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Doctoral Dissertation Writing Strategies: How To Compose A Brilliant Paper

Doctoral dissertations are the most important part of a PhD student’s life for three or four years. It is a time consuming, difficult and lonely process that drives nearly every student to their wits end. A successful completion of a dissertation leads to a feeling of accomplishment like no other. This is because a student has not only won the battle fought over a period of years but also added something useful to the body of research in their particular subject area. The key, of course, is to write a brilliant paper. The key to writing a brilliant paper is, of course, a series of smart strategies. Be not afraid, for we outline these strategies for you below.

  1. Open your mind
  2. You have submitted a research proposal while applying for your PhD. Most students make the mistake of sticking religiously and stoutly to that proposal when conducting their research and writing their dissertation and a fair way along the way, come to regret that decision. Universities and supervisors understand that three or four years are a long time and research evolves. If you go in a different direction with your writing, they will be completely okay with it as long as you are broadly in the same ballpark in terms of your research subject and area. Do not get stuck in a narrow line of thinking, get out there and open your mind to every possibility you can think of.

  3. Do your research first
  4. Most PhD students think, “I’ll write my dissertation as I conduct my research. That way I’ll finish both together and make my life easier”. Wrong, just so wrong. That simply cannot work. Why, you ask? Because, over that many years, you have no idea where your research will lead you. Your dissertation is supposed to be a write up of the research you have conducted. Do your research first, do your literature review, make copious notes and when you have all the answers, you just have to write about what you have found out and how you found it out. Writing your dissertation is then story-telling about what you have done, not a process of discovery itself.

  5. Write with organization
  6. Be organized when you write. Decide on a structure for your essay and then make an outline. This is your plan for writing. Make your outline as detailed as possible. Then start writing. Remember, it is okay to make revisions. If you can, get the help of a professional proofreader before your submit your work.