered in a Doctorate of Education (EdD) program will help students explore potential topics and research techniques. For example, American University’s online EdD program includes three weekend residency sessions during which students connect with faculty and participate in workshops to help them develop their dissertations. The program also includes two course sessions on applied research methods to familiarize students with qualitative and quantitative research methods.
The dissertation process includes the following steps:
1. Draft and Defend a Proposal
The dissertation proposal may include the first few chapters of the dissertation. Students must be prepared to defend the proposal to the dissertation committee, which will evaluate the topic itself and approve, deny, or request revisions to the proposal. Many education dissertation topics relate to leadership strategies, literacy, or future learning trends.
2. Conduct Research
This stage can include conducting surveys and interviews on the chosen education topic. Students look for evidence to support their hypotheses, take notes, and conduct interviews along the way.
3. Conduct Literature Review
Students need to gather a broad range of articles and books that are pertinent to their dissertation topic. Resources cited in the dissertation are included in a bibliography.
4. Create an Outline
Structuring research and data in an outline helps students stay focused and organized during the dissertation writing stages.
5. Write the Dissertation
The elements of a dissertation paper can include abstract, introduction, background, hypothesis, literature review, methodology, conclusion, and bibliography sections. Universities often provide templates and style guides to help students format their dissertations correctly.
Tips for Writing a Dissertation
Your dissertation strategy should take into account your unique strengths and weaknesses. If you know that you are most productive in the morning, for instance, schedule your research and writing time for early in the day. To successfully navigate the dissertation process, you should:
Get familiar with the dissertation process before you begin writing. Look at dissertation samples and guideline documents to get a firm grasp on formatting and style. Keep yourself on track by setting milestone deadlines.
Don’t put off the writing process. It’s easy to find excuses not to write, such as having a busy schedule or feeling that your argument isn’t fully formed. But sitting down to write every day, for at least two hours (with at least one break), can help you find your voice and establish your structure through experimentation.
Don’t Get Discouraged
Writing a dissertation can be a trial-and-error process. You will have to be self-reliant in many of the independent learning stages, including finding quality research sources and conducting your own studies. Don’t give in to self-doubt when you hit a roadblock and remember not to sacrifice your health and well-being by overstressing about your progress.
Find a Good Mentor
Students should feel comfortable checking in with a supervisor or committee member when they need support, advice, or encouragement. Making sure that you have an engaged and enthusiastic mentor can make a big difference in the dissertation process. Some mentors encourage regular meetings to keep in touch. Connecting with a group of peers who are also drafting dissertations can give you feedback as well. In addition, university libraries often support dissertation work through research and writing labs.
Sharing Your Research Findings
Once you’ve determined how long it will take you to write your education dissertation, consider how actively you’ll pursue publication. Students often want to share their work with a greater audience so that others can benefit from their insights.
Typically, a university will require students to publish their dissertation in an electronic database. For instance, American University requires students to submit dissertations to the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses (PQDT) database and the American University Digital Research Archive (AUDRA).
Publication is also a plus on any academic CV. Some students reformat their dissertation into an article (or articles) for submission to a professional journal, or even as a book for publication. Others present their findings at educational conferences. Regardless of the arena, sharing a dissertation with a wider audience is a rewarding capstone achievement.
Advance Your Career as an Education Leader
Individuals who are passionate about improving the education system through cutting-edge learning strategies should consider pursuing an advanced degree program. American University’s School of Education Online provides a number of high-quality degree programs, including a Doctorate of Education (EdD) in Education Policy and Leadership . The university’s EdD program provides a flexible, part-time learning environment that helps education professionals gain the skills to effect positive change across all school levels and community settings.
What’s the Difference Between Educational Equity and Equality?
The Role of Educational Leadership in Forming a School and Community Partnership
EdD vs. PhD in Education: Requirements, Career Outlook, and Salary
American University, Submitting Your Thesis and Dissertation Files Electronically
Inside Higher Ed, “Give It a Rest”
Inside Higher Ed, “How to Draft a Dissertation in a Year”
Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education , “Preparing for Dissertation Writing: Doctoral Education Students’ Perceptions”
U.S. News & World Report , “How Long Does It Take to Get a Ph.D. Degree?”
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I wrote my entire dissertation in 48 hours
At one point I hallucinated: one of my books suddenly had arms and legs and walked around my desk
by Anonymous student
Wednesday September 23 2015, 12:03am
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Whether you are a fresher reading about Cambridge, or a returner doing your dissertation this year, I urge you in all seriousness not to repeat this experience, or to write it in anything like the circumstances in which I did mine. But this will offer a huge serving of S chadenfreude over the folly of my former self.
For a long while, I’ve wanted to pursue a career in theatre and film – especially theatre; there’s nothing like acting in front of the live audience and seeing them respond in laughter or tears to comedy or tragedy – and the ADC was a huge attraction for me when I applied to Cambridge. Consequently, in first year I became very committed to it. Then, as I got more and more into it and realised just how much I loved pretty much every aspect of Cambridge student theatre, the amount of it I did intensified in second year. The only problem was that this was at just the point when the workload for my subject ramped up. Keeping up with weekly essays was one thing: it was hard doing eight hours of theatre six days and then bashing out an essay on the back of very little reading the day before it was due in. But we were supposed to work steadily through our dissertations as well, in order to complete them before the deadline at the start of exam term. Considering my routine, of course I didn’t do that.
Thus, I ended up staring at my diary entry ‘DISSERTATION DEADLINE’ – and this was in black permanent marker, beneath a date just two days into the future. I had written none of the 5,000 words required. I had made no notes. I had done zero reading. I was fucked.
In this situation, there were two options: give into the panic, accept a fail on this part of my degree – or work flat out with only brief stops for food, cigarettes and sleep until I finished it in time for the deadline. Either way, I was in mad, bad and sad territory. I went for the latter option. I thought, as Hunter S. Thompson wrote in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: “We can’t stop now – we’re in bat country.”
As I got going – coming up with responses to extracts chosen at random from my primary texts – I realised that there was no time for sleep. The first all-nighter was grim; I sat in the library and frantically bashed out as much material as possible with the goal of finishing my first draft before 6 in the morning. The panic made me procrastinate a lot. I went out for cigarettes every half an hour. I remember spending twenty minutes Facebook-stalking my GCSE Geography teacher, despite having zero interest in him at all, never mind his posts such as: “Got a new iPhone and loving it”.
I finished that first draft at 8, went for breakfast in the college bar and got 6 cans of Monster Energy while I was at it. I then guzzled away at them as I leafed through the books and typed, typed, typed. By the afternoon, I was editing it into a second draft. I was almost overcome by the profound desire to go back to my room, climb under the covers and enjoy the bliss of the sleep I needed, but I’d just take several gulps of Monster and type on.
Around 3.30 a.m. during the second all-nighter, I felt a flush of confidence that I’d produced a passably complete dissertation. All I needed to do was the footnotes and bibliography. Do them and I’d maybe scrape 60. I got too confident and spent an hour talking to my best friend on the phone (she lives in America and it was evening there) while chain-smoking. I went back and found footnoting more annoying and time-consuming than I’d envisaged. I started to feel the time pressure like a horrible burn – it was nearly just hours until the deadline and the bloody footnoting was interminable. The whole business belonged in Dante’s vision of hell in the Inferno . Just after I had that thought, I had a hallucination in which one of the books I had lying about developed arms and legs and started doing handstands on the desk. Watching this, I had a feeling like I’d taken a wrong turn into a very, very bad part of town.
I downed some more Monster and hugged close to the fact that if I didn’t think about anything else but the footnotes, ignored the tiredness and carried on doing these footnotes as quickly as possible, I could print the document off, hand it in to my DoS and sleep soundly and happily. Somehow I did that, and slept for 19 hours straight.
It wasn't a great start to exam term – which was later full of its own stresses. I felt shellshocked and all over the place for the next few days. I now think of it as an amusing anecdote and as an example of something not to do, for myself and others, but there's no getting away from the fact that it was deeply unpleasant at the time.
Don’t do it. I learned my lesson for finals and worked through my degree more steadily – especially the dissertation.
However, at this point you will, dear reader, want to know what I got for that second year dissertation. I don’t know how: but I got 67.
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How to Write a Dissertation Abstract?
Can you write a flawless dissertation at the last minute?
Honestly, the answer is a resounding no.
Starting a dissertation can be challenging for some, while others may get stuck in the middle, struggling to complete it.
Explore The Importance of Dissertation in Your Academics
In school, a dissertation is super important. It shows how smart you are, how well you can research, and how you can teach your teacher new stuff. It can make a big difference in how well you do in school and later in your job. We know it can be tough, but we're here to make it easier. Our blog will help you learn how to write a dissertation step by step, so you can do a great job and get good grades.
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What is a dissertation.
A dissertation, like other academic writing, presents a scholarly argument based on research and data from a scholar's studies. It typically marks the final year project for UK and global students.
Topics are assigned by the university or proposed by students to their dissertation supervisors. Dissertations, ranging from 10,000 to 20,000 words, encompass diverse subjects, often structured with numbered headings, subheadings, and chapters.
Learn More About What is More Important in Dissertation Here
Despite findings' significance, a dissertation's 'process' matters more. You can still excel even without usable data by showcasing understanding of the research process, analyzing it, and explaining why you couldn't answer the question effectively.
How is It Different from a Thesis?
Figure out the difference between Thesis and dissertation here.
Dissertations vs. Theses
- Completion Date: Master's theses typically conclude with a thesis, while doctoral dissertations end with a dissertation.
- Purpose Difference: Theses demonstrate your knowledge, while dissertations contribute new concepts to your field.
- Similar to Undergraduate Research Papers.
- Involves researching a topic, analyzing gathered information, and discussing its relevance critically.
- Opportunity to explore a subject relevant to your professional focus.
- Uses external research for guidance.
- Focused on developing and defending a new concept in your field.
- Owes the majority of information to your research and contributions.
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Explaining the Structure of Dissertation in Detail
Develop academic skills and prioritize planning and structuring your dissertation for success, regardless of your degree program.
Step 1: Identifying the Research Topic
Precise, well-formulated questions are fundamental in research. Effective research topics require specific search queries. Crafting a successful research topic can be as straightforward as identifying a few questions, but it's not always that simple.
Discover the Qualities that Make a Good Dissertation or Thesis Topic
The essential characteristics of a solid research topic include its uniqueness, precision, and the impact or the contribution it will have to the academic literature.
Step 2: Creating a Dissertation Proposal
For developing a successful dissertation proposal , you should select a good research topic. This paper is submitted to your supervisor in order to convince him or her how important your research proposal is.
Find out Student Submitted Dissertation Proposal Example Here
Your research should tackle intricate questions, showing its substantial contribution to academic communities. While a dissertation is shorter than a proposal (1,000 to 3,000 words), outlining key points is advisable, even if a proposal isn't required at your university.
Structure the Dissertation Proposal
It is not expected that you have thoroughly reviewed the existing literature at the proposal stage, but you must demonstrate that you have identified a clear research gap. The same goes for your research methodology , but make sure you know if you will be conducting qualitative or quantitative analysis, and how you will collect the required data.
Check Analysis of Qualitative Data Set Here
This is how the structure for your proposal should be:
The length of a title should not exceed 12 words, ideally. Your research title should clearly identify the topic.
Explore More about Dissertation Topic Ideas Here
A dissertation topic should be specific, research-worthy, and relevant to your field of study, addressing a significant research question or problem.
Aim of the Research
Give an overview of the study's overall objectives. Describe your research objectives as a researcher, emphasizing what you hope to accomplish.
Objectives of the Research
Your project should address the key research questions. Set fewer than four research objectives for your research. A study's objective or hypothesis should be connected to your research objectives.
To ensure that you are utilizing specific academic sources when conducting your literature review , consult with your supervisor. The literature analysis should be facilitated by researching relevant books, theories, and publications.
Step 3: Starting the Data Collection Process
In the dissertation process, this step is critical: avoid outdated or irrelevant academic sources to safeguard your work. Begin by crafting a methodology chapter to outline your research strategy, which is more straightforward than it sounds—it simply explains how you conducted your research.
To collect data, create your research design, which can involve interviews or online surveys. Allocate ample time for data collection, especially for in-person interviews, as unexpected delays can occur. After data collection, prepare it before analysis begins.
Step 4: Writing the Dissertation
Set weekly targets to boost motivation and productivity. Consider using supervisor meetings as deadlines.
Learn More about Dissertation Samples Here
While writing, deepen your understanding of the topic. Review each section for completeness and ensure clear connections with other content. Maintain a comprehensive source list, take research notes, and back up your work regularly.
Step 5: Proofreading and Editing
Never underestimate the power of proofreading. It's the key to correcting human errors and crafting well-structured, coherent, and polished work. Allocate sufficient time for comprehensive editing, logical revision, and meticulous referencing.
Include relevant citations in your main argument to demonstrate knowledge of influential theories and research. This concludes our guide; feel free to leave questions or comments in the section below, and we'll respond promptly.
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Writing a dissertation requires meticulous planning, research, and organization. By choosing a compelling topic, adhering to a clear structure, and maintaining consistent progress, you can successfully navigate this challenging academic endeavor.
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Dissertation Proposal Lays Down the Outline of Your Final Dissertation
Get a Dissertation Proposal that matches your requirements, which includes the topic title, research aim and objective, research questions, research gap, literature review, methodology and list of reference papers. The Dissertation Proposal will be foundation of your final dissertation. It is very important to get this done perfectly to avoid any problems!
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How to Write a Dissertation Effectively? Is it possible to write a dissertation in a day?
A dissertation is a lengthy academic writing based on your study. It is often submitted as the final step in completing a master or PhD program. Your PhD or master dissertation is most likely the most extensive piece of writing you’ve ever done. Writing a dissertation necessitates strong research, writing, and analyzing abilities, and it can be stimulating to know where to begin. It is an extended piece of academic writing that presents original research and contributes to the existing body of knowledge in a particular field of study.
There will be several questions that may come to your mind before starting your dissertation like how to start dissertation? how long does a dissertation take? how to finish dissertation quickly? writing my dissertation is easy? how to do a dissertation writing? how many words in a dissertation? What pre-preparation is required before diving into the dissertation? How will I do my dissertation analysis? How to plan a dissertation? Any examples of dissertation?. These are the very common questions however, have you imagined writing a dissertation in a day? Yes, you certainly can. However, much pre- preparation is required. But, it is impossible for a Phd dissertation.
Check our study guides, to get more assistance in writing your dissertation.
To put my idea to the test and to know how long does it take to write dissertation? I accepted a pretend challenge and produced a dissertation paper, which was the first draft of an ongoing research project, but with just 24 hours, every draft is your final document. Here’s how I went about it methodically. In the following sections, I will share my mantra for writing a dissertation in a day ; while it may not be your best shot, it may suffice. But, of course, the following procedures come with a disclaimer: they do not promise 100% results and are not appropriate for everyone.
Tips for Presenting a Dissertation Writing
1) Time Management: It’s incredible how simple it is to squander time, postpone, and be inefficient. However, one might argue that we make the most of life by making the most of our time. And, especially in dissertation writing, managing time and not letting it slip away carefully is critical. You have already achieved achievement in this aspect by reaching the ABD stage. These time management suggestions will support you make the most of your time while writing a Master’s dissertation . Although some advice is targeted toward dissertation writing, others are more general. Remember that only you can choose the best approach to organize your time, but I hope that at least a few of the suggestions will be beneficial or guide you in the right course as you set out to conquer time and your dissertation.
- Dissertation plan template
- Thorough understanding of their outcome (Dissertation Outline)
- Academic writing abilities & Quick typing
- A thorough literature review (gap in the literature)
- Clear cut methodology (conceptual framework or theoretical framework)
- Familiarized tools for your analysis
- Acknowledgements for dissertation
How to Write a Dissertation Effectively?
- Keep “filler” assignments on hand when you’re tired or need an intellectual break. For example, you might wish to list these filler tasks to refer to when the need arises.
- Keep a dissertation journal . You can write in it daily, weekly, or as needed. You may want to use it to keep track of your work, write down your ideas, and vent during stressful times. Refer some examples of dissertation.
- Pretend that you were working in a more structured work world. It has been beneficial for me at times to consider my work as if I were invoicing my hours for someone or if I were still working for my boss at the 9 to 5 job I held between my undergraduate and graduate years.
- Keep your email and personal technological devices to a minimum . Turn off your cell phone and check your email less frequently to concentrate on your work. If you are a teacher, you may make it plain to your pupils that you will only check your email once in the morning and once in the afternoon, not on weekends.
- When writing your dissertation, use and expand on previous work. Are you able to expand on your conference papers? Can you utilize your reading notes from studying for your comprehensive exams? Using previous work is not only efficient, but it may also help you comprehend your intellectual trajectory.
- Break large tasks into small manageable ones. Create subsections for your chapters and write appropriately. Find other methods to break up your job. As a result, what may appear to be an overwhelming task of writing a dissertation becomes more manageable. Set deadlines for even little chores to ensure your efficiency.
- Seek dissertation writing service help or counsel from others, and don’t hesitate to ask for assistance. I have asked for a dissertation help from the people who have completed dissertations, including my adviser, other professors, and graduate students. collected many of the recommendations from books, internet sources as well
- Take breaks. Taking pauses will help you be more productive. After all, we are not machines. You will most likely return to work feeling rejuvenated by taking more breaks than you need. Another smart technique to keep engaged and inspired is to leave your work in such a state that you will know what to say when you start again.
- Remember, the finished product is what matters. The finest dissertation, as they say, is a completed dissertation. You might have all the brilliant ideas in the world, but what ultimately matters is what you create. So be confident in congratulating yourself on a job well done.
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At Tutors India, we provide a topic well-supported by scholarly research, manageable within the time constraints, resources, and available data sources, and within your area of expertise and also we provide online dissertation writing & editing support service as well . Is it significant in terms of practice or theory? Original and never done before, ensure the theme gets you where you want to go. Tutors India is capable of handling a wide range of disciplines. While you order your Ph.D. or Master’s dissertation , we choose competently and experienced subject-specific knowledge as we have over 2000 experts worldwide who are specialised in the areas of arts, management, literature, sciences, engineering, and medicine etc.
Do check for dissertation examples, on how a well-structured dissertations are written & peer-reviewed by our expertise
1) Williams, Kate, and Michelle Reid. Planning your dissertation . Bloomsbury Publishing, 2023.
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Can I Write A Dissertation In Two Weeks? (Quick Answer)
by Antony W
January 31, 2022
Your dissertation is due in about 14 days. It’s 8,000 to 10,000 words long assignment and you haven’t written even a single word yet.
You know you should have started sooner, but the year has been quite tough for you. What do you do? Is two weeks even enough to write a dissertation this long?
You can write and complete a dissertation in two weeks if you dedicate yourself to working on it every day. Provided you’ve done your research and you already know what you want to talk about, it should be easy to put the words down.
You don’t have to fret if you seem already late with the project.
Sometimes being paranoid and scared of what would happen now that you’re running out of time can easily result in a writer’s block , which can make it even more difficult to complete your work.
In this guide, we give you some tips that you can use to complete your dissertation in just 14 days.
How to Write a Dissertation in 14 Days
1. start with proper planning.
The best way to write a comprehensive dissertation in two weeks is to write down a plan first.
Students who write 2,000 words in one sitting do so because they’ve mapped out their plans in a way that allows them to achieve such major milestones.
In your plan, determine what you need to include in the assignment, the right order to include them, and the number of words for each section.
Spend at most 4 days doing further research and reading, and then the next 5 to 7 days writing 1,000 to 2,000 words a day.
Make sure you’re sticking to the plan from the first to the very last day. Two weeks is a short time, so you can’t have time for procrastination in your plan.
With a high degree of discipline, it should be easy for you to use the plan to write the entire dissertation within the limited period.
2. Write Every Day and In Bits
The golden rule to getting a 10,000 to a 15,000-word dissertation completed in just 14 days or less is to write every day and do so in bits.
Rather than trying to write 4,000 words or more once, try to limit yourself to completing 2,000 words a day without fail.
You will need effective study habits to get this done in good time. That means writing in a space free from distraction so you can meet your daily target.
If you can’t focus in your room, for example, go to the park, local library, or school library and write from there.
If your director or supervisor expects you to complete a 10,000-word dissertation, and you limit yourself to writing 2,000 words a day, you’ll finish writing in just 5 days.
That means you’ll have at least another full week to proofread, edit, and crosscheck your work for clarity, authenticity, and comprehensiveness.
There are days when you won’t hit the 2,000 words mark, and that’s completely fine, especially if you can write half that word limit.
The key thing here is to develop the habit of writing every day and, in the end, still have enough time left to do your editing.
3. Write Section by Section
Two weeks is a limited time to write a dissertation fast. So you have to lay the foundation early after research to complete the project in good time.
Lay out each section and heading of the assignment, starting with the question, followed by objectives, and then the layout.
The layout of your dissertation should be as follows, exactly in the order presented below:
- Literature review
- Discussion and analysis
Laying out your assignment in sections simplifies the project, especially since it allows you to add content with ease as you continue to write.
It even helps to break the monotony of sitting through hours of writing because you can focus on another section when you feel lost in one.
There’s no specific formula for writing each section, except to make sure you spent at least an hour in each section.
As long as you’ve done prior research and you know exactly what you’d like to say, this shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. what is the hardest part of working on a dissertation .
The hardest part of working on a dissertation assignment is the literature review section.
It’s also the most important part of the project that should take most of your time to research and write.
Be sure to check out our guide on how to write a literature review if you need a refresher.
2. How many words should a dissertation have?
While there are several factors that determine the length of a dissertation , the assignment can be between 8,000and 15,000 words long.
Check with your director or supervisor to be sure of the expected word count because some programs have a variation in word count.
3. How many hours should you spend on a dissertation?
The answer to this question really isn’t black and white. In other words, how much you spend writing your dissertation depends on when you started working on the project.
If you’ve done in-depth research early and you already know what you want to write down, spending at least 4 hours a day working on the assignment can get you to finish the work in the shortest time possible.
Assuming you write 2,000 words every day, you should take about 10 days to complete your dissertation.
There’s more to writing a dissertation than meeting the number of works. You have to research your topic thoroughly and make sure you get the structure and flow of the assignment right.
Remember that you have a limited time already, so you cannot afford the luxury of procrastination.
Every day you delay brings you closer to failing the dissertation and missing the doctorate degree.
So spend a lot of your time researching, writing, and consulting until you get the work done.
Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance if you feel stuck somewhere along the way. The team at Help for Assessment to guide you in any way you need.
Also, you can hire our dissertation writing service to get a team to work along with you so you get your dissertation completed within the 14-day period.
About the author
Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.
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- How Long Does It Take to Write a Dissertation
The obvious short answer is, it varies. But, in general, it depends upon these factors:
- How much time you have to devote to the project on a weekly basis, given your other responsibilities and obligations. You may have a part-time job, famly responsibilities, and you may be a TA during this process. You must devise a schedule for your dissertation work that provides definite times for your work.
- How long your research will take. It is not unusual for implementations of research to take as long as a year (or even more). While you are conducting your research, however, you can certainly be working on your literature review and at least part of your methodology chapter.
- Your advisor and committee will provide feedback and suggestions along the way. How responsive they are and how quickly they provide this will impact your timeline.
In general, and based upon actual data, the answer to how long it takes to write a dissertation is 12-18 months, but perhaps more, depending on the timeline to collect your research data.
So, let’s take a look at this entire process in terms of the average dissertation project from start to finish.
The Research Question and the Proposal
You have probably had many discussions with your advisor regarding your research question. You have picked a topic area of interest and have completed some initial research, in order to narrow that topic area to a specific research question you want to pursue. It has been approved by your advisor and you are now ready to write that proposal for your committee.
The question now becomes, how long does it take to write a dissertation proposal? And again, the answer varies. For some students, this is a longer project, because committees, and individual members, can be very picky. They may send the student back to re-write certain parts before final approval. You will discover that every committee member has individual agendas and pet peeves. These will come out in their assessment of your proposal. Do not be discouraged if you have to re-write – it is common and expected.
The proposal must include a clear statement of the research question and a justification of its importance to the field. The other parts include a short synopsis of the research you have conducted thus far that leads to your research question, a preliminary explanation of your research design, and a timeline for completion.
The Literature Review
The five chapters of your dissertation will of course begin with an introduction. However, this should not be written until the entire piece is finished. It will be much better if you wait.
Here is the thing about the literature review. Many students need to complete it in full before they can really refine their research methodology; others, because of the nature of the research, may refine their methodology and begin the implementation of the project at the same time that they are working on their literature review.
This will be the most tedious and often least interesting of the dissertation project. It will be like a large research paper, and it must contain a synopsis of all research that directly relates to your question. At times, you will read abstracts that appear to be a fit, pull out the actual piece and discover, about halfway through that it will not work for your lit review. This is common, but frustrating. For this reason, students will often contact a writing service that has a Ph.D.’s in their fields and ask if they can, “ Write my dissertation lit review.” This is often a decent solution to an otherwise time-consuming task.
Just how long should a literature review be in a dissertation? Again, it varies. You have to include all relevant research studies. Focus on that rather than on length. These can run from 20-30 pages and include from 20-30 resources.
The Design and Methodology Chapter
Here is where you explain to your reader exactly how you have designed your research, why you designed it as you did, and speak to the instruments, if any, that you will be using. The purpose of this chapter is to provide all of the details, so that a future researcher could replicate your research exactly. Having never done so before, many student writers are not sure how to write a dissertation methodology. The best thing to do is to read the methodology sections of other dissertations and follow the format that those researchers have used.
You will need to explain exactly how you chose samplings or the control and experimental groups (if you have them), and exactly the treatment(s) you used or the information your instruments are gathering from your sample population.
Depending upon your institution or department, the data you gathered is either reported in this chapter or the next. Data should always be reported in both prose and graphic forms
The Analysis/Discussion Chapter
This is the “meat” of your dissertation. You will be analyzing that data you collected and determining if your research question was answered and what significance has been the result.
Consider yourself fortunate that you are not doing this 30 years ago, when the statistical workup was all completed by hand – yes, paper and pencil. No software programs to crunch your numbers as there are now.
The biggest issues students have with this chapter are determining which formulae to use and plugging the numbers in correctly, especially if they are not STEM majors. Of all chapters in a dissertation, this is the one for which students most commonly seek help. And hiring a statistician to crunch these numbers is the best way to ensure that it is done correctly.
Again, the analysis must be reported in both graphic and prose forms.
Just how long to write the analysis chapter in a dissertation? It will depend upon individual students’ abilities to craft it on their own or how quickly they can secure the help they need.
Writing the Conclusion Chapter
Most students have had experience writing conclusion for essays and papers. But understanding how to write a conclusion for a dissertation will require a different approach. Most dissertation conclusions are highly organized into specific sections.
First, you must declare that your research question has been answered, how you have shown this, and the contribution you have made to your field of knowledge.
Second, you must identify any constraints or nuisance factors within your research, so that future researchers can account for them as well.
Third, you should point future researchers in directions that will replicate or add to what you have accomplished.
Not Quite Finished – the Introduction and the Abstract
Now you are ready to write that introduction. If you are wondering how long a dissertation introduction should be, understand that it will be your shortest chapter. The goal of the introduction is the same as any that is written for other academic pieces. You can use some of the information from your proposal to write this chapter – introduce your research question, provide a bit of background for choosing it, justify its significance, and give a very brief summary of your research design and methodology. Obviously, you will not give away the analysis and conclusion.
The abstract is composed after all else. This is the piece that others will read to discover exactly what your dissertation is about. You have already read many of them, so you should not have any questions about how long a dissertation abstract should be. It is no longer than one page. Again, you will state your research question and provide a very brief summary of what you did. The goal is for other researchers to determine if your study relates to their research and if your work should be used as a resource. Use other abstracts as model as you write your own.
Just Starting Out? Plan on the Next 12-18 Months for your Time Frame
If you have read other dissertations, you understand how long is a dissertation. Most will be 200 pages, more or less. You have a lot of work ahead of you, but if you commit to a regular schedule of work and get the help you need when you need it, you’ll make it. And the prize, that PH.D., will all be worth it.
Neighthan White is a writer and an undergraduate specialist in education sciences. In his late twenties he is a regular member of Montessori techniques for children under 10 seminars, a volunteer at Education without Borders and LDS, a startup inventor, a language learner, a writer and a happy husband.
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How To Write Your Dissertation In 15 Minutes A Day
Dissertations can take a long time to finish. The good thing about it is that you have time to write it. However, you should not rush the process. You may have to struggle with motivation to work daily. You may even begin to think you have a lot of time on your hands to finish the dissertation.
Before you know it, you’ll have just a few weeks to turn in your paper. It may be difficult to produce your best work if you rush it. Try your best to create a decent paper. Experts recommend the 15-minute rule to follow while writing your paper. Is writing your dissertation in fifteen minutes a day feasible?
Some experts believe that it may take a longer time to finish the paper. Still, you can make the rule work in your favor, and it will keep you inspired enough to finish up. This guide will show you how to write your dissertation in 15 minutes a day.
What Does The 15-Minutes Rule Say?
This rule says that students should commit barely fifteen minutes daily to writing their dissertation. It means that you must write it no matter your mood, how you feel, or other problems you are facing at this time. Sometimes, it may get difficult to follow the routine and spend that time on analyzing data, reading, or penning down ideas on the topic. Still, you should try.
The trick is that this time is enough to serve as a warm-up so you can move to a valuable work session.
It is a very effective strategy, but you can still choose to get dissertation writing help from an expert.
Writing Your Dissertation In 15 Minutes A Day – Steps To Follow
Here’s a brief guide on how to write a dissertation for 15 minutes a day:
When the fifteen minutes elapse, evaluate the content you have written, and start to remove the irrelevant information.
- Expand All Work Sessions And Be As Productive As Possible When you get used to this rule, plan to add more 15-minute sessions per day. Expand the sessions and make them longer. This makes it easier to cope with the task of writing your dissertation. To succeed, you must dedicate at least fifteen minutes a day. It will really keep you motivated.
Whatever information you add to your dissertation should be both quantifiable and measurable. Remember that writing a dissertation is complicated, and you can always get writing help from experts.
Extra Tips For Writing Your Dissertation In 15 Minutes A Day
It can be very tough to dedicate time daily for your dissertation work. You have to analyze data, read, and put down your findings. This is why the 15-minute rule comes in. It smoothens the transition period from not being engaged to sitting down to write your dissertation daily.
With the rule, you must commit 15 minutes to the relevant parts of your dissertation.
You should get a dedicated timer for this purpose. Don’t rely on using your laptop time. After going over your work at the end of the fifteen minutes, you will feel inspired to continue. It is a lot like warming up before exercising. This one works for your brain.
This rule is an excellent way to repress a lack of inspiration that comes with working on long projects. No matter how clear or detailed your action plan or outline is, you may still feel some apathy towards working. You can lose days of work on your dissertation if you keep up with this system. When you implement the rule, it helps you to make discoveries, connect ideas, and analyze sources. This motivates you in the long run. But, there’s also nothing wrong with getting some help from others, or getting online cheap dissertation help .
It seems strange because it actually involves working before being inspired.
Start with fifteen-minute sessions daily and add a few more sessions daily. Two or three times spread out in the day is ideal. It is an excellent way to motivate yourself when you’re struggling to work.
In addition to this rule, you need to note that staying connected to the outlines, ideas, intellectual quandaries, argument, data, and your notes is important as well. These things keep your inspiration alive. Try to write or do dissertation work for just 15 minutes daily. After finishing the fifteen minutes, push yourself to add extra minutes. You can have a total of 30 minutes each session. Then, schedule another session for later in the day and repeat the strategy. If you engage in this rule consistently, you will be able to spend longer periods on your paper. Also, it can be a great way to teach yourself focus and discipline.
Get Dissertation Help Right Now
Writing a dissertation for 15 minutes a day requires a long period of time overall. What if you’re on a tight deadline? Instead of spending hours toiling over your work, you can hire expert dissertation writing help, and even pay for dissertation . Our service provides all kinds of assistance and we have the best writers in the business. So get in touch with us and ace your dissertation.
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